OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Workplace Issues

The reason why workplace issues, whether having any relevance in a Federal Disability Retirement application or not, continue to be insidious in their persistent appearance and stubborn insistence upon dominating an Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is because they are often perceived to be the originating cause (or so it is often thought to be by the Applicant who is preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS) of a medical condition.

Whether the age-old question of the “egg before the chicken or the chicken before the egg” is answered, and in what way, is often the wrong approach to take.  More often than not, when a medical condition begins to progressively deteriorate a Federal or Postal employee’s health, and the impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job begins to manifest itself to supervisors, coworkers, managers, etc.; at about the same critical juncture, harassment — or the perception of harassment — begins to occur. Such workplace issues then begin to exponentially quantify and exacerbate, feeding onto each other:  the workplace issues begin to exacerbate the medical condition; the stress-levels rise; soon thereafter, agency efforts to protect itself begin to get triggered — counseling letters on leave usage, sick-leave restriction, placement of a Federal or Postal employee on AWOL, 14-day suspensions, placement on a PIP, all begin to erupt.

The key in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, however, is to have the self-discipline to identify which workplace issues are relevant to bring into the arena of an OPM disability retirement application. Discipline in such matters is a difficult measure to undertake; however, it is a critical step to recognize and initiate, bifurcate and separate, and where irrelevant, to excise and discard, when preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Discretion

Discretion” is little used term and concept in the world we live in.  Instead, the focus is always upon one’s “right” to speak about anything, to expose everything, to assert one’s demands, etc.  But the conceptual applicability of the term should not be ignored in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS —  one must be “discrete” as to which issues to include in such an application.  

By “discretion” is not meant to imply any attempt to hide or obfuscate an issue; rather, because Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process with its own inherent rules and laws, there is a containment of the types of issues which one should stick to.  For example, one should minimize and stay away, as much as possible, from such issues as “workplace harassment”, “hostile work environment“, “employee harassment”, etc.  Such issues might be relevant in an EEOC case, but potentially detrimental to a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

There are Federal and Postal employees, however, who will insist that such issues “need to be brought up” in order to “expose” such injustice.  But everything has a proper time, place, and jurisdictional forum.  Discretion is always a relevant concept — but to recognize that discretion is a necessity in and of itself requires discretionary judgment; something that is sorely lacking in this day and age.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: OPM over OWCP

I still get many emails and phone calls about the onerous, “over-the-top” behavior, and the bullying tactics of OWCP/DOL temporary total disability payments & requirements — everything from constant, incessant and unending, harassing letters, to requiring further evaluations from second and third opinion doctors (or so-called doctors), to constantly requiring one’s treating doctor to justify the continuing disability status, thereby endangering the continuation of the doctor-patient relationship.  And who can criticize or blame the doctor for wanting to drop a patient for the amount of hours he/she has to put into, for “non-medical” issues, and for the time expended which the doctor will never be paid for? 

Yes, Worker’s Comp pays more.  Yes, it is non-taxable.  Yes, there are monetary reasons for staying on OWCP.  But the truth is, money doesn’t buy peace of mind or a life of lesser stress.  OWCP is meant to be a temporary means of providing income — it is not designed for the long term, and indeed, the Office of Worker’s Compensation makes that abundantly clear by their actions.  OPM Disability retirement under FERS or CSRS pays much less, but it allows for independence and a semblence of freedom, not even to mention a life of some dignity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OWCP versus OPM Disability Retirement

I still get periodic telephone calls with much misinformation, mixing terms applied to FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement with “Department of Labor Retirement” or Worker’s Comp retirement.  While there are indeed people who remain on OWCP temporary total disability for years and years, OWCP/DOL is ultimately NOT a retirement system.  It is a system meant to pay for injured Federal and Postal workers while he or she is recuperating from an on-the-job injury.

The Department of Labor thus does everything in its power to get the injured worker back to work, by various means:  assigning a nurse to “oversee” the treatment and “progress” of the worker; by sending the injured worker to second opinion doctors to see if there is a medical opinion different from one’s treating doctor; and other means which have nothing to do with the patient’s best medical interests.

I don’t handle OWCP issues; however, because many individuals who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS have intersecting OWCP issues, also, I have some “on the job” knowledge of such issues.  Ultimately, a worker must decide between the two systems, although one can file for both benefits concurrently, one can only receive from one or the other — not both at the same time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire