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amvet  
#1 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 11:07:47 AM(UTC)
amvet

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I am employed by the Veterans Administration and have been for the past 28 years. I am 60 years old. I have been on sick leave for the past 6 months due to complications of PTSD and severe depression for which I am service connected. I have at least another 3 months of S/L and another 1 1/2 months of A/L left. I have been under a doctors care (psychiatrist) for the whole time and was seeing her for several years prior to going on leave. My supervisor has been very supportive and has not given me problems about being off. I have supplied doctors statements during this period.
 
I am now being asked to set a date to return or to start the retirement process. I really don't know if I can go back to work yet. My doctor is not very supportive my returning yet either. With the economy and my fairly young age I would like the option of returning to work. Can I be forced to take retirement as long as I still have leave to cover my absence? I have only used a handful of sick days over the last 28 years. I always thought of my accumulated S/L as an insurance policy for a catastrophic illness. What are my options at this point? Thank you for listening.
The HalfBreed  
#2 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 12:44:07 PM(UTC)
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IMO, if you have adequate S/L and/or A/L to cover, there is no way they can force you to retire.
Test the theory though....set a date to retire 1,2 or 3 years in the future....see what happens.
You have Doctors slip and valid reasons for using Sick/Annual Leave. Don't forget, you are eligible for possible FMLA as well. Don't be bullied.

RETIRED 12/19/2012 !!! Good Bye Tension !!! Hello Pension !!!
SF18C  
#3 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 8:14:42 PM(UTC)
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Just being honest here…for the last 6 months and possibly the next 4 and ½ months (over 10 months total) you haven’t been able to do your job.  That most likely means someone else has to do it for you plus they still have to do their work.  Doesn’t sound super fair to those folks pulling up your slack, the customers of the VA or the tax payers footing the bill.

 

I hope things work out for you but be prepared for some unsympathetic replies.

amvet  
#4 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 9:31:39 PM(UTC)
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SF18C wrote:

Just being honest here…for the last 6 months and possibly the next 4 and ½ months (over 10 months total) you haven’t been able to do your job.  That most likely means someone else has to do it for you plus they still have to do their work.  Doesn’t sound super fair to those folks pulling up your slack, the customers of the VA or the tax payers footing the bill.

 

I hope things work out for you but be prepared for some unsympathetic replies.

This is something I have thought about a lot. Pulling you own weight to complete the mission was what you did in the Marines.
edalder  
#5 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 9:46:52 PM(UTC)
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You might want to ask yourself how likely it is that you can return to your current job, if you have not been at it for the past nine or ten months AND your physician is not supportive of you returning to work in it.

Given your age and years of service, I personally would give some consideration to using up the sick leave and then retiring. I probably would cash out the annual leave as a lump sum. If you also exhaust your annual leave and then retire, you may be in for an unpleasant wait for that first annuity check. With that lump sum cash out of your AL, you at least would have some funds that might tide you over until your annuity kicks in. Also, separation would give you access to your TSP funds, but that process takes a little time as well.

There is nothing about retirement that prevents you from taking a job. But, that job perhaps could be somewhat less stressful and might be more to your physician's liking.

Kivi
dandman26  
#6 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 10:24:46 PM(UTC)
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SF18C wrote:

Just being honest here…for the last 6 months and possibly the next 4 and ½ months (over 10 months total) you haven’t been able to do your job.  That most likely means someone else has to do it for you plus they still have to do their work.  Doesn’t sound super fair to those folks pulling up your slack, the customers of the VA or the tax payers footing the bill.

 

I hope things work out for you but be prepared for some unsympathetic replies.

I disagree; accrued sick leave is part of his compensation package. I know some folks that have over 2000 hours of leave...that's almost a year. If someone becomes severely ill during that time and has to take a year to get better, then that's they way it goes. It's the folks who burn their sick leave and then need donated leave that I don't have time for.
Treblig2  
#7 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 10:58:21 PM(UTC)
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What about a 6 month leave of absense??  People do it all the time.  You could get a taste of retirement without the responsibilty of retirement.  I believe you lose your pay during the LOA but you keep your insurance, at least your supervisor could temporarily assign someone to your job for the 6 months (or whatever).  This would take away their excuse of making you retire because almost any supervisor can get a volunteer (especially if it's to a temporary higher position).  Your job would get done, someone else would get experience and training and you wouldn't have to worry.  It would also give you time to get well without the stress of having to return to work and "calling in" everyday.
Good Luck,
Gil in Tex
Treblig2  
#8 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 11:08:58 PM(UTC)
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And yes, you can be forced to retire.  The one case I saw was of a government employee who got so forgetful he could no longer take care of his work assignments (Alzheimers).  This man kept doing the same task over and over not realizing he had already accomplished the task many many times already.  If his supervisor "wrote him up" the employee couldn't remember, even if you showed him the disciplinary document signed by him.  It was sad, he was a retired officer (very sharp) working his last years as a civil servant.  Your case is different, you can do the work when you are feeling well.  In the case I mentioned the worker's problem kept getting worse each day and Doctors will tell you that Alzheimers is not reversible.
 
Gil in Tex
shockdj  
#9 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 11:37:10 PM(UTC)
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I absolutely agree you should be allowed to take the combination of annual and sick leave you have accrued.  I also agree with edalder that it would be wise to honestly evaluate your situation and plan accordingly.  I looked at the OPM website and the language used was your employer MAY authorize sick leave when the employee provides documentation for absences longer than three days.  Obviously, if you have a union or other advocate, this would be an issue for them.  Good luck.
SPB  
#10 Posted : Monday, January 03, 2011 11:41:52 PM(UTC)
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amvet wrote:
SF18C wrote:

Just being honest here…for the last 6 months and possibly the next 4 and ½ months (over 10 months total) you haven’t been able to do your job.  That most likely means someone else has to do it for you plus they still have to do their work.  Doesn’t sound super fair to those folks pulling up your slack, the customers of the VA or the tax payers footing the bill.

 

I hope things work out for you but be prepared for some unsympathetic replies.

Given the amount of sick leave you have accrued you don't seem to be an abuser of it. So you're sick now. If you had cancer no one would question your use of leave. As long as the doctor feels you need to be off and you think there is a chance you will return to work use your leave. You didn't nickel and dime it away all those years and expect someone to bail you out now. Good luck, brother. Semper Fi!
nodog  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 2:46:16 AM(UTC)
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I wouldn't think you could be forced to retire until all of your leave is exhausted. If they attempt to do so I could see where you'd have one heafty lawsuit. I agree with the other commenters, your accrude leave time is part of your pay. You are using it as the regulations are written. If when your leave runs out you are able to return to work, then keep on working. If not, retire.
dandman26  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 3:48:48 AM(UTC)
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 We had an incident where I work where the guy was in a custody battle with his ex-wife. Claiming excess stress and with the recommendation of his doctor (GP) he was able to take sick leave until he was no longer stressed.

cloudnine  
#13 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 3:56:34 AM(UTC)
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Sorry, but I think that you should consider going back to work, staying off work until you are completely out of SL and AL is not going to do yourself any favors. Depression is not cured by staying home, often that increases the depression. Maybe you need to consider why you are having problems at work, and there needs to be a restructuring of your job duties, if those are creating stress for you. Identify the problems you are having at work, and discuss those issues with your doctor, and create some positive change. Just avoiding work for another 3 or 4 months is not going to solve the current issues, just drag them out.
Ruanne  
#14 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 9:05:53 AM(UTC)
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PTSD is not the same as depression. It often comes with some depression on the side, but it is a separate issue.  The stress is related to past events. Present events can compound the problem, of course, which is why a mental health specialist might recommend someone not work for a period of time.

 Amvet, I honestly have no idea, I'm just getting started in the Federal world. But I wish you all the best, as a fellow Veteran. Hang in there and do what you need to do.

Knight  
#15 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 9:08:52 AM(UTC)
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What percentage are you getting from the VA? If the PTSD is service connected you should get an increase in your benefit and it might offset some of the losses you are having.
 
At least try, all they can say is no.
amvet  
#16 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 11:59:01 AM(UTC)
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Knight, that was something my doctor suggested. I felt guilty when I originally filed for benefits. I guess I didn't feel I was owed anything.
kgkistari  
#17 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 6:49:21 PM(UTC)
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The answer is...while the government cannot force you to retire, they can terminate you for being unable to perform your job due to a medical situation with no end in site.  We terminated an employee in the IRS for just such a situation.  This employee sued and the government won all the way up through appeals.  Seriously, your best option is to file for disability retirement if you don't meet the qualifications for regular retirement.
amvet  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, January 04, 2011 10:12:13 PM(UTC)
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kgkistari, had the person you terminated run out of leave at the time they were fired?
kgkistari  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, January 05, 2011 6:31:53 AM(UTC)
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No, they had not, but the employee had been absent from work for a year before termination procedures were begun.  And of course there was a lot of documentation involved in the process. The government argued and won on the basis that the long term and undeterminable nature of the absence was detrimental to the public trust.  Basically, they showed the negative impact on the work getting done.  If there had been a definative end to the employee being out I think the outcome might have been different. 
The HalfBreed  
#20 Posted : Wednesday, January 05, 2011 10:36:18 AM(UTC)
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Well, this just goes to show you.....you gotta be better at playing this game than management. Wink
Get yer ducks in a row......

RETIRED 12/19/2012 !!! Good Bye Tension !!! Hello Pension !!!
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