Let’s be very clear: while the designation of a Performance Improvement Plan is often characterized or defined as an “opportunity” for both the Agency as well as the Federal employee to assess the performance of an individual, in order to show areas of needed improvement, to identify areas of needed accommodation, etc., the truth of the intended placement of a PIP is one clear roadmap: To get rid of you. It is a way for the Agency to have an “objective” basis in which to propose a termination of a Federal employee. It is a way for the Agency to be able to say to the Judge, “Hey, we tried; we gave him/her the opportunity to improve…”
The consequences and linkage between a PIP and a Federal Disability Retirement application, however, is almost always there to take advantage of: The Performance Improvement Plan (a corollary for the Postal employee is the “Investigative Interview”, or other similar nonsense) is proof-positive that one’s medical conditions directly prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.
The key is to try and document the linkage — between the initiation of a PIP and having the Agency acknowledge that there are underlying medical conditions which caused the necessity of a PIP initiation, as well as leading to the resulting failure within the PIP. While it may be that the Federal employee wants to continue to work, and not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the reality is that the initiation and institution of a PIP is a good indicator that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is no longer a choice; it has become a necessity.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire