Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Face of Disability

The last seven years have taken their toll
I have now been on "extended" sick leave for a week.  My 1,040-hour sickness benefit, combined with my accrued/accruing vacation and holiday time, will take me into September 2017, or well past my 25-year service anniversary on July 6, 2017.  I turned in my "PCII" form, with a letter attached from a nurse practitioner at my primary-care physician's office, to SNL's Absence Management people earlier this week.  That should be enough to for me get approved to charge time to the "FMLA Full Pay" sickness account. Then, Absence Management should provide notice of my long-term disability (LTD) claim to UNUM, SNL's disability-insurance carrier, after which I should receive the forms for the LTD claim.  After that, I'll be alone in uncharted waters.  The LTD claim, however, is key to our having enough to live on in my retirement, so it's got to go through.  The good news for UNUM is (a) that I waited 7 years to file the claim, meaning it will only have to pay me benefits for roughly seven years (until I reach 65 years of age), and (b) that I will go ahead and retire and draw my pension, which offsets the amount UNUM has to pay me to make up the difference between my pension payments and 60% of my current income.  Needless to say, I hope those things weigh in my favor; the merits of the claim, on the other hand, favor me start to finish.

The worry is that Lockheed Martin Corporation lost the recent "re-compete" of the SNL maintenance and operation contract.  The new contractor, effective May 1, 2017, will be "NTESS," a conglomeration of Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, and a consortium of research universities.  No one I've ever known who has worked for Honeywell has had many positive things to say about that company. And, given that LMC received the highest rating possible from DOE/NNSA in the most recent performance review, it seems obvious that NTESS won the contract by promising substantial cost savings and efficiencies. The prospect of significant belt-tightening doesn't bode well for SNL employees, or for NTESS's efforts to recruit top-notch scientists and engineers.  I have to hope that NTESS will not come in with a wrecking ball and make wholesale changes to employee/retiree benefits right away.  Luckily, I don't think that will happen, as Honeywell's modus operandi in the past has been to wait a while before putting the hammer down.