FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Making the Legal Argument

Legal arguments are merely a subset of ordinary ones; as variations of the facetious quip goes, if the facts are not on the lawyer’s side, then he will argue the law; if the law is not, he will argue the facts; if neither, then he will attempt to confound and obfuscate both.

By sequence of logical argumentation, it is self-evident that “facts” must be the first order of presentation; then, persuasive discussions concerning those facts, forming and molding a given perspective (for there is surely a distinction to be made between that which “is” and that which “is seen” by a particular individual, bringing in the subjective component of interpretation and conveyance of information); and only after the facts have bespoken should persuasive efforts follow; and then, the legal argument to be made.

Thereafter, the question of how aggressive a legal argument; of pounding like a hammer, or the subtle tap of the constant but insistent drumbeat, guiding the listener with a roadmap as to why a decision should be made pursuant to persuasive force, or threats of further legal action.

For the Federal and Postal worker who is trying to have a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, the art of persuasion, the effective use of legal argumentation, and the delineation of factual roadmaps must be coordinated with the utmost of care.  Administrative processes are often replete with frustrating procedures to follow, and it is a dangerous endeavor to allow for one’s frustration to erupt when dealing with a bureaucracy which is rarely responsive, and normally unaffected by the most dire of circumstances.

Thus, in sequence of logical argumentation: The facts as portrayed in as objective a manner as possible; the interpretation of the facts, such that the subjective perspective is insightfully applied, but without the overuse of the “I’ or “me”; argumentation; then, and only then, the applicability of the law.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who meet the minimum eligibility requirements of time in Federal Service, age and a level of medical evidence which must be carefully and thoughtfully presented.

As such, for the Federal or Postal worker who intends on filing for the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the art of factual and legal argumentation must be presented with persuasive force, often like the slow dripping of an unconstrained faucet, as opposed to the break of a dam.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Complexity in the Hidden Background

To prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is seemingly an uncomplicated matter.

As one’s medical condition impacts the ability to perform one or more of the essential element of one’s job, it is up to the treating doctor to establish the nexus and provide an opinion as to the connecting bridge between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

How does one do that? Must it be comprised of a 1-to-1 ratio between job elements and medical conditions? How important and prominent are “symptoms” considered, as opposed to the mere clinical declaration of the diagnosis, in persuading the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that a particular medical condition should qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? To what extent is one’s own statement of disability, as described on Standard Form 3112A, important in establishing the foothold towards gaining an approval from OPM?

Also, what algorithm or comparative analysis does OPM use in evaluating a case, and how does one enhance the chances of success at the First Stage of the process? If denied at the First Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, does the basis of the denial (often characterized by a plethora of multiple reasons given) require a point-by-point refutation, and is the Reconsideration Division at OPM using the same standard of review, or a different application of laws in evaluating the additional evidence submitted at the next stage?

If one watches a gymnast, a ballerina, or even a mathematician at work in solving or unraveling a complex problem or exercise, one is immediately struck by the ease with which the feat is performed. But it is almost always the unseen preparation which has preceded the actual performance that sets the stage of an uncomplicated presentation.

It is that mystery of the uncomplicated, which tends to trip us all, and that is no different in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Ignorance and Coping

Within the complex world of information technology, modernity has reached a level of overload which few from past generations could have ever imagined. One needs only to peruse a Tom Swift novel to compare how far we have come; and even the old greats like Asimov and Bradbury could not have foreseen, in the height of their intellectual and creative powers, much of the technological gadgetry of the present age.

Then, of course, there is the “human side” of the equation of modern technology — of how individuals cope with such information overload.  Many have theorized that the exponential explosion of Major Depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the societal impact of increased psychiatric disorders, stems from a response in terms of coping mechanisms; and we counter the response with advanced pharmaceutical admixtures.  The more common means employed to cope with the deluge of constant informational dissemination, is to limit the exposure to the volume of encounters.

Thus, the age-old adage of ignorance being a “blissful state” retains some semblance of truth.  But for those facing issues of legal limitations and filing deadlines, it is best to “be in the know”.

For Federal and Postal Workers intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 1-year Statute of Limitations for filing applies from the time of separation from Federal Service.  Being on OWCP does not forestall or extend the 1-year rule. As such, once an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 is issued or, for Postal Workers, when those 0-balance pay stubs stop coming in the mail, it is well to be aware that the clock has begun to tick.

Ignorance can indeed be blissful, and being the gatekeeper of information overload may be a means of coping; but in the end, the inquisitiveness of Tom Swift must always prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Simplification of a Complex Process

It is the simple things in life which provide the greatest amount of pleasure; but simplicity often conceals the underlying complexity inherent in that which merely appears so.  

The child who first observes the vivid pictures on a computer screen has little to no understanding of the complex hardware and software network interfacing which, in the long history of computer design and evolving creation of computers, resulted in the seemingly simple result, produced by a push of a button.  Thus, the complexity behind the microchip and the human endeavor which designed, created and manufactured the product is what makes for the simplicity of the complex.  

As with all other things simple and complex, Federal Disability Retirement must be approached with caution. The questions which are required to be answered on Standard Forms (SF 3107 series for FERS applicants; SF 2801 series for CSRS applicants; SF 3112 series for both FERS and CSRS applicants) may appear quite simple in form; the content of what must be provided will necessarily require a complex interaction of thought, foresight, knowledge of the law, and carefully chosen words to provide information, argument and documented evidence which proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Federal or Postal worker is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

To compile and produce a product which appears “simple”, from the myriad of administrative complexities, is the key to a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Simplicity betrays complexity; that which appears so, may not reveal the underlying and compound complexities which must be cautiously approached.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unplanned Event

One always likes to think of the present state of affairs as one resulting from the systematic planning put in place years ago — as in the proverbial “comfortable retirement” that was set in motion through wise investments and retrospective prognostications which were presumably based upon sage advice.

But life rarely works that way.

Yes, the analogy of the treadmill, or of taking one step forward and two steps back, all apply.  There is a famous line in a British rendition of “Emma”, in which the father mumbles beautifully, “Life is like going from one bowl of gruel to another”.

Those who come to a point of contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, often find themselves in a similar situation.  One works tirelessly, thinking that such hard work will reward itself by growing one’s nest egg, where savings develop over time; where within-step-increases come because of meritorious behavior; and where loyalty to, and from, one’s agency is strengthened and established because of the time, effort, and hard work one has, and will, put in.

But then the unplanned event surfaces.

In the beginning, one can fool one’s self and say that it is merely temporary, that it will all go away, and that one needs only to survive for the next coming day.  But the unplanned event can be just as effectively destructive as the planned one, and the results just as final.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is best to see the neutrality of one’s circumstances — for, it matters not whether one “planned” for a medical condition; rather, the point is that, once accepted as a fact, it is the extent and effort of planning after the revelation of an unplanned event, which will make all the difference in one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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