Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Excellence and mediocrity

Are the two identified only by comparative existence?  Can one abide in pure mediocrity throughout a lifetime, only to be fooled into thinking that excellence has been achieved, but on the day before extinguishment from this universe, be visited by pure excellence that suddenly compels one to realize that all along, only a ho-hum level of mediocrity had been attained?

Conversely, can one maintain a level of excellence without a comparative standard against which one may know what “mediocrity” consists of?

It is like the grammatical elevation learned in former school days, of “Good”, “Better”, and finally, “Best” — how does one identify the last in the tripartite series unless there is a comparison against that which is lesser, and how does one ever realize the progressive nature of one’s endeavor unless there is improvement to realize?

One may argue that excellence cannot exist except and “but without” the coexistence of mediocrity, and thus the corollary must also be true.  Isn’t that the problem with everything in life — excellence, once achieved or realized as a goal, becomes a hollow voice of regret when once mediocrity is the standard to which one is reduced?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has reduced one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s Federal or Postal position and duties to a level of mediocrity and struggle just to maintain a lesser standard below what one has become accustomed to — of excellence in all arenas, including health, personal life and professional goals — the reduction resulting from one’s deteriorating health is often accompanied by a sense of having become a “lesser” person precisely because one has known the “better” and the “best”.

“Good” is not enough, anymore, because “better” and “best” have once been tasted.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may not be the “best” answer to all of one’s problems, but it is the better solution to the Federal employee or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, especially when the “good” is merely an exercise in mediocrity where once stood excellence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The Bully and the Beast

Yes, yes, the title is all wrong; but that “other one” is for fairytales and childhood memories, and not for the ugly reality that is faced by grownups with the cynical perspective that, by age 30, has come to overwhelm and dominate.

“C’mon”, the refrain comes back, “let’s at least enjoy the childhood fantasies that still delight and enrapture the imagination, and quit being a spoil-sport!”  Yet, just as the idealistic twenty-something becomes a crotchety-old fifty-something, so the reality of the Beauty and the Beast — of the traditional story told in so many variations involving the beast that is of beauty beneath; of the nature of appearances as opposed to the substantive reality; of pithy sayings by parents who want to spare the feelings of their unattractive children that beauty is “only skin deep”; of higher academia where such childish notions then get transformed into “Platonic Forms” or the Aristotelian “substratum” — is the cold world that we all come to know.

Somewhere in one’s mid-thirties, the conclusion is reached that, No, the world is not reflected in the fairytale as recalled, but rather, the universe is occupied by the Bully and the Beast, and we are too often caught and trapped in the middle between the two.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — the “Bully” is too often represented by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service and its manner of treating a sick employee; and the “Beast” is the alternative — of the constant harassment; the reprimands; the adverse actions threatened or proposed; and perhaps even represented as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the entire administrative nightmare known as “Federal Disability Retirement”.

For, once upon a time we were all children and dreamed about fairytales and fantasies; but somewhere along the way as we “grew up”, we came to realize that the world was not occupied by gnomes, goblins and cute hobbits scurrying about in the wild forests of our own imaginations, but by the ugly reality that the world is populated by people who are not very nice, and that sickness does sometimes hit the nicest of us, and oftentimes filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the best choice to make between the Bully and the Beast because the Beauty and the Beast had faded long ago into the warmth of childhood memories forever faded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The Source

Every vibrant and expanding civilization relies upon it; the crumbling ones disregard it; and the stagnant ones begin to question their necessity. It is applied in various contexts, but the importance of maintaining its relevance as the authoritative foundation cannot easily be dismissed.

We hear the word used in different contexts: Whereof the source of the the River Nile? What are your sources in arriving at your conclusions? And are they “original sources”, or “secondary” ones? And of the infamous “anonymous” sources — can they be trusted, or does the mere intimation of anonymity betray an unreliability precisely because there can be no accountability by the very nature of a faceless and nameless origination?

In modernity, since everything is “sourced” through Googling, and very little attribution is verified by “original” sources, does it matter anymore whether one’s asserted authority for declaring X, Y or Z is based upon primary or secondary “sources”, or even if it was an anonymous “third-hand” source?

Furthermore, does an obscure source of a little-known citation have any greater impact than one that is well-publicized and of common knowledge to all? If, in the course of a conversation, everyone relies upon the believability of a “source” — say, a stockbroker who has never been wrong, but then someone pipes in that “so-and-so” says to stay away from that company because it’s about to crumble under its heavy debt-structure” — who do we believe? Does it matter if the “so-and-so” referred to is a Board Member, or some insider at the accounting department of the company who is “in the know”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal Worker’s ability and capacity to continue in his or her career, the sources and resources that you put together in preparing, formulating and filing your Federal Disability Retirement application should be original, reliable and dependable. — from the doctors who support you, to the lawyer who will represent you, to the credibility of the “sources” you gather.

For, in the end, the search for the source of the Nile matters not for “where” it is, but from what mystery of origination would flow such that the beauty of a civilization would spawn such a wealth of culture and originality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Foregone conclusions

There are many; some, within the universe of a greater subset, are perennial by nature, and can never be altered but for some miracle yet to be considered (like the fact that the Baltimore Orioles will have ended its season sometime by early June of each year); others, of a more generic knowledge, assumed and forever predictable, ever to be presumed as a law of nature (as in, somewhere in the world a war will be started within the next year, or that a child will be born, or even that a medical condition will impact someone, somewhere).

Foregone conclusions are tidbits of knowledge gained from experience of life; and where the cynic will declare that they establish the circularity of repetitive reality that cannot be avoided or ignored, the idealist will counter that miracles and exceptions may yet prove otherwise such that what was presumed to be a conclusion is never foregone but merely imagined.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who harbor thoughts of foregone conclusions based upon the deteriorating health of one’s present circumstances — that you will be “fired”; that the PIP imposed will inevitably lead to termination; that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset will be defeated by one’s own Agency or the U.S. Postal Service — remember that it is up to the sole determination of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and not one’s Agency or the Postmaster of one’s Postal Facility.

All Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applications are submitted to OPM, and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service can only have limited influence upon the viability and persuasive effect of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Where there is a will to fight and an objective basis in which to file a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is never a foregone conclusion that there is not a chance for a successful outcome.

Now, as for those Orioles’ fans who think that there is hope for next year…well, you must truly be an idealist to avoid the foregone conclusion that, yes, the sun will rise again tomorrow, and set yet again later, but a season’s end that began in early May is not a great indicator of next year’s beginning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Trials of error

Normally, of course, the common usage of the terms involve the combination with a conjunctive — of trial and error, implicating a process whereby the latter term triggers the former (i.e., the “error” forces us to engage another round of trials, which then may lead to further errors resulting in further trials, etc.) into a potentially lengthy repetition of attempts, each with the advancement through possession of greater knowledge gained from the errors identified and witnessed.

The concept as it stands, however, implies something further:  of the experience of each error and the process within such error and what the error may implicate.

Human beings have an expansive capacity to “move on” quickly beyond errors made, and perhaps that ability of adaptability is an evolutionary advantage for a species that makes a fair number of errors that, in other contexts and within other species, would spell the extinction of the species itself.

Errors compounded go beyond the experience of the trial itself; sometimes, errors lead to other errors, and thus the “trials and errors” in their aggregate allow for greater knowledge and adaptability depending upon the nature of each error and of many trials.  But it is the trial of the error that often needs to be paused, and allowed to ponder upon, before going on to the next trial, lest the lesson from any one error has not been sufficiently learned before a further trial is engaged.

Sometimes, of course, the trial of an error, if not sufficiently comprehended and reflected upon, is the very reason why further errors of judgment follow, precisely because not enough time has been spent upon the nature of the error itself.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to recognize the trial of an error — for, with a Federal Agency or the Postal Service, one is encountering a behemoth of intransigence when attempting to garner any sympathy or loyalty.

Medical conditions themselves are “trials” enough, and when a Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins the process of punishing the Federal or Postal employee for taking too much SL or LWOP, or even invoking FMLA rights, the “error” is not so much the trial of patience, but rather, in thinking that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service was ever on your side to begin with.

While a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a strictly “adversarial” process, one must always consider whose “interests” are being looked after in each trial encountered:  the interests of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, or of one’s own?

The trial of error often begins with a mistaken identification of a more fundamental error on the part of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, and for the Federal or Postal worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the first step in preventing the greater trials of multiple errors is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire