Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Where to Begin

Many phone calls admit defeat before the process begins, and this, because the complex process itself is an obstacle of daunting proportions, preventing the Federal or Postal employee from envisioning a time in the future when a Federal Disability Retirement application will have been approved.  

Does a defeatist attitude impact a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Does the U.S. Office of Personnel Management “read into” a Federal Disability Retirement application, somewhat like a mental telepathist, and “know” that the Federal or Postal employee expects a denial? No.  But certainly the approach of how one compiles the evidence, guides the Office of Personnel Management in the roadmap of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application (by narrating a cover letter which is broad in scope, coherent in logical structure, and specific in discussing the attachments and their relevance, etc.), and provides a justifying legal basis for granting an approval — in a comprehensive compendium which provides a foundation to OPM to approve the case — is how one averts a defeatist attitude, and instead replaces it with a confident compilation of a catalogue of clarity (yes, one can get carried away with engaging in alliteration).

Remember that, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the important thing is to always begin with clarity; then, sift through and between that which is central as opposed to peripheral; and in the end, don’t act like an amateur — let the professionals handle it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Tying Together the Loose Strands

When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, and prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management begins.  

One may conceptually distinguish between a “formal” beginning of the process, as opposed to an informal or “real-time” beginning; but in any event, from a retrospective vantage point, it is clear that the “beginning” occurred at that point when the coalescence of medical-to-job impact manifested itself and it became obvious that the Federal or Postal employee could no longer continue in the same fashion as before.  

During this initial part of the process, when the Federal or Postal employee is simply struggling to survive — by going to medical appointments; attempting to continue to work; trying to ignore the reality of the medical condition by striving to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job as before; attempting to maintain the same balance of work-to-personal life, etc. — there is rarely a coordination of efforts, and the disparate strands of life’s compartments never come together in any comprehensible manner.  

But at the “formal” point of preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to engage in the “tying” together of the disparate strands of life — if only to package a cogent and coherent presentation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

Life may be a series of messes; a successful Federal Disability Retirement application, however, should be a serious compilation of proof, evidence, argumentation and logical structure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Defining Complexity Down

The complexity of a Federal Disability Retirement case is made all the more so, in exponential fashion, when the inherent issues concerning the medical condition and its impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job are difficult and involved.

The administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is in and of itself a complex process — if only for the sheer volume of Standard government forms which must be completed — and is compounded in multiple ways when the variegated medical conditions are included.  Indeed, sometimes it is the combination of multiple medical conditions which, in the totality of interconnected and intersecting symptomatologies, constitute the entirety of the medical impact in preventing one from performing a particular kind of job.

It is the job of the applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS — who must define the complexity down to its basic, comprehensible and coherent, cogent presentation, in order for the reviewing clerks at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to analyze and ultimately approve the Federal Disability Retirement application.

A simple rule of thumb:  If you cannot explain it, how will OPM make heads or tails of it? The solution:  If you cannot do it, obtain the services of someone who can; normally, this would involve an attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Administrative Process

Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement must be viewed as a “process“, as opposed to a singular procedure whereby a triggering mechanism automatically allows for receipt of benefits.  The former requires an affirmative approach which involves submission of proof, argumentation, an expectation of resistance (in many cases), and an analysis by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as to whether or not all of the legal criteria have been met.  The latter is merely a formality of filing.

As a process, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has various steps, procedures, and Stages for appeals.  There is, first and foremost, the initial application Stage, where one has the opportunity and right to submit proof of eligibility, and make legal arguments for entitlement.  If one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the first Stage of the process, then one has a right to have it “reconsidered” by filing a “Request for Reconsideration” within 30 days of the date of denial, or receipt of the letter of denial from OPM, whichever is later.  If denied a second time, then the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has a right to file an Appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There are, in addition to the 3 stages described, two (2) additional stages of appeal, but the three main stages of filing are what have been previously described.

With such a “process” in mind, it is wise to prepare for the long haul.  An expectation of a quick and easy approval, even if obtained, should not be embraced at the outset, precisely because one must take into consideration the potential length of time which the entire process may take, and prepare accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year


A short respite from the daily routine is always in order. For Federal and Postal employees who have been following my blogs, take this time for reflection, repair, joy and forgiveness. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and may the coming year of 2013 be fruitful, prosperous and guided by clarity of information.
Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Writing an Effective Federal Disability Retirement Application

According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the identification of context-appropriate language games is instructive in this linguistic-focused society.  With the explosion of information through the internet, via twitter, Facebook, texting and email, the changing and malleable nature of language is quickly evolving into a populace of blurred lines, where the virtual world and the substantive, Aristotelian world no longer possess clear bifurcations.  However language changes; whatever the form of communication; the need to convey clarity of thought will still and always exist.

It is one thing to experience life; it is another to tell about it.  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 important to be able to “tell about it”.

Yes, the primary satisfaction of the legal criteria necessarily requires the substantive experience of the medical condition; but there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “living it”, “telling it”, and “proving it.”  It is presumed that the Federal or Postal employee who is preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits already satisfies the first of the three; it is the second, and especially the third, which presents a problem.

Don’t think that just because you “should qualify” because of the nature, extent and severity of one’s medical condition, that such experiential phenomena justifies the proving of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Ask OPM about it; if you can even get a response back.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Medical Disability Retirement: The Leisure of a Painless Life

For Federal and Postal employees suffering from a chronic medical condition which impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the times of “leisure” have little or no meaning.

Leisure implies the ability to enjoy a world apart from the everyday world of work and worry; it is a short respite from the treadmill of life, obligations and duties, which we all have.  The “Holidays” are also such a period; a time to set aside in order to attend to those meaningful compartments of personal relationships, family ties, and friendships once formed, lessened over time, and fractured through life’s daily struggles.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether physical, psychiatric, emotional — or a combination of a compendium of all three — “leisure” is a foreign concept precisely because the escape into a surreal world of pausing the anxieties of the universe cannot ever be achieved.  Such a point in life indicates the necessity of considering Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, precisely because the escape-hatch is a human need.

The deterioration and progressive pounding of a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is a red-light indicator.  Listen to it; as leisure is a world of solace, so the medical condition is a voice which shouts for a change.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Embracing Progress toward Better Conditions

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is indeed based upon a progressive paradigm.  It not only recognizes that an individual may be disabled from a particular kind of job; but, moreover, it allows and encourages the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future, and to seek a way of starting a new vocation in a different field, without penalizing the former Federal or Postal employee by taking away the Federal disability annuity.

There are maximum limits to the paradigm — such as the ceiling of earning up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays. But to be able to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, while at the same time retaining the ability to continue to receive the disability annuity, is far different than the paradigm presented under SSDI or OWCP.

Further, because there is a recognition that one’s medical disability is narrowly construed to one’s Federal or Postal position, or any similar job, the restrictions placed upon the “type” of job a Federal or Postal annuitant may seek, is fairly liberally defined.  Yes, both types of positions should not require the identical physical demands if such demands impact the same anatomical basis upon which one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits were approved for; but, even in such circumstances, one has the right to argue that the extent of repetitive work, if qualitatively differentiated, may allow for a similar position in the private sector.

Compare that to OWCP, where one cannot work at any other job while receiving temporary total disability benefits from the Department of Labor.  Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal employee to plan for the future; and that, in and of itself, is worth its weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Habit Encountering Critical Mass

Most people live lives of peaceful habituation; and while Henry David Thoreau would add that they live “lives of quiet desperation,” such a state of desperation erupts only when the habit of daily living, whether quiet or not, is interrupted by an event or a series of events.

Those who retain their health, or have never encountered a period of chronic medical conditions, can never fully comprehend the tumult and trials of such impact — upon one’s professional life, certainly, but moreover, upon the private life of quiet habit, of merely attempting to sit in a chair; to read; to engage in a leisure activity.  But “leisure” can be enjoyed only if the substantive life of habitual endurance can be lived in a relatively peaceful manner.

For those who have come to a point of contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that former life of peace and quietude — of that “boring” daily habit of thoughtless living — must now be confronted with the reality of a medical situation which must be aggressively pursued, in order to secure one’s future, and to retain some semblance of peace back into one’s life.

Those Federal or Postal employees who must fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — ah, but if only they could have remained in their peaceful lives of daily habituation.  But the encounter with the reality of a medical condition awakens them from such peace and repetitive living; there comes a point when a different course must be affirmatively taken, with obstacles dropped in the path — from a hostile work environment, to coworkers and family members who show no empathy — but the fight must be fought, so that one day the disrupted life of quietude may once again be attained in some semblance of sanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Supervisors, Performance, and Other Matters

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS (although the latter is increasingly becoming a rarer animal, almost to the point of extinction, and has been recently annotated on the “endangered species” list), the concern of many Federal and Postal employees often centers around past performance reviews (a history of “outstanding” performance, etc.), the potential statements of the Supervisor on an SF 3112B, and similar issues.

What the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits fails to understand, is that the reason why he or she has reached that critical juncture where Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, is tied directly to that long and commendable history of outstanding performance.

To put it bluntly, the Federal or Postal employee who has done his or her job so well over the years, has killed him/herself in doing it.  That is why the medical condition has not improved; that is why the progressively deteriorating process, whether of a physical nature or of a psychiatric bent, has reached its critical mass, and one cannot go on in the same manner, any longer.

It has come to a point of a necessity to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It matters not what one’s history is; if one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then it is time to file; regardless of what one’s performance history is, or what one’s Supervisor’ Statement may potentially reflect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire