Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Next Steps

It is always the next steps which determine the relevance and efficacy of the prior ones; a misstep can extinguish the progress made from the ones before; a stumble can irrevocably diminish the gains already made; and a fall can destroy the foundation of past steps already taken.

What to do next? We can stumble through; brashly forge forward despite unmapped territories that can harm and destroy; and we can even try and “manage” things by taking small, incremental steps, with trepidation and lacking of confidence, hoping for good things to occur despite our best wishes and hopeful optimism.  Or, we can consult with experts and specialists in order to gain a roadmap, or even hire a guide who has been down this mountain path before, and allow for the gains already garnered to account for something, instead of blindly destroying all that we worked for by forging ahead thoughtlessly like the proverbial bull in a china shop.

That is the problem with Federal and Postal employees who try and prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application without expert legal assistance: every case prepared by the person suffering from the medical condition believes his or her’s to be a “slam dunk” case — for, if the one who suffers from the medical condition prepares and submits his or her case, it is the same person “one and all” of the person experiencing the medical condition and the one who describes the very experience, such that no amount of objectivity can maintain the necessary distance between the two.

Consulting and hiring an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may not necessarily guarantee a “win”; but it does help to ensure that the next steps do not extinguish the prior years of investing in your Federal or Postal career, by making sure that the next steps mean something beyond the stumble, hesitation, or sudden fall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sitting alone

Sitting alone can be dangerous.  Whether early in the morning or late at night, when one’s thoughts are the only neighbor within, and the soliloquy of voices have been shuttered into basement echoes where the drip-drip of a broken faucet reverberates amidst the endless thoughts of tumult and disaster.  The disconnect between reality and thought, betwixt action and mind, become exponentially exaggerated when sitting alone.

Rarely do tectonic shifts in the objective world result in major disasters where entire civilizations crumble and become destroyed; for, each and every day, subterranean movements occur imperceptibly without notice of bystanders who walk from cafe to office; but within the shifts which occur while sitting alone, the tumults of a mind fearful of one’s future become endless nightmares that cannot be contained.

The subtlety of fear unrecognized; the voice within that panders to irrationality; or of the dread that overwhelms — it can all come about through sitting alone.  The cacophony of voices around; the television blaring to drown out silence; friends and acquaintances invited in order to keep out the squeezing quietude of being alone: these are temporary ways of blunting the danger of sitting alone.

It is like having a medical condition and trying desperately to ignore it; at some point, we are all alone in the world, just as the womb that once protected within a catacomb of warmth and security became lost upon the expelling into the cold and heartless universe, and so we remain sitting alone with fear and loathing for a future yet undecided.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are sitting alone, unsure of what do to because a medical condition has begun to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is time to consult with an attorney and begin the process of initiating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and to stop avoiding the prospect of sitting alone by becoming lost in the day-to-day struggle of endless points of procrastination.

For, sitting alone is the pathway to realizing the disasters that loom within one’s thinking; it is a consultation with an experienced OPM Disability Retirement attorney that will open upon the doors for a future yet untold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The historical data

How much historical data is too much?  Is there a correlation between “too much” and “loss of interest”? In other words, when a history book is written, does the interest shown by the reader begin to wane when a certain point of quantitative overload begins to overwhelm?  Further, does the audience for whom the historical data is written depend upon the extent given?

Certainly, “popular” historical narratives provide “juicier” content than more “serious” biographies, where the salacious aspects of a person’s life or of an event are put to the fore, as opposed to relegating them to footnotes or in those “fine print” pages at the back of the book.

If, for example, data is compiled for an internal study for the “Historical Society of X”, then certain detailed information without limitations might be included — i.e. how many times this or that civilization went to war, went to the bathroom daily, ate one kind of fruit as opposed to another, etc. But if that “study” were to be made into a biography of an indigenous tribe, to be sold to the general public, it might leave out certain of the more uninteresting data, or placed in footnotes or “background notes” at the back of the book.

At what point does a historical narrative become “tedious”?  Again, is there a correlation between “interest shown/sparked/waning/losing” and the extent of data provided?  Is there a “qualitative” difference as opposed to sheer quantitative overload?

These issues are important to keep in mind when a Federal or Postal employee begins to write one’s narrative in response to questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, there is always a tendency on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant to have this unquenchable desire to “tell one’s story”, as opposed to answering the question on SF 3112A in as precise, concise and incisive manner.

At times, some amount of historical background may be relevant and somewhat necessary, but unlike “internal studies” that have no cognizable consequences in providing “too much” information, an overabundance of irrelevant data provided may have a duality of negative results: First, it may take away from, and diminish, the “main point” of the narrative, and Second, you may be providing information that is inadvertently harmful to one’s OPM Disability Retirement case without intending to.

Remember always in a Federal Disability Retirement case, that the eyes that once see cannot be blinded after the fact, and it is better to provide information as a supplemental means in a Federal Disability Retirement case, than to have to explain, correct and amend after a denial is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: The Resistance

The initial reaction to such a title is the obvious one: To what?  Of course, Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes immediately to mind — of every action having an equal and opposite reaction; thus, when one posits a “resistance”, the natural query must refer to its opposition, as in, “What is it that we are resisting?”

Throughout our “stages of life”, we either comply, conform, “go along with the crowd” — or resist doing so.  There are “middle” ways, of course, and yet to compromise and resist “half-way”, or in a half-hearted manner, often seems to ruin the whole point of any resistance, doesn’t it?

If one is to be a revolutionary, the point is to be one completely, or not at all.  During the Sixties, there was the famous line (often misattributed to Abbie Hoffman, the Beatles and others) which declared that the movement’s participants would “never trust anyone over 30” — spoken by Jack Weinberg in response to a hostile interviewer.  The underlying point of the statement is quite clear: By the age of 30, most people have “sold out”, conformed, lost their youthful vigor to resist; or, put more simply, accepted the status quo and have become cynical.  Yet, isn’t there a natural inclination to “belong”, to not stand apart from the crowd, and to be able to live a quiet, unassuming life?

“Resistance” can thus have a duality of meanings — it can imply that one is part of a movement involving resistance to the status quo or, even its opposite; that one resists change and is integrally a participant of the status quo.  Resistance to change is the greater dominating force.  Change is a fearsome entity where the unknown is to be avoided at all costs.  To be a part of “the resistance” that refuses to conform — well, that is best left to those under 30, unattached and without obligations and responsibilities.

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, resistance to change is often the factor that procrastinates, and keeps a person in a “muddle of the middle” where conditions deteriorate but one stubbornly insists upon maintaining the status quo.

But as medical conditions deteriorate and as the Federal Agency or the Postal Service persists in seeking change — by forcing the issue and initiating adverse actions in order to fill the position with a person who is able to perform all of the essential elements of the position — resistance to change must be replaced with becoming a part of the resistance: By preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM and forging ahead into a future yet unknown.

Remember —even Jack Weinberg became a class of individuals that he resisted, and went on to become a consultant and an adjunct faculty member; in other words, he was once in the “Resistance”, then became that opposite and equal force to fulfill Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill,Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Systematic Preparation

Can a project be well-prepared if there is no “system” in place?  Do we trust, for example, a construction firm who goes about their business without a blueprint?  If you ask of the firm, “Well, can we see some examples?” or “Can you provide a rendition of what kind of a house you plan on building?” — what would you think if the answer came back with: “Oh, don’t worry, it will have a roof, a couple of bedrooms and a kitchen.” Is that a satisfactory answer? Or, would you want to see that a firm foundation is first built, and that a systematic methodology of preparing, then initiating the building project will proceed in accordance with a previously agreed-upon blueprint of the archetype of the product proposed?

To that end, shouldn’t you be able to speak to the lead architect, at some point, and not merely be sloughed off to salesmen, administrative support staff and other office workers who may be very helpful, but are not the ones who will “head” the project?

Similarly, if you call a law firm, shouldn’t you be speaking with the lawyer him/herself, instead of a secretary, paralegal or some other “disability specialist” whom you believe you are hiring, but you never seem to get a hold of?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has come to a point where it/they prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the necessity in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often an option which is unavoidable.  That being said, do you want to proceed down the administratively complex process of Federal Disability Retirement without a systematized methodology of preparation?

Consulting with an attorney who specializes in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a good first step in gaining a blueprint on how to proceed; just be careful that you don’t hire a law firm that merely has all of its “underlings” do the important work of the systematic preparation, and moreover, it is important to inquire as to what kind of approach the attorney has in moving forward to win a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, for you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Appeal: Second Opportunities

In life, how often do we get a “second opportunity”?  To correct a past mistake; to avoid the consequences of an error committed; to rekindle a damaged relationship; and other acts of revitalized and redemptive scenarios rarely allowed.

Second opportunities, and the rare third ones, allow for erasures to be made, modifications to be incorporated and additional, corrective information to be inserted.  Of the following, what would one think? “Oh, a mistake was made in the contract which goes against you, but not to worry, go ahead and make the changes and we can sign everything again as if … “ Or: “Oh, your rich aunt disinherited you after you called her that horrible name and in a drunken rage knocked her over the head with vase, but not to worry, she forgives you and has placed you back in her will.”

Those are, to be sure, instances of second opportunities, but rarely to be had and more likely to occur in fictionalized accounts of redemptive fantasies otherwise unpublished because of their unlikely occurrences.

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 “Second Opportunity” (and the “Third”) comes in the form of the Reconsideration Stage, and then an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Don’t let such an opportunity for corrective action slip through the “proverbial fingers” by making the same mistake twice.  It is, at either the Reconsideration Stage or the appeal to the MSPB, an opportunity to fill in any gaps (whether merely perceived by OPM or substantively existing, it doesn’t really matter); and to reinforce any lack of medical evidence by having the opportunity to supplement, and even modify, statements made or omissions allowed.

Some OPM Disability Retirement cases may be weak in their very essence, whether because of lack of medical support or because of other reasons undefinable; other cases may simply need further development, explanation or supplemental evidence to “shore up” the unpersuasive peripheral issues that have appeared in the case.  Both the Reconsideration Stage, as well as the appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, open opportunities to resolve one’s case in one’s favor — by being granted the ultimate end and goal with an approval of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

The road to attain that goal, however, must sometimes travel through multiple doors and second opportunities, and that is how one should see the Second (Reconsideration) and Third (an appeal to the MSPB) Stages of the process in trying to get one’s OPM Disability Retirement application approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Universal Specialization

The world didn’t just become bifurcated over-night; it then shattered into a thousand universal parts, and each required a specialization where subsections of the primary subject became sliced into lesser wholes, the parts of smaller parts, until no one now knows how to do anything without the specialized aid of the specialist in the department of specialization.

The fractured world has become one of micro-competence, where once the jack-of-all-trades individual was needed in order to run a farm, feed a family, be a doctor to the animals, as well as work as a carpenter, plumber (oh, we forgot — outhouses were used back then, with nary a trace of indoor plumbing, so strike that), and the all-around “MacGyver” guy from the 1980s series where ordinary items were easily transformed into extraordinary problem-solving implements.

Overspecialization of a society leads to alienation; taken to the extreme, it makes into each of us incompetents to even turn on the faucet.  Marx would have been aghast — for, no longer is the assembly-line factory worker alienated from the work he or she works upon by not feeling the accomplishment of the “finished” product, but moreover, doesn’t even know the purpose beyond the 4 screws that are drilled into the monstrosity because of overspecialization.

Is the world a better place because we comprehend less of the pie that constitutes the whole, and is our knowledge of it any greater merely because dissemination of information is available via the Internet?  The two are somehow connected, are they not?

Somehow, there must be some mathematical formula involved, something akin to: The Greater the X, the Lesser the Y, when factors 1, 2 & 3 interface with exponential diminution of T minus Z. Complexity, in the end, often induces greater specialization, and unfortunately that is true in the field of Federal Disability Retirement Law.  “Local Lawyers” are rarely knowledgeable enough to represent Federal or Postal employees in an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The various Stages in the process of Federal Disability Retirement Law require precise and targeted responses; and for the Federal or Postal employee preparing to “put together” a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS, it is not the right time to be the “MacGyver” type of guy; it is best to consult with a Specialist in Federal Medical Retirement Law, and prepare well for the fractured road ahead where universal specialization is a necessity in a world where horse and buggy are no longer existent except on faraway farms in Pennsylvania or other scattered places where the Amish retain the “old ways”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent 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 understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: The Traveling Show

Remember those amazing traveling shows?  Whether for a circus, an amusement park, of various booths and exotic people doing tricks, talents otherwise unappreciated; or, as in foreign countries, with a monkey (or two), a bear or some other intelligent species ready to perform for the gathering audience.

In modernity, they are, for the most part, erasures of history; forgotten, if barely remembered; shows that foretold of an earlier era, of a time when entertainment was scarce and anomalies fewer.  Of course, we are more sensitive to quirks of nature, as well — and find it repulsive to pay in order to stare at people with mishaps and disfigurements; and so that is perhaps a good thing, as we have a deeper collective consciousness for the feelings of others.

In a way, however, aren’t each of us somewhat of a “traveling” show?  We enter into the lives of others, “travel” through, then disappear, leaving behind memories positive or negative, departing for other destinations while separating from the sequestered lives of those we encountered, touched for a day or embraced for a fortnight.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often likened to those antiquated “freak shows” — everyone is interested; the crowd gathers; the gossiping reverberates throughout the trembling audience in anticipation of the story’s end.  What will they say about you?  How will they remember you?

The spectacle of the uneventful; that is what so many of us now live for but for the boredom of something different.  Or, perhaps, it is likened to the Roman Coliseum where the tigers and lions were about the devour for the entertainment of the masses.

Regardless of how it is viewed, for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who needs to “travel” away from the crowd of curious onlookers, it is important to prepare well and formulate accurately an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, lest the “Roman centurions” over at OPM ready their swords to slash and destroy one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, looking upon it as nothing more than another traveling show making its way through the discourse of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: When once…

When once the dream was left unfulfilled, and yet the future appeared so boundless and promising; when once the time spent was so precious as to bring memories and tears of joy for the privilege to live; when once the rains came but not to dampen the sorrows of yesteryear, but to wash away the scars of today’s longing; and when once, there was a time forever bottled so that tomorrow would be remembered as a mere passing thought, and the day after a haven for memories yet to be forgotten.

When, once, we took for granted that which we never think about, reflect upon, and youth’s folly continued for a day and a dawn only to be wistfully forgotten when once the call from Mom’s flustered voice shouted at us to come in for dinner, when the crickets were still singing their mournful melodies in the quiet of evening’s end.

Looking back can hold one back, especially if the remorse of what once was makes you pause in a day when even an hour cannot be spent whittling away the time that cannot be recaptured.  There is time enough for remorse and regret; time yet to remember and recall with nostalgic warmth for days of yore; but as the world turns in the “here” and “now”, the daily grind of duty’s call and obligations which cannot be avoided, must first be attended to.

“When, once…” is to be set aside until the last breath when the drifting dreams of yesteryear’s pausing regret begins to foreshadow today’s memories of a bygone time.

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, time remains of the essence, and while sickness and deteriorating health may freeze one into desiring a time of remembrance back, “when once…” — it is not the right time, yet.

This is still the time to fight on; it is the moment to preserve and protect; and while a Federal Agency or a Postal Facility may have dampened your spirits or attempted to make you into a downtrodden employee whose best years are behind you; nevertheless, it is time to assert your rights and carry on the good fight.  Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you as a Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a good part of that fight to preserve and protect your rights.

Why should you fight for them?  Because, when that time comes when you say to friends or family that, “When, once…” — the “filler” should be: “When, once…they tried to deny me, I fought and won.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire