FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Formulating the argument

How does one formulate “the argument”?  Is it merely a reaction that comes naturally, like the person who has been tagged as one who is “constantly argumentative”?  Do all arguments need to provide a foundation of rational discourse — of coherence within an invective of counter-statements, and structure countermanding a deterioration of civility?

For example, when a person begins to answer the questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS — does one pause, consider the various answers that may be provided, and establish a methodology in proceeding to satisfy the question? Does the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits consider first the consequences of one’s answers, and do you weave throughout a thoughtful argument for an approval?  Or, should the “argument” be filed via a separate Legal Memorandum, pointing out the relevant laws, citing the statues and quoting from various cases that have previously addressed the issues posed?

Most people who file for FERS Medical Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management fail to consider the preemptive arguments that should be made within the answers to questions posed on SF 3112A, and thus are denied at the First Stage of the process because the applicant thought that a simple question asked required a similarly-simple answer as requested.

Then, of course, when the Initial Denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received through the mail, the Second Stage of the process — the “Reconsideration Stage” — merits further formulation of legal arguments.  At whatever “stage” you are at — whether at the First and Initial Stage; the second, “Reconsideration” Stage; or even at the Third Stage, an Appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — formulating a coherent, cogent and rational argument that persuades OPM to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application is an important component in a winning FERS Medical Retirement application.

Remember — to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not like having an argument with a friend or spouse; it is an argument which must be based upon facts, evidence, and legal precedents, and to have the best “shot” at it requires the hand of an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Standard of incompatibility

How does one “prove” a standard of “incompatibility”?

Physical injuries often allow for a medical opinion to impose certain restrictions:  No lifting more than X-pounds; no standing more than 2 hours within an 8-hour period, etc.  These, then, can directly “prove” that a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by comparing such restrictions as against the positional requirements of a given job, and “showing” that the standard required can no longer be met.

The “other” cousin of the standard, as reiterated by cases represented by Henderson v. OPM and related precedents, allow for a “different” type of proof, where one may show that there is a general incompatibility between the entirety of one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.

It might be argued that such a standard is more “nebulous” and “harder to prove”, but in fact, the opposite is often true: specificity on a 1-to-1 ratio between a given medical condition or symptom and an element of one’s positional duties no longer becomes necessary.  Rather, a general showing of incompatibility between the “type” of job and the “nature” of a medical condition is enough to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement.

The trick, of course, lies in the manner of “proving” it, but it should be of some comfort to Federal and Postal employees that there is another type of standard beyond the 1-to-1 ratio standard that applies generally for “physical” duties; for, in the end, many psychiatric conditions can only meet the “incompatibility” standard, although some specificity of inability to perform a particular function of the job may be present as well.

To meet either standard is a burden of proof that must be shown by the appellant in all OPM Disability Retirement cases; to understand, apply and satisfy such standards, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Coincidences & wrong attributions

Two events occur within a fairly close span of time; we relate them; we attribute one to have caused the other.  Was it mere coincidence, and was the causal attribution wrongly implied?

We learn from a friend that a certain person X visited the house of person Y.  Y was a good friend.  X never liked you.  A week or so later, you bump into Y and you say, “Hi. Haven’t seen you in a while.  How has the family been?”  Y looks at you, turns the other way without responding, and coldly walks away.

You attribute the behavior of Y as being related to the fact that X, who doesn’t like you, had visited Y the week before.  You connect the coincidence of Y’s behavior and the visitation of Y by X, and create a narrative around the encounter: “X must have bad-mouthed me when he went over to Y’s house.  Y must have believed him, and that is why Y is behaving so coldly to me.”  In other words, you attribute Y’s behavior as the effect caused by X’s coincidental meeting with Y the week before.  Are you right in doing so?

Say, sometime later, you learn that it wasn’t X, after all, that had visited Y the week before, but it was T — another good friend of yours.  Further, you learn that Y’s sister had recently passed away, and Y calls you up and apologizes for the past behavior, explaining that Y simply “didn’t want to talk to anyone that day, and had been walking around in a daze of sorrow.”

Coincidences and wrong attributions; we all make them.  We go back and retrace our steps of logical reasoning to try and discover the flaw of our thought-processes.  It happens often.  What is the rule to follow to try and minimize such flawed approaches to logical reasoning?  First, to get the facts.  Next, to wait before coming to conclusions.  Finally, to try and limit one’s creative imagination from bleeding beyond the borders of known facts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and where 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 first “get the facts” concerning Federal Disability Retirement, and not get mired in the fears of coincidences and make wrong attributions.

It may well be that certain actions initiated by the Agency are not mere coincidences; and it may be true that your “feelings” about the future can be directly attributable to what you have “heard” from others.  But before coming to any conclusions or making any decisions, it is well-advised to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest those coincidences lead to wrong attributions, resulting in making the wrong moves based upon baseless causal connections.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Interests at odds

A comity of interests has to arise in order for relationships to “work” — in whatever arena of meaning such a term must apply.  When interests are at odds, it means that the goals, orientation and direction of each of the parties are conflicted.  A “conflict”, of course, can be direct or indirect, and can be on various levels of complexities, but in general would imply a need to sever ties unless such conflicts are resolved.

In the employment arena, the comity of interests is fairly straightforward: The employer has a set of interests that need to be pursued; the employee, desiring to advance the interests of the employer, agrees to join in with the comity of interests in the common pursuit of stated goals.  Compensation is agreed upon; certain conditions are mutually stated and a contract, whether explicit or implied, is formed.

Conflicts may arise during the course of employment, of course; if a competitor makes an offer to the employee unbeknownst to the employer that directly or indirectly conflicts with the stated goals of the employer, certain ethical questions may arise.  Or, if certain employment conditions fail to be met, the “interests” of each begin to be “at odds” — an odd way of putting it, but that is the lexicon that has arisen in the employment arena.  It is almost a euphemism to avoid the harsh reality of other “choice” words.

Medical conditions can certainly “bring to odds” and damage the employer-employee relationship, and certainly Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers recognize that.

The “solution” that has been preemptively provided is the benefit known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — it is a means to avoid or otherwise resolve the conflict that arises when a Federal employee or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — where, in the event of a medical condition no longer allowing for the Federal or Postal employee to fulfill certain of the employment conditions agreed upon (i.e., not being able to maintain a regular work attendance; unable to work full time any longer; taking too much SL or LWOP; unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, etc.), then it is time to access the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Of course, the “interests at odds” is not just between the employee and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service — it is also as against another agency: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management who attempts to subvert, deny and otherwise place obstacles in obtaining an “approval” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

That is why the “interests at odds” needs to have an advocate — of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  Consult with an attorney who can help you attain the comity of interests, and to counter that entity which clearly is at odds with your interests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The respite

It is a time away; perhaps, a momentary lapse; that fifteen minutes of drinking one’s coffee while daydreaming, or lost in the saucer of one’s teacup in a vintage reflection where the slight crack in the china allows for memories to reclusively drift into never-ending smiles of forlorn embraces.

The respite is that time of getting away, of a break from this maddening world; of forgetting troubles for a moment; of not considering the financial and economic turmoils both of a personal nature and of a macro-sensibility that tends to haunt; and of a period of peace when we can just forget.  Maybe it is the 3-day weekend; or, perhaps just a memory of that time years ago, before screaming kids came upon us, prior to responsibilities and obligations squeezing the air out of pleasure and peace; or even a distance of yesterday or the day before.

Then, there are those who never have a respite; medical conditions tend to do that to us all.  They remind us of our mortality, our frailty, our inability to cope with the reality of a harshness when an isolated island echoes from dark caverns within.  Reality is a cruel thing; it quashes all dreams and hopes, and leaves one with a pit that is bottomless and without a sense of a future.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are unable to find that moment of respite because of a medical condition that prevents 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 who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, to begin the process of formulating and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S.Office of Personnel Management.

Time is of the essence; time is precious; a time of respite is deserved by us all, and the turmoil of remaining at a job where the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform is often the obstacle to the needed respite, and that is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement is so important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Changes we resist

It is almost a tautology; two words placed together as synonyms; and, indeed, the word “change” and its neighbor, “resist” have a commonality that cannot be avoided: Both imply an alteration and a sense of life’s modification never to return back.

We resist it, precisely because we want it to remain the same; but change is inevitable, and to resist is to often engage in acts of futility against a tide which resists resistance.  Few of us welcome, let alone savor, changes in our lives; and when they first appear on the horizon of potentiality, we try and resist, to stop it, to alter the course of history’s onward march.

Perhaps we merely refuse to join in with the change; or have an inner attitude of non-acceptance; or sit gloomily and pout throughout the remainder of days simmering with resentment that we were forced to accept that which we never wanted.  It is like the divorce that shattered one’s childhood and from which we never recovered; the stepmother or stepfather who entered our lives only added salt to the wound where change was resisted but no one listened to our protestations and pleas, asking, “Why can’t it be the same as always?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, “change” and the “resistance” to change are inevitable dualities of life’s misgivings.

Perhaps you were once at the “top of your game” and considered the best at what you do; or, perhaps you thrived on anonymity and were happy to work in a quiet, unassuming way.  Regardless, the very thought of change is something you resisted, but a medical condition forced such a change whether you like it or not.

Change itself is always difficult, but there are ways to mitigate the vulnerabilities that accompany change: Consult with an attorney before engaging battle with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, while change may be like the uninvited stepmother or stepfather into one’s life, the change that truly becomes a tumultuous event is the one where you step forward into the unknown without any guidance or assistance.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal and Postal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Desperation in a time of crisis

There is the crisis, perhaps born of a lingering problem allowed to fester and froth until the boiling point allowing for a simmering of persistent steam to rise and spill over; and then, of our reaction, our departure point where sanity and coherence become overwhelmed and replaced with a sense of doom.

We have all been through a crisis; it is part and parcel of a life lived; and though we never ask for it, it comes when least expected, when we are most vulnerable, and when we believe that we can no longer withstand the tornado of unbounded fury.

There have been moments where the crisis naturally passes, and we simply must await its presence and ultimate disappearance.  Then, there have been ones where we have the strength to muster, to counter and fight, and to overcome — and those are the ones where preparation in youth in replenishing and fortifying one’s strength of character and resolve allowed for the abundance of that inner reserve to take over, almost as if a transcendent, supernatural force took control and led one to greater heights of one’s capacity to withstand and defeat.

Then, at other times, where human strength alone may not have been enough, and it was the support of others — friends, family members, and even the family dog, who allowed one to survive and to continue on.  But it is the last within the list of responsive capabilities — where the crisis comes, and one’s sense of desperation in a time of crisis becomes apparent, and that is when the danger-point comes to the fore.

Desperation in a time of crisis is when one’s strength has been sapped; when the vulnerabilities are revealed like an open sore inviting infection to spread; and when no amount of support from family or friends can appease the soul of the epiphany of sorrow that will not be comforted and where the heaving sobs of despair cannot be stopped.  It is those times when some glimmer of hope must be shone, for it is desperation in a time of crisis that brings a person to the edge of the proverbial cliff, where the jagged rocks of life below foam with an unwary eye of remorseless undercurrent in dousing the flame of life’s gift.

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 not to allow for the growing medical crisis to become a moment of desperation in the time of crisis.

Consult with an attorney who is experienced in OPM Disability Retirement Law; allow for the door of hope to remain open, and do not allow desperation in a time of crisis to defeat that which may yet have a solution; it’s just that you may not know about the solution, but consulting with a Specialist in the field of FERS Disability Retirement Law may be the pathway out of a misperceived situation of desperation in a time of crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire