OPM Disability Retirement: Responding to a Denial

More than ever, OPM is denying Federal Disability Retirement applications.  Whether by deliberate design, tightening of legal criteria, imposition of an informal quota system or “just because”, it is clear that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted a campaign of denying Federal Disability Retirement benefits to applicants seeking it.

Is there a basis in the law?  Are all denials justified?  Have they become more focused upon certain aspects of the legal criteria while ignoring others?  Is there a “typical” denial letter?

Some denials retain little to no justification; others appear to provide some rational basis; still others counter with detailed reasonings as to the legal basis for the denial.  The spectrum of the legal basis varies; and then, of course, there are approvals that seem to pass through with nary an objection.  Each case is unique because of the inherent circumstances surrounding the basic foundation of the health or medical condition and its relationship to the Federal or Postal worker’s specific job elements.

FERS Disability Retirement is unique and different from Social Security Disability benefits because the standard of eligibility is distinctively and identifiably unique: Social Security, generally speaking, requires a showing of “total disability”, whereas FERS Disability Retirement merely mandates a much lesser proof of being”unable to perform” one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job functions.

In the end, whether OPM has instituted a policy showing greater arbitrariness in its last Federal Disability Retirement determinations — or not — there is “The Law” which continues to guide and define. Consult with an experienced Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before frantically trying to respond to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.  For, after the First Denial and the need to go to the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is all a matter of the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement: Adapting to inevitable change

Change is an inevitability in life.  Most people, if confronted with it, freely admit that they do not “like” changes.  Being static; doing things routinely; living by force of habit; having a “routine” — these provide a sense of comfort.  Change, of course, can be a good thing — whether of forced alteration for the good of an individual or circumstance, or voluntarily because a necessary modification was identified, resulting in a greater refinement of efficiency or adjustment towards greater perfection.

Can a life unchanged throughout long survive?  Nature itself and the evolutionary theory of adaptability provides a partial answer: Those species which failed to adapt to a changing environment became extinct; others who adapted, whether by natural selection or (in the case of human beings, presumably) by planning, were and are able to survive the vicissitudes of tectonic shifts of change.

There are, of course, those who thrive on change — we read about them in various accounts about people who love the thrill of daily tumults and the unpredictability of ordained routines, or lack thereof and the instability of a life replete with the “high” of adrenaline flow that never ceases.  Can there be people like that — of the high-wired, high-strung individual, and do they constitute the paradigm of how the human species was able to survive the spectrum of past climate changes ranging from devastating floods, shifts of weather and increase of temperatures?

There are macro-based changes and micro-based ones, depending upon one’s perspective.  Global modifications represent the macro; alterations in individual lives constitute the micro.

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 need to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS may seem like a “micro” change to the outside world; but for the individual, it is a big deal, and how to adapt to the change that will come about in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits can be a major, tectonic shift in one’s life, and to prepare for adapting to such a change, you should consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Changing Lives

The phrase can have multiple meanings, depending upon the emphasis given to the words.  On the one hand, it can imply an affirmative, active meaning — of some individual or organization implementing steps in order to alter the course of another’s life.

In this sense, it may be that a problem has been identified — for example, higher rate of drug addiction in a community; increase in crime rates; an intersection with a greater incidence of traffic accidents, etc. As a result of an identified problem, a person, group or entity goes about “doing something” about it — i.e., petitioning the city council to put a traffic light at the intersection; forming a community-watch program to reduce the crime rate; intervening and educating the community about drug addition, etc. Thus, the phrase “changing lives” in this sense can be characterized as an “active” involvement where X is impacting upon Y.

In another sense, it can remain inactive — as a passive onlooker who recognizes that there are alterations occurring in the lives of individuals.  Every day, changes occur in the lives of everyone about.  One may quip that such a manner of meaning is rather inconsequential, inasmuch as it is a given that lives must by necessity change and encounter adaptations every day; for, it is a tautology to include in a single breath the terms “life” and “change”, just as it is a redundancy to refer to the weather without admitting vicissitude.

Changing lives is to be presumed.  Life’s daily turmoils require it; it is an inevitability which cannot be avoided.  The greater question is: How do we respond to the changes?

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 issue about changing lives can take on a third meaning — that one’s life, career and employment status must by necessity undergo an alteration and modification.

The changes wrought are forced by an uninvited force — the medical condition — and the circumstances which mandate change cannot be controlled — of the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  How the Federal employee responds to this necessary change is where the relevant next step takes on greater consequences of potential harm.  What you don’t know in the changing life may harm you, and that is why consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law prior to initiating those next steps in changing lives, is important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Life as a Series of Problems

There are television series; of “mini-series”; of a series of movie episodes once popularity of the first viewing has established the call for a following.

In television and theatrical drama, there has to be an opportunity for “character development” — of getting to “know” a person, of seeing him or her in various contexts in order to determine “who” a person is by what they do, how they react and the very essence of their belief-systems.  Rarely is a play, a story or a novel of any interest when it involves a person or multiple individuals sitting around expounding upon their beliefs or “principles” of life, and why is that?  Is it because a person who talks without being tested can offer nothing more than the sound of air?

The movie of life always presents us with a series of problems; that is what makes a good story, of course — of conflicts, their resolution; the way in which individuals are “tested”, and not merely by hypothetical presentations of analytical problem-solving gestures.

Medical conditions — whether later in life or occurring earlier— always present a challenge that tests a person in so many ways, precisely because medical issues hit at the core of everything about a person: How we see ourselves; what we are able to do; where we go and seek guidance and counsel; and all of the multitude of reverberating effects upon so many varied aspects of our lives.

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, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is just one of life’s series of problems.

It is never a guarantee; it is never a “sure thing”; and as OPM appears to be denying more FERS Disability Retirement cases under this Administration than ever before, it is important to prepare and formulate a plan for a Federal Disability Retirement application and to recognize it as another slice of life’s problems in a series of such problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Problem-Free Lane

There is that obnoxious scene in a nightmare of anguish: Of being stuck perpetually in a lane not moving, then turning and seeing an individual “cheating” the system by speeding down the HOV lane, laughing, carefree and unconcerned about being caught and ticketed.

Life’s rule includes the following, or seemingly does: That there are certain individuals who seem to “breeze” through life without the trials and traumas most of us have to go through.  Atticus, of course, cautioned that you never know what a person is experiencing until you walk in his shoes, and perhaps that is right.  Is there such a thing as a “problem-free” lane, or a care-free zone?  Are there lives which never have to face the problems seemingly inherent and commonly resplendent throughout most of everyone else’s?

Perhaps we fantasize about being wealthy — as if money would solve all of the ills which beset.  Is there a trade-off?  What if you became wealthy but became sick?  Well, you say, then grant me 2 wishes — wealth and good health.  Then another problem arises: Your loved ones are vulnerable.  So you want 3 wishes, instead: wealth, good health and protection for all of your loved ones.  Will that make you happy, or will life still present you with another lane that brings about a trial of unhappiness?

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 position, the idea of the “problem-free lane” of life is an unknown quantity.  Life is full of problems.  There is the medical condition itself; there is the loss of one’s employment capacity; and then, there is the problem of trying to meet the eligibility criteria for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Life doesn’t provide a problem-free lane, and if you are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement in order to limit the problems to the extent possible in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Forgotten Lives

Is it the memory that retains importance, or the fear that erasure leads to irrelevance that motivates us to prevent forgotten lives?  Does imprint upon history — whether in a footnote or an “honorable mention” in the epitaph of an unvisited tombstone — mean so much?  Does a reference in a Wikipedia listing count as a counter to a life lived in anonymity?

Most of us accept that we will not leave behind a greater imprint upon history’s rising trash heap of honorable mentions; and, except for dinner conversations amidst family gatherings, where someone might bring up a story that begins with, “Hey, remember when Uncle X was with us, the time when…” — we are left to memories forever fading and references served only by the ivy that grows over graveyards left unattended.

How important is it to maintain a semblance of relevance in a world where the 15-second timeframe of fame and one’s forever-statement of contribution to society keeps getting shortened because of the need to move on to the next and more titillating cause of excitement?

One wonders whether a person clings to doing something merely in order to avoid erasure from existence from the memories of those engaged.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue working in the chosen field in the Federal or Postal sector of employment, the issue of making a decision to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is often inextricably tied to the emotional upheaval of forgotten lives.

When one’s purpose and motivation for daily living is so intertwined with one’s career, work and the daily relevance of a mission yet to be accomplished, it is a difficult step to take, to recognize that one’s contribution to society may be coming to an end, resulting in forgotten lives and erasure from relevance.

But always remember that priorities must always be assigned, and the priority of one’s health comes before any fear of an honorable mention in a Wikipedia footnote, and just as there is life after a career with the Federal government, so it is also true that history is replete with the unnamed and unmentioned contributions of forgotten lives forever extinguished.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS: The Internal Web of Deceit

The quote is often attributed (wrongly) to Shakespeare, when it was Sir Walter Scott in his lengthy poem, Marmion, which conceived it: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.”  It is the internal web caught within the circular insularity of one’s thought-processes which allows for the capacity to deceive — but of or for whom?  Is it ourselves we deceive, or others, or both?

The problem with internalizing one’s thoughts is not that they are necessarily invalid; it is that there is no objective basis upon which to test their viability.  We all engage in private thoughts; carrying on conversations with ourselves, the problem lies not in whether or not we have interesting ones or not, but whether and to what extent the exaggerated absurdity of circular discourses take on a more bizarre aspect.

Fear does this; and when we fail to test our thoughts against the reality of the world, the web we weave becomes more and more tangled, until the practice of self-deception takes on an enhanced and serious result.

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 often necessary to consult with an attorney before considering the difficult bureaucratic path of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Your medical condition is no doubt “real”.  The problem lies not in the medical condition, but upon the administrative procedures which must be passed through in order to present a credible case of eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For that, it becomes necessary to break out of the internal web of deceit — of the cage within one’s insular thought-processes — and to test the strength of the web as against the laws which govern the administrative procedures involved in formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire