Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee’s OPM Medical Retirement: Disjointed Lives and Divergent Paths

Life brings with it anomalies and conundrums which make for bumpy rides.  Despite protestations to the contrary, the older we get, the more we seek repetition, thoughtless inaction and monotony of purpose.

Change is for youth; otherwise, why does the parapet of innovation occur (with some minor exceptions) within the fertile mind of those in early adulthood?  Technological discoveries and scientific breakthroughs are formulated within the first third of life; managing a staid environment is left for the second third; and in the final slice of the corrupted remains, we expect quietude and unobtrusive solitude.

Medical conditions tend to disrupt and destroy.  Where once the agency or the U.S. Postal Service enjoyed concurrent and parallel lives with the “productive” Federal or Postal worker, the introduction of a medical condition impacting upon one’s capacity and ability to perform “efficient service” for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, comes into doubt, and it is precisely within the context of the disjointed teleology of intended purposes, that the divergence of paths must take its course.

Fortunately, the Federal system of compensation has preemptively considered such a scenario — by offering Federal Disability Retirement benefits for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Federal and Postal employees who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positionally-required duties, as delineated and described in the official PD of one’s job, have the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Ultimately, such a Federal Disability Retirement application must be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — through one’s agency, if one is still on the rolls of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or separated but not for more than 31 days; or, directly to OPM if the Federal or Postal employee has been separated for more than 31 days.

In the end, it is not the disjointed life or the divergent path which will determine the headstone of time; rather, it is the residual influences we leave and heave upon the next generation of confused minds which will make a difference, and whether the staid quietude we seek in the sunset of generational transfer of responsibilities can allow for another alteration of paths, as one who decided to create a new trail by following Frost’s road not taken.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Purgatory Reverie

The state of the intermediate, the surreal loss of traction in suspended animation; of trying to jog on ice, or to reach a destination traveling on a treadmill; this is a sense one is left with in dealing with a juggernaut of a bureaucratic morass.

In this day of immediacy, where the instant satisfaction of wants and the now of gratifications is met and reinforced by the push of a key, the click of a mouse, and touch of a sensor; and as virtue is no longer looked upon as a necessary ingredient of character, but rather an irritating obstacle to a material goal, so patience cannot be wanting where fissures have widened to such an extent that chasms have created chaos.  Planning ahead is always the key to the timely confluence of achieving the stated goal.  And then some. And perhaps even to multiply the waiting time by a factor of 2.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is precisely that inherent self-contradiction of the constancy of being forever suspended, which gives rise to frustration and turmoil.

Much of it is in anticipation of what the Agency, or the U.S. Postal Service, will or will not do.  Will they initiate an adverse action during the process?  Will they approve the discretionary LWOP request?  Will they “support” the Federal Disability Retirement application, or attempt to undermine the procedural march towards OPM’s approval?

Waiting upon an agency is never a good idea; neither in deciding to move forward on a Federal Disability Retirement application, nor in trying to make an educated guess as to what the agency’s reaction would be (or, in dealing with one’s agency, is it an oxymoron to concurrently use the terms “educated” and “guess”?).  Agencies move at their own pace, and do what they want, when they want, as fiefdoms and totalitarian republics are decidedly meant to provoke.

It is never a good idea to make one’s decision concerning preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, by waiting upon an agency’s actions; for, the immediacy of ignorance may never come about, or suddenly be initiated yesterday; and as purgatory is in and of itself a reverie of angels suspended in timeless harpsichords of orchestrated serenity, so the ill Federal or injured Postal employee who thinks that it is a good idea to wait upon the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service before initiating a Federal Disability Retirement application, will of course remain lost in the long and winding road leading to the pearly gates of tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Delaying the Filing of Your OPM Disability Retirement Application

Delay temporarily suspends for a time in the future; sometimes, at the cost of immediacy of pain, but the human capacity to ignore and obfuscate allows for procrastination to be an acceptable act of non-action.  But certain issues defy the control of delay; medical conditions tend to remind us of that, where attempted suspension of dealing with the pain, the progressively debilitating triggers, or the panic attacks which paralyze; they shake us to the core and pursue a relentless path which betrays procrastination.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement becomes an employment option.

When to file has some room for delay; it is, after all, the underlying issue which must be attended to first and foremost — that of the medical condition.  But the Statute of Limitations in a Federal Disability Retirement case imposes a structural administrative procedure which cannot be ignored.  The Federal and Postal worker who is separated from Federal Service must file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

So long as the Federal or Postal worker is on the rolls of the agency, the tolling of the statute of limitations does not begin; but once separation from service occurs, the 1-year clock (with some exceptions, but ones which you should not rely upon to subvert the statute of limitations) begins.

Delay for a specific purpose is sometimes acceptable (if one is still on the agency rolls), as in undergoing a medical procedure or seeing if a treatment regimen will work; but delay beyond the bureaucratic imposition of a statute of limitations is never one which should be allowed, as the benefit of a OPM Disability Retirement annuity will be barred forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

USPS & OPM Federal Employee Disability Retirement: One of Those Days

There are “those days”, so characterized because of the micro-calamities which, in their cumulative impact, disproportionately reveal a compendium of aggregated irritants amounting in totality to a forgetful epoch of one’s life.

By contrast, a medical condition of an insidious nature, progressively deteriorating, chronic in persistence and debilitating in severity, magnifies tenfold — nay, a hundred, a thousand, a ten-thousand-fold impact of exponential consequences — the remembrances of pain, psychiatric turmoil, and the bitter acknowledgment that life’s meaningful embrace has lost its luster.

The vibrancy of youth, of formidable tolerance for reckless antics and disregard of forbearance and calm rectitude of reasoned behavior, now replaced with caution and trepidation, lest the excruciating pain explodes unmanageably and coworkers can see that you are one of the ones who are now an “outsider”, like those of old, isolated, quarantined and banished to the leper colony, no longer extolled of the talents and virtues once possessed.

While microcosmic calamities can be shrugged off with an excuse of blaming some external circumstances, the problem with medical conditions is that it is tied singularly, inextricably, and undeniably, to the person “possessing” the medical condition; and like siamese twins who share a vital organ, one cannot extricate from the consequences of a medical condition as one can from a spilled cup of coffee.

For the Federal worker or Postal employee who suffers from a health condition, such that the medical condition constitutes a daily cup of spilled coffee, the choices are quite clear: remain in the same capacity and bear the brunt of the daily calamities; resign and walk away with little to nothing to show for one’s lifetime efforts; or the more viable option, to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.

One can sit and sigh, and resign one’s self to accepting fate as characterized as “one of those days”; or fate can be controlled, maneuvered and manipulated, to where those days of calamitous casuistry can be relegated to forgettable events of days bygone, and where the Federal or Postal employee can begin to rebuild a future based upon an OPM Disability Retirement annuity which allows for a base annuity, along with the potential to earn up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

Thus, just as a cup of coffee spilled can be cleaned up; so the hallmark of “one of those days” can be merely an isolated event in an otherwise greater spectrum of life’s potentialities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire