OPM Medical Retirement: The Fundamentalist

It often evokes a negative connotation, of a rigidness and adherence to principles which refuses to concede allowances for exceptions lest the singularity of excusable violation permeate and tarnish the very paradigm of inflexibility; and in a religious context, it represents a historical movement of a “going back” or rediscovery of basic principles of faith.

But being considered a fundamentalist in a secular sense does not necessarily result in a negative implication; strict concurrence with a standard of excellence and an unwavering fealty to ensuring that basic principles are followed, can be a positive thing. Of course, that is not how the term is usually applied, and so we shy away from such labels of convenient certitude.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to be a “kind of” fundamentalist — of an adherence to certain foundational principles in approaching the formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application. For, in the end, pursuance of excellence can be a “kind of” fundamentalism, and insistence upon doing something “the right way” is an element of that most basic of approaches and paradigm of beliefs.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM should be viewed as a systematic, methodological endeavor which always encapsulates three basic principles (thus, as in theological circles, the trinity of fundamentalism):  Medical reports and records manifesting an impacting medical condition; a Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A; Legal argumentation of a persuasive and logically powerful delineation.

These are the three foundations which comprise an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  And if your neighbor shouts at you for being a fundamentalist in adhering to the basic principles of disability retirement faith, point out the beam in his eye, and merely wash out the mote in yours.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Distances

Somehow, proximity often makes for comfort, and thus do we have a greater sense of security if something is nearby, and distance reflects ties of both emotional and physical detachment.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is the Federal agency which determines all issues on Federal Disability Retirement matters.  They are located in Washington, D.C. (with the intake office for the initial acceptance and computer inputting being accomplished first by an office in Boyers, Pennsylvania).

Whether the Federal or Postal employee is working in an office in California, Nevada, Illinois or Virginia; or, perhaps, somewhere overseas in Europe, Japan, etc.; all such applications for Federal Medical Retirement must be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.  If the Federal or Postal employee is still with the agency, or has been separated less than 31 days from the agency, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement must first be routed through one’s agency (or, for the Postal employee, through the H.R. Shared Services Center located in Greensboro, North Carolina).

This is a “Federal” matter, not a state issue, and therefore an attorney who specializes in handling Federal Disability Retirement does not need to be an attorney licensed in the state where the Federal or Postal employee resides.

Very few local attorneys specialize in such Federal Administrative matters; as such, it is likely that an attorney who is equipped to handle such matters will be located in a different state, far away, but hopefully close to the source of the matter — near Washington, D.C. , where the issue itself is adjudicated at the administrative level.

While such distance may preclude a face-to-face meeting with the attorney, there are other safeguards which can be noted, to ensure that one’s comfort zone is left intact:  reputation, accessibility, and references.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Advice and Guidance

The worth of advice is unique in that it is valued based up multiple facets of judgments: the source of such advice; the reputation and historical successes of that source; the soundness of the advisory statement, based upon all information available; and, ultimately, the receptiveness of such advice on the part of the person who seeks it. When advice falls upon deaf ears, of course, then the very value and effectiveness of such advice has been lost forever.

In the legal arena, there is an added component — that the attorney is unable to, for obvious ethical reasons, to render advice unless there has been established an attorney-client relationship.  The “obvious reasons”  have to do with the fact that proffering advice in particular circumstances can only come about if and when an attorney has received the confidential and specific information pertaining to a “client”.  Guidance of a general nature, without reference to individualized details, can be given in a generic sense.

In Federal Disability Retirement law, where each case is unique because of fact-specific medical conditions, position descriptions which are impacted by the particularized medical conditions of the individual case, and the nexus which must arise with the interaction between the two — because of this, legal advice must be tailored within a context of an attorney-client relationship.

General guidance can be given; but the Federal or Postal employee seeking help in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, should understand that the importance of getting good legal advice is dependent upon the value and worth the Federal or Postal employee places upon his or her unique and individualized case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Professionals & Saving Time

In many areas of law, it is often the case that “professionals” prefer dealing with other professionals.  Thus, doctors will often encourage their patients to obtain the services of a lawyer when it has come time to consider medical retirement.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, submitted to the Office of Personnel Management, there are multiple factors to consider when engaging in the preparatory stages of the administrative process.  The reason why doctors often prefer to deal with attorneys when the patient is compiling the “paperwork” for Federal Disability Retirement is that it saves time.  

Time is a commodity which is scarce and valuable.  Doctors do not want to have to engage in multiple revisions or rewriting of medical reports.  Doctors are professionals who believe that their time is best spent in treating patients — and while such “paperwork” is a necessary part of a doctor’s practice, and one which ultimately assists the patient in furthering his or her medical condition and future well-being; nevertheless, if an administrative issue needs to be addressed, doctors will often prefer to accomplish such administrative tasks in the most efficient, expeditious manner possible.  

The same concept holds true for the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  While there is never a guarantee that a “professional” will present a compelling enough case to the Office of Personnel Management such that an approval of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be a certainty; nevertheless, it is normally the most effective road to success.  

As time is a valuable and scarce commodity, so such scarcity and value should be considered at the beginning of the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Seeking an Attorney

Old methods of operating are sometimes so ingrained that accepting a different paradigm is sometimes difficult.  In normal circumstances, an individual who seeks the counsel and representation of an attorney would (and should) seek out a local attorney who is versed and experienced in the laws of one’s particular state.  Most legal issues require the counsel and representation of the state within which the legal issue arose — whether it be contractual, tort, domestic relations, or other matters — and, indeed, an attorney is generally restricted to practicing law in the state in which he or she is licensed by.  

In representing Federal and Postal employees in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, however, the Federal or USPS Worker must understand that the issue to be litigated concerns a “Federal” issue, and not a state issue.  As such, an attorney who specializes in representing Federal or Postal employees to fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will normally not be a “local” attorney.  

Because Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, the fact that an attorney is licensed in a different state is irrelevant.  The attorney certainly needs to be a licensed attorney — otherwise, such an attorney who is not licensed should not hold himself or herself out to be an attorney.  For representation to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management or, if the Federal or Postal employee has already filed, or been denied and filed a Request for Reconsideration with the Office of Personnel Management and was denied again and is now in need of filing an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, the necessity of an attorney at any level of the process should focus upon the specialization and experience of the attorney in Federal Disability Retirement issues — and not on whether the attorney is “local” or not.  

Indeed, in all likelihood, one will not find a “local” attorney who has even an inkling of an idea what Federal Disability Retirement law is all about. Paradigm shifts are difficult to accept, but they are nevertheless necessary in a world of ever-changing circumstances.  While “going local” may be a great paradigm to adhere to in supporting local farms and local products, it is probably not a practical approach in attempting to secure Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: A Federal Issue

For many legal issues which are encountered by most people, an attorney from the state within which he or she resides is necessary and proper.  This is because the laws of each state are different, and requires the expertise of an attorney who is licensed to practice law within that particular jurisdiction.

However, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, not a state issue.  As such, as an attorney who is licensed from one state, that attorney is able and allowed to represent Federal and Postal workers from all across the United States.  

Being “able to and allowed”, of course, is a separate issue from whether a particular attorney is competent, knowledgeable, and experienced enough to perform such work — but those are questions and issues which should be reviewed, determined and inquired into, by each Federal and Postal worker who is seeking an attorney who purports to be an “expert” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement law.  

Such a basis for determination of an attorney’s competency in any area of law should be based upon multiple criteria, including:  Questions asked and answered during an initial consultation; review of any articles written on the subject; information gathered on the attorney’s website — especially the substantive content of any claims made, or any discussion concerning the subject of Federal Disability Retirement law — and a general sense of responsiveness to an initial query.  

Because preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “Federal” issue and not a state issue, it is likely that the Federal or Postal worker will never personally meet the attorney in a Federal Disability Retirement case, and instead, all communication and contact will be by telephone, email, fax, overnight delivery, etc.  This would be a natural occurrence — just as you will never actually see anyone from the Office of Personnel Management or from the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Remember, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, and not a state one, and therefore the attorney who is licensed in a particular state can effectively represent anyone, anywhere, both in the United States, and in other countries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney