OPM Medical Retirement Lawyer: Drawers and Other Hideaways

Whether cabinets and chests were created for neatness of housekeeping, or to bifurcate the clutter of consciousness, should be left up to anthropologists and social commentators.  Facebook, too, and Social Media, the inability to resist adding to the clatter and superficiality of what we say, what we collect, and how we amass, both information and items we choose to gather; does it all reveal the historical backdrop of the Mesozoic era, from whence we all originate?

We are all, ultimately, left to the devices of our own unmaking and insufficiencies; and that which we neatly hide in drawers of convenience, and close, become tantamount to sealing our fate when once we conceal that which needs to be maintained.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which Federal and Postal workers seek to obtain, when a medical need arises and the medical condition, injury or trauma begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  Once obtained, the Letter of Approval received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, often declares to the (now former) Federal or Postal employee, that a linear process from start to finish has now been concluded.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Like cars and children, maintaining the sufficiency and viability of an ongoing Federal Disability Retirement benefit is as important as the effort expended to win an approval.  And, like the car which needs a periodic oil change in order to extend the life of the internal mechanical apparatus by an exponential multiple, so the quality of effort needed to retain and maintain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit is minimal and uncomplicated; but necessary.

For Federal employees and Postal workers, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the cost of continuing care of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, once achieved, should never be cast out of mind and consciousness; and rather than neatly setting it aside in some drawer or other hideaway, it should remain on full display in the centrality of one’s livelihood, lest the mice, goblins and other unwelcome creatures begin to gnaw at the ripeness of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Aftermath

We like to think in linear prose; that is why, when E. E. Cummings showered the literary world with typographical disarray, a collective groan of discomfort visibly shook the foundations of the art form.

In daily life, it is the capacity of seeing a beginning, continuum and conclusion to a segment of a bifurcated visual horizon, which makes for sanity.  Closure and a sense of termination allows for satisfaction of an accomplished deed.  To be required to maintain a project, a task, an obligation, etc., is to engage in an eternal hell of unendurable agony; but that is, in the end, what must be done for most things, which is precisely why life is a challenge of inestimable proportions.

Federal Disability Retirement is no different; once obtained, one would like to think that closure has been accomplished, and that life is nothing more than forward-looking deeds to be reached like ski slopes allowing only for downward spirals of travel, never needing to look back.  But maintenance of effort is always a requirement; making sure that one is preserving the rights which one has fought so hard to gain, is a daily task, a present obligation, and a necessity of life in Federal Disability Retirement law, as in other sectors of life.

Whether to recognize the earned income cap for Federal Disability Retirement annuitants while still under a certain age, or making sure to be able to re-certify one’s ongoing medical condition and disability — these are never tremendously onerous tasks, but ones which can only be satisfied if one is fully aware of the laws which govern them.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the first step in securing one’s future; the aftermath is the second and many subsequent steps, in ensuring the viability of that which one fought for in the first place, lest history should be repeated and goblins be allowed a resting place where none should be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Continuing Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of OPM/Federal Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: After the Dust Settles

Moments in time are often emphasized by specific occurrences; one may have vivid memories of rather mundane freeze-frames of one’s life, and such flashes of remembrances may be punctuated by an event which exponentially magnifies the importance of a particular pinpoint in one’s life.

One often talks about the “aha” event, or in psychology, the gestalt moment, where clarity comes upon one and sudden illumination occurs, where understanding, comprehension and embracing of intellectual openness comes to fruition.  But what one fails to realize, is that the real work — the hard work of life — comes after such a moment, when the mundane drudgery of daily living must follow thereafter.

In any moment of victory of defeat, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must recognize that, if, whether and when, a Federal or Postal employee obtains and gets approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, life must still go on, and the hard choices of such a life must still be made at each moment of one’s life.

Thus, throughout the administrative process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement, it is important to recognize that the process itself continues; but in a different form.  If denied, the disappointment of a denial should not overwhelm one, but merely be understood as a momentary setback which must be fought.  Everything in life comes at a cost — and expended effort.

If approved, then such an approval is merely the beginning point to the next phase in one’s life.  After the dust settles is when the real work begins.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Post Disability Retirement Issues

Often, there is a collective sigh of relief once a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, such that the newly designated and identified Federal Disability Retiree or “annuitant” forgets that, just as it was important to be scrupulously vigilant in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, so it is just as essential to remain attentive in maintaining and retaining the benefit itself.

Thus, the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant should presumptively expect to be selected in the future to answer a Medical Questionnaire.  Such presumption of receipt will enable the former Federal or Postal Worker to keep the necessary focus, and thus the benefit.  It will often come every 2 years or so, if at all, and will request an update of the status of the medical condition, the prognosis, and whether the annuitant has recovered sufficiently to return to one’s former job, or any similar job that the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant worked at previously.

It is therefore important to continue to foster, maintain or establish anew the doctor-patient relationship, such that if and when a Medical Questionnaire is received, the entire process does not become an unforeseen emergency.  Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits required a significant investment of one’s energy, time, savings, and attention; vigilance in continuing to retain such a benefit deserves no less.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Future Reviews

I have had a number of inquiries concerning events which may or may not occur post-approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application, including a Medical Questionnaire or the extent to which Federal authorities may inspect or otherwise monitor a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant.  

First, let me state the obvious:  one should never engage in fraud.  That being said, remember that the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity under FERS or CSRS overtly encourages that one should remain productive and engaged in the workforce.  Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS is designed to compensate an individual because of a specific disability from a specific type of job.  It pays less than other forms of compensation (i.e., Worker’s Comp) precisely because it encourages you to go out and find another job in another field, one which may be part-time (and therefore would qualify you because you could not perform a similar job on a full-time basis), or one which may utilize a different set of physical requirements; or one which may be “less intense” than your former Federal or Postal work.  

Sensational stories about Federal or Postal workers who have been arrested because of video-taped evidence of engaging in high-impact sports and recreational activities, or of individuals seen performing physical exertions beyond their “stated medical limitations“, almost always involve OWCP/Worker’s Comp violations.  Under OWCP rules, an individual is receiving “temporary total disability” benefits — and the emphasis must be focused upon the middle word — “Total” — as opposed to a FERS or CSRS Federal Disability Retirement annuitant, who is receiving a retirement benefit based upon his or her medical inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and is encouraged and allowed to go out and get another job making up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal Job paid.  There is a vast difference between the two.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But… (Part 2)

Then, of course, there are the multiple “other” issues which the Office of Personnel Management “says so”, such as failure to pay the full amount of back-pay due; failure to compute the average of the highest-3 consecutive years correctly; reinstating the full amount of FERS once a person becomes no longer eligible for Social Security Disability benefits; arbitrarily and capriciously deciding that the medical report is not “good enough” in answering a post-disability approved, Medical Questionnaire; failing to compute the earned income in any given year properly, and thereby informing the disability retirement annuitant that he or she earned over the 80% limit of what the former federal employee’s former job currently pays; and a host of other issues.  My specialty is in obtaining disability retirement benefits for my clients; I only selectively get involved in post-disability annuity issues, but the point here is that the Office of Personnel Management has a track-record of being in error, in multiple ways, on multiple issues, in volumes of cases. 

It is thus important to recognize that the Office of Personnel Management is not an infallible agency.  Far, far from it, they are merely made up of people who are subject to error, but often stubbornly so — unless you counter their denial in an aggressive, but calm and rational manner.  If a denial comes your way, do not get distressed; prepare your case well, and lay out the groundwork necessary to win.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire