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

 

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Systematic Preparation

Can a project be well-prepared if there is no “system” in place?  Do we trust, for example, a construction firm who goes about their business without a blueprint?  If you ask of the firm, “Well, can we see some examples?” or “Can you provide a rendition of what kind of a house you plan on building?” — what would you think if the answer came back with: “Oh, don’t worry, it will have a roof, a couple of bedrooms and a kitchen.” Is that a satisfactory answer? Or, would you want to see that a firm foundation is first built, and that a systematic methodology of preparing, then initiating the building project will proceed in accordance with a previously agreed-upon blueprint of the archetype of the product proposed?

To that end, shouldn’t you be able to speak to the lead architect, at some point, and not merely be sloughed off to salesmen, administrative support staff and other office workers who may be very helpful, but are not the ones who will “head” the project?

Similarly, if you call a law firm, shouldn’t you be speaking with the lawyer him/herself, instead of a secretary, paralegal or some other “disability specialist” whom you believe you are hiring, but you never seem to get a hold of?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has come to a point where it/they prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the necessity in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often an option which is unavoidable.  That being said, do you want to proceed down the administratively complex process of Federal Disability Retirement without a systematized methodology of preparation?

Consulting with an attorney who specializes in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a good first step in gaining a blueprint on how to proceed; just be careful that you don’t hire a law firm that merely has all of its “underlings” do the important work of the systematic preparation, and moreover, it is important to inquire as to what kind of approach the attorney has in moving forward to win a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, for you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: What not to say

Of course what not to say is as important as the things one says.  Such a warning is true in most contexts — social; professional; personal; familial; in either private or public settings.  We are taught that at an early age, and continue to feel its social and cultural “bite” throughout adulthood, until one has (hopefully) gained some wisdom throughout the years.

Some never learn it — perhaps because they never had to endure the consequences that naturally come about, or simply don’t care or, in the very rare instance of uniqueness, do not need to care either because of wealth, power or prestige that, like the teflon individual, no amount of social crudeness will wipe the sheen away.

“Don’t stare” is an admonition that parents make early on — another form of “what not to say”, except this one in correcting a non-verbal action.  “Don’t say things that are hurtful”, or “Don’t divulge private information to people you don’t know”, as well as the one that has to be balanced with concerns about putting too much fear into a child: “Don’t talk to strangers”.

It is, indeed, the “don’ts” in life that define the social graces within acceptable normative behaviors, and as the spoken work (or the written, as the case may be) takes up so much of human interaction, what we learn not to say, how we act and are restrained from acting, often defines the extent of a person’s maturity and learning.

It is often the negative which defines the positive — i.e., what we do not see is rarely noticed, but constrains that which is revealed (the positive) so that the unseemly and rough edges have been worn away, manifesting a smoothness that borders upon beauty.  But never underestimate the destructive force of that which is negated; for, if forgotten, it will resurface and damage.

Thus, for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always remember that — in preparing, formulating and getting ready to file a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application — it is important to keep in mind those things NOT to say or reveal; for, once you admit freely a legal basis upon which a denial becomes a certainty, it is difficult to retract that which is revealed.

So, in the end, your parents are proven right: What they told you NOT to say is precisely the rule to follow.  The problem, however, is that when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to comprehend the full import of what not to say.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The peril of procrastination

Time is considered to be a continuum; it remains throughout, and except for artificial slicing imposed by seasons or bifurcations recognized by night and day, sunlight or darkness, or other natural categorizations which creep beyond our calendars, “time” remains a rhythmic cycle barely noticed until deadlines scream to be met and the ageless alarm clock suddenly awakens.

Noticed when the hands on a clock move; of the hour hand, slowly and with slumbering care; of the minute hand, more deliberatively; and of the second hand that ticks away while we watch time pass by.

In this digital era, time refuses to “march on” as the metaphor once informed us, and instead stares silently through the redness of a glaring, impassive face.  Waiting makes for awareness of passing; waiting in line to get into this or that establishment; waiting in a doctor’s office; waiting for a train; or do we just wait because there is nothing left to do?

Procrastination is a form of waiting, except we put the proverbial cart before the horse: Instead of waiting for the allotted time or event to occur, we wait for its non-occurrence, then rush to complete the non-occurrence before the expiration of the allotted time.

Certain events make for pleasantry of time — as in being with others you enjoy; performing a deed of delight; or merely resting, relaxing, engaging in activities of mirth; while others extend the laborious into an unbearable anguish of unending torment — of pain, unwanted relations and uninvited calamities.

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, time can become an enemy if one fails to foresee the peril of procrastination.  At some point — and often, early on — it becomes obvious that filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, becomes a necessity.

Trying to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is a long and complex administrative process, and delaying that which one knows must be done is not merely the peril of procrastination, but an exacerbation and potential worsening of circumstances that may already require your attention today, if not yesterday or the day before.

For, in the end, it is not procrastination itself which creates the peril — rather, it is the peril of the medical condition left to time and its progressive deterioration — and that is why procrastinating can itself be avoided by consulting today, without delay, with an attorney who specializes in the the proper preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Now, as for that chore that was left for tomorrow…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Interests

There is self-interest; then, the interest of the third party; or perhaps on behalf of the interests of you, the second person.  Whatever the interests involved, for some odd reason, it is the “self-interested party” that raises an ire of suspicion, a pause devolving with a wrinkled eyebrow, a frown or a furtive look of concern.

Thus, of the old adage that a person who represents his or her own interests may be deemed a fool —but not because of any fervency of advocacy, or even a question of competence, necessarily; rather, it is because of the loss of objectivity that is perpetrated by failing to be able to step back and review one’s circumstances with disinterested dispassion.

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 basic elements of one’s Federal job, the concern about whose interests are being looked after, and whether or not what you are doing is in the “best interests” of the client involved — you — should always be one of concern.

You may well be the best person who looks after your own interests — for, surely the one who has the most to gain or lose is the one who will look after those interests.  However, the reason why representing one’s self in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often an unwise move, is because the loss of objectivity cannot always be overcome by the medical evidence presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

It may well be appropriate to write an impassioned letter in declaring one’s love for someone; or even a heartfelt declaration using many adjectives and adverbs in conveying condolences or an apology; but when one is beset with a medical condition and is trying simultaneously to manage one’s medical conditions while describing it for purposes of trying to obtain OPM Disability Retirement benefits — it may be too difficult to unravel the double helix of self-interested entanglement in order to attain a needed level of objectivity in the matter.

That is why interests self-directed, especially when pursuing a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, would best be left in the capable hands of an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire