Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement under FERS: Performance, Conduct or Attendance

Those are the 3 areas which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management looks closely at when evaluating a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS — “performance”, “conduct” and “attendance”.  There is a 4th criteria — that of “incompatibility” — but that issue is normally applied when a medical condition manifests itself as being inconsistent with the positional requirements of a job.

Performance” is determined objectively by whether one has fully met annual performance evaluations/ratings; “conduct” concerns any record of adverse proceedings initiated by the Agency or the Postal Service, including written warnings, reprimands, on or off-duty allegations of misconduct, charges and/or convictions; and “attendance” deficiencies are determined by the remaining level of accrued leave, whether of SL, AL or use of LWOP and the exhaustion of accrual.

These — OPM has determined — comprise a more “objective” basis upon which a Federal Disability Retirement application is determined.  Of course, one’s medical condition is further evaluated based upon the severity, type and category of the medical condition itself, as well.

When considering filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, ask yourself the question, “Do I have any deficiencies in performance, conduct or attendance?”  Next, Are there objective factors that can show definitively that I am no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of my job?

Having a supportive doctor is crucial in a Federal Disability Retirement case, but other indicators as well can be used in arguing in favor of one’s case, and objective indicators can make the difference between success or failure in all cases reviewed and evaluated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Consult with an experienced Attorney who specializes in Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Law to determine the viability of your case; for, in the end, it is the presentation of objective factors which will win your case, and not your “feelings” as to whether you can do your job or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Virtual Reality

Say a person says to you, “I was in Japan last night.”  You had just seen him the day before, and so you might quickly calculate how many hours it would take for a flight to Japan, how long he could have stayed there and then flown back; and, perhaps you would unduly confuse yourself by thinking, “Perhaps the time-zone shift is such that yesterday is today and today is actually tomorrow’s today because of the international time-zone shift”, or some similar nonsense as that which often confuses and confounds us all (in fact, isn’t that how we always feel when we must change the clocks for that “Spring Forward” and “Fall Back” period?).

You study the person’s features and determine that he looks refreshed, without a hint of sleeplessness.  Upon coming to the conclusion that, No, it is not possible that your friend had actually gone to Japan and back, you say to him or her: “What do you mean by that?”  The person says, “Just what I said.  I visited Japan last night.  I went on a tour of Kyoto, a couple of shrines, saw the cherry blossoms and had a couple of meals and drank some sake and then went to bed.”  And you take that sliver of an opportunity — that phrase, “I visited” combined with, “then went to bed”, and with suspicious deliciousness as of a genius private detective who has singularly uncovered a mystery, declare: “Aha! You mean you were on your computer and took a virtual tour of the country!”  To which your friend says: “You can put it that way.  I say that I was in Japan last night.”

In this world where virtual reality and reality itself has been conflated, the words we use have similarly broken out of their previous state of rigidity.  Whether of “alternative truths” or misstatement of facts, the malleability of language has had to adapt and conform to the changes of reality.  Is there a distinction with a difference between a person who takes a “virtual tour” of a country, as opposed to actually, physically flying there and walking about the lost ruins of Peru?  To the question, “So, did you visit the Sistine Chapel while there?” — both and either may provide a detailed description of their independent and individual experiences, and do so convincingly; and even to the question, “Were you really there?” — the answer can be identical and yet truthful.

Yet, there are some things in life that still defy conflating virtual reality with the “real” reality — such as medical conditions.  For, “virtual” pain and “virtual” medical conditions do not impact the identical experiential phenomena of the “real deal”, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a real medical condition such that the reality of that condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, you may want to consider filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS .

Before you do that, however, consult with a “real” Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer, lest a “virtual” one provides you only with virtual advice, in which case it won’t be worth any more than a virtual dollar used to pay for a virtual meal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Refutation of Stefan Zweig’s Essay

FERS OPM Medical Retirement: Refutation of Stefan Zweig’s Essay, “Books are the Gateway to the World”.

Not quite a refutation, but merely a protest — and perhaps a defense of illiteracy.  Zweig writes beautifully; persuasively; in colorful prose that captivates; in convincing form — if not in logical argumentation, but more as a poet who is convinced that words, books, literacy and the spread of the written word is indispensable to life itself.

He ends with this poetic flourish: “The more intimately the man associates with books the more profoundly he experiences the unity of life, for his personality is multiplied; he sees not only with his own eyes but with the countless eyes of the soul, and by their sublime help he travels with loving sympathy through the whole world.”

Who can argue with that?  Who can so poetically refute and rebut a sentence of such insightful beauty?  Yet, it is not with the argument for books and literacy that is objectionable, but rather, the notion that the man with whom he met and befriended but who is later found to be illiterate — that this rampage of sorrow and defense of literacy is at the expense of this unfortunate man.

Consider how he describes such a person: “He is walled in by himself, because he knows nothing of books; his life is dull, troglodytic (Definition: a “member of any of various peoples (as in antiquity) who lived or were reputed to live chiefly in caves” — i.e., “cavemen” or “cavewomen”).  And: “I was shocked to think how narrow the world must seem to the man who has no books.”

True, Zweig may have felt pity for his new-found friend, whom he previously described as a person who possessed a “genius for mimicry and caricatured everybody”, and whom he found fascinating and of enjoyable company — until, it turns out, that he discovered his illiteracy.

The essay ends without a conclusion; perhaps he took the time (without writing about it) with the friend and taught him how to read.  More likely, they went their separate ways — the other fellow pitied for the remainder of Zweig’s days, the author convinced that he was an individual to be pitied.  But that is the criticism to be posited, isn’t it?  That we make judgments without judging ourselves, and unjustifiably when we have the power to do something about the ills we encounter.

For Federal and Postal employees who have encountered that very circumstance — of facing judgments by others while nothing is being done — of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that has determined that you are not worth “saving” because of a medical condition that now prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job; it is then time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

Don’t wait around for help from your Agency or the Postal Service; it is likely that you will not receive it.  Instead, consult with a FERS Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  For, in the end, the decision to take the next step to “help yourself” will be up to you, and you should not consider the Federal Agency or the Postal Service to help you as your “friend” — leaving aside whether they will even feel a scintilla of pity for you; they won’t.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: A Thousand Cuts

It is the classic question which allegedly reveals something about a person’s inner psyche: Of whether you would rather die from a thousand cuts, or quickly and instantaneously?  Of course, the third option is never allowed within the hypothetical, because to include it would defeat the whole purpose of the question: Of continuing to live, or even of a “middle” ground, where it is not quite a thousand cuts and not nearly immediately.

But implicit in the “thousand cuts” alternative contains the hope of surviving, anyway, doesn’t it?  For, presumably to inflict a thousand slashes implies that it would take a considerable amount of time, as well as agony, torturous pain and unimaginable cruelty imposed; but it is time of which we seek in order to have any chance of survival, isn’t it?

Time is what we seek; that tomorrow may be different from today; that a future beyond the apparent corner may be a destiny yet unknown; that, without tomorrow, there would be no flame of hope, and it is that flame — however weak, flickering or susceptible to extinguishment at any moment — that we guard because the looming shadows await to overwhelm and dominate, like the lurking stranger behind the facade patiently awaiting to pounce once the flame dies.

We can endure much, and the time of agony can be withstood so long as there is some hope for tomorrow; and it is when tomorrow offers no hope that then we might ruefully mourn the choices we made in suffering through the thousand cuts.

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 job, the endurance suffered can be liked to the torturous spectacle of being cut a thousand times.  Perhaps Federal Disability Retirement is that very flame of hope that will keep you going.

Consult with a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and seek that goal of maintaining the flicker; for, without it, the tomorrow we live for may be extinguished by the other alternatives unimagined.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Stress Test

It is meant to determine the vulnerability of structural foundations, or to gauge whether, under certain extreme circumstances, it will withstand catastrophic levels of pressure for safety and soundness.  Distress triggers the ultimate test; and whether a breaking point can be established is always a fear — of how low or high, and of what tolerance the test itself will reveal.  Objects, composite elements meant to reinforce; and most of all, people — to the extent that stress can damage, and whether such damage can be repaired.  “Repair”, of course, is a relative term, and whether or not the structural firmness can be attained after any damage has been repaired, to a level of pre-damage status, is always of concern.

Can a psyche once damaged be repaired to a state of original soundness?  Are the vulnerabilities inherent in individuals capable of withstanding the stresses of modernity, and is the “test”applied the same as the reality of daily stresses exposed?  Is there even a “test” that can determine the safety or soundness when it comes to human beings?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the daily stresses of the medical condition itself, with all of its inherent complications, are overwhelming enough; it is then the “piling on” of everything else — of Agency actions; of the adversarial nature and responses of the Agency; of the potential for denying continuation of LWOP while even under FMLA protection, and the concern for one’s future with an Agency that seems bent on making one’s life harder than it needs to be: These, and many other “stress tests” determine the need to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits.

Consult with an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and begin to apply the legal stress test to determine eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; for, in the end, the only Stress Test for a Federal or Postal employee seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits worth applying is the one which determines the potentiality for a successful outcome, and seeking the counsel and guidance of a FERS Disability Retirement attorney is the best way to relieve the stresses that surround such an endeavor.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: Stupid Mistakes

Our first reaction may be that such a phrase is in fact a tautology; for, to make a “mistake” is by definition to do something “stupid”, and so it is merely a redundancy to use and place both terms together.  But surely we can conceive of circumstances in which “making a mistake” turns out to be the very opposite of having done something “stupid”?

Perhaps some earth-shattering mistake in science resulted in a new discovery — of having made a mistake in combining two or more elements but resulting in a new, composite element beneficial to society?  Or of having made an accounting error which accrued to one’s personal financial benefit?  But even then, one may argue that the mistake itself was a stupid one; the consequences merely turned out to be beneficial, but that doesn’t necessarily impact the character of the mistake itself.

And what of follies in our youth?  Does age and greater experience, retrospectively reflecting back into the series of life’s mistakes and actions thoughtlessly taken, lead us to conclude that we have made multiple “stupid mistakes”?  What, then, constitutes a “mistake” such that it was stupid?

Often, a glimpse into what we did in the past — of having forged ahead without a plan, thoughtlessly, and without due diligence in considering all of the factors; these, and many more actions taken without an inkling of preparatory counsel, constitute what most people consider as a “stupid mistake”.

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 may be necessary to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.  In doing so, it is necessary to have a full and comprehensive understanding of the laws which govern FERS Disability Retirement and the administrative process and procedures abounding.

Consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement Law, lest you come to regret it as one more “stupid mistake” that was made — as one of many that we all make throughout our lifetimes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire