Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The developing case

Some things need time to develop; “news stories” are often those animals — of events that are “still developing”; or of relationships and stories, ideas and categories of things still in stages yet of potentiality and not of actualized inertia. Children develop; medical conditions, as well, are always in stages of potentiality — whether of a worsening condition or even of getting better.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in that “netherworld” of a developing case, where a 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, there is often nothing more frustrating than the feeling of being in a state of suspended animation — “suspended” because you know not what your status will be tomorrow or the next day; in “animation” because, although everything is still moving about and around, it is your career, your health and your life which is questioned and considered as questionable.

The developing case often involves multiple issues — of whether you have a doctor who will be supportive of your case; of whether you have the necessary time in service in order to be eligible; of whether you have given it enough time — and multiple other issues that, perhaps, cannot be affirmatively answered.  In such an event, guidance by an experienced attorney is needed in order to direct the Federal or postal employee through the maze of complex legal obstacles in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Employee Disability Retirement application.

Like most of life’s struggles, the developing case needs to be planned and prepared well, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law is crucial to the successful outcome of a goal which is known, but cannot quite be reached because the path towards that goal is yet developing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Traps and landmines

They are not just set on the roadsides of war zones or in public squares where the greatest damage can be projected; for, by analogy, they are in existence as metaphors of human deviancy and evil intents. Traps are deliberately set with motives and intentions to capture; landmines and other devices are put in place to maim, injure or kill.

Then, of course, there are analogies used and metaphors employed — of legal traps and linguistic landmines; of contracts that “hide” language in miniature fonts that are designed by clever lawyers to mislead and draw into a cobweb of entanglements meant to enclose, corner and — like traps and landmines — either to capture or to destroy.  Linguistic landmines and traps are the ones we encounter more often than the ones in war zones.

In other countries, in far away places where we see reporters “embedded” and whispering in hushed tones of urgency to give us a sense of danger and exotic misadventures, we get a sense of what real traps and landmines are all about.  But in this country, within our universe of relative calm and peace but for the periodic tumults of tragedies in the next city, the farther town or that “big city” out there — in such relative calm, it is usually just a casual trap of language or a landmine of a metaphorical sort.

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, the applicant for Federal Disability Retirement must be cautious and wary of the legal and linguistic landmines and traps in the very preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.

Those innocent-looking forms, such as SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability — while they do not pose the same danger as a mousetrap to a mouse or a landmine to a wandering child on foreign soil — nevertheless, they can become problematic unless you are aware of the dangers posed, much like those traps and landmines we hopefully will never encounter in war zones and conflicts afar, in a metaphorical sense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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