Category Archives: Pre-Application Considerations

Federal Medical Retirement: Resisting the Scatter Approach

Preparing a Federal Retirement application under the FERS system naturally lends itself to a “scatter” approach because it requires multiple facets in order to complete the complex bureaucratic process.  Like the tentacles on an unruly octopus, some facets must be correlated in sequential order, while others must be attended to simultaneously.

And because some portions must be completed by your Federal Agency (which is too often uncooperative and/or uncaring, and also it is sometimes downright antagonistic to the process as a whole) — and all the while being under pressure of an unreasonable timeline imposed by OPM, it is easy to despair and give up on the process entirely.

Perhaps that is how the system has been deliberately created — to make the process as difficult as possible in order to discourage as many Federal employees and Postal workers as possible.  To counter this, it is important to begin with a guiding principle — of the statutory criteria and case-law formulations which provide the overarching foundational premise — a legal cover letter which creates a successful roadmap for arguing your case.

Otherwise, the only alternative remaining is to succumb to the “scatter” approach — which is precisely what the U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants you to do so that they can deny the case based upon the incomplete aspect of any one of the unruly tentacles required.

Contact an Federal Disability Retirement Attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating, and filing a coherent, cogent, and effective Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case, and resist the “scatter approach”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Logical Consistency

For even the general population, it used to be that “logical consistency” mattered.  To be “inconsistent” showed a semblance of unreliability, and even of suspicion of truthfulness.  The difference between mere “consistency” as opposed to “logical consistency” is one that demarcates between living a life based upon principles and holding contrary opinions simultaneously.

Thus, a person may live inconsistently — a pastor who preaches fidelity to marriage but is himself a philanderer — but live with great logical consistency in expounding upon his theological belief-system.

In argumentation, the “weak link” is both the logic of the statements posed as well as the consistency of opinions held.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, “logical consistency” is based upon the appropriateness of the statements made, the medical conditions asserted and the laws which apply in order to meet the legal criteria to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Mere “consistency” is not enough — i.e., to have health condition, to be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, to be in chronic pain, etc. “Consistency” may get you a step closer to an approval from OPM, but it is “Logical Consistency” — the arguments made, the evidence produced and submitted and the requirements met in a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case — which will cross over into an approval for Federal Disability Retirement.

Consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest consistency alone fails to get you far enough and logical consistency awakens the slumber that results in an approval from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Lawyer exclusively representing Federal & Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Empathy and Pain

I feel your pain” has become a declaration of empathetic character in modernity; but whether born of sincerity or from political expediency, one can never know, precisely because empathy as a subjective phenomena is just as elusive as pain itself remains.

How does one assess or judge, evaluate or analyze, confirm or conclude with any amount of certainty, the extent, severity, reality or even of simple existence of that which is subjective by definition?

Pain, like one’s motive, falls within the realm of a person’s own experiential declaration, and is confined by the boundaries of one’s own body and universe of phenomena within the voices of one’s inner conscience and consciousness.

That is why the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP) expends its resources in verifying a claimant’s assertion of pain, limitation of physical activities and restrictions from certain duties, by video-taping hours and hours of a person’s daily activities and recreational engagements — to see whether the subjective claims correspond with the objective participation of external performances.

Why doesn’t the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for purposes of verifying a disability retirement claim, engage in similar tactics in determining — not “empathy” or the sincerity thereof, and not even necessarily the pain claimed — the extent and severity of medical conditions claimed?

Likely, because the standard and criteria in determining eligibility for the benefits are quite different.

For OWCP purposes, while it is not a retirement system but a means of compensating an injured individual in order to have the ultimate goal of returning him or her back to work, the standard of paying a Federal or Postal worker “temporary total disability” would clearly imply two (2) things.

First, as already stated, that the compensation to be provided is “temporary” (i.e., that it is not meant to remain a permanent feature of earned wage replacement) and Secondly, that a person’s incapacitation is “total” in that he or she is not able to engage in other meaningful employment and, furthermore, that the totality of the disability likely also impacts other areas of his or her life, as well — i.e., leisure activities, recreational participation, or even being able to take out the garbage (a familiar tactic of video-taping in DOL cases).

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, however, under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a person who is receiving a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is allowed to also work at another job, so long as it is identifiably distinguishable from the former Federal or Postal job from which the FERS Disability Retirement benefits are received, and so long as one remain’s under the “80% rule” that caps one’s earning potential.

Empathy aside, the pain that limits and restricts is often under a cloud of suspicion by the Department of Labor, precisely because “feeling one’s pain” is seen from the side of OWCP as the criteria for paying out benefits, whereas under OPM rules, it is merely a lesser standard in order to remain productive in the private sector.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Just as preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative process — as opposed to an “entitlement” where a simple act of filing or meeting an automatic requirement makes one eligible and entitled — where one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Federal or Postal employee meets all of the legal criteria for eligibility; similarly, once the Federal or Postal employee obtains the Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is a “process” which one must be prepared to embrace, in order to maintain the continuing viability of one’s OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and further, in order to preserve the right to retain and continue to receive the Federal or Postal Medical Retirement benefits.

That is why it is important to understand the entirety of the administrative process — not only in obtaining the benefit itself, but to ensure future compliance with the statutes, regulations and case-law.

While legal and on-line resources are certainly available and abound with vast information, ultimately those very resources must be applied; and in order to apply them, they must be interpreted by someone who understands the entirety of the administrative process.  “Trial and error” is often not the best approach in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, if only because the “error” may outweigh the benefit of the trial itself.

As such, it is advisable to consult with a FERS Medical attorney who can guide one through the administrative process — not only at its inception, but in its continuing maintenance and retention of this benefit called, Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

FERS Disability Retirement Law: “It’s Behind Us”

The phrase can, without context, mean a number of things.  In story-writing exercises, a phrase such as the one referenced may be thrown at a student, and the student must then formulate the context surrounding the phrase, in order to give it “meaning” and relevance.

For example:  Perhaps it is a story about a haunted house, and two children are looking about, cautiously walking from room to room, when suddenly they hear a creaking noise, and one whispers to the other “It’s behind us!”  Or, it could have a completely different context — of a family crisis and how the various individuals deal with the problem, and when it is finally resolved, the wife turns to the husband and declares, “It’s behind us.”

Context is important, and relevance comes about only when the context is sufficiently fleshed out.

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 begins with a medical condition.  From there, however, the “context” must be fleshed out — the relationship to one’s job; whether or not there is a possibility for an accommodation; what “fleshing out” needs to be done within the context of the law, etc.

In a vacuum, a medical condition cannot “win” against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in attempting to secure a post-employment Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  It is the experienced lawyer who can help in fleshing out the context in order to ground your case in relevance and “the law”.

Contact a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, and begin the process of formulating the relevant context in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Arguments

Should you preemptively argue an issue even when it has not yet been brought to the fore?  Is it better to raise the proverbial “red flag” at the outset, or take the chance that no one will notice the “elephant in the room” (another metaphorical reference) and hope that the potentially problematic concern will be overlooked?

It depends (yes, yes, what a lawyerly response, as expected, from a lawyer).  Art and legal argumentation are part and parcel of what it means to “practice law”.  For, law is not science; it is not always the precision of the word-games which wins the courtroom battle, but rather, the strategic focus placed along with the when and where.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition which necessitates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, it is always important to remember which arguments should be primary, which secondary, and what extraneous issues should be left out of the initial application process.

Will the issue come up later?  Maybe.  But as with Shakespeare’s Queen Gertrude’s response to the over-reaction from another character, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” — it is generally best to leave the sleeping dog alone (yes, another lawyerly, in-artful metaphorical reference — or, is it an analogy?), and deal with slumber of red flags left for another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Planning Long Term

Augustine’s view of Time is essentially based upon the projection of our thoughts into the past; our current encounter with the present; and our anticipation of what will occur in the future.  Without a human involvement in thought spanning across the spectrum of past, present and future, Time merely exists in the presence of the current moment.

Human beings are not the only species who utilize time and apply it for planning long-term.  Other species plan for the coming winter; some engage in long flights to warmer conditions, and not necessarily for just a short stint in Florida.  For planning “long-term”, however, the human species tends to engage in such sport more than others.

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 often appear that “long-term planning” is an act of futility, given the nature of an illness, medical condition or other form of disability.

However, filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS is actually an excellent plan for the future — long term.  For, not only does it provide for a monthly annuity to live on; it actually is “building” your future long-term retirement by counting the time you are on Federal Disability Retirement in the total number of years being accrued, so that when your Federal Disability Retirement benefits are recalculated at age 62, the “total number of accrued years” takes into account not just the time you had as an active Federal employee, but also the years you have been on Federal Disability Retirement as an annuitant.

Thus, you are building up your retirement while you are on Federal Disability Retirement.  Now, that is planning for long-term.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Difficult Case

Is there one that is not?  Each case, with inherently unique facts and circumstances, presents difficulties because that is the way “the law” is set up: Multiple issues, each complex in their own application of the law, where the legal criteria must be scrupulously met in order to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement benefits.

The “showing” in order to meet the requirements of being eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must encompass the facts, establish the nexus to the medical documentation, must meet the legal criteria covering each and every aspect of all of the issues critical to success: of the minimum eligibility requirements; of showing an inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of the position; of passing the “accommodations” test under Bracey; of showing that you could not have been reassigned; of rebutting any prior assertions by the agency that you have already been “accommodated”; of making OPM understand the technical and legal definition of “accommodation” — and an endless stream of legal minutiae which must be met at every turn.

The “difficult case”?  There is no such thing as an easy case, and for Federal and Postal workers who want to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to accept the basic fact that each case will involve a fight, as all of life is a constant struggle where the goal is worth something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Preparing It Well

All three words possess substantive content.  It is rarely so — look at any sentence or phrase and there is often much to edit, cut out entirely, ignore or condense to reach an economy of words.  A “thought” can actually be an abbreviation of a lengthy paragraph, or even of a sentence; but the title, “Preparing it well”, is as fully condensed as any phrase can be.

For, look at each word: Prepare — to work diligently, thoughtfully and with great care so that the end product will accomplish the mission and purpose desired.  It — whatever the “it” refers to, it is the very mission for which the preparation is being engaged, and the foundational purpose for which one is striving to achieve.  And the final word — “well” — to prepare the it in the most effective, efficient and excellent manner.

And when all 3 words coalesce and achieve the fruition for which they indicate: A successful end-product.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition compels and necessitates the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the three words as stated herein applyPreparing it Well.

If you want to meet the criteria of the Federal Disability Retirement Law, it must be so, and you should contact a disability attorney who specializes in that field of law so that the purpose for which you aim may be attained.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.