Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Bureaucracies

It is an amalgamation of penultimate collectivism; based primarily upon the concept that centralization constitutes efficiency, bureaucracies exist for the sake of a mission long forgotten and forever compelling the existence of its own justified creation.  They have histories, and often historians to record and annotate the accomplishments of their own beings; and the people who work for them speak about them in objective tones of third persons.

Every now and again, a newly-hired employee will bring about a fresh sense of enthusiasm, of new ideas and different ways of doing things; but after a time, each such newbie of fresh growth begins to wilt, like flowers that bloom for a season and then die an expected and predictable death, only to wait for another to take its place.

Bureaucracies tend to do that to their own population – wilt them, kill them, stamp out any newness that might sprout for a brief moment.  And to those outsiders who require the services of a bureaucracy – well, always remember that the bureaucracy will always last longer than even the great period of the dinosaurs.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the exposure to a bureaucracy may be the first time; or, perhaps the Federal employee (and certainly the Postal employee) works within a bureaucracy him/herself.  In either event, suddenly being an “outsider” looking in, as opposed to an “insider” looking out, will be a new experience.

It is good to remind one’s self during this process of preparing, formulating, filing and waiting upon the “bureaucracy of bureaucracies” –- the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – that long after the Age of Dinosaurs passed and became extinct, and long, long after global warming or other such identifiable calamitous event will have altered the face of the universe, OPM and other bureaucracies will still be here.  What a thought to ponder.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Federal Disability Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management: The Insular Universe

The self-containment of society has reached a point of no return; when the universe of virtual reality becomes the focus of dominant conversation, where movies depicting historical events replace the factual narrative of serious discourse; of twitter terminals constituting serious haikus of accepted profundities; the age of human innovation and creative destiny has indeed come to an end.

So where does empathy fit into the maze of humanity?  For a bureaucracy, processing paperwork and finishing tasks satisfies the requirement of emotional output designated for responsiveness.

For the individual awaiting a decision on one’s application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the dealings with “life issues” are comprised of:  first and foremost, attending to the medical condition; second or third, the increasing vitriol of the Federal agency, its agents and assigns, or the U.S. Postal Service through its supervisors, managers and other thoughtless coworkers who engage in various forms of harassment and pushing of pressure points; and further down the sequential order of priorities, waiting upon the administrative process of filing for, and anticipating, a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In a universe where reality and virtual reality no longer have a distinctive bifurcation of differentiating margins, the qualitative conditioning of terminating that video drone is of no greater consequence than denying an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The key, then, is how best to awaken the sleepy eyes of the Administrative Specialist at OPM?  In real life, medical conditions have a traumatic impact upon life’s otherwise uneventful discourses.

How to convey that narrative to a bureaucracy and administrative process is the question of paramount importance.  How to shake up the slumbering mind overtaken with years of callous disregard, and pull from the insular universe of self-containment the reality of one’s condition, depends upon the medical documentation, the statement of disability, and the legal argumentation propounded in a compendium of discourse which will touch the soul.  That is the ultimate art of legal training.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Symbiotic Relationship

In biology, symbiosis refers to the interaction between two different organisms, often benefiting both.  It is the coexistence through the capacity to acquire greater advantage without diminishment and harm to the other, which then allows for the balance of nature to occur.

In other contexts, in differing circumstances or changed environments, perhaps the relationship and the interaction would alter, and the evolutionary forces of nature would impel each to become predator and prey; but for whatever reason, it is precisely the stability of balance in nature which allows for, and favors, such a symbiotic relationship.

By analogy, the relationship between the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Federal and Postal worker, whether the latter is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, enjoys the symbiosis of necessity.  It is precisely for the Federal and Postal worker that the very existence of OPM is maintained; and for the Federal and Postal Worker who requires a personnel action to be processed, the existence of OPM is to the advantage of the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker.

For the Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal OPM Medical Retirement benefits, the enhancement and spotlight of the symbiotic relationship between OPM and the suffering Federal or Postal worker comes to the fore; it is, indeed, precisely a relationship of advantage to both entities and organisms.

Of course, just as in the universe of biological entities (of which the human species is a part of, lest we forget because of our so-called advanced state of evolutionary existence), circumstances may alter, environments may change, and contexts of interaction may convert; and a similar relationship as that between predator and prey may develop.

A denial of an initial application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits tends to do just that; for, suddenly OPM is not just a bureaucratic morass upon which one is waiting for an action to ensue; now, it is an adversary which must be countermanded.

Still, despite the change, and regardless of the alteration of the essence of the symbiotic relationship, where the Federal or Postal worker must then file a Request for Reconsideration within 30 days of the date of the denial of an OPM Disability Retirement application, the interaction must still exist, and necessity of circumstances requires the continuing relationship between the two given entities: the Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition on the one hand, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on the other.

It is by necessity of interaction that the two entities meet; it is by change of context which impels substantive alteration; but in the end, the reliance and dependence of symbiosis remains throughout.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Misnomers and the OPM’s Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division

The problem with misnomers is not just the inaccuracy of designation which is either explicitly or implicitly conveyed, but the unintended consequences of the string of reactions and responses which can occur as a result thereof.  Sometimes, interpretive mistakes occur purely on a subjective basis; in which case it is not truly a case of a misnomer, but rather merely the misunderstanding by the recipient of the information.  Other times, a word or designation can be open to multiple meanings, where reasonable people can differ on the inferences to be made.

For Federal and Postal employees who have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Service employee is under FERS or CSRS (such acronyms have specific, esoteric meanings only to Federal or Postal employees, and as such, cannot constitute an objective misnomer, but rather a potentially subjective one), the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process can result in the failure to recognize and properly respond to various misnomers throughout the process.

For example, when a Federal Disability Retirement case is assigned to an Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and one receives a letter informing the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant that X is further needed — the identification of the OPM Representative that he or she is from the “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division” is both confusing and a misnomer.

For, the recipient of the letter (and just to receive any correspondence from OPM other than an approval letter or a denial letter is an amazing fact in and of itself) can well infer from the designation that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application has already been denied without notification (i.e., because it is in the “Reconsideration & Appeals Division”). In fact, all cases fall under the aegis of “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals” section of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Misnomers may be unintended. It is the recipient and the responder who must, unfortunately, live with the consequences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Bureaucracy

Most people, organizations and entities do not act with deliberate ill-intentions; rather, they fail to think, and actions emanating from thoughtlessness often constitutes the negation of good.  Bureaucratization often results in the unintended consequence of negating the good; for, in following a set pattern and algorithm of administrative procedures, consideration for individual circumstances cannot be excepted.

One can argue, of course, for the positive aspects of a bureaucracy — of the equal treatment of all; of applying the same standards and criteria across the board, regardless of individual needs; and there is certainly something to be said for expunging the capacity for human favoritism.  But bias and favoritism will always pervade; it will merely take on a more insidious form.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, encountering the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will become a necessary evil to confront.

The key to a successful interaction with the administrative process will be to reach beyond the faceless bureaucracy, and to make relevant one’s own particular and unique facts and circumstances.  That is a tall order to face, in the face of a faceless bureaucracy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire