Disability Retirement for U.S. Federal Workers: The Second Bite at the Apple

Rarely in life does one have a second chance; in important matters, an opportunity will often present itself, and depending upon the option chosen, one must live with the consequences of such a choice, or live the remainder of one’s life with grumblings of quiet regret and remorse.

In the legal arena, the process of what the public views as “endless appeals and procedural maneuvers” allows for the litigant to have multiple chances, and not just a “second bite at the apple”, but often a third, fourth…and seemingly infinite opportunities.

For Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are multiple chances at filing for and obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The only obstacle is if the Statute of Limitations has come and gone — the filing deadline of 1 year from the date of separation from Federal Service.  Even that hurdle contains some exceptions — as in a Federal or Postal employee being deemed incompetent by a psychiatrist to file within the timeframe.

For those who have filed and been denied, and for some reason failed to file for Reconsideration or an appeal to the MSPB — you can refile.  For those who filed and were denied at every level — you can refile. Does OPM still keep your previous file?  Yes. Will they review your old file along with the new filing?  Yes.  But if the new filing is stronger and better prepared, you stand the same chance as a Federal or Postal employee who has just submitted an initial application.

Rarely does one get a second bite at the apple; fortunately, under our system of legal procedures, the taste of the fruit is within reach for another time, and often the taste is more satisfying than the first encounter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A New Beginning, after an Old Ending

Whether it is old age which makes for intransigence, or whether it is a lifetime of habitual living which makes for difficulty in changing the course of one’s future, will never be completely answered.

Youth better tends to possess the capacity to adapt and change as the malleability of circumstances confront an individual.  Old age — or those who euphemistically are identified as being “mature” — has the unfortunate effect of being entrenched in the ways of routine and unchanging, repetitive actions.

Perhaps the early requirement of being able to “multi-task” — of performing a variety of bombardments of sensory overloads on smartphones, iPads, computers, etc. — will have a positive impact upon society in the end, by allowing for quick and effective adaptation in an ever-changing environment.  Perhaps the penultimate, Darwinian evolution is taking place before our very eyes:  cognitive adaptation, where those who fail to change quickly and with each altering circumstance be able to parallel the change, will fail to survive in this high-paced, technological society.  The multiple “perhaps”, of course, still leave a healthy doubt; culture, stability, sameness — there are positive things to be said about the “old” ways.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether it is under FERS or CSRS, the most difficult step for the Federal or Postal employee is to recognize and adapt to the change which will occur, does occur — and must occur.

The old habit of thinking that one’s career with the Federal government, or the U.S. Postal Service, necessarily means a lifetime of commitment, must alter; the paradigm which one walked around with, that a single career in life marked one’s character of commitment and stability, needs to be transformed.  For, ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement allows for a new beginning:  of having that rehabilitative period to take care of one’s medical conditions, while concurrently allowing for contemplation of a second, albeit different, type of vocation for the future.

Whatever one’s age, Federal Disability Retirement has the potential for a brighter tomorrow.  It is a benefit which can allow for a new beginning, and once taken, the Federal or Postal employee will perhaps see that the old ways weren’t so attractive after all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Apparent Independence of Each Stage

In some ways, the fact that each “stage” of the process of Federal Disability Retirement is independent from each other, is a “given”.   When a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the Initial Stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is considered a positive part of the administrative process that the Merit Systems Protection Board will evaluate and decide the case “de novo”, or “anew” or “afresh”, without regard to what the Office of Personnel Management stated, decided, affirmed or concluded.

To that extent — to have an independent eye and an evaluation unbiased by prior analysis — is a good thing.  However, when one reads the decision of the Office of Personnel Management at the Initial denial of the application, then again at the Reconsideration denial of the application, it is somewhat disconcerting that neither OPM Representatives relied upon the analysis of the other.  What this allows for, of course, is an independent review by both the Initial Stage of the application and the Reconsideration Stage of the application, and while such independence of review can be seen in a positive light (again, that one OPM Representative is not influenced or biased by the views of the other), more often than not, what happens is that the Reconsideration Stage OPM Representative merely comes up with new and previously unfounded arguments upon which to deny the application a second time.

In short, it is difficult to stabilize the arguments upon which OPM relies, in order to answer and refute them.  That is why the MSPB’s approach of viewing a case de novo is important.  For, by ignoring the malleability of OPM’s reviewing process, one may get an objective and truly independent analysis and evaluation of the case.  Independence is an important component of “fairness”; objectivity is an integral element; and integrity is the filament which holds the law together.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire