Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Expunging the Chatter of Irrelevance

The bombardment of information is a constant and persistent drone; what constitutes newsworthy items, priority of information, and sifting through the quantitative morass of irrelevance, is a daily toil which requires expenditure of human stamina and sheer will power which grinds and depletes the soul of needed quietude.

This is a complex world.  The blare and glare of “relevant” information fights for our attention daily, if not every minute of each hour; if not every second and fraction thereof; and sometime in the recent past, the accepted bifurcation between news, entertainment, and personal opinion no longer followed the conventional pathway of self-evident declarations, and it became the norm to cross the boundaries of propriety.

Now, it is up to each individual to unravel the composite fictions created by the quantitative juggernaut of information overload. Information is there for the public; that is a good thing.  But to recognize and divide relevant information from the chatter of irrelevance — that is the key to maintaining one’s sanity.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, the tripartite pressure of information overload confronts one with an unavoidable immediacy: Trying to maintain one’s job while simultaneously fending off any adverse actions from the agency; trying to prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application without undue dissemination of sensitive medical information to those not necessary to the process, and thus attempting to retain a certain level of privacy; and trying to find relevant information from the vast storage of quantitative overload, and sifting it down to that which is relevant, as opposed to the chatter of irrelevance.

The chatter of irrelevance, quite simply defined, is that which makes a lot of noise, but is substantively devoid of useful content.

Compare, contrast, and analyze; but in the end, the age-old merchant’s adage of “buyer, beware,” should still be applied when accepting information for such an important step as preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Information Overload

Before we even became comfortable with the assignation of the term, “information age“, we were informed that we have already entered into the “post information age”; one has no idea where one stands today because of the lightning speed of our times.

Whether human nature can withstand the onslaught of such rapidity and volume of the multiplicity of component data; of what consequence we are creating in our very midst; whether destruction of societal relationships and connections are truly best for the survival and continuation of our species; all of these concerns matter little.  For, like the story of the complex machine which was once created, and for which Man forgot to build an “off switch”, the ever-forward trajectory of the age of infinite information encroaches whether we desire it or not.

Technology is dependent upon the newness of the next generation of dazzling whistles.  The desire for greater enhancement of stimuli is wired within the human psyche; and like the rat which becomes addicted and comes back for more, we require the overload.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of gathering, incorporating, and applying the information concerning Federal Disability Retirement and the bureaucratic process of obtaining the benefit can be, at best, a daunting task. There is always that “piece of evidence” of statutory linkage which must be considered; and as technology continues to progress without regard to individual circumstances, it is anathema to the regressive nature of a progressively deteriorating medical condition.

Ultimately, however, in whatever “age” we find ourselves in, we must play by the rules of the game, and acquire as much information as we can, and be able to filter that which is relevant as opposed to mere fluff.  Like the proverbial bubble filled with hot air, there is much information “out there” which is either irrelevant, inconsequential, or simply filled with errors.  One must be careful as to the source, and who to listen to.

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement will be a long and complicated one.  How one gets there will be the key; what information to use, and what tools to covet, will make all the difference in this complex world of post-whatever in which we find ourselves.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unknown Resulting from a Partial Answer

If a question is not fully answered, is it a lie or a mere oversight?  If one places reliance upon a partial answer, was it because the question was not properly posed, or the answer only fragmentally provided, or as a result of a deliberate attempt to mislead?

Everyone has experienced the process of “switch-and-bait“, where the sales pitch is declared as one never matched in the history of the world; but upon arrival, the original declaration of the event was merely the “bait” in order to complete the “switch” to persuade the attendee to accept another product.  In such circumstances, it is indeed fortunate if the only real consequence was a wasted trip, and one can turn around and walk out.

In law, knowing only the “partial answer”, or the incomplete set of facts, can lead to irreversible consequences.  For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to receive full answers — from all sources — in order to make the right decision for one’s future.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a serious step for the Federal or the Postal employee’s future. As such, the information which one relies upon in making that important decision — from what the process entails, to the consequential interplay between FERS & SSDI and a multitude of other questions and answers — should be fully understood.

If a source of information seems incomplete, there is often a reason, and sometimes an underlying motive. Beware the buyer; always seek an authenticating source.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Misinformation Center

When a government agency provides wrong information, should one be surprised?  Reliance upon a source of information is always a problematic issue; further, there is always a presumption that information issued by the original source should on its face be reliable.

Information obtain from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on issues of retirement, disability retirement, collateral issues of survivor’s benefits, etc., should by its very nature be reliable because that is precisely the very agency which mandates the regulations and handles all matters concerning Federal retirement, disability or otherwise.  But more and more, phone calls to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have resulted in misinformation being provided.

There is, of course, always the possibility that the caller misinterpreted what was stated over the telephone; but when such occurrences become regular encounters, one begins to wonder if such a simplistic explanation can adequately satisfy the curious mind.  Unfortunately, there may be a better explanation:  in an agency which is overworked and understaffed, replies to inquiries may come from unreliable sources who are either inadequately trained, lack the necessary information, or simply are discourteous enough to give any answer thought of to get rid of the caller.

Ultimately, the best answer one may rely upon is that which may be subject to accountability — the written word.  For, if information provided in written format on a website — whether on the official agency website, or on an attorney’s website — is relied upon, such reliance cannot later be retracted or dismissed with, “I never said that”, when it shows plainly as the day is bright that the organization or entity is the responsible agent for the information provided.  In the end, a source of information must always be verified based upon multiple elements:  Reliability of the agent; motivation for the information; longevity of accuracy; reputation for having expertise in an area; and multiple other checks and balances.

Making a phone call is a dangerous venture to begin with; for, the voice on the other end is merely that — a faceless voice with no accountability — and the source of information may be coming from a parallel universe of the absurd, called the “Misinformation Center“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Reliability of Information

In this information age (or, as the linear sequence of “ages” go, some have already identified it as the “post-information age”), the necessity of distinguishing between information, relevant information, and reliably relevant information is an important capacity to embrace.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to be able to identify the distinguishing factors between the three.  The problem is that the three categories are often encapsulated in concentric circles of information, such that they are indistinguishable.

A fourth category which often muddies the waters is the insertion of motives.  How often does it happen where one makes contact with an agency, and the person on the other end seems pleasant, sounds competent, and joyfully informs you that it is “being worked on” and will be completed within the next day or so?  Weeks go by, and when a follow-up call is initiated, one is told by a less enthusiastic voice, and one which may be unpleasant and unhelpful, that No, the file hasn’t even been received, and we don’t know who you spoke to, but what that “other” person said is not true.  The “motive” of the “other” person was likely merely to get rid of the caller.  The fact that the voice was pleasant and competent-seeming turned out to be an undermining factor as to the reliability of the information.

This is an age when anyone can be anyone else; where a declaration on a website or on a social network page can constitute the substance of a person’s identity, without the person have accomplished anything “real”.  The problem with such radical bifurcation between “information”, “relevant information”, and “reliably relevant information”, however, is that there are real-world consequences for those who seek out and utilize such information.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make such a tripartite distinction, and to proceed to prepare a case based upon a reliable information source, a relevant basis of information, and information which can bring about an effective end.  This takes discernment — a commodity which is greatly lacking these days.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Erroneous Information and Its Impact

A number of recent telephone calls clearly reveal that the abundance of erroneous information “out there” or disseminated by Union officials, Human Resource personnel, agency personnel, supervisors, coworkers, etc., continues unabated.  Ultimately, of course, the responsibility for acting upon information gathered — erroneous or not — is placed upon the individual who seeks out such information.  

The problem, as always, is that reliance upon erroneous information can result in irreversible consequences.  For example:  In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS (CSRS is exempted from this particular “requirement”), must one receive a denial from the Social Security Administration before one can file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS?  Must a Federal or Postal employee be separated from Federal Service for at least 6 months before filing for SSDI benefits?  Must SSDI be approved by the Social Security Administration prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS?  The common thread and answer to all three of the questions posed:  No.  

The consequences of relying upon a “yes” answer, or information which either explicitly or implicitly implies that there is a precondition requirement of filing for SSDI before the Office of Personnel Management will accept and consider a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS?  Delaying of preparing and filing for FERS Disability Retirement until a week before the 1-year Statute of Limitations was about the expire.  

The fact is that the Office of Personnel Management doesn’t much care about whether or not a FERS Federal Disability Retirement applicant filed for SSDI or not, until the time of approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, the only issue between FERS Disability Retirement and SSDI is a monetary one — whether an offset will occur between the two sources of annuities.

One other point:  When a caller argues, stating:  “But that’s not what X said…”  You can believe whomever you wish; just check out the source, consider the reliability of the source, and determine the consequences of such reliance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire