OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Preemptive Actions

Knowledge can be a dangerous commodity; partial, or little knowledge, can be all the more damaging, precisely because actions can result based upon incomplete information and slices of factually curtailed composites.

The Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has previously pointed out one of the methodological deficiencies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in its review and determination of Federal Disability Retirement cases:  of focusing upon that which is not included in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as opposed to reviewing the information of what has been received.

Such a distinction may be a subtle one, and a difference which can be easily overlooked, but it reveals much more than mere word-play.  For, what it manifests is an application of a criteria based upon an erroneous assumption, and one which continues to be applied to this day, despite case-law which admonishes OPM to the contrary.

Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a 2007 Federal Court of Appeals case, points out the error of OPM’s ways in Federal Disability Retirement cases, where insistence upon “objective” medical evidence continues to dominate, despite the lack of such requirement to the contrary.  Such an issue is especially relevant, of course, in cases where psychiatric medical conditions prevail, and when OPM insists upon the lack of such “objective” medical evidence where none can be obtained, it leads to Federal and Postal employees to react desperately in a preemptively unreasonable frenzy of actions.

Not knowing the law is one thing; knowing, but deliberately ignoring it, is quite another.  But the price Federal and Postal employees pay for when a bureaucracy engages in practices which clearly defy the clear mandate of legal requirement, results in preemptive actions which ultimately lead to another day in Court, to argue that which one thought was previously already established.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: Beyond the Disequilibrium of Life

Finding a balanced life after a disabling injury or medical condition with OPM Disability Retirement benefits

One can describe, in positive terms, the negative aspects of a thing, as in, “X is y,” etc. Or, as in the case often represented by Maimonides’ Negative Theology, one can elucidate by negation of perceived phenomena, leaving the subtraction of present realities to the imagination of the void.

Some may contend that the latter methodology of descriptive narrative adds nothing to knowledge; for, it is a negation of that which we know, and as King Lear reminded Cordelia, “Nothing will come of nothing:  speak again.”  But there is something beyond the nothingness of negation, is there not?  To negate is to expose the loss of something, the extracting and revealing of that which once was, became detached, and left as a void to be filled.

Thus can life present a semblance of equilibrium, where balance of family, work, community and value of living provides a coherence of a teleology of sorts; and when such coordination of essence in the core of one’s being gets out of whack (the term being of a very technical nature, used in esoteric philosophical discourse, as in, “He whacked away at the pages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”), there is a foreboding sense of loss and dispiritedness (again, the negation of a positive attribute).

Medical conditions tend to exonerate the negative theology of life.  Often, it is a subtraction beyond the chronic pain and debilitating nature of the medical condition itself.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often how, and to what extent, a persuasive description of one’s medical condition can purport to effectively represent the chronic and severe nature of one’s medical condition.

Some would contend that such an endeavor is nigh impossible to do; for, as the negation of equilibrium is the disequilibrium of life, so the mere subtraction of what we do and could do, does not necessarily present an accurate picture of one’s life.  And that is what is required, is it not?  Words have meaning; descriptive negations presume a context of knowledge already existent.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must present a compelling Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the conundrum of attempting to adequately describe one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and the further pervasive effect upon one’s personal life, is a conundrum of epic proportions.

To engage in negative theology in the descriptive delineation on SF 3112A is to presume a context which is not yet there; and to describe the disequilibrium brought upon the Federal or Postal employee resulting from a medical condition, is to encounter the wall that separates between words, meanings, and the true experiences of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Restorative Measures

Sleep obviously has an evolutionary purpose.  Anxiety, stress, negative thoughts and perspectives; aggressive behavior, combativeness (otherwise known to spouses as “being grumpy”); inability to maintain one’s focus, concentration, attention to detail; all of these, and much more, can often be ameliorated by a good night’s sleep.

Stress is the overarching component which becomes exacerbated by lack of sleep; it feeds upon all other aspects of the human body, by impacting physical endurance and stamina, by increasing one’s cognitive dysfunctions and capacity to process the quantitative and qualitative amassing of information; and it is thus the vicious cycle of lack-of-sleep leading to greater-stress resulting in increased inability to attain a state-of-restorative sleep. Throughout, stress can be the invisible thread which ties the binds of cyclical ruination and self-destruction.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition has impacted one’s ability to maintain a continuity of restorative sleep, consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency if one is still employed or not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, or filed directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management if separation has already occurred but one still falls within the 1-year timeframe of the Statute of Limitations, must always be an option.  Federal Disability Retirement allows for one to reach that plateau of self-restorative venues, by having the time and proper perspective to seek out effective medical treatment, not otherwise distracted by the countless demands of one’s Federal or Postal job.

Stress is the silent robber who stealthily destroys one’s health by a thousand cuts; lack of restorative sleep is the subtle, pernicious and progressively deteriorating condition which turns slowly into a crumbling foundation; and failure to act upon correcting the steady onslaught of self-decomposition will only lead one to a state of paralysis, where the shifting plate tectonics will one day reach a crisis point of collision, in the convergence of stress, anxiety, physical collapse, and self-ruination; all because we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: OWCP & Federal Disability Retirement

Whether or not one remains on Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (DOL/OWCP) benefits, of receiving Temporary Total Disability compensation, and for how long, should not be the determining factor as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  

Ultimately, the two systems of benefits and compensation are meant to address two different issues. OWCP is meant to address the issue of a Federal or Postal worker who has been injured on the job, or from an occupational disease, and thus causation is an issue with OWCP compensation and benefits.  Further, OWCP is not meant to be a retirement system — although, in more recent years, the U.S. Postal Service and some other Federal Agencies have started to use it “as if” it is a retirement system for its employees, encouraging the filing for such benefits in order to shed the agency of workers who are not “fully” productive.  

What often happens, however, when a Federal or Postal worker continues to remain on OWCP is that it become a default retirement system.  One can easily become comfortable in receiving the Temporary Total Disability payments, and indeed, because of the high rate of pay and the appearance of greater benefits because no taxes are taken out of the amount paid, one can continue to survive on such payments.  But because it is not a retirement system, the day can suddenly dawn when OWCP finds that the Federal or Postal worker is no longer entitled to such compensation.  For that reason, and sometimes for that reason alone, it is important to secure the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: OWCP Disability & OPM Disability

A good indicator that an individual is on OWCP Disability, and not on OPM (Office of Personnel Management) Disability, is that the Federal or Postal employee did nothing other than to file a “CA” form.  Further, OWCP Disability is granted for occupational diseases, or for injuries sustained while “on the job”.  Another indicator (an important one) is that, in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, multiple forms must be filled out, including:  Application for Immediate Retirement; Applicant’s Statement of Disability; a Supervisor’s Statement; and multiple other forms.  

The term “disability” is often thrown about in confusing ways, such that a person who is on “disability pay” or “on disability” may think that one has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  The confusion is an important one to recognize, because a person who is eligible and entitled to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must do so either while a Federal or Postal employee, or within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service.  If a Federal or Postal employee fails to file within the statutory timeframe, he or she will lose this benefit forever.  That is why it is important to make a distinction between “OWCP Disability” and “OPM Disability”, precisely because while one is on OWCP Disability, one should also probably be considering filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits at some point.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Initial Step Is the Most Difficult

I find that the initial step in filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the most difficult step for people to take.  It is often a psychological block.  I have spoken on this issue in the past.  For a Federal or Postal worker, especially in these constrained economic times where the job market outside of the Federal Sector appears restrictive, at best, the pressure of one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s job, results in an anxiousness when it comes to filing for federal disability retirement under FERS or CSRS.  Certainly, it is a significant pay cut.  Certainly, it is a worry that — although one may be able to make up to 80% of what one’s (former) Federal salary currently pays — it may be that the private sector may not offer the opportunities to make up the difference in the pay cut.  Yet, the choices are often stark and untenable; for, at some point, it becomes clear that one’s medical conditions prevents one from performing the essential elements of the job. 

As such, the only and best choice is to move forward:  in fact, even in this economy, creativity will be rewarded.  Private companies actually find independent contractors who carry his or her own health insurance a plus; part-time work is offered more readily in a bad economy precisely because it allows for companies to obtain necessary work and skills without having to pay the “extra” benefits.  The initial step is the most difficult; after stepping beyond the difficulty, Federal and Postal workers who obtain disability retirement benefits find that there is a different and better future — even in this economy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: It Is a Medical Issue

If a Federal or Postal Employee is still on the rolls of the Agency, or if you have not been separated from service for more than 31 days, then the disability retirement application must be routed through your agency before being forwarded to the Office of Personnel Management for processing and review.  If you have been separated from Federal Service — meaning, you have actually been taken off of the rolls of your agency (this does include being on sick leave, or on annual leave, or on leave without pay) — for 31 days or more (but not for more than 1 year, in which case you have lost your right and ability to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, because you have allowed the 1-year statute of limitations to pass by), then you must file your case directly with the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.  Whether routed through your agency or directly to the Office of Personnel Management, remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application is ultimately a medical issue — not a supervisor’s issue, not an agency issue; it is not determined by your agency; your eligibility is not determined by your supervisor.  It is, essentially, and at its very core, an issue between you, your doctor, and your inability to perform the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire