Federal Disability Reconsiderations & Additional Medical Information

The denial comes in the mail; it is a further delay, a negation of prior efforts; for many, it undermines and constitutes a condemnation of sorts, and a refusal of an affirmation sought in places and from people where none is offered.  It is, after all, another piece of correspondence which negates the negative:  the medical condition itself and the loss of one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, represented the first foundation of negation; now, a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management merely confirms, via a second negation, the loss of positive forces inherent in failure and Federal bureaucracies.

But all things in life must be kept in their proper perspective, and a reaction of disproportionate magnitude must be kept in check; life is often a series of mishaps; yes, it just seems that such unfortunate events happen to certain individuals, and as the old adage goes, when it rains, it pours.  Once the initial shock of the denial is withstood, then the trepidation and cautious perusal, followed by an obsessively careful scrutiny, of the reasons for the denial issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is engaged; but the futility of such efforts will become apparent.

The monotony and disinterested voice behind the volume of verbiage and almost bellicose verbosity becomes more than apparent: either the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management did not read the medical file or, more likely, selectively chose to extrapolate statements and findings out of context in order to justify the denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At this Second Stage of the process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it matters not what the words say with respect to the denial issued by OPM; the file is immediately transferred to a general, unassigned file, awaiting further instructions from the person to whom the denial has been issued:  if left unanswered, the file will disappear within the cauldrons of bureaucratic warehouses; if a Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, then it will ultimately be assigned to someone in the Reconsideration Division at OPM; but, in either case, it is no longer the responsibility of the OPM representative who issued the denial, and no amount of phone calls, venting or sending of additional information to that person will make a whit of difference, until (a) the Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, and (b) the Federal or Postal employee addresses some of the concerns brought up in the denial itself.

The Reconsideration process itself is fraught with dangers and potential pitfalls; it confirms that perhaps the Federal or Postal employee should have sought the advice, counsel and guidance of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, but moreover, as most mistakes are correctable, it may be a wise avenue of choice to seek legal assistance, finally.

In any event, time factors must be considered, and the time lost today by extension of a denial, further confirms the oldest adage of all, that being penny wise is to be pound foolish,  a saying that is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but can be traced to those earlier.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Wind Chime

Wind chimes are interesting objects; at once created to provide a soothing, mellifluous sound, they are often the product of artificiality attempting to mimic nature, and normally presented in the guise of nature’s own pleasantries.  Because the world has become a composite of artifice, we attempt to recreate that which we have destroyed or lost.  It attempts to “sound like” the real thing.  But it is the very mimicking which fails to meet the standard of the original, no matter how hard we try.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, if the Federal or Postal worker is attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the assistance or expertise of an attorney, then the one caveat which should be applied is as follows:  Do it as a layman, not as an attorney.  In the end, the paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management should be decided based upon the merits of the case.  However, when a Federal or Postal employee, unrepresented, attempts to “sound like” a Federal Disability Attorney, it creates an impression — sometimes of comical proportions — of bluster and lack of credibility, which detracts from the merits of the case.

In reviewing cases which have been denied at the First or Second Stages of the process, there are Disability Retirement filings which have attempted to follow certain “templates” based upon information provided, and which purport to cite legal authorities.  Obviously, the denial itself is proof enough that such attempts at “sounding like” fell on deaf ears.  Take the time to listen to the original; as in art, paintings, music and human contact, the “real thing” is almost always irreplaceable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Using the Legal Tool

A word of wisdom:  generally, it is not a wise endeavor for applicants who are not lawyers, who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, to make legal arguments.  I have seen the end-product of such results, and have concluded that they are more-often-than-not, harmful to the case.  Most legal arguments are formulated through years of discretionary application based upon extensive research and experience in a given area of law; and the discretion that must be used is not always intuitively obvious.

As an example, there are cases where it is entirely appropriate to submit the VA disability rating as part of the Federal Disability Retirement application, as supplemental documentation in support thereof.  However, determination concerning the importance, impact and significance of relying upon such information must be discreetly assessed.

Yes, there is “case-law” concerning the persuasive authority of VA Disability ratings.  However, the practical legal aspect of utilizing such ratings must be carefully considered, based upon numerous factors:  while the combined rating may be higher, what are the individual percentages?  Are each high enough to warrant persuasive argumentation?  Could closer scrutiny of the individually ascribed ratings be more harmful to one’s case?  Is the rating (and each individualized break-down) discussed in medical terms in the VA records?

Ultimately, the individual who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without an attorney must rely upon himself or herself, and the wisdom of one’s own counsel.  Whether that is wise or not, I leave to each individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Client’s Interests

The Client’s interests is obviously what is always paramount for an attorney representing an individual in any given case, in any arena of law.  In Federal Disability Retirement law under FERS & CSRS, there is the added urgency in addition to the client — that of the continuing medical disability.  For every attorney, there are always competing interests for the limited time of any attorney — taken up by consultation, proper and careful preparation of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself; preparation for a Merit Systems Protection Board Hearing; and many other issues.  Time is the valuable commodity, and the attorney representing a Federal or Postal worker must take care to focus upon the essential aspects of what will ultimately result in the victory for the client:  an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement claim from the Office of Personnel Management

Sometime, read Anton Chekhov’s short story, Grief.  It is about a man whose son has just died.  As with any person with a tale to tell, it must be told.  So it is with any Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  There is a story to tell.  At the same time, however, the Attorney who represents a person to obtain disability retirement must focus the story itself; to do otherwise ends up failing to serve the client’s best interest — the focus upon what will end in ultimate victory:  an approval from the Office of Personnel Management granting the Client his or her Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM’s Rationale

Too much time is often spent on the “rationale” or “reasons” for a denial from the Office of Personnel Management, under the “Discussion” Section of a denial letter.  By “time spent”, however, is not meant that one should not selectively rebut, refute and address some of the reasons delineated in an OPM denial letter; rather, what too many people do is to complicate matters by “reading into” the reasons given for the denial. 

One of the jobs of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law under FERS & CSRS is to prepare an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, rebut a denial, or file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, based upon one’s experience, wisdom and sense of that which OPM is looking for.  This is accomplished by having learned from a myriad of sources:  from seeing the types of prepared disability retirement packets which have been successful in the past; from learning from past legal arguments and rebuttal arguments as to which have been most persuasive for OPM; and from having conducted multiple Hearings before the Merit Systems Protection Board and learning exactly what the Administrative Law Judge has been most persuaded and convinced by.  Further, having read countless denial letters by people who have attempted to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the first stage without an attorney, it is important to focus upon the relevant issues which OPM is seeking, and to disregard those issues which are peripheral or irrelevant.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire