Federal Disability Retirement Law: Loss of Meaning

What it is that motivates a person to achieve greatness; whether the factor of that which does, or purports to be, and to what extent the outward articulation of the elements of a driving force corresponds with the esoterically objective truth underlying the learned and expected statements for public consumption; these, we may never know.

Most of us engage in repetitive monotony of actions; whether by fear of societal retribution, the judgment of peers, a sense of responsibility and obligation; or, perhaps even by sheer ignorance and stupidity, where the instinctive drive is merely based upon the base hunger for accumulation of material objects; as self-reflection is rarely a consideration of serious intent, so the onset of what some deem a mid-life crisis is often nothing more than a pause in unthinking acts of greater thoughtless chasms in void and vacuity.

Medical conditions, and the impact of a debilitating injury or disease, can be the prompting nudge for change and upheaval. Whether because a medical condition forces one to consider a redistribution of life’s priorities, or merely because they interrupt the capacity and ability to continue in an unthinking manner; regardless of the motive, change becomes an inevitable consequence of an unexpected medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 positional duties, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option of limited choice.

For, as the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, so the dependency upon the agency to provide a “reasonable accommodation” is ultimately an act of futility.  “Reasonable accommodation” is merely that which is accorded in order to perform all of the essential elements of the job; it does not do away with any of the elements, and thus is rarely conceivable, and practically impossible to implement.

Federal and Postal workers who are prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, at least have the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Many in the private sector have no such benefit, and are thus left to disparate means and desperate devices.  Often, the onset of a health condition becomes a crisis of meaning, where the medical condition itself compels the Federal or Postal worker to question the meaning and value of one’s work and accomplishments.  But the loss of meaning need not occur as a necessary or inevitable consequence.

Federal Disability Retirement accords an opportunity of a second bite at the proverbial apple; there is life after Federal Medical Retirement for those who get beyond the long and arduous bureaucratic process, and the meaning of one’s existence need not be the harbinger of fate, but merely a door opened for future endeavors of thoughtful exercises and prioritizing of values.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Rarity of the “Clean” Case

“Clean” cases are those which need no further elucidation. Like events and documents which speak for themselves, the clean case in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as in other sectors of legal encounters and adversarial processes, requires little, if any, explanatory addendum.

It is a rarity for two primary reasons:  First, because life itself defies a linear, uninterrupted sequence of events which follows along the parallel universe of administrative rules and regulations, and second (and probably more importantly and certainly problematically) because most people are unable to distinguish between an objectively clean case, and one which — because of one’s personal and subjective involvement in one’s own case — merely appears to be less embroiled than others with potential problems.

The Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing one’s own Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application, is the same person who suffers from the pain or psychiatric illness which is the foundation and basis of one’s claim.  As such, because the private world of medical disability is the identical consciousness which must prepare, formulate and present one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is difficult to make an objective, unbiased assessment of one’s own case.

The one who “feels the pain”, believes that one’s own pain is in and of itself persuasive to others as to the extent and severity of that pain.  That is why the truly “clean” case is a rarity; it exists mostly in the minds of those who believe in their own suffering.  The rest of the world, however, has little empathy for the suffering of others, and the systematic, bureaucratic volume of denials in Federal Disability Retirement applications is a testament to the harsh reality of the world in which we occupy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: New Faces

Old timers will often smirk cynically and observe:  Time will cure them of such a naive perspective.  Or, to paraphrase a famous line from a well-know Christmas movie, Youth is wasted on the young (hint:  the scene were Jimmy Stewart is throwing a rock at the old abandoned house).  Youth and inexperience are often accompanied by enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. Lack of knowledge is compensated — some would say “overcompensated” — by an eagerness which sees no boundaries or obstacles.

There are clearly some new hires at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as of this date, and their unique approach in viewing and evaluating a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, must be contended with.

The fundamental problem with newcomers is not that they don’t know what they are doing; rather, it is often the converse — they think they do know what they are doing, and when girded by a list of criteria which is applied in an inflexible fashion, one often gets blinded by the confusion of the forest while having a myopic view of an individual tree.  The great equalizer in countering lack of knowledge, fortunately, is the law itself; and while a list of applicable criteria provided to a fresh face may well assist the OPM employee to evaluate a claim, it can never replace the necessity of knowing the law.

For anyone filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, now constitutes the time to employ all of the tools which the compendium of cases decided, and statutes reinforced, accord in arguing one’s case.  Time will certainly tell, but for the present, it is advisable to dot all I’s and cross each T, carefully and with great scrutiny.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Funeral that Never Was

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, for most Federal and Postal employees, is tantamount to attending one’s own funeral:  the time spent at one’s job constitutes the larger portion of one’s waking life, and to dissociate and sever the ties to an organization comprised of people, coworkers, missions and a daily sense of accomplishment, results in the same sense of finality and irrevocability.

That is why, even for those who have a feeling of elation in being able to “get away” from an agency — whether because it had become a poisoned atmosphere of acrimony and contentiousness; or perhaps one’s own sense of conscientiousness left one with a sense of guilt; whatever the reasons — the filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits means that the struggle to continue on, despite a medical condition which is preventing one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, is coming to an end.

That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is psychologically a difficult decision to make.  But it is a necessary decision, in order for one to have that period of recuperative calm, to regain one’s health in order to move on to the next stage in one’s life.

It is difficult to move on precisely because there never was a funeral to attend.  As with a death, others in the community continue in their daily routines after the funeral; the memories fade, and time heals all wounds.

When one departs an agency or the U.S. Postal Service based upon a Federal Disability Retirement, a similar continuum of life occurs; others go on about their business; mean and depraved people seem to linger on the longest. There just never was a funeral to formally declare the date of finality; instead, as with MacArthur’s famous quote:  “They just fade away”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Progressive Paradigm

Ultimately, Federal Disability Retirement is one of the most progressive paradigms designed — for, as a compensatory program, it not only allows for, but encourages, the Federal or Postal worker to become a self-paying entity by working at another job, a new vocation, a different career, etc, after being approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, thereby allocating taxes in order to pay for the annuity itself.

The fact that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may sometimes and randomly inquire as to the continuing disability status of the (former) Federal or Postal employee, or require an annual check upon the previous year’s income earnings in order to determine if the individual has exceeded the allowable ceiling of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, is a fairly easy threshold to meet.

Because the focus is upon the particular kind of job which the Federal or Postal employee had previously engaged in, it is natural that any job which the (former) Federal or Postal employee would seek and obtain, would have some qualitative and substantive differences from the Federal or Postal job.

At the same time, however, the skills which the Federal or Postal worker obtained and applied while working for the Federal government, need not be completely abandoned.  There just needs to be a medical justification as to why the individual is able to work in a private-sector job X, as opposed to the Federal job from which he or she medically retired from.

Often, it is a good idea to get the green light from one’s treating doctor, before accepting the private sector job, which would then establish the medical distinctions necessary to justify and answer any future OPM inquiry.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Logistics, Strategy and Substantive Paradigm

In any and every endeavor, whether on a large scale or of little consequential impact, a tripartite approach must be devised:  the logistics of the case (the “how” and the mundane mechanics of procedural actions involved); the strategy of it (the methodological plan of action, involving the choice of which issues to prioritize and tackle, etc.), and finally, the substantive paradigm of the case.

It is often the latter which is overlooked, precisely because everyone is always too busy trying to immediately figure out what to do and how to do it.  In a pragmatic sense, the logistical plan and the strategic outlay are crucial in any legal action; as a persuasive foundation for winning, however, devising a substantive paradigm of a case may be the essence of a winning path.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee who encounters the myriad of voluminous standard forms to be filled out, the need to obtain medical reports and records, and to simply survive the morass of administrative and bureaucratic requirements, leaves one merely attempting to stay afloat in the logistical mandates — of trying to satisfy all of the Agency demands and requirements.

Additionally, to even contemplate devising a “strategy” of how to go about proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, one’s Federal Disability Retirement case, becomes an obstacle and a burden, especially when one is having to deal with the medical condition and treatment of that condition concurrently with the stress of trying to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application.

As for the substantive paradigm of a case?  That may be the customary casualty of a Federal Disability Retirement case — that coordination of all issues, of the medical, the position one occupies, the persuasive legal argumentation, in a compendium of interconnected sources, arguing to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management the what, where, why and irrefutable how, in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Listing, Prioritizing and Weaving

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee who is formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112D must describe the medical conditions which will be proven to impact upon one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Submission of the “list” of medical conditions will concretize and place boundaries around the issue to be litigated. Once submitted through the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then forwarded to Boyers, PA and assigned a CSA Number, the medical conditions described will be the only ones which can be argued.  Further, once a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, the approval letter will have an attachment which describes and identifies those medical conditions which the Office of Personnel Management found the applicant to be disabled for (is this the feared split infinitive?).

Thus, by way of example, if a Federal or Postal employee filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits based upon medical conditions X, Y and Z, and OPM based its approval only upon medical condition Y, then for any future Medical Questionnaire requesting an updated status on the annuitant’s medical condition, it is only medical condition Y which would be relevant.

As such, in the very preparation of the applicant’s statement of disability, important decisions must be made which will have significant future consequences:  which medical conditions to list; how to prioritize the medical conditions; whether to weave secondary conditions into the applicant’s statement, and to what extent, etc.

While some of the issues will be determined by the medical narrative report(s) prepared by the treating doctors, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — along with his or her attorney — to set the course for future events in a manner which will ensure not only present success, but future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire