Federal Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS & CSRS: The Art of Living

The imperfect medical science and taking the option of Federal Disability Retirement

Art is the unleashing of a creative mind, unconcealed to flourish without constraints of physical laws; science, in contrast, must follow the dictates of an objective universe, attempting to understand that which is concealed, unrevealed, and within the mysterious imprint of hidden codes.

Whether medical science is that far removed from latter days of sorcerers and shamans, people can debate; it is, however, the success of modern science and medicine, which establishes credibility with the populace.  But while disciplines rise or fall based upon the pragmatic considerations of success of the last procedure performed, people must go on living — in the face of disciplines yet imperfect.

Bloodletting was believed for centuries to maintain the balance of a person: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile, constituted the necessary elements, and when any single element dominated the others, releasing the over-accumulation required bleeding of the body to regain that equity of humors.  If, in any singular instance of bloodletting, the patient became well thereafter and recovered from the malady, the “success” of the bloodletting would only have reinforced the underlying foundational principle behind the physical act and medical belief.

Living a life is often more akin to bloodletting than to the cold halls of science; for it is within the subjective confines of perspectives which predetermine the actions we often engage.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, the years and decades of attempting to “get better” by seeking medical treatment result in an inescapable reality:   If the science of medicine had reached a pinnacle of perfection, filing for Federal Disability Retirement would not be necessary; for, perfection in medicine would equal a cure. But as science is not a perfect principle, and neither is the art of living, so the practical truth is that one must resort to a metaphorical engagement of bloodletting: something in life has to give, and the imbalance of humors of yore is often the stresses of modernity.

Federal Disability Retirement, offered to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not the perfect option, but it is a recognition that the humors of life are out of balance, and need some bloodletting.

Work is the element which has become “over-accumulated”, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is like the placing of leeches upon the sickened body:  it may not be the best option, but where art of living is concerned, the balancing of humors is often preferable to the crumbling halls of an ivory tower once thought to hold the key to the mysteries of life’s misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Paradigm of Persuasion

In graduate school, the undersigned attorney once presented a paper on a comparative analysis involving a Chinese philosopher.  At the end of the presentation, the professor asked a question pointedly:  “Is there such a thing as Chinese philosophy?”

The question, of course, went straight to the traditional paradigm underpinning Western philosophical thought:  of logical analysis; of syllogistic, Aristotelian methodology; of, “If A, then B”, etc. — as opposed to short, concise, declarative statements illustrating history, community, context and wisdom.

In other words, the difference between persuasion as a methodology in a universal sense, applied across any and all cultural lines, as opposed to the micro-application of wisdom within a given community.  For, in either sense, it is ultimately wisdom after which we seek.

There is, indeed, a tradition in Western Philosophy, beginning with the Pre-Socratics, onward through Plato, Aristotle, the Medievals, to the present where deconstructionism has essentially inversely cannibalized philosophy, in which the issue of what constitutes a persuasive argument must be questioned.

Can a paternalistic declaration of wisdom prevail in a debate?  Is a mere assertion of truth enough to convince?  In any legal context, one must systematically present one’s case with facts and “the law”.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must take care and follow the traditional rules of persuasive argumentation.  In a family, the rule of Mom and Dad may prevail; in a community, a Confucius-like paternalism may be effective; in the arena of law, one must take care and systematically present a persuasive, logically coherent argument.

Only by following in such a methodology of persuasion can one expect success in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Misplaced Guilt & Apologetic Defeatism

There is, of course, such an animal as ‘misplaced guilt‘; it is in consequence of attributing to the wrong object of remorse a sense of honor or fidelity; and the resulting behavior of such inappropriate placement is often actions of an apologetic nature, self-defeating attitude, or an admixture of both.  Such a chemistry of discord can have subtle, unintended (or was it subconsciously intended?) and negative results for the Federal Employee or U.S. Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

In life, it is often the simple and direct approach which prevails; those who are unaware of their surroundings and forge ahead without sensitivity to others, often accomplish much; and while unfortunate, it is those very people who act with empathetic restraint and in consideration for others, who often get left behind.  And so it is with filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM —  that the person who hesitates and apologetically formulates one’s Statement of Disability (as responsive to Standard Form 3112A), will subconsciously desire a denial.

Statements of disability made with hesitancy; with a sense of apology or remorse; of guilt for even applying for the benefit; all such mind-sets manifest themselves in the narrative of one’s disability.  Yet, it is a misplaced guilt.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the Federal employee’s compensation package, and it is there precisely to allow for the Federal or Postal employee to recuperate, acquire a certain standard of financial security, and perhaps provide an opportunity for a second chance at another productive vocation.  There is no room for misplaced guilt, and certainly no place for an apologetic defeatism in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in a flash, they will jump upon such an approach and take advantage of such misplaced vulnerabilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Genre of the Narrative

Different genres purportedly possess internal mechanisms and tools of the trade which distinguish one art form from another; thus, fiction writers use various forms which, in the eyes of the “professionals” will elicit oohs and aahs regarding the technical beauty which heightens the art form; biographers invoke poetic license in recreating scenes and human expressions and emotions from an omniscient vantage point; then, there is the admixture of truth and fiction, of “true crime novels” which are allegedly “true” but in novelistic form, easily readable, commercially successful, and universally enjoyed — but in essence, it all comes down to good writing.  

Readability is the whole point of writing.  Yes, to remain true to the art form is important to the genre; and, yes, to be technically proficient in utilizing the mechanisms and tools of the trade engenders professional acclaim and self-aggrandizement.  But ultimately it all comes down to the ability and capacity to express what one wants to, and needs to, in order to convey to the audience the desired effect.  

So it is in Federal Disability Retirement.  For, as in the various forms of literary genres, the narrative form must be engaging, readable, succinct and streamlined.  Salacious details need not be included to get the attention of the OPM case worker.  

A FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement narrative in the form of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability should be the penultimate form of the art:  part biography, part non-fiction, part logical analysis, and certainly analogous to the true crime fiction — that is the narrative which will draw the OPM case worker into the world of the Federal or Postal Worker who is trying to persuade a bureaucrat to have a spoonful of sympathy in exchange for a cup of truth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Always the Basics Matter

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 always instructive to remind one’s self that the focus of any application should be placed upon the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and once that focal point is embraced, to reiterate and reinforce that aspect of the Disability Retirement application.

Often, when one requests and receives a blank packet of information, including all of the Standard Forms, instructions, financial forms and life insurance forms, etc., to fill out and complete, the sense of being overwhelmed can easily defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application at the outset.

There are multiple personal questions; information requested on military service, on receipt of OWCP benefits; then the complexity of the queries focuses upon those rather simple but “tricky” questions concerning Agency actions, about whether one has “requested” an accommodation; to describe one’s medical conditions, etc.  How a question should be answered is indeed crucial in the successful filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application; whether the answers given should be consistently coordinated with other answers provided is equally of importance.

Ultimately, the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement application embrace the relationship between the medical condition suffered, and the impact upon one’s positional duties required to be performed.  But, inasmuch as it is not the Agency of the Federal or Postal employee who makes the decision concerning an OPM Disability Retirement application, but the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to understand that while the answers given involve the actions of the relationship between a Federal and Postal employee and one’s agency, it is ultimately people outside of the agency to whom such answers must be directed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Complexity & Context

Complexities in any field, whether general, technical or mundane, possess a context which includes its history, its underlying purpose, and the years of evolving issues which have impacted the expanding compendium of rules, regulations, statutes and procedural mandates.  The previously-stated sentence is itself a paradigm of such complexity, and unless a proper context is provided, retains scant meaning except in a garbled conglomeration of independent words.

Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is somewhat akin to the context-less complexity experienced by any Federal or Postal Worker who approaches such an administrative process.  Those who have been involved in the substantive and procedural morass understand the methodology, means and minutiae which must be engaged in order to successfully maneuver through the regulatory and administrative process.  But most Federal and Postal employees have a singular contact with the entire process (and thankfully so), without a context of how, why, or when it reached a level of such complexity that it became necessary to search for some guidance to understand the very process itself.

Unfortunately, Human Resources personnel are often unhelpful or uninformed themselves.  The statutes, laws and procedural regulations which are supposed to guide the Federal or Postal employees have themselves become a conglomeration of complexities.  And the ability to discern and distinguish between information, helpful information, and errant information, has become a problem in and of itself.

Best to take some time at the front end to simply gather some facts, and determine what the central issues are.  Taking the time at the front end to tackle the complexities, and understand the context, will save some troubles down the road.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Cornering OPM’s Malleable Stance

At the initial stage of the process identified as “Federal Disability Retirement” from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often difficult for the Federal or Postal worker to grasp the various components which must be gathered, formulated, prepared and consolidated, in order to meet the legal criteria for eligibility.

Once submitted, if an approval is received from the Office of Personnel Management, then one need not be further concerned with whether or not the legal criteria was “met” (although one should still be vigilant in doing those tasks and preparatory work in order to retain and maintain one’s right to Federal disability retirement benefits).

If a denial is received from the Office of Personnel Management, then it is necessary to file a Request for Reconsideration within the thirty (30) day time period, and begin to determine which of the multiple issues OPM has delineated as being the basis of a deficient Federal Disability Retirement application.

Some attempt to do this via a “shotgun” approach — of spraying every answer available and hoping that some of the arguments, supplemental documents, statements, etc., hit the mark in some way.  A different approach is to selectively choose those issues which appear to be central to the case, and answer the essential ones, allowing for such answers to concurrently address the peripheral points brought out by OPM.  A third approach is to identify and consolidate OPM’s alleged basis for the disapproval, consolidate the issues into 2 or 3 main points, then “corner” the arguments by addressing them, concluding that the Federal or Postal employee has addressed the concerns of OPM and therefore OPM should not be able to change them at the Merit Systems Protection Board.

While an MSPB appeal is conducted “de novo” (“anew” or “afresh”, without regard to any previous determinations), it is nevertheless an effective methodology to point out the malleability of OPM’s varying stances, and thereby effectively streamline that which needs to be proven at the MSPB level.  A leopard which changes its spots too often loses its credibility, and making sure that OPM stays in one place is a useful tool in winning a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire