Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Next Steps

It is the previous step that determines the following one, and the one before that which closes the alternatives for multiple other pathways; in the end, sequence matters, protocol can make a difference, and how one takes the steps, in what direction, by what methodology — these are all important considerations to contemplate.  What the endeavor is; by what means one is attempting to achieve the end-result; and the manner in which the goal is reached; the attempt the take a short-cut will often result in only a short-lived gain, but often with long-term consequences that, upon reflection, made the short-cut pay a price greater than the worth of the gain.

Next steps are important; each step, whether previously taken or subsequently considered, are also obviously of significance, but one could argue that those already taken cannot be reversed or, if reversed or retraced, may complicate matters more, whereas the “next step” yet to be taken may impact all previous ones already established and thus must be considered in light of the consequences likely to ensue.

Whatever has already occurred in the past cannot be undone or, if it can, must be retracted with care such that any retrospective refashioning of previous actions taken will do no greater harm than that which has already been consummated.  It is always the “next steps” that are the crucial ones, for they will determine not only the efficacy of all previous ones, but further, will either validate or undermine all previous ones heretofore taken.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the next steps you take may be the critical ones that determine the success or failure of the entire complex, administrative and bureaucratic process you are attempting to undertake.

What statements are made as reflected on SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the sufficiency of the medical reports and records gathered, to be submitted as Attachments to your Federal Disability Retirement application; whether you answer and address the issues concerning accommodations in the workplace sufficiently or in what manner; whether you have an adequate understanding and comprehension of your rights with regard to Federal Disability Retirement Law; these and many other “next steps” may well determine the future course of actions previously taken, ignored or otherwise not initiated.

Perhaps the “next step” should be to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the “next step” be the one that leads to an unforeseen stumble, where that next step leads to a misstep or the following next step after that cannot occur.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Cost of Character

Being daily denigrated is an expected course of treatment for some; for those who perpetrate it, the sport of demeaning is often thoughtless, reactive, and toxic to the core, and reflects a fundamental void in one’s own life; and for the victim of such caustic characterization, the incremental pounding to one’s ego, self-esteem and capacity for abuse results in diminishment of the identify of worth by small slices of reduced stature.  Such attacks may be overt and direct, while others may be subtle, privately targeted, and intentionally out of the earshot of witnesses.  In both cases, the damage can be devastating.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must confront this type of daily abuse in the workplace, the avenues of outlet are complex and varied.  Complaining or filing lawsuits often results in the mere circling of the proverbial wagons around the perpetrators, and suddenly an invisible fence appears where the victim is the “outsider” and the caustic character the one needing protection.

For those Federal or Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, and who receive the brunt end of such ill treatment because of the medical disability which impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to deal not only with the toxicity of a hostile work environment, but concurrently with the underlying medical conditions, makes for an admixture of overwhelming circumstances.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best and only course of action left.  For, to stay becomes an untenable option which impacts and further deteriorates one’s medical condition precisely because of the toxicity of the environment; to walk away and do nothing is an act of idiocy, given the years already invested in one’s career; and thus the alternative of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the most enlightened of choices to be made:  It allows for the recuperative period away from a denigrating source of pain, while securing a foundational annuity for one’s financial security and future.

We often talk daftly about “character” and the need to “stick it out” when the “going gets tough”.  But the cost of character is the price paid by the Federal or Postal employee who must withstand the onslaught of a bureaucracy which is faceless and relentless, while at the same time dealing with the deteriorating health administered by a medical condition which will not just go away.  The cost of character means nothing if the essence of one’s worth is not protected, and filing for, and securing, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is meant to do just that:  pay for the cost, and safeguard the character of worth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Legal Language Game

Wittgenstein’s contribution to Western Philosophy was an extension of a line of English linguistic/analytical approach to unraveling substantive issues of confounding puzzlement.  Leave it to the British to resolve all problems through the correct usage of language — or, in his case, of Austrian-British conversion.

Within every context of societal constructs, there are unique conventions of linguistic acceptance.  Thus, the “language game” when engaging a Rapper will necessarily be different from that of having a polite dinner conversation with the Pope, and discussion with a computer geek will take on a different tone and content than speaking to a 2-year old.

Similarly, there is a specific language game when entering the legal arena — often characterized by aggression, subtle threats, compelling force and the Roman Centurion admixture with troubadourian  characteristics ready to paper-massacre the opponent.  Words like “liability”, “sue”, “court order”, “subpoena”, “deposition”, “money damages” — they comprise the extensive corpus of the language game of lawyersAdministrative law is a sub-facet of that legal route, but involves a bureaucratic maneuver which involves just as a great a level of complexity and specialized knowledge.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative legal process which asserts the right to, and compels the attainment of, a Federal benefit from OPM for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is not simply “given away”, and must be secured through proof of a level rising to a preponderance of the evidence.  There are legal precedents to follow, statutory and regulatory components which must be adhered to, and laws both stated and implied which encapsulate the whole of the language game of OPM Disability Retirement.

As a subset of the greater language game of “The Law”, it is a winding route of mazes within precipitous promontories involving a complexity of conundrums — not quite as esoteric as the language game of mathematics or physics, but somewhat akin to computer geekery and macro-economics.  Add to that the sword of yore utilized by a Roman Centurion ready to attack, transformed into the mighty pen (or, in modern linguistic update, the laptop computer).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire