Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The retirement itch

It normally doesn’t come until late in life; of that picturesque paradigm of the old man sitting in a rocking chair beside a crackling fire, a dog or cat, perhaps, on the floor just beside, reading a novel or looking through a picture album; where is Norman Rockwell, and is he still relevant?

In modernity and more recently, the picture depicted is of the old couple, or in solitary state of affairs, climbing the mountains in the Himalayas or traveling to exotic lands beyond; for, the advertising agents have figured out that if old people sit around in rocking chairs, mutual funds merely sit idly in accounts without becoming subject to trading fees and other expenses, and it is best to alter the mindset for future sources of income rather than to allow for stagnation to determine the course of a past.

Is that too cynical a view to posit?  Of course, events outside of one’s control will often determine whether or not activity in old age can be embraced, or will a more placid, sedentary lifestyle consume one’s retirement?

The “retirement itch” is one that often comes late in life, after a lifetime of toil, strain, stresses and “dealing with” problems.  Is “retirement” a concept that developed only in the last and present centuries?  Did not most people just work and work and work until one “died in one’s boots” – the proverbial preference of most people who have been productive all of their lives?

Then, of course, a medical condition can cut short and impose an early retirement upon a person – and that is what Federal Disability Retirement allows for, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

It is that lack of a “retirement itch” that often makes the Federal or Postal employee pause; for, he or she is simply “not ready” to file for Federal Disability Retirement.

Yet, it is not any “retirement itch” or longing to rest and relax that leads one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Rather, it is the recognition that there are more important things to prioritize in life besides one’s work and career – such as one’s health.

It may well be that you are too young to have any sense of a “retirement itch”; but that sensation may be lost forever unless you focus upon your health and well-being, such that you will live long enough to scratch that itch that tells you that tomorrow may yet bring a brighter hope for a future yet untold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Minor pleasures

At what point does the transference occur?  Minor pleasures are those interludes in life that make for everything to become, and remain, worthwhile; sometimes, because of various tumults in our lives, the designation of “minor” becomes altered, and becomes “major” – like the dream fulfilled of that kid who toiled in the minor leagues for so many years and finally got his big break by being called up to the majors.

Is such an indication of a metamorphosis a harbinger of something else?  If the minor pleasures of life – coffee with a piece of chocolate; reading a favorite book; a swim in the ocean; an early morning walk (or run) with the dog; or even a weekend, afternoon nap – are suddenly taken away, what (major) consequences would accrue?  Does subtraction of it, or negation of the enjoyment, determine the substantive input and extent of the designation?

If it is missed to the point where it makes you miserable, does it indicate that it was never “minor” to begin with, but of major proportions all along, but you just didn’t realize it?

How about its opposite – a “minor irritant” – does that possess a meaning encompassing a parallel but corollary effect?  What if your “significant other” engaged daily in a habit that irritated you, but in a minor way – you know, those things that, when you were dating (or, to show your age, applying the anachronistic terminology of “courting”) or just hanging out together until you both decided to make the arrangement permanent, it all seemed “cute” and attractive, but now is a bothersome dig, but not enough to engage a war over – like blowing one’s nose loudly in public, or picking one’s toenails and leaving the remains on the bathroom floor; or leaving a door unlocked, etc.

At what point does a “minor” irritant become a major one?  When you get into a fight and you point out the laundry list of such irritants?

But take it in another sense – all of a sudden, that significant other dies or departs, and you realize that all of those irritants are suddenly missed, and you actually wish that you were tormented by them, because they amount to minor pleasures that awaken the dull sensibilities of life’s monotony.

Medical conditions can be like that – like a minor irritant that becomes a major complaint.  Or, the absence thereof can be the minor pleasure, where you remember that once, not so long ago, you were fit and healthy, and just the mere fact of a medical condition’s absence is a minor pleasure in life.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the question is, What is the point of life’s minor pleasures?  Is it to make everything else tolerable, or to be enjoyed regardless?

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is often not just a necessity, but a path towards regaining a sense of balance – of asserting those minor pleasures in life that have been erased and eradicated because of the constant harassment at work and the hostility that kills all joy.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is just the first step in the long road towards getting an approval from OPM. But it is a worthwhile step, especially if the goal of life itself is to enjoy those minor pleasures of living – like attending to one’s health as a priority in order to once again relish those minor pleasures.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirements: The verse of 1-liners

Can a verse stand alone, isolated in its metrical composition, without preceding or succeeding contextual delineations?  Of what value can the singular have, without the surrounding aggregation of the whole?  Like a scrap or fragment of a larger narrative revelation, of archaeologists and anthropologists working with but a piece of the greater story, the verse of 1-liners forever echoes for a harkening of others to join.

John Donne poetically captured the sense of that isolation, and Thomas Merton wrote a reflective narrative upon that very theme; but there we are, still left with the hollowness of an island’s separation, revealed by a lack, concealed by non-existence. We can, of course, always pretend that nothing came before, and there is no need for the after; but, somehow, such a vacuum of emptiness left alone in the quietude of a vast sea floating amidst the morass of a lonely singularity, doesn’t quite fit the narrative we all seek.

And it is not merely the personhood; it can be in the context of one’s past, where the currency of experiential encounters would lack meaning without an untold yearning for the future, and nothing to rely upon of what we recognize as the prefatory period of living.  Perhaps that is why people seek to unseal adoption records and search for the origins of genetic lineage; of why hope for a more promising tomorrow is necessary for the healthy preservation of every human being; it is because, without a connection to the past, nor a window of hopeful vision for the future, human beings are left with being a mere verse of a 1-liner.

There are monks and hermits in lonely pockets of isolated caverns, where meditation upon the consciousness of self or the wider phenomena of collective discoveries is attained by deliberate seeking of a singularity for solitude’s sake, in hermitages jutting out from cliffs afar; but that is rare, much like the monophonic sacredness of the Gregorian chant, reverberating across the valleys of our own sense of isolation and despair.

Or, perhaps that verse of a 1-liner (note the singular grammatical ascription, now, as opposed to the plural as reflected in the title of this narrative) can possess a gemstone of wisdom, and in that event, it can stand alone in the strength of its own lack of plurality. But for the rest of us, we recognize that it is the support of the greater whole that gives meaning, purpose and relevance to the lives we mold and hope to embrace.

That is why, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who come to a point of realization and recognition that the medical condition which developed, and which has come to a crossroads where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, and therefore will cut short the career of one’s choice, the option to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a final admission that one will no longer remain as part of a greater stanza, but become separated as a verse of a 1-liner.

Isolation and separation are concepts alien to a social animal; and for the Federal or Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, that concession that the verse of 1-liners has arrived, is indeed a difficult line to accept, but nonetheless a necessary one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Separation & Retirement from Federal Employment: Existence preceding essence

Once, in the vaunted Age of Reason, when Western Philosophy reached its pinnacle as the conduit of all knowledge, wisdom and human achievement; and when other disciplines fell under the umbrella and aegis of the methodological sanctity of its pursuit; then, it was determined that time was merely a linear ladder to climb, and all knowledge would be captured like the essence of heightened fragrances in a bottle of perfume, ever sweet smelling and able to conceal the undercurrent of stench.  But then came disenchantment, pestilence, wars and human cruelty — just the regularity in the rhythm of man; you know, those things that are inevitable.

It was thought that the “philosophical approach” begun by Plato and Aristotle would garner the collective wisdom necessary to construct the artifice of a just society.  What we forgot, however, is that “man is man”, and can predictably be counted upon to do those things he has always done:  take advantage; say things he didn’t mean; engage in the cruelest of activities, but describe it as that which is not; and as despotism and totalitarianism grew exponentially in ever efficient machines of death, the culmination of the ashes of human essence resulted in World War II, the death camps and the mass extermination of targeted populations.

The search for the essence of man and other entities effectively ceased, because — while the human species was recognized to have certain tendencies — it became clear that he “made it up as he went along”.  Thus, the thinking went, why not just admit it, submit to it, no longer resist it, and let it just “all hang out”.  Modernity is the just reward for the abandonment of reason; beware of what you ask for, as it may well be gotten.  And so the popularized banner of Existentialism was born — from the ashes rose the proverbial Phoenix, and no longer did we strive to attain the “essence” of human quality, but submitted to the idea that we first come to exist, and each day create our own essence.

Thus the popularized version:  Existence preceding essence.  And we see the evidence of such truth all around us.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer the brunt of daily turmoil because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows him or her to perform all of the essential (there is the form of that word again) elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the idea that human cruelty and consequential suffering is a normative standard, is really nothing new under the sun.

Meursault, in Camus’ major work, The Stranger, also saw the disconnect between man’s claim to compassion and humanity, and the actual state of being.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition and who find that the Federal Agency or U.S. Postal Service will fail them in every way, including the artificial attempts at “accommodation”, need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, there is ultimately life beyond the Federal Agency and the U.S. Postal Service — and one in which you may actually be able to create a “new essence” of yourself, beyond the mere existence presently lived in within the bureaucratic morass of your Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire