OPM Disability Retirement: Responding to a Denial

More than ever, OPM is denying Federal Disability Retirement applications.  Whether by deliberate design, tightening of legal criteria, imposition of an informal quota system or “just because”, it is clear that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted a campaign of denying Federal Disability Retirement benefits to applicants seeking it.

Is there a basis in the law?  Are all denials justified?  Have they become more focused upon certain aspects of the legal criteria while ignoring others?  Is there a “typical” denial letter?

Some denials retain little to no justification; others appear to provide some rational basis; still others counter with detailed reasonings as to the legal basis for the denial.  The spectrum of the legal basis varies; and then, of course, there are approvals that seem to pass through with nary an objection.  Each case is unique because of the inherent circumstances surrounding the basic foundation of the health or medical condition and its relationship to the Federal or Postal worker’s specific job elements.

FERS Disability Retirement is unique and different from Social Security Disability benefits because the standard of eligibility is distinctively and identifiably unique: Social Security, generally speaking, requires a showing of “total disability”, whereas FERS Disability Retirement merely mandates a much lesser proof of being”unable to perform” one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job functions.

In the end, whether OPM has instituted a policy showing greater arbitrariness in its last Federal Disability Retirement determinations — or not — there is “The Law” which continues to guide and define. Consult with an experienced Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before frantically trying to respond to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.  For, after the First Denial and the need to go to the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is all a matter of the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Forgotten Lives

Is it the memory that retains importance, or the fear that erasure leads to irrelevance that motivates us to prevent forgotten lives?  Does imprint upon history — whether in a footnote or an “honorable mention” in the epitaph of an unvisited tombstone — mean so much?  Does a reference in a Wikipedia listing count as a counter to a life lived in anonymity?

Most of us accept that we will not leave behind a greater imprint upon history’s rising trash heap of honorable mentions; and, except for dinner conversations amidst family gatherings, where someone might bring up a story that begins with, “Hey, remember when Uncle X was with us, the time when…” — we are left to memories forever fading and references served only by the ivy that grows over graveyards left unattended.

How important is it to maintain a semblance of relevance in a world where the 15-second timeframe of fame and one’s forever-statement of contribution to society keeps getting shortened because of the need to move on to the next and more titillating cause of excitement?

One wonders whether a person clings to doing something merely in order to avoid erasure from existence from the memories of those engaged.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue working in the chosen field in the Federal or Postal sector of employment, the issue of making a decision to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is often inextricably tied to the emotional upheaval of forgotten lives.

When one’s purpose and motivation for daily living is so intertwined with one’s career, work and the daily relevance of a mission yet to be accomplished, it is a difficult step to take, to recognize that one’s contribution to society may be coming to an end, resulting in forgotten lives and erasure from relevance.

But always remember that priorities must always be assigned, and the priority of one’s health comes before any fear of an honorable mention in a Wikipedia footnote, and just as there is life after a career with the Federal government, so it is also true that history is replete with the unnamed and unmentioned contributions of forgotten lives forever extinguished.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The tangible

What are the criteria by which one lives?  Is there a singular, dominant principle, as in “A Criterion” or “The Criterion”, or multiple ones; or perhaps an overarching archetype with subsets of mini-components that are all in their aggregate subsumed by a greater Platonic Form, somewhat like “Goodness” that predominates, with subtexts of lesser categories?  Or, do we just blunder through life without them and arbitrarily bump into decisions, pathways that take us hither and yonder, and never quite escape the confusions of our own making?

Some people consider themselves to be “idealistic”, and look always for the good in others; still some, pure cynics such that they suspect the worst in everyone; and most, an admixture of the two extremes in a spectrum of choices.  There are, in philosophy, the “logical positivists” who declare that nothing makes sense unless validity of a statement can be established, and such a criterion normally involves the tangible.  That which we can see, feel, hear or establish by logical methodology comprises the entirety of one’s existential reality, and there is some truth to such an approach.

It is said that in youth, much idealism begins; in middle age, some waning of hope must by necessity be accepted; and by old age, a seeping cynicism inevitably prevails.  The tangible is that which we can embrace, feel, rest our hopes upon; otherwise, the cold icicles of other people’s indifference will ultimately become the obsession of our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has begun to result in tangible manifestations — i.e., use of LWOP has become noticeably frequent; performance ratings are anticipated to be questionable; supervisors and coworkers have begun asking questions; but most importantly, you yourself have begun to notice a deterioration in your ability and capacity to maintain the level and pace of working at the Agency or Postal facility — the “criterion” to be applied is quite straightforward: Are you still able to perform all of the essential elements of your positional requirements?

If not, then it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  The criteria by which we live are often complicated; it is the tangible which brings everything back down to earth from the lofty heights of idealism, youth and folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Future uncertainty

It is a peculiarly human endeavor to reflect upon and ruminate; to consider that which has not yet occurred, and to worry about it, turn it over, consider the options, become so ensconced in the details of that which is still yet to become, if at all, and to will anxiousness and even harm one’s health over it.

Does the dog that one has known for many years engage in such conceptual angst, and project one’s self towards a time yet to become?  Well, yes — there can be a similar sense of anticipation; of prefatory behavior in response to an approaching hour.  If, on every Sunday at noon a tremendous noise is heard, dogs and other animals can be ‘trained’ into becoming anxious for several hours before the event, and act accordingly.

Is that merely an inculcated imprint, or is there some lengthy thought process — reflection, rumination or anticipatory consternation — involved in the anxious behavior exhibited?  Is there a distinction to be made in the manner in which human beings behave towards future uncertainty, or is the difference merely one of degrees?  Does our capacity towards an insular universe, self-contained within thoughts and boundless tangential roads that lead to greater depths of despair and self-inflicted despondency differ from the trained responses as exhibited by other species?  Or, is our capacity simply of “more”, and the extent of our means merely one of exponential exhibitionism?

Future uncertainty — what is it?  Is it a learned response or a human peculiarity of untold evolutionary need?  How does one engage in it, and are there better coping mechanisms than others?  Does life’s experiences grant any reprieve, or are we all subjected to its devastating effects?  Do the wealthy experience it in the same manner, or does it merely take an extremely selfish personality — one that cares nothing for others and thus feels no sense of obligation in forestalling any belief in future doom that may befall family members — to avoid the angst of foreboding tides?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have that sense of future uncertainty because of a medical condition that has begun to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the obvious antidote to such feelings is to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Yes, the future may appear uncertain at this moment; yes, the sense of not knowing gives a recognition of anxiousness that seems never-ending; and no, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is not the answer to all problems presented.  However, it is at least a start — to refocusing one’s attention to the priorities of life’s foundational precepts: of health and in securing some semblance of a future yet to be determined, but to be anticipated not with a foreboding sense of gloom, but of a tomorrow that may yet promise a day after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Stress tolerance

More and more, the psychology of human endurance is being studied, evaluated, assessed and judged upon; but in the end, the complexity of the psyche may never be fully known, and even of that knowledge which we think we know, we may be completely in error about.

We perform “stress tests” upon metal beams and overpass bridges in order to determine their viability and structural integrity; and through various engineering tools, we are able to determine whether or not a certain limit of tonnage or pressurized capability to withstand extreme changes in temperature can be “tolerated” before serious damage is done, or modifications, reinforcement or complete replacement becomes necessary.

Why are we unable to gauge the capacity of the human psyche, as well?  What is it about the complexity and endurance levels of the human mind that refuses to provide an objective capability of acceptable levels of stress?  Is it because it will always be individualized, restricted by childhood, adulthood and other hooded experiences that refuse to explain the levels of tolerance otherwise able to be discerned in a beam of wood or a concrete structure?  What does it mean, anyway, to have a “high” stress tolerance level, as opposed to a “low” or “medium” one?  Is it like possessing a gemstone that you carry around in your pocket?  And does it depend upon the “kind” of stress being experienced, or can it all be lumped into one?

Money and debt problems; traumas imparted by the behavior of others; family and marriage difficulties; workplace hostilities and adversarial and contentious encounters; do these all constitute different “kinds” of stresses, and do different people react to them and “deal” with them in variegated ways?  Does it matter whether or not the source of the stress emanates from an outside origin that does not “personally” involve you – such as the danger-based stresses experienced by police officers and firefighters that encompass saving others or deescalating “situations”, but at the end of the day, does not pervade beyond the clock that ticks down to end one’s shiftwork?

And medical conditions – how much of an impact does the physical have with the psyche, and to what extent is the interaction likened to a vicious cycle, where a physical ailment influences the capacity of the psyche to tolerate stresses, and where the mental or emotional stress triggers a person’s physical condition?

Science and medicine have never been perfect disciplines, and it is doubtful if we will ever fully comprehend the complete picture of the impact of stresses in our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and have come to a point where that medical condition no longer allows the Federal or postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the question often asked is whether or not “stress” is a viable element or basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application.

That query is a complex one, and can only be answered within the context of a medical diagnosis, the prevailing law, and the options left in the complicated process of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is essential to enhance a successful outcome.

Like so many questions of any level of complexity, “stress” is a complicated issue that cannot easily be addressed without a thorough evaluation by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The monster within

There are gargoyles we imagine, which are scarier than those in real life – unless we mean by them the ones who plan to do us harm (and not just murderers, rapists and other violators of the social contract scheme).  For the latter, we have laws, self-defensive mechanisms, and the ultimate justification for flight, and sometimes they work, at others, partially or not at all.  We can spend a lifetime fretting over the monsters without; it is those within – the former that haunts and never leaves the home of the mind – that destroy without a finger lifted.  For, in the end, it is fear that defeats, and that is well known by students of military strategy.

What weakness the adversary has, should be exploited tenfold as a vulnerability beyond the actual numbers; and what suspicion of doubt is kept in reserve, should be accessed and manipulated in order to magnify the exponential harm perpetrated by a cautious mind.  What looms large in one’s mind is quantitatively expanded despite arguments of logic, rationality and calm discourse; for, it is the imagination left untethered when the quiet of darkness falls upon a sleepless night, that the qualitative lack of focus begins to take shape in shadows unseen by a dawning light.

What can be more fearsome than that which we cannot control?  In reality, the circumstances that develop and unfold are mostly those that we have allowed for; in the creative recesses of our mental reserves, the expansive and uncontrolled destinies can never be curtailed, but have the limitless potential beyond any reality of sanity.  That is why the master torturer knows never to rush, and the interrogator recognizes the value of anticipation; of allowing the quiet fears to grow in the solitude of thought; and in the period between reality and imagination, the monster within can grow tenfold in untold features of taking on masks of fearful expressions and profiles of unfathomable terror.

How does one break that spell?  The shattering of an imagined fear is often tied to a fragile psyche that cannot be separated, and like conjoined twins who share a vital organ, should not be bifurcated but with surgical precision.  Fear is an interminable intrusion, unless and until the causative forces are intersected by an antidote which dissolves and dissipates.  The key is to find the antidote; and in the meantime, to hope that the elements of reality are not so traumatic as to overshadow the forces of psychic quietude.

For Federal employees who suffer from a medical condition, and Postal workers who similarly experience the pain of physical disabilities or psychiatric dysfunctions, the issue of when, how, and if one should file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is intimately conjoined with the growing monster within, while battling the dual forces of antagonism and contentiousness from without.  For, it is often the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service which exacerbates the problems associated with a medical condition, which then further complicates and magnifies the monsters stirring within.

To resolve such a problem, the answer lies in the very preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; for, in the end, the monster within becomes resolved only when the gargoyles outside are dealt with, and for the Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition, that resolution is defined by obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, in order to be able to take the next steps to secure a hopeful future, beginning with the act of separating from that environment of the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service which helps to create the monsters in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire