Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Caution

It is the characteristic which precludes and prevents unnecessary harm, and allows for the survival instinct to flourish; yet, as with most traits, there are both positive and negative aspects to it.  Yes, the telltale signs of hesitation, trepidation in approach, care in proceeding, and sometimes outright flight, allows for the evolutionary dominance of survival of the fittest and the genetic propagation of a species on the rise.  In modernity, however, when the dangers once diverse in the State of Nature are no longer applicable, that same innate fingerprint can be the preventative modality of stunted growth.  What was once the thrust for endurance of longevity may now be the invisible thread which holds back.

Caution, as a philosophy of living, can indeed limit the potential for greater good.

Perhaps in finance, the conservative approach with steadiness of investment is the preferred methodology; in politics, the inane and incomprehensible mumblings which meander with linguistic elasticity and meaningless tropes, the pathway to elected office; and in the Federal Sector and the U.S. Postal Service, to “not make waves” may well be the quiet road to disregarded competence and allowable step-increases at expected intervals.  But sometimes life brings about change without the seeking our of disruptive interludes, and that is precisely what a medical condition does to a life of serenity and quietude.  They are life’s misgivings not asked for, and interruptions unearned.

There again, caution and hesitation go hand in hand, and making a decision about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is but a manifestation of a character trait which may have served you well up to this point, but which may exacerbate the collaboration of an unwanted triumvirate:  work, health, and one’s future security.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM often has a daunting sense of the unknown, and that is never a positive sign for the cautious by nature.  But nature’s course may not be the best, or even the wisest, avenue in this era of modernity; for, as the trait which allowed for narrow escapes in eons past, it is also the identical essence which may have delayed the promotion, interrupted the dream, restrained the hope, and dashed the fantasy which remained as an unscented residue quashed by a desire suppressed in the first chapter of that cautionary tale called “you”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Mental Health, Stress and First Steps

Disquietude is a negation of a former state of being.  Perhaps it is merely a retrospective re-characterization or romanticization of a time or status that never was; or, maybe even a partial remembrance of a slice of one’s life measured as a fullness in comparison to what is occurring in the present.

Regardless (as opposed to the nonsensical, double-negative modern vernacular of “irregardless”), to have a sense of disquietude implies of a former time, event, or state which had a greater positive light than the present one.

And it is in this context that the Federal or Postal Worker who begins to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is living in California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota or Texas (have we effectively zig-zagged a sufficiency of states in order to make the point, yet, or perhaps we need to include Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin in order to make the point), that one must understand the greater bureaucratic involvement which one needs to undertake before engaging the complexity of the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

First, it is a Federal issue, and therefore, it will be unlikely that one will find, for example, a Florida Federal Disability attorney, or an Oregon, Kentucky or Louisiana Federal Disability lawyer; for, it matters not whether or not the lawyer lives in, or is licensed in a particular state, precisely because this is a Federal issue, and not a state issue.

Second, Mental Health issues — aside from being a valid and viable basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application — can either stand alone, or be in combination with a physical disability (isn’t it interesting how we bifurcate “mental” as opposed to “physical”, whereas both are part of the same physiological state of a person?).  Sometimes, mental health issues stand alone; other times, they can be concurrent medical conditions, or secondary ones.

Third, stress is a basis for a Mental Disability Retirement claim, although it must be properly and carefully approached because of issues concerning situational disabilities.

And Fourth, how one approaches the first steps in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, will often determine the success or failure of the disability case.

Overall, it is the plan itself, the cogency of the approach, and the gathering of the proper documentation, which will determine the efficacy of those first steps, and whether the stress, mental and physical health of one’s being, will be relieved as a result of filing for a Federal Disability claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The World in Which We Live

Various social commentators have observed the contradiction that, while we live in an increasingly global economy, individuals feel a greater sense of isolation; thus, the conundrum that the world is no longer an expansive, unreachable universe, but in private lives, the uniqueness of the individual is lost and forgotten.

Whether because of the stresses of isolation, or because of the fast-paced, technologically-driven world in which we live, or some organic-based reasons, one may never know; nevertheless, the exponential explosion of psychiatric illnesses erupting in our society cannot be denied.

There was a time, perhaps a decade or so ago, when a stigma was attached to medical conditions and disabilities which were deemed “stress-related“, and which encompassed depression, anxiety, uncontrollable panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc.  One cannot mark a clear demarcation of when the approach and societal attitude, let alone the medical community’s acceptance, of the wide array of psychiatric conditions, changed.

For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, however, the level of approvals versus denials between cases involving psychiatric conditions, as opposed to purely physical medical conditions, has become indistinguishable.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not review or analyze cases based upon psychiatric conditions — so long as one can tell, purely from an “outsider’s” perspective — any differently from “physical” medical conditions.

This is obviously a “good” thing, because psychiatric medical conditions are just as valid, serious, “real”, and devastating, as the most serious of “physical” medical conditions.  The world in which we live has certainly changed; OPM has evolved with the new world, and we are all the better off for it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The MSPB

The entire process of preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should be accomplished with the view that it will end up at the Merit Systems Protection Board, being heard by an Administrative Judge.  This is why much thought and preparation should foreshadow each application.  There should be a running theme throughout the narrative which reveals the individuality of a person’s medical condition and how that medical condition impacts his or her ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job

Truth should always be the guide; however, truth is always influenced by perspective.  It is the “perspective” of the Office of Personnel Management, in all Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS & CSRS, to carefully scrutinize the narrative of the medical condition, impact upon the job, and the ability and inability to have the necessary connection between the two.  It is the perspective of the supervisor who will render his or her opinion based upon a limited knowledge and observation.  Perspectives must be questioned.  Thus, there is the opportunity for cross-examination at the MSPB level, which must be engaged in artfully and with care.  Each individual believes that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application is a “sure thing” at the First Stage of the process — until the reality sets in.  The reality, of course, is that every application must be prepared as if it is going to the MSPB, because it well might, and often does.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire