Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A Federal Issue

Most legal issues require representation by an attorney licensed in the state where the legal matter arises. Thus, divorce proceedings; accidents and torts of various kinds where the injury occurs; contracts where they are formulated and agreed upon; negligence actions where the act occurred, etc.

But for such administrative proceedings such as the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the state from which the attorney received his or her legal license becomes irrelevant precisely because the practicing of Federal Disability Retirement law crosses all state lines, and does not involve any issues which are unique to a particular state at all, but rather is entirely a “Federal” issue involving Federal statutes, regulations, administrative agencies, etc.

Further, while many individuals may still express a “comfort” zone of desiring to “see” the attorney by visiting him or her in an office, such a personalized encounter may simply be an impracticality. Agencies span the entire country, and indeed, Federal workers are stationed throughout the globe in Europe, Asia, the Philippines, etc., and representation for such Federal issues as filing for, and obtaining, Federal and USPS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is best done by an attorney who is experienced in the administrative process of law entailing all aspects of OPM Federal Disability Retirement law.

Fortunately, with modern technology, including email, fax, phone, express delivery, etc., close contact with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is merely a “push-button” away. In an impractical universe, it is best to use the services of practical technology.

Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, not a state one, and this should always be kept in mind when seeking representation in the matter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Distances

Somehow, proximity often makes for comfort, and thus do we have a greater sense of security if something is nearby, and distance reflects ties of both emotional and physical detachment.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is the Federal agency which determines all issues on Federal Disability Retirement matters.  They are located in Washington, D.C. (with the intake office for the initial acceptance and computer inputting being accomplished first by an office in Boyers, Pennsylvania).

Whether the Federal or Postal employee is working in an office in California, Nevada, Illinois or Virginia; or, perhaps, somewhere overseas in Europe, Japan, etc.; all such applications for Federal Medical Retirement must be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.  If the Federal or Postal employee is still with the agency, or has been separated less than 31 days from the agency, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement must first be routed through one’s agency (or, for the Postal employee, through the H.R. Shared Services Center located in Greensboro, North Carolina).

This is a “Federal” matter, not a state issue, and therefore an attorney who specializes in handling Federal Disability Retirement does not need to be an attorney licensed in the state where the Federal or Postal employee resides.

Very few local attorneys specialize in such Federal Administrative matters; as such, it is likely that an attorney who is equipped to handle such matters will be located in a different state, far away, but hopefully close to the source of the matter — near Washington, D.C. , where the issue itself is adjudicated at the administrative level.

While such distance may preclude a face-to-face meeting with the attorney, there are other safeguards which can be noted, to ensure that one’s comfort zone is left intact:  reputation, accessibility, and references.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Apparent Independence of Each Stage

In some ways, the fact that each “stage” of the process of Federal Disability Retirement is independent from each other, is a “given”.   When a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the Initial Stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is considered a positive part of the administrative process that the Merit Systems Protection Board will evaluate and decide the case “de novo”, or “anew” or “afresh”, without regard to what the Office of Personnel Management stated, decided, affirmed or concluded.

To that extent — to have an independent eye and an evaluation unbiased by prior analysis — is a good thing.  However, when one reads the decision of the Office of Personnel Management at the Initial denial of the application, then again at the Reconsideration denial of the application, it is somewhat disconcerting that neither OPM Representatives relied upon the analysis of the other.  What this allows for, of course, is an independent review by both the Initial Stage of the application and the Reconsideration Stage of the application, and while such independence of review can be seen in a positive light (again, that one OPM Representative is not influenced or biased by the views of the other), more often than not, what happens is that the Reconsideration Stage OPM Representative merely comes up with new and previously unfounded arguments upon which to deny the application a second time.

In short, it is difficult to stabilize the arguments upon which OPM relies, in order to answer and refute them.  That is why the MSPB’s approach of viewing a case de novo is important.  For, by ignoring the malleability of OPM’s reviewing process, one may get an objective and truly independent analysis and evaluation of the case.  Independence is an important component of “fairness”; objectivity is an integral element; and integrity is the filament which holds the law together.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Seeking an Attorney

Old methods of operating are sometimes so ingrained that accepting a different paradigm is sometimes difficult.  In normal circumstances, an individual who seeks the counsel and representation of an attorney would (and should) seek out a local attorney who is versed and experienced in the laws of one’s particular state.  Most legal issues require the counsel and representation of the state within which the legal issue arose — whether it be contractual, tort, domestic relations, or other matters — and, indeed, an attorney is generally restricted to practicing law in the state in which he or she is licensed by.  

In representing Federal and Postal employees in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, however, the Federal or USPS Worker must understand that the issue to be litigated concerns a “Federal” issue, and not a state issue.  As such, an attorney who specializes in representing Federal or Postal employees to fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will normally not be a “local” attorney.  

Because Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, the fact that an attorney is licensed in a different state is irrelevant.  The attorney certainly needs to be a licensed attorney — otherwise, such an attorney who is not licensed should not hold himself or herself out to be an attorney.  For representation to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management or, if the Federal or Postal employee has already filed, or been denied and filed a Request for Reconsideration with the Office of Personnel Management and was denied again and is now in need of filing an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, the necessity of an attorney at any level of the process should focus upon the specialization and experience of the attorney in Federal Disability Retirement issues — and not on whether the attorney is “local” or not.  

Indeed, in all likelihood, one will not find a “local” attorney who has even an inkling of an idea what Federal Disability Retirement law is all about. Paradigm shifts are difficult to accept, but they are nevertheless necessary in a world of ever-changing circumstances.  While “going local” may be a great paradigm to adhere to in supporting local farms and local products, it is probably not a practical approach in attempting to secure Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: A Federal Issue

For many legal issues which are encountered by most people, an attorney from the state within which he or she resides is necessary and proper.  This is because the laws of each state are different, and requires the expertise of an attorney who is licensed to practice law within that particular jurisdiction.

However, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, not a state issue.  As such, as an attorney who is licensed from one state, that attorney is able and allowed to represent Federal and Postal workers from all across the United States.  

Being “able to and allowed”, of course, is a separate issue from whether a particular attorney is competent, knowledgeable, and experienced enough to perform such work — but those are questions and issues which should be reviewed, determined and inquired into, by each Federal and Postal worker who is seeking an attorney who purports to be an “expert” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement law.  

Such a basis for determination of an attorney’s competency in any area of law should be based upon multiple criteria, including:  Questions asked and answered during an initial consultation; review of any articles written on the subject; information gathered on the attorney’s website — especially the substantive content of any claims made, or any discussion concerning the subject of Federal Disability Retirement law — and a general sense of responsiveness to an initial query.  

Because preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “Federal” issue and not a state issue, it is likely that the Federal or Postal worker will never personally meet the attorney in a Federal Disability Retirement case, and instead, all communication and contact will be by telephone, email, fax, overnight delivery, etc.  This would be a natural occurrence — just as you will never actually see anyone from the Office of Personnel Management or from the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Remember, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, and not a state one, and therefore the attorney who is licensed in a particular state can effectively represent anyone, anywhere, both in the United States, and in other countries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Specialization, Focus & the Attorney

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee will often retain the services of an attorney precisely for the focus which must be placed upon the compilation of the entire packet. It is, moreover, a field requiring specialization, and one which necessitates knowledge of the particular rules, regulations, and procedural processes which must be understood, maneuvered through, and ultimately complied with.

The reason why local attorneys are rarely found in assisting for the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, is that there are not that many attorneys in the general population of attorneys who have specialized in the field of representing Federal or Postal employees in Federal Disability Retirement law.

This is a Federal issue, not a state issue. Most issues of law require a local attorney who is licensed to practice law in the particular state in which the issue arises. For Federal issues — and Federal Disability Retirement constitutes a Federal issue — what is required is a licensed attorney (from which state is irrelevant) who has the specialized knowledge and focus in order to effectively represent the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under the laws governing such benefits.

A general practitioner of law will rarely be sufficient; a local attorney who has never encountered the maze of bureaucratic procedural requirements may, with research and diligence, become competent in understanding the rules and statutes governing Federal Disability Retirement, but for purposes of properly preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to have a singular focus upon the specialized field, in order to be immediately effective and be able to have the applied knowledge to attain the outcome-successful end in mind.

Focus, specialization and the attorney — it is a tripartite combination which the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS which should be carefully considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The MSPB & the Window of Opportunity

At the Merit Systems Protection Board, there are multiple critical points of opportunity in which to convince, persuade and otherwise have a discussion with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reverse their earlier denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Remember, however, that this is the arena and playground of lawyers.  While an applicant who has meandered through the intricate administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, can certainly survive the administrative procedures as circumscribed by the Merit Systems Protection Board, it is a good idea to have legal representation– obviously, from the very beginning; if not, then to represent one’s interests in rebutting an initial denial at the Reconsideration Stage; if not (again), then to have proper representation before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Whether at a Preliminary Conference to discuss the forthcoming issues, or at a Prehearing Conference — or, in preparing and filing a Prehearing Statement as ordered by the Administrative Judge at the MSPB — opportunities arise for the Federal or Postal worker to submit additional medical evidence which can potentially persuade OPM’s representative to reverse the two previous decisions of denial.  Such opportunities must be carefully embraced.  Yet, often, a Federal or Postal employee who is unrepresented at the MSPB is unaware of the opportunities which arise, at which points, in what circumstances, and the Administrative Judge is bound by duty and position to remain neutral.  Then, of course, there is the Hearing at the MSPB, in the event that OPM does not reverse.  Whatever the circumstances of the Federal or Postal employee who is or will be filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, an advocate to represent the Federal or Postal employee’s interests is paramount. Don’t “go it alone”; for, to do so will often only lengthen the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire