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

OPM Medical Retirement: Between balance and perspective

Between the two is a chasm often unnoticed, where the preface to either and both may be a skewed outlook or a myopic view of an issue, a trope of a trolley of hardships gone uncontrollably berserk; and once a person “gets over” the emotional turmoil of a reaction steeped in feelings, sensibilities and angst, then a certain condemnation of “balance” may arise, which then allows for a different “perspective” to develop.

Balance is often thought to come after perspective, as if the former is the more important conclusion to arrive at, whereas the latter is merely likened to the prefatory problems encountered to begin with.  But balance merely provides the spectrum; the weights at each end may now allow for a proper judgment and determination, but only as to the quantitative bunching of problems to be faced.

Perspective, on the other hand, allows one to take a step back and review the qualitative potentialities of a consortium of issues otherwise unavailable without the weighing of all issues simultaneously, to be evaluated, analyzed and judged upon.

It is that pause and moment between the two, however, that allows for the former to result in the productivity of the latter, and without that split, abbreviation and semicolon of reality, we may jump from the proverbial frying pain into the fires of our own making.  For, we like to think of ourselves as “rational” (whatever that means) and imbued with a capacity to view things in a “balanced” way, thus allowing a reasoned “perspective” upon all matters of importance.

In the end, however, do we ever follow the advice of sages long past, dead anyway, and suspected of gross negligence by the incomprehensible garnishment of society’s lack of empathy and understanding?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suddenly, or over a period of time, suffers 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 issue is often one of balance and perspective – how do I make a “right” decision that balances all of the issues involved?  And what is the “proper” perspective to arrive at, given all of the jumble of issues – whether legal, real, imagined or feared?

Filing a 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 an important decision to make from any perspective, and in order to arrive at a “balanced” judgment on the matter, the Federal or Postal employee needs to allow for that pause between balance and perspective to include a third-party voice to intervene and provide some advice; the only question is, will that comma or semicolon that allows for soundness of judgment be from a friend or cousin who may not have a clue, or from an experienced attorney who may be able to fill in the gap between the balanced perspective in making a proper decision?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: The Clock

It is an interesting device.  We can try and project back to a time of its non-existence, or at least when not every household owned one.  What could it have been like?  Where the hour was guessed at by the position of the sun – or was that not even part of the thought process?  Did the sun, dawn, dusk and twilight merely present a foreboding for a different paradigm?

Certainly, minutes and seconds likely had conceptual meaninglessness, and everyone worked, played and lived for the “moment”, without great regard or concern for the next day, the following season, or a decade hence.  Ship’s captains had a greater sense of future foreboding, though not necessarily of time, but of oncoming storms or changes in the currents; farmers lived season to season, and fretted as they still do about droughts or floods that might destroy crops; but as we entered into modernity, it was the grind of the clock that set the day for the city dweller, where payment for labor earned was remitted not by the rising and setting of the sun, but by increments of hours, minutes and labor beyond the darkness of a day ended.

At what point did time entrap us into a thought-process of expectancy that destroys the joy of a living moment?

If Friday provides a needed anticipation for a weekend of rest and repose, we immediately destroy and capacity to enjoy it by looking at the clock and realizing how many hours and minutes have passed by, and further denigrate our ability to appreciate by calculating the remainder of time.  We can become obsessed with the clock – its ticking diminution by projecting the decrease; the foreboding of what is yet to come, though it is merely within our minds; and the constant checking of incremental living of a life as against the clock that rules.

Medical conditions tend to remind us of the clock; or, perhaps it is the opposite, where the clock reminds us of our mortality when we suffer from a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity, the clock can serve as both a reminder as well as an obsession of foreboding thought processes.

Yes, the clock is likely ticking in a proverbial sense in terms of the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service having the patience (does such an animal exist for either?) in trying to “work with” the medical condition (a euphemism often interpreted as, “You better become fully productive soon, or else”), but in a more real sense, the Federal or Postal employee must make a decision at some point as to the prioritizing of one’s health as opposed to the positional elements of the job which is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

By law, the Federal or Postal employee who is released, separated or terminated (yes, there is a distinction between the three, but for the Federal employee of Postal worker, not enough of significance to define them here), the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of such separation from service.  Certainly, in that instance, the clock begins to tick, and not just in a proverbial sense but in real legal terms.  One need not, however, wait for such an event to realize the clock’s significance; watching the clock as the medical condition continues to deteriorate, is reminder enough that time rules us each day whether or not we succumb to it, or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Avoiding emotional identification

We all do it, to one extent or another; doctors who deal with terminal children or relegated to the emergency floors; patients who must see the foreboding grief in the eyes of family members who have been told; psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who listen “objectively” to the turmoil and trauma of other lives; the capacity for human compartmentalism is nearly inexhaustible.

Does the horse who listens to the cab driver in the brilliant short story, “Misery” (or often subtitled as, “Grief” or “To whom shall I tell my grief?”), by Anton Chekhov, have a choice in the matter?  Well, you say, the horse cannot understand the linguistic intricacies of the story told!  And, yet, we designate dogs and other animals as therapeutic breeds capable of soothing the wounded and scarred psyche of our neighbors…  The flip side of such a capacity, of course, leads to human cruelty beyond mere animalistic behavior, where the caverns of barbarism know no bounds.

The murderous son can torture in the name of the State by day, and sit with his mother at the dinner table and weep with genuine sorrow over the arthritic pain felt by infirmity and old age; and the boy who remembers the love of his mother may singe the wings of insects with pyrotechnic delight as mere gaggles of laughter unhinged by a warped conscience.  But, you say, insects and the lower order of animals don’t have “feelings” in the same way we do!  What does that statement truly mean, but merely to justify an act which — if otherwise directed at a fellow human being — would border on the criminal?

Bifurcation of lives lived is an important survival component for the health of the human psyche.  To identify with a suffering soul on an intellectual level allows for comprehension and understanding; to do so on a par at an emotional level merely subsumes one into the other, and negates the capacity to provide wisdom or advice.  That is why, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a FERS, CSRS or CSRS employee, whether in a Postal capacity or as a non-Postal, Federal employee, it is important to recognize that if a Federal or Postal employee prepares the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A without representation, the subject and object of such preparation are one and the same, and therefore collectively engages in an activity of emotional identification which is difficult to avoid.  For, the person of whom the Statement of Disability is written, is the same person who is the author of the narrative on SF 3112A.

Is there a danger to be avoided?  Isn’t there an advantage in conveying the feelings by the same person who experiences the trauma and medical condition?  If objectivity is defined, in part, at least, as a reasoned perspective from multiple sides of an issue or fact, then the greater distance ensconced between the subject discussed and the narrator empowered, will allow for the attainment of that position of elevated perception.

Certainly, that is how the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing your case — by avoiding emotional identification, and trying to sort through the pain, suffering and legal implications of the Federal Disability Retirement application, hopefully prepared and formulated in as objective a manner as humanly possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Myths of our own making

What stories we carry within our own heads; the narrative of our own lives, as well as the intersecting conveyances brought by others; the web of linguistic larcenies borrowed, bought and sometimes sold, become who we are and the essence of our being within the world of our phenomenology of existence.  Sometimes, when a lie is told and the piece of puzzle will no longer fit into the greater collage of the manifold tapestry we carry about within our psyche, a rearrangement of sorts must occur.

Perhaps, we discovered, through correspondence and other confirming evidentiary apparatus otherwise irrefutable, that the uncle whose reputation as the moral compass of fidelity had fathered an illegitimate child (of course, such an anachronistic term no longer applies, as marriage no longer validates legitimacy or otherwise).  Perhaps, a meeting with this “family” of prior anonymity becomes a necessity, which then opens experiential doors to other discoveries and nuances of life’s misgivings.

The narrative of one’s life, the connections intertwined and the stories told, must like the piece of a jigsaw puzzle misplaced, be rearranged or otherwise left blank, like the echo of a plaintive voice in a soft hum heard through a mist of cackling geese.  Are secrets worth keeping, anymore?

In modernity, where technology allows for the melding of myth and maxim; where demarcations between the creation of self and the posting of what constitutes the presentation of that being identified as the person who declares to be such, is merely one button away from the virtual reality of a gemstone shining in the moonlit cavern of a secret cave where treasures hidden from pirates of yore flutter with the ghosts of dead seamen and spinning yarns of horrors untold; what we are in the essence of our being has been replaced by the talent to tell of who we are not.  And yet — truthfulness, veracity, validation of identity, and certitude of conduct; they all seem to remain as vestiges of a necessary universe.

The myths of our own making have always been so throughout the history of storytelling.  Today, it is merely more so because of the plenitude of everyone wanting to tell his or her tale, and of every detail most of us don’t want to know.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from medical conditions which prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, a unique sense of duality must be conquered:  there is the need, on the one hand, to “tell all” in the form of SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and, yet, what must be revealed concerns the most “private” of one’s narrative — that of the medical condition and the impact of the medical condition upon one’s professional and private lives.

“Myths” are not merely of make-believe; they are the stories told in traditional societies in order to make a larger point.  Indeed, the myths of our own making may sometimes include the fears we hold onto, as well as the uninformed presumptions we grasp at in a bureaucratic process which is both complex and administratively difficult to maneuver through.  Sound advice from a legal expert in the area of Federal Disability Retirement law will help to dispel the myths unwarranted, as well as validate the maxims required.

In the end, the myths of our own making often reflect the haunting fears of experiences we encountered in those days when childhood memories cast their shadows upon the dungeons of our lives, and when trolls and gnomes suspected to reside in hidden crevices scratch at the doorways leading to the most private of our inner fears.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Of things (which should be) hidden

Perhaps it is a moment of repose, when relaxation allows for an unflattering silhouette or an act with hands which reach for things not publicly accepted; or of an insight into the depths of a soul, better left concealed, congealing unexpectedly before one’s eyes despite best or better attempts to suppress or repress.

We all assume certain aspects of a person’s life, and when they appear not within the slice of images presented to the public eye, we do not take notice because the presumption remains throughout.  Thus do bathroom scenes remain irrelevant throughout most of the history of film, and have only made their debut as titillating artistry masked as prurient creativity encroaches in subtle increments upon our sensibilities (with the obvious exception, of course, of Hitchcock’s scene of the curtained shadow).

Somehow, despite our incessant clatter of protestations to the contrary, the privacy of our lives become exposed and elevated to a pedestal of a declarative rumination, like the child-actor who accepts the adoration of public applause in place of the denied love of a parent.  The lowest of our essence tends to congregate in bunches of time, place and people; perhaps, as like attracts like, and similarities of venturesome teleologies aggregate for symbiosis of common causes, so the ugliness of humanity seems always to find its way where innocence abounds and the naive output is counterbalanced by the depravity of so many soulless zombies.

So it is in the workplace, where the ugliness of human character tends to reveal itself.  But that we wish for privacy, and for the sheer meanness of the human spirit to remain hidden.  The skin is an organ which covers, and for that we may be thankful — as the inner organs of man were never meant to be exposed for viewing where beauty is replaced with the stark reality of who we are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must continue to go to work despite the deteriorating and progressive presence of 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 positional duties, the persistent exposure to things which should remain hidden, often becomes a constancy of unrelenting corridors of shame.

Just as divorce merely widens the microscopic fissures of that which the child already sensed, and the secrets leading to wars were already well-known by enemies and allies alike, so the facade which allowed for amiability and camaraderie suddenly crumbles, and the ugliness of humanity exposes itself.  Why is it that of those things once hidden, they suddenly become public and unconstrained?  And in the very midst of medical conditions and human plight which should engender empathy and consolation, the increase in harassment and progressive punishment exponentially facilitates.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who finds him or herself in such a situation, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes not merely the least of options remaining, but the best alternative to a deteriorating circumstance.

And of those things which should have remained hidden?

Like vestiges of timeless reruns from an era veiled by innocence, the reels of fading images defy the reality of our day, and the best course of action is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM so that the escape hatch can invite a gust of fresh air where once the stuffiness of a stale and toxic environment was suffocating the very life out of our soulful existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire