CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Aggregate of Conditions

In debate, there are two primary methodologies of attacking:  the micro-approach, where each individual strand of an opponent’s argument is dismantled, leaving the opposition with no singular weapon to use; or the macro-approach, where — because some of the individual arguments may withstand scrutiny — the universal umbrella of the argument as a whole is attacked, thereby dismantling the entirety of the whole.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, OPM will utilize one of the two approaches.  At times, OPM will selectively choose one or two of the medical conditions, barely mentioning the rest, then attack the lack of documentary support on those particularized medical conditions.  Or, at other times, OPM will make sweeping generalizations and fail to specifically identify, and selectively ignore, the details of individual medical conditions.  Regardless of the methodology of approach, the ultimate result of either approach is a denial.

The question is how one responds to either approach.

The answer is often based upon the construction of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  This is where it is important to weave the particular with the aggregate, where the construction of each individual medical condition is argued to depend upon the greater whole, and where the cumulative impact of the various medical conditions constitute an inseparable whole.  The flexibility of language allows for this; the medical narrative report should reflect this.

This is why spending valuable time at the front end of a Federal Disability Retirement case is important; for the later stages of the administrative process may well depend upon it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Making Explicit the Implicit

Sometimes, it is implicitly clear in the formulation of the Federal Disability Retirement application that the applicant is unable to coherently present one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

Whether because of the physical limitations or the cognitive dysfunctions, the brevity of the statement on the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, or the illegible handwriting, etc., may well provide an indication of one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s Federal or Postal duties in a particular position.  But to rely upon an implicit revelation, or to expect that a Claims Representative at the Office of Personnel Management may infer the intractable pain which the potential applicant may be experiencing, is to expect that which will likely not happen.  

The paper presentation offered to the Office of Personnel Management must be explicitly stated at every juncture, at every opportunity, at every potentially coordinating point — with succinctness and clarity of delineation, utilizing the language available, inserting the most effective, descriptive adjectives to create a compelling word picture, governed by truth and justified by the medical documentation within the parameters of the law, in order to express that which has previously remained implicit.

To make explicit that which is implicit is the key; to expect the implicit to be recognized by the reviewing individual at the Office of Personnel Management is to expect the impossible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire