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 Medical Retirement under FERS: Those cracks we avoid

Remember the superstition of cracks in the sidewalk?  How we used to avoid them for fear of calamity, and worse yet, of the hand that reaches from beneath the bed late at night when parents are fast asleep and the screams that curl the midnight silence may never be heard because the world is not quite what it appeared to be?

Or, as we are walking along the normal route of direction, to get from point A to destination B, our thoughts as a child were: If I hop over the pebble on the road, suddenly and without any notification of precursor in judgment, the fate and destiny of the entire universe would be altered, because what was meant to never happen was changed by the course of my behavior that was never predicted, never meant to be, and failed to follow the normal course of a destined future.

And so, the child who nonchalantly walks with his parents suddenly, and without explanation, jumps up into the air and lands on the other side of the cracks we avoid.  In that moment — did the future change? Did the fate of mankind become altered forever?  How would we know?  Is the child who steps over those cracks any different from the adult who believes in falsehoods — and who poses the greater danger?  Where did we get those beliefs, and how did we come to accept them?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who by necessity must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the care which one must take when making decisions in preparing, formulating and filing for an OPM medical retirement can be likened to those cracks we avoid: is the information gathered and relief upon “true”?  Have you been told the “right” things?  Are your sources dependable?  Or, are you proceeding along a path and stepping upon those cracks that should be avoided?

Consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is a decision which each individual must make based upon particularized circumstances; and if it is only to avoid those cracks we see — or cannot foresee — it is well worth it to separate the superstitions from the truth of an unavoidable reality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Order & Disorder

Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do for a good deal of time spent?  Not to compare it to such a “Biblical” extent — but like the figure in the very first chapter of the very oldest book some hold as “sacred”: out of chaos, order is created.

Throughout one’s day, from the very awakening of those sleep-encrusted eyes, when the dreams dissipate and the nightmares subside, we wake up and try to create order out of the chaos that surrounds us.  The key to sanity is to keep pace with, or try and “get ahead”, if possible, of the impending disorder around us.  Thus can insanity be redefined as: We “lose” it when the disorder around us becomes exponentially quantified beyond one’s capacity to maintain the level of order required.

Think about it: the bombardment of stress that continues to envelope us; of a time not too long ago when “correspondence” was a written letter sent by one individual to another that took 2 – 3 days by first class mail to arrive after the postage stamp was licked and carefully placed, now replaced by a quick email and a button-push with a singular finger, multiplied by hundreds, if not thousands, and in a blink of an eye one’s “Inbox” is filled with requests, tirades, FYIs and spam beyond the measures order needed.

Isn’t that what “bringing up children” is also all about — of creating order out of disorder?  Without discipline, guidance, schooling and a bit of luck, we would all become maladapted individuals running about in diapers devoid of the learned proclivities of polite society, and be left with the allegation that one is “eccentric” or, worse, an “oddball”.

Medical conditions, too, have a way of overwhelming a person with a sense of “disorder”, in that it forces a person to do things outside of the ordinary repetition of an ordered life.  That is why it is so difficult to “deal with” a medical condition, even if it is not your own.  It interrupts one’s goals, plans, and the perspective of order that is so important to one’s sanity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from 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 job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often necessary just in order to attain that lost sense of order that has become created by the disorder of one’s medical condition.

Medical conditions make the universe formless and void; and it is the regaining of a sense of stability — of molding some sort of order out of the disorder — by obtaining some semblance of financial security through an OPM Disability Retirement, that the devil of disorder can be overcome with the gods of order in a genesis of new beginnings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Cherishing moments

In the end, isn’t that all that we have?  We like to speak in terms of vast, grandiose expanses of time, where we create plans that span a lifetime, or refer to wide swaths of historical periods as if we have any conception at all about time, segments of memories or even of the memories already forgotten.  Old men and women reflect back and regret the time lost; middle-aged people who are caught up in the race to make up for lost time, continue on the treadmill that never seems to lessen; and the young — they just race through it as if there is no tomorrow.

Cherishing moments — how does one do that in a fast-paced world of technological amplification where everything moves at a hare’s pace when the yearning is for the tortoise’s calm?  Life comes at us with a fury and an unrelenting torrent of rain and winds; and when we try and raise the umbrella or walk at an angle to counter the ferociousness, we merely get left behind.

How is it that “memories” become more significant and important in our lives than the actual “living” of an episodic slice of our daily existential encounters?  At what point does one take precedence over the other?  Is there an imbalance of disproportionality that occurs — as in, spending more time “remembering” as opposed to “living”?  Is a person who watches the same move over and over, day after day, any different from the one who constantly daydreams about a moment in his or her life, over and over again, repetitively in a lost morass of memories unrepentantly consumed? What is the proper balance and mixture — somewhat like a recipe for a homemade pie or a birthday cake — between the ingredient of cherishing moments and the reality of daily living?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the problem with cherishing moments — any moments — is that the impediment of the medical condition itself will not allow for any enjoyment at all, whether of memories remembered or of life to be lived.  That is when you know that there is a disequilibrium that needs to be corrected.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be the first, albeit tentative step, towards attaining a level of normalcy where cherishing moments is a choice to be taken, and not as a regretful nightmare uncontrollable in the restless dreams of a forsaken career.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The beginning, middle and end

It is a cognitive invention, as most events and occurrences are a continuum without such neatly-trifurcated wholes segmented into a tripartite of sectional constructs.  That is why sophistry can rule — because thought fails to meet reality and conform with it.

So the argument goes: An arrow shot from a bow can never reach its destination, as the the distance the arrow travels merely cuts the chasm between Point A and Point B in half every second or a fraction thereof, and as a line can be divided into halves into infinity, so the tip of the arrow can never overcome the mathematical division of measurable distances.  Yet, the hunter knows this not to be true, and the deer that feels the pierce of an arrowhead recognizes not the hypothetical constructs of philosophers and madmen.

Similarly, we ascribe to various conceptual constructs the “beginning, middle and end” — as in a novel; a stage play; the chapters of a life lived; a career; a failed marriage or of a successful one.  As to the latter — the “beginning” is described with adjectives of romance, love and passion unadorned; the “middle”, often with children, debts incurred, a home purchased and a career undertaken; and as to the “end”, whether of irreconcilable differences, infidelity, death or together taking walks into the sunset of two lives joined for a lifetime, depends largely upon the story told from the beginning, extending into the middle and coming to fruition towards the end.

In telling such a story, it is often less important what happened in “the beginning” — though couples often focus far too sharply upon that period, like prurient interests magnified by the query, “So, how did you two meet?”  It is more often the “middle part” that determines the course of the end; of the stresses of family life; the enticements and opportunities that can derail the best of intentions and muddle the principled mind; for, the “happy end” depends largely upon the activities of the middle, and it is the middle period that sets the foundation for the end.

And, as with almost all things worth pursuing, preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal or Postal employee, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, requires a solid foundation both in the “beginning” and the “middle” phases of the process, in order to bring about a favorable “end” to the complex administrative process.

The “beginning” part of the bureaucratic process identified as “Federal Disability Retirement” often involves the medical condition itself, and the recognition that a change is needed.  The “middle” part involves the complexity of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset; and the “end” embraces the hope of a First Stage Approval, but if not, the Second Reconsideration Stage and, if necessary, an administrative hearing before a Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Whether you as the Federal or Postal employee find yourself in the beginning, middle or end of the process identified as “Federal Disability Retirement”, always remember that wise counsel in the beginning makes for a smoother path in the middle, and greatly increases the chances of a successful end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Why we endure

Why, indeed?  We have all come to a point where we have just had it, and want to “chuck it all” in – into what, we often only have an obscure sense, or none at all, but it is the feeling of having reached a pinnacle of despair and those proverbial depths of despondency.  There is, fortunately or unfortunately, no hidden corner or secret room to which we can scurry away to, never to be seen again, remain unnoticed and left without the troubles of the day.

Why do we endure? Because others depend upon us; because to do otherwise would disappoint those we care for; by duty and obligations which compel our actions and form our thoughts; to avoid a sense of guilt; because life isn’t all those doldrums we sometimes complain of, but can sometimes have a spark of sunshine that makes it worthwhile; and for a host of multiple other reasons that we may not think of at this moment, but know to exist because we have continued to endure in the face of challenges and tumults of life that, for some, would constitute that breaking point, but for those still “in the race” and fighting “in the thick” of things (whatever those pithy and inane sayings of trite trollops really mean), we just continue to trudge along.

For some, perhaps the question of “why” never comes up – and like dullards who are happy to remain in the sullenness of life’s garbage pits, ignorant bliss is the best state to be in, while those who constantly complain about the minor irritants of life’s misgivings never stop to smell the roses along the way (there, we have managed to state the penultimate triteness of linguistic pithiness).

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who ask the same question in the face of medical conditions experienced and suffered, it takes on a new meaning when workplace harassment begins to intensify, especially because the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is there precisely in those circumstances such that the “why” is answered when a Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  It is precisely so that the Federal or Postal employee would not have to endure the pain, suffering or the cognitive decline in direct connection and nexus to the essential elements of a Federal or Postal employee’s official position in the Federal or Postal sector, that OPM Disability Retirement benefits are offered and able to be secured.

While filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is a long and arduous bureaucratic process, nevertheless, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is that avenue and course of action that answers the very question we sometimes must ponder and posit: Why we endure?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirements: The Cynic’s Tavern

It occupies a dilapidated building on the edge of town.  The sign that once overhung the entrance is faded and barely noticeable; but, then, the patrons who enjoy the end-of-workday glass or the occasional wanderer who mistakes the place for the origins of exotic mixtures need not a neon of invitation, but merely a marker that beckons.  Laughter is allowed; speaking is optional; rude behavior is not tolerated.  Silence is golden.  People go to the place of drink and merriment because it lacks the pretentiousness of the world outside; and the large man with a stubble of a week’s shade serves with nary a word, and respects the look of fatigue and demeanor of defeat foreshadowing the heavy sigh accompanying the hunched shoulders of the breathless customer.

The Cynic’s Tavern is the place where old men gather, young men and women cluster, and those somewhere in between loiter.  The younger ones have not yet been tainted by life’s travails, and hopeful dreams still clutter the naïve souls of untouched innocence; the one’s who have moved through some years of agony, still retain a glint of smiling faith; but it is the elders of the universe who sit at the bar and despair of lives wasted, wars endured and years forgotten but for the joys of friendship and solitude.

Cynicism is like a virus infecting a town’s essence; it destroys by incremental advances of insidious fatefulness, and never returns the gift of life once gained but lost forever.  If it has not yet prevailed, then wait a few years; life itself guarantees it, as fairytales of beauty, essences of love and mythological lands embracing inclusion and empathy, exist only in the minds of children, the duped or the meandering demented of society’s wasteland.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who continue to fight against joining the Cynic’s Tavern, the issue is often one of withstanding and withholding for so long, until succumbing is merely a matter of time.  If the daily harassment, deteriorating health and constant detours down the alley of worsening conditions has led to a point where preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes necessary, then it is time to take the next step and formulate the proper and most efficient strategy in order to increase the chances of an approval before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

It is one thing to enter through the doors of the Cynic’s Tavern for an occasional drink; it is quite another to find one’s seat there warmed by the constant occupation of one’s unmoved derriere.  The best antidote to prevent or curtail cynicism is to keep moving; otherwise, the stale drink and smoke-filled room will ultimately become a part of one’s vacant stare into a future less hopeful.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire