Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Options

The telephone-recorded options are the most irritating of all, of course — for, if you hit the wrong one, or fail to remember the correct numeral identified after being offered an endless litany of alternatives, none of which quite fit what you are looking for, then you have to wait until a further option is offered to go back to the general directory in order to once again choose the option offered.

Have such recordings become more irritating as time has passed, or is it that we have become so numb to so many such encounters that we have lost patience with that metallic voice that has replaced the human one?  What is it about a recording that gets us so incensed?

Objectively, isn’t it all the same — we never “meet” the “person” anyway, whether it is a recording or a “real person” on the other end of the line: both are mere voices, but why is the automated recording so much more irritating than a live person?  Is it because we know the futility of landing a sarcastic response to the recording, as opposed to slamming our frustrations upon an individual who possesses feelings, and whose day we can potentially ruin by shouting, yelling, demeaning and spewing forth destructive epithets to and against?

In life generally, we all have them — options.  Sometimes, we are confronted with too many, and thus are left with a confounding sense of confusion.  At other times, the options are “there” somewhere, but we just don’t know them because we are too blind to the ones hidden or too stubborn to concede our ignorance.  In those instances, it is best to consult with someone who can present the options hidden, those unstated, or otherwise unknown.

In some circumstances, of course, the options available may be severely limited — as in a Federal or Postal employee suffering 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s essential job functions.  In such situations, the limited options must be considered in light of the priorities one assigns to the values one accords: How important is one’s health?  Is the deterioration of one’s health as exacerbated by the job one is remaining in important enough to continue with?  If so, perhaps disability retirement is not the “right” option.

Stay and remain; resign, walk away or get terminated and do nothing; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The three options presented must be considered in light of one’s health, the effects upon it if one remains, and whether the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will continue to tolerate one’s excessive absences, inability to perform many of the essential functions of one’s job, etc.

When, after the options are considered, the Federal or Postal employee decides to move forward in 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, then it is time to consider further options as well, such as whether one wants to represent one’s self in the process, like the old adage of that person who has a fool for a client — of representing one’s self.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Avoiding the Pedantic Prophet

Doomsayers are everywhere, and in every generation and region of thoughtful pronouncements, prophets foretelling of anticipated events await to ring the ears of those who desire future confirmation of that which was already expected.

Beyond the general prophesy of future events, however, is the one who focuses upon minutiae and details irrelevant to the greater paradigm of events.  It is like the man who was informed that major surgery would be necessary, and oh, by the way, the scalpel to be used is made by a German manufacturer whose great uncle was related to Lord Byron.  Interesting tidbits may be relevant in limited circumstances; one should avoid the pedantic repetition of facts, events and details which detract from the main theme of a narrative.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, part of the process must involve the preparation of a Statement of Disability as required by completion of Standard Form 3112A.  Certainly, details can be important; but a meandering rambling of peripheral issues detracting from the centrality and essence of one’s case, can not only become a self-undermining proposition, but annoying as well.

Begin the narrative with the focus upon the condition, then build upon that with reverberating ripples of riveting prose of significance and tactile tenses entailing direct links to positional requirements.  For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a person’s story, told in narrative form, as a paper presentation to OPM which must be singularly focused, coherent and comprehensively conveyed.

When the world is foretold of coming to an end, one does not want to know the color and make of the undergarment to be worn by your neighbor; at best, it distracts; at worst, it may well reveal a privacy concern you did not want to stomach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire