OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: The isolation

Generally, we accept the statement that Man is a “social” animal, and by that we mean that he or she prefers, all factors considered, to live in communities and interact voluntarily with others, as opposed to living in isolation, apart and separate.  That we congregate in bunches of aggregate intercourses is not uncommon; that we enjoy the company and camaraderie of social discourse is considered “normal”; but on the other hand, that we like to be alone at times is also not disputed.

There are those who cannot stand being alone; others who must always be in the company of someone; of still many who fear being alone in life, and desperately cling to partners who one neither deserves nor should solicit for the sake of one’s own well-being.  For, in the end, even the loner was born into the communal world; that he or she decided to betray the conventions of society and isolate himself is not an argument for normalcy of being.

It is, in the end, the isolation that is most daunting; of being targeted and separated and placed into a proverbial-type of sequestration or solitary confinement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 concept of “isolation” is not a new one.  Whether because the Federal or Postal employee feels isolated because he or she cannot tell anyone about the medical condition or, having told about it, the Federal or Postal employee is deliberately being isolated because of the medical condition, matters little.  Both result in the same consequences.

The “targeted” employee; the one who is no longer “part of the team”; the one who has dared ask for an accommodation; the one who is no longer invited to meetings or in the general sharing of information; the isolated Federal or Postal employee needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, lest the isolation results in the continued harassment and ultimately ends in a termination.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Interests at odds

A comity of interests has to arise in order for relationships to “work” — in whatever arena of meaning such a term must apply.  When interests are at odds, it means that the goals, orientation and direction of each of the parties are conflicted.  A “conflict”, of course, can be direct or indirect, and can be on various levels of complexities, but in general would imply a need to sever ties unless such conflicts are resolved.

In the employment arena, the comity of interests is fairly straightforward: The employer has a set of interests that need to be pursued; the employee, desiring to advance the interests of the employer, agrees to join in with the comity of interests in the common pursuit of stated goals.  Compensation is agreed upon; certain conditions are mutually stated and a contract, whether explicit or implied, is formed.

Conflicts may arise during the course of employment, of course; if a competitor makes an offer to the employee unbeknownst to the employer that directly or indirectly conflicts with the stated goals of the employer, certain ethical questions may arise.  Or, if certain employment conditions fail to be met, the “interests” of each begin to be “at odds” — an odd way of putting it, but that is the lexicon that has arisen in the employment arena.  It is almost a euphemism to avoid the harsh reality of other “choice” words.

Medical conditions can certainly “bring to odds” and damage the employer-employee relationship, and certainly Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers recognize that.

The “solution” that has been preemptively provided is the benefit known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — it is a means to avoid or otherwise resolve the conflict that arises when a Federal employee or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — where, in the event of a medical condition no longer allowing for the Federal or Postal employee to fulfill certain of the employment conditions agreed upon (i.e., not being able to maintain a regular work attendance; unable to work full time any longer; taking too much SL or LWOP; unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, etc.), then it is time to access the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Of course, the “interests at odds” is not just between the employee and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service — it is also as against another agency: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management who attempts to subvert, deny and otherwise place obstacles in obtaining an “approval” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

That is why the “interests at odds” needs to have an advocate — of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  Consult with an attorney who can help you attain the comity of interests, and to counter that entity which clearly is at odds with your interests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: The Fight

Perhaps it is the remembrances of the Ali-Frazier era, or of one’s own childhood where we suddenly broke out into a melee of rash encounters; or maybe one is timid and never provokes, avoids all hostilities, diverts from any potential conflicts; whatever the background, there are fights that we remember, whether as a spectator or as a participant.

Was it the last shouting match with one’s spouse, where bitterness spewed and names were called when, once the butterfly of a stinging shadow left the lips that had been sealed with a promise, a shrug for regret overshadowed?  Was the provocation mere tiredness and stress such that upon the pent-up release of attacking the very one you love, you already felt better and thought, “Now, what was that all about?”

The Fight” is the unreleased energy within, always ready to explode upon the provocation of a volcanic eruption needing the outlet waiting for an opening.  It is when we no longer have “the fight” within us that souls wither, personalities begin to diminish, and the flattened effect of a once-lively self begins to devour itself.  There is “the fight” within each of us, but life, circumstances, and especially medical conditions can begin to dampen, diminish, then destroy that spark of the rebel.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to destroy “the fight” within us, it is time to recognize that staying with the Federal Agency or the particular Postal Facility is an unhealthy situation on top of the medical condition already suffered.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not an avoidance of a fight, nor an admission of defeat; rather, it is the last and true fight to win.

It is “The Fight” in order to preserve and protect one’s future, and not to simply walk about from all of that invested energy previously placed so prominently into one’s Federal or Postal career.  And remember that it is always prudent to hire a ringside trainer — an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — in order to get that “knockout” win by getting your Federal Disability Retirement approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Retirement: Trapped

Desperation is born of it; escape routes relieve the sense of it; and in the end, it is a belief in the hope that there are alternatives which provides a release from it.  The wild animal that is trapped will do everything to escape, including acts of self-harm if there is no alternative presented.  Whether of higher intelligence or some lesser level, the sense or “feeling” of being trapped leads to a suffocating belief of hopelessness.

Armies allow for it; battles often depend upon it; and the “it” which demands for an unconditional surrender is countermanded if there has been a history of genocidal atrocities committed.  It is the hope for some alternative to the present circumstances of despondency that results in a relief from the sense of being trapped; but options and alternatives often remain obscured by fear, lack of knowledge and the paralyzed state itself of “feeling” trapped.

For humans, it is knowledge which is the greater release from such a state of restrictiveness, and for Federal and Postal employees specifically, who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition is impacting more than their careers — from growing harassment to an imposition of a “Performance Improvement Plan” to further actions, including a proposed removal, etc. — including the tumultuous upheavals experienced in their personal lives, the sense of feeling trapped is a natural consequence of failing to act.

Animals are known to act in desperation and reactionary ways; humans, it is wrongly thought, engage in a more reflective mode of acting — i.e., in a more deliberative, considered approach.  But the sense of feeling trapped often undermines the rational side of humans, and it is in such a state of desperation that the Federal or Postal employee will submit a poorly-prepared Federal Disability Retirement application, increasing the chances of a First-Stage denial.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the assistance of an attorney will not necessarily guarantee success at any given stage of the process, but it may raise the chances of such success at each and every stage.  In the end, it is knowledge of the options available which allows for the release of one from “feeling trapped”, and consultation with an experienced attorney when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the best way to release the hope for a more secure future in entering into the traps of OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Help: The Applicant’s Statement

The SF 3112A is the focal point of it all; without it, the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement application would be incomplete, inconsequential and insidiously irrelevant.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management can make a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application — theoretically — without full answers or incomplete answers of the “other” forms, such as the Checklist, or even the Supervisor’s Statement; but as for the SF 3112A, The Applicant’s Statement of Disability — well, there is no getting around the fact of its prominence, importance and position of significance and relevance.

The Applicant’s Statement of Disability puts everything in its proper perspective; it tells the narrative of one’s medical conditions; it provides (or, at least should) the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job, tasks, duties, positional requirements, etc., and gives a key and insight into the very foundation of the legal criteria for OPM to either grant or deny a Federal Disability Retirement application.  That being the case, why would a Federal or Postal employee leave such an important component as the content and substance of an SF 3112A up to one’s own self?

The person who suffers from the medical condition can hardly be the one to properly, adequately or completely describe the key components of one’s medical condition and its impact upon one’s positional duties; for, the one who suffers by definition is the very.same person who is divorced from having an objective perspective.

Remember, always, that Federal Disability Retirement is a medically-based administrative procedure — one which must encompass and encapsulate the objectivity of medical documentation, the meeting of a legal criteria that has evolved over many decades, and an aggregation of the two combined in order to persuade the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the compendium of one’s documented evidentiary findings rises to the level of a preponderance of the evidence presented in a coherent manner to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Does such an endeavor appear consistent with the Federal or Postal employee who is too sick to work the essential elements of one’s job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Last stands

Of course, the one that always pops up in one’s mind is the most ignoble of them all, with the image from the movies depicted over and over: Of a blond-haired, straggly and wild-eyed man with a mustache of extravagant vintage taking a desperate last stand against the charging Indians.  Custer’s last stand somehow reverberates throughout the mythology of the American West, even though folly is mistakenly replaced by some view of courage or other laudable character traits.

It is the last stand of American Lore; but there are many others besides, some known, most in the private worlds that never become public.  We all have them; the proverbial line in the sand, the wall against which our backs are blocked, or perhaps the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.

When Federal Agencies propose a removal of a Federal employee, it is the “last stand” both for the Federal agency as well as for the Federal employee.  Or, is it the “last straw”?  Is there a difference between the two?  The latter, of course, constitutes the final act by one or the other individual or entity, and represents a reflection of having no other alternative, no room for compromise and left with no other choice.  But that also describes the former, to the extent that it reflects a situation that allows for no further room but to remain resolved in whatever hill of pride or fortitude one must consecrate the grounds with.

Last stands, however, need not result in the consequences that Custer’s famous one represents.  It need not be the final arbiter of a life well lived, and still to be lived.  Yet, Federal and Postal employees who suffer 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 job, often look upon his or her medical condition as a “last stand” of sorts – one that ends one’s career and, in some mindsets, the very life that one is gifted with.

But keeping a balanced and proper perspective is important in all matters (though, for Custer as he realized that he had been boxed into a valley where there was no escape, perhaps there was no such thing as a “balanced perspective”), and the Federal or Postal employee finding him or herself in the “last stand” position of no longer being able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, is still left with some alternatives – one being, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

It is an option that should be seriously considered, for having the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement allows for a second career in the private sector or public state or local government, and allows the Federal or Postal employee to continue in another vocation or career, thus avoiding the disastrous consequences that have been historically annotated by Custer’s last stand.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire