FERS Disability Retirement: The Picture We Want to See

Most of us think that we are the opposite of the designated, “Photogenic Individual”.  Setting aside those who crave to be in every picture (including the egomaniacal and perversely pervasive “selfies” which are posted daily and minute-by-minute), the picture we want to see, the photograph we would care to share and the image we would want to be presented to friends, family, third parties and others — they are rarely captured accurately, or at least to our satisfaction of how we see ourselves compared with “what” or “who” we see captured within the confined borders of an image depicted.

Similarly, we all hold an image of who we are within the framework of our own egos — whether of a successful individual or a failure; of self-confidence or lacking in great measure thereof; and of the little boy or girl we remember, before entering into the harsh reality of the world at large, with a past and background of security or insecurity, with loving parents or of cold, dispassionate and distant fathers and mothers; in the end, the picture we want to see is often at odds with the ones we actually hold on to.

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, perhaps filing for disability retirement benefits under FERS is not the picture “we want to see”, but rather, is the picture depicted and represents the reality of what we must see.

No one wants to see the picture — and least of all the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition necessitating Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  However, it is often the picture which we least want to see that represents the reality which we must see, and that is what consulting with an OPM Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law is there for: To paint an objective picture which depicts as accurately as possible whether you qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS Disability Retirement: Coordination of Elements

There is no question about it: It is a complex process.

Administratively, it must be passed through multiple levels of agency review in order to get a completed packet — the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B); Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D); effectively answering the Applicant’s Statement of Disability such that it provides the proper nexus between each of the questions on SF 3112A — for, although it may not be so obvious, the questions must both be answered separately as well as viewed in the totality of each as being a component fitting in with each other, in order to answer it to completion.

Then, there is the coordination of internal and external elements, and the intersecting impact within and without — of a medical report effectively prepared and consistent with the history of treatment modalities; of a nexus persuasively argued establishing the connective impact between the medical condition and the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job elements; and the interconnectedness of essential elements to the physical or cognitive inability to perform one or more of the essential elements, etc.

Throughout the process — whether for a denial and a rebuttal response at the Reconsideration Stage, or at the initial preparation stage in the First Stage; or, even of an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the coordination of elements is important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law in order to more effectively establish the coordination of elements.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Reversal of Fortune

Life itself rarely reflects a steady, linear progression on a graph; the zig-zagging representing times of economic turmoil more accurately profiles a person’s span of existence.  Moreover, one’s career is not necessarily the essence or paradigm of a given life’s experience; there are multiple factors, including emotional, births and deaths, marriages and medical conditions.  How does one quantify an experience?

The methodology we seek is often purely in monetary parallelism:  if one receives pay raises and cash rewards, then one’s career is considered to be on an upward trajectory; if one gets a reduction in salary (with or without a concomitant demotion in position), then the loss of linear progression is deemed a failure of sorts.  But like marriages, and life itself, careers never merely reveal a positive path of progressive purity; ask Elizabeth Taylor, who skews every statistical analysis of marriages and divorces.  And then, of course, there is the interruptive influence of a medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daunting doldrums of a medical disability reveals many things not reflected on a graph of life:  the bother; the interruption of a career; the fear imposed; the dealings with coworkers; the reaction of the agency or Postal Service; the need for surgical and other procedures; a whole host of activities not previously contemplated.

For the Federal and Postal employee who finds that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration then needs to be given for filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, or CSRS Offset, of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Yes, unfairness is a characteristic of life not reflected in the graph of microeconomics; yes, sometimes experience teaches us that the proverbial cards are stacked against us; and yes, reversals of fortune constitute a reality rarely taught in classroom social studies.  But as life’s experience is never accurately or fully represented by mere lines and numerical paradigms, so a biography of a historical figure can never be captured, as fortunes and reversals thereof can never embrace the complexity of human folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire