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

 

FERS Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: When once…

When once the dream was left unfulfilled, and yet the future appeared so boundless and promising; when once the time spent was so precious as to bring memories and tears of joy for the privilege to live; when once the rains came but not to dampen the sorrows of yesteryear, but to wash away the scars of today’s longing; and when once, there was a time forever bottled so that tomorrow would be remembered as a mere passing thought, and the day after a haven for memories yet to be forgotten.

When, once, we took for granted that which we never think about, reflect upon, and youth’s folly continued for a day and a dawn only to be wistfully forgotten when once the call from Mom’s flustered voice shouted at us to come in for dinner, when the crickets were still singing their mournful melodies in the quiet of evening’s end.

Looking back can hold one back, especially if the remorse of what once was makes you pause in a day when even an hour cannot be spent whittling away the time that cannot be recaptured.  There is time enough for remorse and regret; time yet to remember and recall with nostalgic warmth for days of yore; but as the world turns in the “here” and “now”, the daily grind of duty’s call and obligations which cannot be avoided, must first be attended to.

“When, once…” is to be set aside until the last breath when the drifting dreams of yesteryear’s pausing regret begins to foreshadow today’s memories of a bygone time.

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, time remains of the essence, and while sickness and deteriorating health may freeze one into desiring a time of remembrance back, “when once…” — it is not the right time, yet.

This is still the time to fight on; it is the moment to preserve and protect; and while a Federal Agency or a Postal Facility may have dampened your spirits or attempted to make you into a downtrodden employee whose best years are behind you; nevertheless, it is time to assert your rights and carry on the good fight.  Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you as a Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a good part of that fight to preserve and protect your rights.

Why should you fight for them?  Because, when that time comes when you say to friends or family that, “When, once…” — the “filler” should be: “When, once…they tried to deny me, I fought and won.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Arbitrariness of life

What defines arbitrariness?  Is it when there is a lack of pattern, or does our own input of misunderstanding or lack of comprehension determine the defined formlessness of the world around us?  Is Kant right in his implications – that the “noumenal” world that is outside of our sphere of cognitive input remains unknowable, arbitrary, unfathomable and unreachable, and it is only by the categories of internal psychological structures that we naturally impose upon the world, make sense of it, and “order” it so that we are thus able to comprehend it, that such an understanding between the bifurcated universes of the phenomenal world we comprehend and the noumenal world we can never grasp defines the penultimate concept of that which is arbitrary?

And what of the “arbitrary life” – is it merely that which we do not understand, or is there more to it than that?

Most people live lives that establish a consistent “pattern” of progression.  Thus do old sayings go: “A person is a communist in the morning, a radical in the early afternoon, but if he is not a conservative by nightfall, he has never grown up.”  Or even of the implicit response of the Sphinx: “a man who is four-legged, then two, then three” – implies a systematic progression, then degeneration of sorts; in other words, a pattern of life-cycles.

And we expect a blue-print of what it means to live a “successful” life – of education, work, family and career, where there is a consistent increase in wealth, wisdom and weariness of strangers that continues to expand and grow.  But what if there is an interruption to that “pattern” or “blue-print” that everyone expects?  What if misfortune befalls, bankruptcy is added or divorce, death or even a hurricane and flooding descends upon one’s life – does the unfortunate event suddenly make one’s life an arbitrary one? Or, what about the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must suddenly face a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job – does that make the interruption of life’s constancy suddenly into an ‘arbitrary’ life?

The definition of that which makes X arbitrary is always related to the “randomness” of events; but for human beings, it is indeed the perspective one has and the calm within a storm that influences whether the objective basis of that which is arbitrary is influenced by the subjective approach of a person’s life.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the initial steps in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may determine, objectively, the future course of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, as to whether it was “arbitrarily” compiled or systematically composed.

Like the orchestra that has an off-tune instrument, the symphony created will determine whether one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is a crescendo of progression, or merely a disturbing sound of failure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The mish-mash approach

Do you have a linear, sequential methodology?  Is the legal argumentation systematically constructed?  Or, is the mish-mash approach consigned – of a hodgepodge of thousands of hands at needlepoint in creating a colorful quilt for the Fall Festival of creative designs?

Is the Bruner Presumption invoked as an afterthought, and the Bracey-argument concerning accommodations defined in an obfuscated manner, such that the argument reveals more about what you do not know and understand, than of a pin-point accuracy as to the sharpening and attacking of the issues preemptively recognized?  Have, indeed, the knives been sharpened for the battle ahead, or have you revealed the dullness of the edges such that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will likely scoff with disdain and deny the case at the First Stage of this process?

There is a substantive distinction to be made between making an argument in a non-systematic way, as in a proverbial “shot-gun” approach or of throwing what substance you believe will stick and subsequently splattering it against the wall in hopes of increasing a statistically deficient implementation of the process; that, as opposed to a streamlined, methodological approach of sequentially addressing each issue in a preemptive, categorical manner, as well as recognizing what not to touch at this initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, and in realizing what should be addressed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, basing one’s approach upon a “hope and a prayer” that things will turn out well, is probably not the most effective nor efficient engagement of behavior.

First, the initial process and stage itself is a bureaucratically lengthy procedure, such that if the Federal Disability Retirement applicant does not enhance the chances of success at the First Stage, time is “lost” in that a denial will simply quantify by exponential multiplication the time taken at the Second, Reconsideration Stage; and further, another catastrophic delay if an appeal is needed to be taken to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

In the end, the mish-mash approach is what most of us do in life, and often is the very reason why we ended up where we are.  But in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it may well be time to abandon the mish-mash approach, and consider consulting with a Federal Disability Retirement lawyer who specializes in a different approach – one reflecting a systematic, methodological and sequentially logical engagement, refined through many years of experience and encounters with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The dynamic duo and the perfect tandem

There are times when life “clicks”; the mistake is made to gaze at one’s navel at such times of apparent perfection, and to try and capture that something in a bottle and attempt a reenactment and regurgitation of that which works, when the reality is that it is merely a fortunate day to be experienced and enjoyed, like the perfect alignment of the planets in macrocosmic reflection upon a molecular structure of abiding mystery.

Batman and Robin represented the former; without words (except in comic-like expressions in the black-and-white version of the television series) and with the ability of almost telepathic-like eeriness, the dynamic duo could battle the forces of evil and protect the unfortunate city of Gotham with nary a wink, a word or a nod.

As for the latter, the team of coordinated bicyclists or the almost mechanized capacity of the coxed eight displaying the repetition of the anatomy of rowing that is all-important for consistency in order to gain the maximum leverage from each rower, as the “catch” and the “extraction” are engaged in a constancy of monotonous display in ballet-like fluidity.

The perfect tandem is a rare achievement; like the Unmoved Mover in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, we can only strive towards that perfection, without ever touching and glancing it.  Can it be reenacted and repeated by sheer will?  That would presume much – as if the arrogance of our own self-knowledge could replace the ignorance displayed in our everyday lives.  But as life does not come with a recipe to follow, that dynamism in duality and the penultimate construct of fluid coordination cannot be reconstructed, if merely because we never own the fullness of knowledge that Being never completely reveals.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the “dynamic duo” and the “perfect tandem” was often the coordination of one’s career and the accolades received in the very competence of work.  Work balanced one’s personal life in allowing for a sense of achievement to be had; and one’s personal life was enriched in the very mission being accomplished.

Then, along comes a medical condition, such that the medical condition itself became the interruptive and disruptive force; and, suddenly, the dynamic duo and the perfect tandem no long was, or is – depending upon what the meaning of “is” is (sorry, could not refrain from the obvious reference).  When that dynamic duo is fractured, or the perfect tandem disrupted, it is time to rethink a different paradigmatic foundation.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is just such a remedy.  For, once the dynamism of duality is severed, or the perfections of a tandem diminished, it is a loss which can rarely be recapture, and thus it is the perfect time and place in one’s life to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed (ultimately) with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: And then we die

(It is the parenthetical previous statement that ultimately matters, left blank to be completed, and never to be presumed).  Actions of finality, or seemingly so, tend to create an aura of despair and angst.  Once, in a world where purpose was never questioned, and the teleological end of man never brought forth the hint of doubt, the cohesiveness of society’s resolve was never a pause.  It is the modernity of hesitation, trepidation and loss of judgment that brings us to the pit of incessant questioning, as opposed to “doing”.  This is a maddening world, where the rise of Existentialism and post-modern impotence leaves us to seek therapy at every turn.

What we do in our lives before that terminal event; what dreams we once possessed before the souring of cynicism overwhelmed us; and of those lazy summer nights when the dancing illumination of fireflies dotted the canvas of a blackened void, when thoughts would drift beyond the mere mediocrities of present lives, current circumstances and seemingly unassailable realities which constrained, restricted and limited the dreams shattered by the reality of our travails; it was then that a glimmer of hope, an expectation of possibility, and a hint of potentiality yet unrealized, would creep into the essence of our souls.

Fairytales matter, because youth cannot survive another day without some fantasy of hope; and doors left unopened and locked with the resolve of “forever” will only diminish and destroy, where the need for tomorrow yet shouts in a rashness of desire.  To shut the pathway to dreams or to construct obstacles for the mere sake of obstruction is to strangle that parenthetical gleam of light yet unextinguished and to betray the angels who look down upon us with the remnants of wings to be unfurled, in hopes of fluttering to pass by with a smile.

Perhaps, one day, there will still be such follies to believe in.  For now, there is only the toil of daily grind, and thus are we left with the question implicit in the statement:  And then we die.

In Muriel Barbery’s work, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a youthful life of advantage but of seeming meaninglessness is traded with an older woman’s upward trajectory once lost in the anonymity of class distinctions, and the theme throughout encompasses the essence of a life’s worth.  We all want to embrace meaning and value in the life which has been given; have we fulfilled our potential?  Did the dreams we once possessed, handed to us like jewels on a plate of limitless infinity, become realized, or was it a wasted phantasm like a handful of sand squeezed and escaping through the crevices of our closed fists?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the questions garnered by thoughts of future insecurity are natural and plentiful.  It is, in many ways, similar to the refrain repeated herein:  And then we die.

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, and the Federal or Postal employee is separated from the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, one wonders:  Was my work of any lasting value?  Did I leave an imprint upon the shifting sands of a prior existence?  Did I make a difference?

But those questions should be cast aside and left behind, and instead, it is still the future of one’s unfinished work that should always be focused upon, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to continue the narrative in working upon that familiar refrain, that the future still promises a fulfillment of unfinished potentiality, and the unmarked grave need not be one which is unvisited even in the twilight of our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire