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

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: Form and matter

Have you ever reflected upon the word, “matter”?  Such an interesting and compelling unit of our language — as in the question asked, “What is the matter?”  By contrast, how about the question, “What matters in this world?” and in a different form, “What matter makes up the universe?”

“Matter” refers to substance, whether used in the manner referring to a circumstance or event, or in inquiring about the foundational essence of that which makes up the “something” in our world.  Form, as Plato tried to explain, is the distinguishing feature that “molds” matter into various distinctions, without which all of the universe would be inseparable into a singular being — and thus the conceptual paradigm of a “oneness” of being originating, as in the first lines of the Old Testament, and out of that the omnipotent Being created the world by “forming” this matter or that matter into individual units of beings.

Matter is thus the “stuff” that things are made from; Form, the appearance that makes X distinguishable from Y; and thus does Being turn into individual beings because of the distinctive forms each take on.  But when we ask those other questions — i.e., “What is the matter?” or “Why does it matter?” — we are asking about relevance, substance, the “stuff” that makes up the event or the circumstances, and not the form or appearance; in other words, we want to get to the meat of an issue.

In that sense, the two meanings of the same word are intended in a similar manner: both for the substantive element that makes up the thing we seek.

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 job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS may become a necessity.

In the process of seeking information about OPM Disability Retirement, both issues will be sought — though you may not realize it in this way — of both “form” and “matter”.  That which distinguishes your case from all others; the “meat” and substance of what must be included in your Federal Disability Retirement application, especially in the medical reports, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, and the unique features that “make up” your case that have to be “formed” in order to present it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Form and matter make up everything in the universe, and it matters how you formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application because matter unformed is merely a lump of nothingness that will result in nothing further unless you form it properly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Nonsense confiscates meaning

It obviates and nullifies it; often, it will make impotent that which once maintained vibrancy and efficacy.  That is where Orwell misconstrued the power of nonsense; for, in his classic novel, 1984, the scene which discussed the production of the newest edition of allowable Newspeak words and the reduction and elimination of certain concepts — he failed to realize that it is the greater dissemination and wide volume of words which undermines meaning, and not the other way around.

By exponentially adding — by quantitative overload — to language, we undermine the precision of language and thereby create a chaos of nonsense; and the result is that nonsense confiscates meaning.  Have you ever come across a person who takes a paragraph to convey the meaning of a single word?

By contrast, when you meet an individual who so succinctly states an idea and, with the sword of a sharp sentence, can slash a page to within a tidbit of profundity, you realize the benefit of brilliance over the darkness of ignorance.  Succinctness, precision, concise conceptual bundles — they are all important in conveying proper meaning; and “meaningfulness” is what persuades, while nonsense confounds and makes a conundrum of that which should be a vehicle of clarity.

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 Applicant’s Statement of DisabilitySF 3112A — is the vehicle by which “meaning” is delivered.

Do not get sidetracked with the nonsense of too much explanation; and an overly abundant profusion of nonsense may in fact harm one’s case.  A balance between the short “bullet-point” approach and a meandering diatribe against one’s agency needs to be pinpointed.  Do not let nonsense confiscate meaning, thereby undermining the ultimate goal of a Federal Disability Retirement application: To obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Formulating the argument

How does one formulate “the argument”?  Is it merely a reaction that comes naturally, like the person who has been tagged as one who is “constantly argumentative”?  Do all arguments need to provide a foundation of rational discourse — of coherence within an invective of counter-statements, and structure countermanding a deterioration of civility?

For example, when a person begins to answer the questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS — does one pause, consider the various answers that may be provided, and establish a methodology in proceeding to satisfy the question? Does the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits consider first the consequences of one’s answers, and do you weave throughout a thoughtful argument for an approval?  Or, should the “argument” be filed via a separate Legal Memorandum, pointing out the relevant laws, citing the statues and quoting from various cases that have previously addressed the issues posed?

Most people who file for FERS Medical Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management fail to consider the preemptive arguments that should be made within the answers to questions posed on SF 3112A, and thus are denied at the First Stage of the process because the applicant thought that a simple question asked required a similarly-simple answer as requested.

Then, of course, when the Initial Denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received through the mail, the Second Stage of the process — the “Reconsideration Stage” — merits further formulation of legal arguments.  At whatever “stage” you are at — whether at the First and Initial Stage; the second, “Reconsideration” Stage; or even at the Third Stage, an Appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — formulating a coherent, cogent and rational argument that persuades OPM to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application is an important component in a winning FERS Medical Retirement application.

Remember — to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not like having an argument with a friend or spouse; it is an argument which must be based upon facts, evidence, and legal precedents, and to have the best “shot” at it requires the hand of an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement: 2 countervailing rules

Here are 2: If you have an idea late at night, unless you write it down, you will never remember what it was in the morning.  The other half of the countervailing rule?  In the morning, it won’t seem as profound a thought as it first appeared late the previous night.  Or: Forgiveness can come easily when once you admit to your fault; and the counter to that — if it is your spouse or close relation, don’t think that you won’t be reminded of your need for forgiveness when once the first sign of trouble appears.  And another: Time will heal; yet, the countervailing reality: others rarely care to sacrifice their time in order to allow for the time needed to heal.

And for 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 Federal or Postal job, the first “rule” of the 2-part countervailing rules of life is often: “Oh, I have been such a good employee all of these years, I am sure that my Agency or the Postal Facility will be understanding while I prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application — for, doesn’t all of those years of good service count towards a good-will well deserved?” And the countervailing rule to that is: “Buddy, you’re no longer going to be a part of this team, and what you did yesterday counts only until this morning, and no more. Let us give you a freshly-minted medallion that you can pin on your lapel, and boot you out the door the moment we discover that you are planning to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — even though you are doing only that which you have a perfectly reasonable right to”.

And thus do the countervailing rules always come in a duality of balancing coordinates; and, unfortunately, the behemoth of a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service always seems to have the upper, dominant hand, which is why you may want to first consult with an attorney who specializes in dealing with such countervailing rules of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Only for a season

Is our existence influenced by the seasons that alter, or are we so alienated from nature’s rhythms that we no longer follow the evolutionary trails that other species obey?

Seasons change for a reason; whether our anthropomorphically-imposed reasons or the dictates that consider the rhythms of a universe in constant flux — whatever the foundational purpose and teleological basis explained, the order of the universe allows for consistency such that life can comfortably thrive.

Some things last only for a season, then wither, die — or seemingly so, as leaves turn crisp with the cold winds of Fall, then drop and twirl with the streams of divine breath to disintegrate into the dust of this earth.  Winter covers the soil beneath in a sleeping slumber of hibernating snores, only to begin to see the first greens of Spring, then of the unrelenting tides of Summer’s haze.  Yes, it is only for a season, and then the changes occur.

We can become lulled into thinking that eternity is the exception for our lives; that the artifice we build, of tall towers and endless miles of concrete roadways reflect the immortality of our own existence, but then the next season comes along, and we are reminded that — no, it is only for a season.  Health is like that as well; and while sickness and medical conditions may last only for a season, there are others that must endure beyond, and beyond that.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition lasts for more than only a season, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Nature’s Season determines for us the rhythm of an impervious universe; and while we may believe that a medical condition is only for a season, the Laws of Nature dictate and decide, and it is up to us to take advantage of the time left, if only for a season, and prioritize our lives, and never take for granted the health that we may yet enjoy, if only for a season.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Trials of error

Normally, of course, the common usage of the terms involve the combination with a conjunctive — of trial and error, implicating a process whereby the latter term triggers the former (i.e., the “error” forces us to engage another round of trials, which then may lead to further errors resulting in further trials, etc.) into a potentially lengthy repetition of attempts, each with the advancement through possession of greater knowledge gained from the errors identified and witnessed.

The concept as it stands, however, implies something further:  of the experience of each error and the process within such error and what the error may implicate.

Human beings have an expansive capacity to “move on” quickly beyond errors made, and perhaps that ability of adaptability is an evolutionary advantage for a species that makes a fair number of errors that, in other contexts and within other species, would spell the extinction of the species itself.

Errors compounded go beyond the experience of the trial itself; sometimes, errors lead to other errors, and thus the “trials and errors” in their aggregate allow for greater knowledge and adaptability depending upon the nature of each error and of many trials.  But it is the trial of the error that often needs to be paused, and allowed to ponder upon, before going on to the next trial, lest the lesson from any one error has not been sufficiently learned before a further trial is engaged.

Sometimes, of course, the trial of an error, if not sufficiently comprehended and reflected upon, is the very reason why further errors of judgment follow, precisely because not enough time has been spent upon the nature of the error itself.

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, it is important to recognize the trial of an error — for, with a Federal Agency or the Postal Service, one is encountering a behemoth of intransigence when attempting to garner any sympathy or loyalty.

Medical conditions themselves are “trials” enough, and when a Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins the process of punishing the Federal or Postal employee for taking too much SL or LWOP, or even invoking FMLA rights, the “error” is not so much the trial of patience, but rather, in thinking that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service was ever on your side to begin with.

While a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a strictly “adversarial” process, one must always consider whose “interests” are being looked after in each trial encountered:  the interests of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, or of one’s own?

The trial of error often begins with a mistaken identification of a more fundamental error on the part of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, and for the Federal or Postal worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the first step in preventing the greater trials of multiple errors is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire