Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Coming Year

The Calendar says it is now 2013.  For those preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it matters little as to the designation of the year.  A chronic medical condition makes no conceptual distinction from year to year; the impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job is not distinguishable between December 31 or January 1.  

For those who have filed with the Office of Personnel Management, the fact of the waiting period itself merely magnifies — that we are now into “another” year — the lengthy process which the bureaucratic morass forces the Federal or Postal employee to undergo and endure.  The “coming year” is, for the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, a continuum of the previous year.  It is not the days immediately before, or just after, which makes a difference.  Rather, it is ultimately the approval from the Office of Personnel Management which will make all the difference.  

To appreciate that “difference”, the best that the Federal or Postal employee seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits can do, is to:  increase the chances of an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application; limit the mistakes which can subvert or otherwise damage a Federal Disability Retirement application; and always, always affirmatively prove one’s case with the best evidence possible.  That way, the coming year will have turned out to be a fruitful one, and distinguishable from the previous year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Basis of the Decision

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the basis of decision-making — whether from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, or from the Agency in determining actions, potential actions, etc., once they learn about an employee’s intentions; and finally, the decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — can be varied and multiple; but ultimately, all such decisions come down to the validity and force of the information upon which such a decision is made.

Thus, the source and reliability of such information is what is paramount in properly influencing the decision-making process.

For the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the widespread complexity of the variegated information must be prioritized:  the extent of the support of the treating doctor; the ability to wait the process out; the financial and economic considerations; the options of whether it is even feasible to remain at a job whose duties require capabilities beyond consistency with one’s deteriorating medical condition; whether in comparison to any “early out” offer which the agency may be making (or perhaps none at all), disability retirement is the better option, etc.  From the Agency’s viewpoint, what extent of loyalty is owed?  Does the Supervisor have the discretionary fortitude to keep the employee on extended LWOP?  And many other decisions to be made.  From OPM’s viewpoint:  Are the elements of the law met?  How compelling a case is it?  And hopefully:  Is this lawyer going to be a headache for us?

Decisions of every and any kind are based upon the efficacy of the source behind such making; thus, the first and foremost basis of a good decision, is to make the best decision of gathering reliable information in order to decide the best course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Approvals & Disapprovals

The Office of Personnel Management seems to have recently issued a volume of decisions on Federal Disability Retirement applications on Federal and Postal employees under FERS & CSRS.

From the calls received from non-clients, and from clients, one sometimes wonders whether or not some sort of “quota-system” isn’t being imposed at the top levels.  Yet, statistically, the percentage of disapprovals v. approvals is not noticeably different than before; it is difficult to determine in any given period of time whether or not there is a higher rate of denials/disapprovals than approvals, in comparison to other periods.

What matters is not the general rate of approvals or disapprovals; rather, each individual case must be taken on its own merit, and responded to with the Office of Personnel Management (or, if the denial is at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board) in a timely fashion, and in a tailored, appropriate manner.

Each case is indeed “different”.  One cannot compare one case with “war stories” about how X filed his or her application and got it approved “within a week”.  Such rumors can never be verified, and even if it could be verified, there are always individual and unique circumstances which must be taken into account.

Comparisons between different time periods, as well as between two or more independent cases, are never helpful; instead, the focus must be to take the uniqueness of any given case, and decide on the best course of action in order to obtain the one and only outcome which is acceptable for any given OPM Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS:  an ultimate approval.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Time

Time is of the essence in almost everything we do.  There are timed deadlines for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application; a great amount of time is taken in the bureaucratic processing of the application; greater time is taken by the Office of Personnel Management in reviewing, analyzing and deciding upon a Federal Disability Retirement application; appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board require time within which one must prepare a viable case before an administrative judge, etc.  Time is a presence in every aspect of our lives.  But within that framework, a comparative analysis of time should always be taken into consideration.  To “rush” the preparation of a disability retirement packet is often penny wise but pound foolish; care and patience should always be taken, both in the writing, preparation and filing of anything to be submitted to a Federal bureaucracy; the Office of Personnel Management is no different.  Rushing something in order to “save time” is often counterproductive.  To take the time to prepare an excellent disability retirement packet will actually save time in the long run.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Discretionary Judgments

There are many things in the long process of getting a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, which are purely “discretionary”, based upon one’s experience, sense of a case, an ear to listening to a client, and based upon a compendium of factors, facts and circumstances, to come up with the “best” decision on a particular issue.  A person who tries to go through the process alone, without the ear, mind, experience or judgment of an attorney who knows the process governing Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, has to make such discretionary decisions without the benefit of past experiences. 

Such decisions can range from small issues of:  how and when a treating doctor should be approached in the request for a medical narrative; how much guidance the doctor would need or want in preparing a medical narrative report; when and how to inform the agency of the pending decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, etc.; to the larger decisions, such as which medical conditions and reports to include in the final packet to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management; and many other such discretionary decisions.  Yet, when grouped together, the complex interactions of the multiple “discretionary judgments” can often make or break a case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire