FERS Disability Retirement: Ignoring the details

What is a lawyer’s response to the allegation: “You are playing with words and using technicalities to win!”

Some might, of course, become defensive and deny such allegations, countering to the accuser that the substance of the law allows for such word-games and the laws themselves allow for such technicalities; or, as the more appropriate, honest and forthright answer might be (yes, yes, for those with such humor against lawyers, such a string of descriptive adjectives may appear to create an oxymoron), “Well, yes, law is the word-craftsman’s tool with which we play, and technicalities are those very details which allow us to prevail.”

It is, in the end, words which win out in any legal forum, and it is the delivery of those words that persuade, debunk, analyze and cross-examine the truth or falsity of claims made, defenses proffered and allegations refuted.

And this is no different in the forum of play known as “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  For, always remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether prepared for a Federal or Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a paper-presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and as such, is based upon words, words, words — and details contained within and amidst those words.

By ignoring the “details”, one does so with much peril; for, in the end, the old adage that declared the “devil to be in the details” was merely a recognition that details matter, and it is those very details which win or lose a case, and that is no different when presenting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Factors to consider

The universe of thoughtful decision-making shrinks exponentially and in direct correlation with the pertinent and relevant information gathered, and it is too often the case that factors not considered are the very ones which lead to a non-decision or, more importantly, to a wrong conclusion.

What factors should be considered when a Federal or Postal employee is going to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Certainly, age can be a factor — for, if OPM engages in a recalculation of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity at age 62, and you are fast approaching that age, the factor of “how long it takes” to get an OPM Disability Retirement approved (about a year, give or take a few months on either side of the equation); whether you get any backpay once it is approved (back to the last day your Agency or the Postal Service has paid you anything); and whether the time you are on Federal Disability Retirement counts towards your total number of years accrued until the recalculation age at 62 (it does) — should all be factors to consider.

Further, even if you are still relatively young, should those same factors be considered?  The short answer is an unequivocal “yes” — and probably many others, besides, including: Do I intend on working at another job in the private sector while on Federal Disability Retirement?  Do I have Service-Connected disabilities that can play a factor [sic] in the factors to be considered?

The universe of factors to consider in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, are innumerable; and then, there are likely factors that you have not even considered, but which may be prompted by consulting with an attorney who has already considered multiple factors besides, and who may be able to guide you in this complex process called “OPM Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Whole is greater than the sum

The “full” adage, of course, is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and connotes the idea that the interaction of the various components or elements constitute, in their entirety, a greater effect and impact than the efficacy of quantifying the singular components in their individual capacities added merely together.  It is the working in tandem of individual components that creates a greater whole than the sum of its independent parts, and this can be true whether in a negative or positive sense.

One has only to witness a crowd of individuals working together, whether in riot control or as a military unit, to witness an active, positive impact or, in a negative sense, a pack of wild dogs attacking their prey — working in coordination, circling, attacking in conjunction with one another, etc.  Medical conditions have a similar negative impact; we tend to be able to “handle” a single health crisis, but when they come in bunches, we often fall apart at the seeming enormity of the impact and the dire perspective it engulfs us with.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a sense of being overwhelmed, where the medical conditions seem to take on a whole greater than the sum of their individual components, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, it is necessary to recognize the dominance of the greater whole in order to focus upon the elements which have taken on a lesser role — like taking care of one’s health.  Prioritizing matters is important, and when one’s health has taken on a secondary status and where the compendium of medical problems have taken on an exponential effect deleterious to one’s well-being, the Federal or Postal employee should consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Such a consultation may prove Aristotle’s wisdom to be correct — that the whole of such a consultation is greater than the sum of their individual words combined, or something close to that.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Relating negative events

Bad things come in pairs, or is it triplets?  Is there a tendency to relate and categorize in terms of color, logical sequence, similarities and characteristics?  Is the Kantian model of imposing categories upon an otherwise orderless universe the reason why we relate negative events in bunches, like grapes growing upon vines waiting to be picked?  Or do bad things happen in combinations naturally, as a law that cannot be avoided?

When we learn that others have been speaking ill of us, or of unkind statements and gossiping rumors spread about, do we not then consider the look of those around us and begin to suspect that the facial frown was directed at us, the distracted individual is not merely lost in his or her own thoughts, but is deliberately ignoring and shunning us, and even the dog that was once friendly is heard to emit a low-growling sound of unfriendly disposition?

Relating negative events is a natural response to a world that is orderless, and one that can be cruel — a perspective that is easily and readily confirmed by the uncaring attitude not just from an impervious universe, but from those who pretend to be out best friend, as well.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Universal Law that dictates relating negative events becomes unavoidable: Suddenly, because you have taken too much SL and have requested FMLA, you are no longer the “golden boy” (or girl) who can be relied upon, and next comes the leave restrictions; the “Memorandum of Warning”, and then even a PIP; and what next?

Termination is the target for the future.

All the while, the “negative event” was the deterioration of one’s health, which then set into motion all of the other negative events which became related one to the other.

Bad things, unfortunately, happen in bunches, and it is important to initiate a “positive” element and infuse a “good” thing into the middle of those bunches of negative events, and preparing, formulating and filing 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, is that positive step one can take for one’s self in the morass of relating all of those negative events that seem to have occurred without your consent.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Sorrow behind the facade

How do we know a person’s sorrow?  Of other emotions, we question and retain suspicions, but why is sorrow placed on a separate plane, untouchable and abandoned as sincere despite warranted evidence to the contrary?  Of love, we question constantly — as to sincerity, whether fidelity has been maintained and preserved; of joy or happiness, daily do we self-analyze and evaluate; but of sorrow — once the tears pour forth upon the event learned and considered, there are few who doubt for fear of being tarred as the cynic who had no feelings or remorse.

There are instances — of an unnamed president who purportedly was seen joking and laughing on his way to the funeral, but suddenly turned dour and despondent in facial expression once recognition was noted of cameras filming and spectators observing; or perhaps there are relatives who are known to have hated a deceased kin, but arrived at the funeral out of obligation and duty; of those, do we suspect a less-than-genuine sorrow?  Is it because sorrow must by necessity be attached to an event — of a death, an illness, an accident, or some other tragedy that we consider must necessarily provoke the emotional turmoil that sorrow denotes?  But then, how do we explain the other emotions that are suspected of retaining a facade and a reality beneath — again, of love and happiness?

Medical conditions, especially for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, are somewhat like the sorrow behind the facade.  Few will openly question it — whether because to do so is simply impolite or impolitic — but some will suspect as to its validity, especially when self-interest is at stake.  The declaration, “Is there a malingerer within our midst?” will never be openly spoken.  For, what is the evidence — excessive use of SL, AL or LWOP; frequent doctor’s appointments; inability to maintain the level of productivity previously known for; lack of focus and concentration at meetings; inability to meet deadlines, etc.

For others, these are harbingers of irritants that delay and impact the agency as a whole; for the Federal employee or Postal worker suffering from the medical condition, they are the symptoms and signs beneath the brave facade that is maintained, in order to hide the severity of the medical condition in a valiant effort to extend one’s career.  There comes a time, however, when the reality of the medical condition catches up to the hidden truth beneath the facade, and once that point is reached, it is 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.

In like manner, the sorrow behind the facade is similar to the medical condition in and around the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service — both may be real, but it is the “proving” of it before OPM that is the hard part.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The content

It is ultimately the content that matters, especially in a technical, administrative procedure where tone and context become secondary.  After all, we are addressing a “medical” issue – a cold, clinical subject when it comes to filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

What should be included?  How far back?  What is meant by the “essential” or “core” elements of a job?  Does the capacity and ability to arrive at work for the duration of completing assignments in and of itself constitute an “essential” element of the job?  What if the job can be performed, but one simply cannot drive to the job?  Must I address failed efforts by the agency to “accommodate” me, and does the term “accommodation” have a narrower legal meaning than the way it is loosely used by my agency?

These and multiple other questions go to the heart – the content – of the issues presented when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Content is all important, and the audience to whom the Federal Disability Retirement application is intended is relevant to keep in mind.  If you are standing in line at a grocery store, or at a Post Office, and someone remarks to you, “You are obviously in pain.  Go ahead in front of me” – such kindness and consideration may prompt you to explain, in somewhat abbreviated form, the content of what your medical condition is.  However, if that same person who showed such consideration turned out to be a close family member, who either already knows about your condition or is otherwise intimately familiar with the circumstances and the history of your medical condition, your response may be somewhat different.

How much history of the medical condition needs to be related to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; what medical records need to be attached and accompany the narrative report that creates the “bridge” and “nexus” between the medical condition and the essential elements of the job duties – these all fall under the general aegis of “content”, and must be carefully considered in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire