CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Shrinking Attention Span

Social commentators have noted the prevalence of the decline of genuine empathy, often linked to a greater entanglement with the virtual world, as created by television, movies, media, the internet, and the exponential use of social media.  When emotions are spent and expended upon a lifeless screen of images and words, with limited encounters with actual human interaction, one wonders about the inevitable march of human evolution towards a world of emotionless drones and androids.

Science fiction is no longer a genre about the future; the future is now.  As part of the defining phenomena of our times is the shrinking capacity for holding one’s attention; for, as we become attuned and disciplined to view the entire lifespan of an individual or event within a 2-hour period — as that constitutes the estimated time of a film or play — so the capacity of a person to endure the patience to listen to, attend to, or otherwise sustain one’s attention for the true lifespan of an individual becomes correspondingly diminished.

Society no longer has the ability to focus, concentrate, or have sympathy for, conditions and events which last a real lifetime.  This presents a growing problem in our society, and one which is reflected in daily life.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s employment arena in the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the sustained reaction from one’s coworkers, supervisors and managers is a telling tale of increasing impatience with anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive”, as defined by a society of working drones.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which provides an outlet away from the compassionless environment of a workforce which, once not too long ago, viewed themselves with greater empathy by embracing disabled workers and with great fanfare declared programs of accommodations and patience.  But somewhere along the way, the virtual world caught up with the reality of human nature; we are what we seek to become.

Federal Disability Retirement is an avenue of relief for the Federal or Postal Worker who requires an attention span greater than the time needed to view a movie; it is there for one’s lifetime, to attend to the realities of a world otherwise distracted by the glow of an electronic screen while one’s neighbor suffers real human needs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Unequivocal Doesn’t Mean That One Is “Right”

In a denial letter from the Office of Personnel Management, the Claims Specialist/Representative will often make statements in confident, unequivocal terms.  “You have not…”   “The medical evidence fails to show…”    “Your doctor never…”   “The law requires that you…”  Such a voice of unequivocal confidence often leaves the impression that there is no room for argument; that the case is lost; that there really is no point in even attempting to argue with the Office of Personnel Management.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Merely because an individual makes statements in an unequivocal manner, is not a basis for determining the truth or falsity of his or her argument.  In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there is almost always room for disagreement.  We are speaking about interpretation of medical documents, the significance of what is said, etc.  We are talking about the different and proper application of the OPM Disability law, and the multitude of case-law which would be applicable.  Don’t let the voice of a statement fool you as to the validity of the statement.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, the Office of Personnel Management is rarely right; they just like to sound like they are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Mistakes Made

There is obviously an assumption to be made that if a case is denied at the initial stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, that a “mistake” must have been made.  The mistake, then, is given an opportunity to be “corrected” at the Second, or Reconsideration Stage, of the Federal Disability Retirement process.  Further, if the mistake is not properly corrected, or corrected to the satisfaction of the Office of Personnel Management, and it is again denied — at the Reconsideration Stage of the process — then there is the cumulative assumption that further mistakes were made in the application.  Just as success distinguishes between winners and losers, the general assumption is that a denial by the Office of Personnel Management means that there was something inherently wrong with the Federal Disability Retirement application at its inception. 

Yet, if this were true at each turn, for every case, then there would never be a case where, at the Third Stage of the process, in filing an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, that the Representative from the Office of Personnel Management would not reverse a denial and grant the disability retirement after listening to the legal arguments made by the attorney for the applicant.  Many times, it is the pointing out of overlooked aspects of a case which makes the difference between an approval or a denial — and not necessarily something that is inherently wrong, or that a “mistake” was made.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But…

I often wonder how many unrepresented disability retirement applicants there are who, having received a denial letter at the First Stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, never file a Request for Reconsideration because they believe what the Office of Personnel Management stated in the Denial Letter.  Sometimes, I will get telephone calls from people who want to file, and during the course of the conversation, it will come out that they had filed a few years previously, and had been denied.  “Did you file a Request for Reconsideration, at the time?” I ask.  “No,” is the answer.  “Why not?” I ask.  The typical answer?  “Because I just thought there was no way to fight them on it.” 

I used to be amazed at such answers, but after some thought, it makes sense.  As an attorney, my first instinct (both trained and natural) is to always take something to the next level, with the firm belief that I will prevail just by pure persistence, and by using the law as “a sword” in the process of fighting for my clients.  But most people are not lawyers (some would say, thank goodness for that, we have enough lawyers in the world), and when the Office of Personnel Management writes up a denial letter, then allegedly cites “the law”, and makes bold conclusions such as, “You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the laws governing disability retirement…”  It all sounds convincing.  It all sounds like any further action will be an act of futility.  But just because OPM “says so” doesn’t make it true, doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t make it unwinnable.  They may say you don’t meet the eligbility criteria; I would argue otherwise.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire