FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Unending Cycle of Relapse

It is merely from a perspective of combined incrementalism with an admixture of hope and self-delusion that people talk about a “relapse”.  The plain fact is, most medical conditions follow a fairly predictable and linear path of progressive deterioration, with critical junctures of static chronicity, and marked by charted moments of quietude interrupted with a fury of vengeful prose.  If a business graph were to depict the pathway of most medical conditions, the ups and downs of the jagged lines would mesmerize and confuse us with contemptuous puzzlement.

We assure ourselves that we are “getting better”, when all the while we continue to ignore, procrastinate, explain and justify all of the indicators and warning signs of downward decline.  An increase in the medication regimen, explained by mere temporary need; greater pain, with reference to some minor activity recently engaged in; and so the self-justifying conundrums are thrown as explanatory deliberations, when the bodies suffer so despite the words offered as sacrificial animals to the gods of thunder.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, this phenomena of parsing words despite facts which fly in the face of reality, is often born of necessity and a false image of self, society and servitude to the “mission of the agency” or the Constitutionally-born importance of the U.S. Postal Service (circa Benjamin Franklin, thank you).  But health has a funny way of  defying self-justifications of ineffective prose, and poetry and thought never curtails the unending cycle of relapse, precisely because what we do to our minds, bodies and souls accounts for little when misuse and unintended abuse prevail.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who fails to make one’s health a priority first, then all other considerations of secondary import, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, often becomes a victim of such unending cycle.

To suffer a “relapse” is merely an attempt to justify that which the body or mind was merely telling you all along.  Yes, sometimes the quiet whispers in the deadened silence of night can be ignored and disregarded; but it is those haunting quietudes which perturb and disturb despite our best efforts to ignore, which roar back to engulf us when least we expect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Progressive Deterioration

The concept of progress normally implies a positive trajectory of events; but when combined with a negative idea, it reverses the trend.  To deteriorate in a progressive manner is to turn the concept on its head; it results in the upward trend spiraling downward; it reverses what should be, and transforms the positive into a negative statement.

The progressive deterioration of a person’s health can be an insidious, incremental and slow trending of the state of one’s being.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing such a phenomena, that experiential state of being becomes compounded with decision-making events which only exacerbates and complicates:  Am I taking too much time off from work?  What impact will this have upon my agency? How will the work get done while I take off?  What will be the response by my agency?

Such questions must always be in the context with the progressive nature of one’s medical condition — will it be a chronic and intractable deterioration, or will the negative trend at some point be reversible?

Cessation of the trend itself might be the acceptable point of positive inclination; reversing the trend in order to become better, healthier, stronger, etc., would be the greater goal.  But if the trending sees no end in sight, then considerations for the future must include the reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

The linear trending of decline is the indicator of those peripheral future actions which must be concomitantly taken, in order to help support the negative trend.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a parallel course of action in order to support the trending declination, and one which should be considered in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Foreigner

The “foreigner” reflects a dual-edged phenomena:  on the one hand, the individual perceives the strangeness of his or her surroundings; on the other hand, those strangers from the “other” land may similarly view the foreigner with interest, suspicion, hesitation, etc.

It is a mutual encounter of cultural clashes.  The singular traveler into untried waters would welcome a friendly face, and thus is often susceptible to criminals and scammers in foreign parts who prey upon unwary tourists.  Within the context of the tourist industry, the “business” side of the industry wants to appear personal and attending to individualized needs, while at the same time dealing in large volumes through a bureaucracy of efficiency.

But being a “foreigner” can occur in one’s own country, too — as in the context of engaging an unknown entity, or an administrative process which is strange and different.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who has been a productive member of the Federal workforce for many years, it is a strange encounter indeed to have to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The entire administrative and bureaucratic process is like stepping onto a foreign land and trying to navigate the streets, towns and cities within the context of trying to understand a language heretofore unfamiliar.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an entrance into a land of peculiar and unknown foods and attractions.  For the foreign traveler, it is often best to seek the guidance of a tour guide.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The title reference, of course, is to the old Spielberg film concerning contact with an alien being; but such a remote, rare and unique experience need not be with an entity from another galaxy or planet, but can be closer to home.

Most people will never need to experience engagement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM Division of Disability, Reconsiderations and Appeals, in order to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (whether under FERS or CSRS), leaving aside having to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

But when the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself in such a unique situation such that contact with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the MSPB becomes necessary, such an experience will be as peculiar and strange an an encounter of the “third kind”.  Moreover, the experience itself may be an unwanted and unpleasant one, because it is something accomplished and pursued while experiencing a personal crisis involving a medical condition.

The encounter itself — however strange, unpleasant or unwanted — nevertheless is a reality which must be dealt with, and in so doing, it should be done in as efficient a manner as possible.

In an initial encounter with an alien being, one would assume that there might be some trepidation and reluctance, mixed with a great amount of suspicion.  That would be natural.  In a similar encounter with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to also have a healthy dose of skepticism; better yet, you might want to contact an expert who has had some past experience in dealing with the entity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Distances

Somehow, proximity often makes for comfort, and thus do we have a greater sense of security if something is nearby, and distance reflects ties of both emotional and physical detachment.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is the Federal agency which determines all issues on Federal Disability Retirement matters.  They are located in Washington, D.C. (with the intake office for the initial acceptance and computer inputting being accomplished first by an office in Boyers, Pennsylvania).

Whether the Federal or Postal employee is working in an office in California, Nevada, Illinois or Virginia; or, perhaps, somewhere overseas in Europe, Japan, etc.; all such applications for Federal Medical Retirement must be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.  If the Federal or Postal employee is still with the agency, or has been separated less than 31 days from the agency, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement must first be routed through one’s agency (or, for the Postal employee, through the H.R. Shared Services Center located in Greensboro, North Carolina).

This is a “Federal” matter, not a state issue, and therefore an attorney who specializes in handling Federal Disability Retirement does not need to be an attorney licensed in the state where the Federal or Postal employee resides.

Very few local attorneys specialize in such Federal Administrative matters; as such, it is likely that an attorney who is equipped to handle such matters will be located in a different state, far away, but hopefully close to the source of the matter — near Washington, D.C. , where the issue itself is adjudicated at the administrative level.

While such distance may preclude a face-to-face meeting with the attorney, there are other safeguards which can be noted, to ensure that one’s comfort zone is left intact:  reputation, accessibility, and references.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Rationality Still Exists

One may well disagrees with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on its decision to deny a Federal Disability Retirement application, and yet find a rational basis for its denial.  Indeed, the fact that OPM may offer some rationality to its denial, does not mean that they are correct in their decision.  Often, there is a misunderstanding as to what “rational” behavior consists of.

On a recent Sunday morning talk show, a couple of political pundits were proposing the idea that certain hard-line regimes were not acting “rationally”.  The problem with such an analysis is that one assumes that if an individual or a country fails to act within certain universally-accepted normative behavior, that such actions constitute “irrational” conduct.  That is simply not true.

First of all, rationality — which finds its foundation in logic, whether propositional or syllogistic — depends upon the major and minor premises advanced.  Thus, if the major premise entails a person or country that cares for the welfare of his neighbor or its citizenry, then the logical conclusion may well be one which encapsulates rationality — of acting to protect its people, to safeguard human rights, etc.  On the other hand, if the major premise begins with the primary assertion of retaining authority and absolute power, then the conclusion would involve shooting or massacring its countrymen.  The latter logical trail is no less “rational” than the former. Such a mistake in defining and understanding the concept of “rationality” is often found in all areas of life.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, the fact that there has been evidence of “irrational” behavior on the part of those parties involved in the administrative process, should not result in a conclusion that the process is “arbitrary” or dependent upon some non-legal criteria.

Ultimately, all human endeavors embrace some semblance of rationality.  While one may disagree with the analytical thought-processes of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which often strays far beyond what the law requires and allows for, nevertheless, one can recognize the rational analytical procedures used in every denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS — albeit, one in which radical jumps from premise-to-conclusion with gaping chasms of generous implications may have to be provided, in order to be able to say that such argumentation incorporated a rational basis of explanatory analysis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: A Federal, not a State, Issue

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS constitutes a “Federal” issue, and not a “State” issue.  What this means is that an attorney representing a Federal or Postal employee in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is not restricted from representing that particular Federal or Postal employee because of the specific state in which a person resides.

Every now and then, it is clear that there is some confusion on this matter.  It is the Office of Personnel Management — a Federal Agency located in Washington, D.C. — which makes a determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application, for the first two (2) stages of the process.  Thus, whether a person lives in California, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, etc., is irrelevant with respect to legal representation by an attorney who has his or her license to practice law from a state other than the one in which the prospective client resides.

As a Federal issue, and not a State issue, the jurisdictional ability of an attorney who specializes in practicing administrative law in assisting Federal and Postal employees obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS crosses any and all state boundaries.  What should thus be the focus in determining which attorney is the appropriate one to hire should be based upon experience, competence, reputation and “comfort level” — those criteria which should always be taken into consideration when hiring an OPM Disability Retirement attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire