Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Preparing the case

For some reason, Federal and Postal workers who “prepare” and submit a Federal Disability Retirement application, do so without much thought as to what is entailed by the entire process.

They will often rely upon what the “Human Resource Office” tells them — of forms to fill out, what form to give to the doctor, the form to give to the supervisor, etc., and will spend more time trying to figure out the confusing life insurance form than in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) or the legal precedents that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law — and then, when it gets denied at the Initial Stage of the process and the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant goes back to the H.R. “Specialist” and asks, “Well, what do I do now?”, the response is: “That is not our problem; that’s a problem you have to deal with.”

Accountability is not known to be a commonly recognized characteristic in a Human Resource Office, and while there are never any guarantees in life, in any sector or endeavor, at a minimum, when one is being “assisted” and guided through an administrative process, it is important to know whether or not whoever you are relying upon will see you through to the end.

Why the Federal or Postal employee who begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application does so without the same care, scrutiny and comprehensive approach as one does in “other” legal cases, is a puzzle.

Federal Disability Retirement — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — is as complex a case as any other, and should be approached with the same intensity, technical application and expertise as a patent and trademark case, or a complicated medical malpractice filing.  For, a Federal Disability Retirement case involves every aspect of any other type of complex litigation — of the proper medical evidence to gather; of meeting the established legal standard in order to meet the burden of proof; of citing the relevant legal precedents in order to persuade the reviewer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and presenting a compelling description to a “jury” at OPM that one has met the nexus between “having a medical condition” and the inconsistency inherent with the positional duties required, etc.

In the end, preparing the case for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application involves greater complexity than what the layman can normally account for, and as the fine print in those television commercials state involving sporty vehicles maneuvering at high speeds, you may not want to try this on your own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Myth of Sisyphus

Albert Camus’ classic essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus“, involving the Greek mythological figure who was condemned by the gods to perform a meaningless task in repetitive perpetuity, is appropriate as a metaphor for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Camus’ point was to reveal the absurdity of the human condition, and yet to find meaning in the penultimate meaninglessness of that very human condition — to reverse the philosophical template where essence precedes existence, and to instead grapple with meaning, value, significance and substance in the midst of human toil and turmoil.

For the Federal or Postal Employee, the heroics of continuing to work in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, can seem like the task of Sisyphus:  the meaning and value of such toil is questioned; the chronic pain or uncontrollable psychiatric symptoms begin to loom larger in proportion to the lack of sensitivity by coworkers, supervisors, and even family members and friends.  Yet, like Sisyphus, it is important to continue the day-in and day-out work, if only to survive for the next day.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit available for the Federal or Postal worker who finds that he or she is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is, in many ways, an avenue to break away from the repetitive toil — a pathway which Sisyphus himself did not have.  It allows for the recuperative timeframe, and to perhaps move on to another career or vocation, away from the work which either contributed to the deteriorating medical condition, or one which could no longer be pursued because of the medical condition.  Either way, pushing the boulder up the hill and watching it roll down the hill, only to push it back up the next hill, is a manner of living which constitutes mere existence, as opposed to embracing the potentiality of the human condition.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an option which any Federal or Postal worker who has a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, should be seriously considered.  It is a benefit which was not available to Sisyphus; it is available to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, as long as you have the minimum 18 months (for FERS employees) of Federal Service (it is assumed that if you are under CSRS, you already have a minimum of 5 years of Federal Service).  Sisyphus, of course, is presumably still rolling that boulder up the hill (or watching it descend), as we speak.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Information

I am sometimes asked whether or not, in providing detailed information concerning FERS or CSRS disability retirement, I am revealing “too much” information. The way that I look at it is this: Not everyone can afford an attorney. I try to set my fee structure in a fair, reasonable and competitive manner, so that most people are able to retain me. When people are not able to afford an attorney, information on the process, the substantive requirements, and the legal precedents, are important to be able to access. While information provides power, however, it is not the same as having an effective advocate representing a case before the Office of Personnel Management.

Further, one of the greatest compliments I find in providing the benefit of my experience and knowledge to the public at large, is when other attorneys (i.e. competitors) parrot my information and repackage and restate what I have said, in their own “blogs” and “articles”. Professionally, I have no problem with other attorneys accessing the same information as the public at large, and restating the same (or similar) advice concerning the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS. Good law is just that — good law. Who uses it, how it is used, and what the “totality of the end product” results in, makes all the difference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The Coming Year

For all Federal and Postal employees who are considering, or may consider in the coming year, filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, I hope that this “continuing blog” has been helpful, and will continue to be helpful. 

In the coming year, I will attempt to stay on top of any changes in the current laws, including statutory changes (if any), any new developments handed down through opinions rendered by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board or the Federal Circuit Courts.  One’s future is what is at stake in making the all-important decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and I will endeavor to remain informative, and provide you with a level of professionalism which all Federal and Postal employees deserve.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire