Misnomers and the OPM’s Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division

The problem with misnomers is not just the inaccuracy of designation which is either explicitly or implicitly conveyed, but the unintended consequences of the string of reactions and responses which can occur as a result thereof.  Sometimes, interpretive mistakes occur purely on a subjective basis; in which case it is not truly a case of a misnomer, but rather merely the misunderstanding by the recipient of the information.  Other times, a word or designation can be open to multiple meanings, where reasonable people can differ on the inferences to be made.

For Federal and Postal employees who have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Service employee is under FERS or CSRS (such acronyms have specific, esoteric meanings only to Federal or Postal employees, and as such, cannot constitute an objective misnomer, but rather a potentially subjective one), the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process can result in the failure to recognize and properly respond to various misnomers throughout the process.

For example, when a Federal Disability Retirement case is assigned to an Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and one receives a letter informing the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant that X is further needed — the identification of the OPM Representative that he or she is from the “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division” is both confusing and a misnomer.

For, the recipient of the letter (and just to receive any correspondence from OPM other than an approval letter or a denial letter is an amazing fact in and of itself) can well infer from the designation that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application has already been denied without notification (i.e., because it is in the “Reconsideration & Appeals Division”). In fact, all cases fall under the aegis of “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals” section of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Misnomers may be unintended. It is the recipient and the responder who must, unfortunately, live with the consequences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Information Overload

Before we even became comfortable with the assignation of the term, “information age“, we were informed that we have already entered into the “post information age”; one has no idea where one stands today because of the lightning speed of our times.

Whether human nature can withstand the onslaught of such rapidity and volume of the multiplicity of component data; of what consequence we are creating in our very midst; whether destruction of societal relationships and connections are truly best for the survival and continuation of our species; all of these concerns matter little.  For, like the story of the complex machine which was once created, and for which Man forgot to build an “off switch”, the ever-forward trajectory of the age of infinite information encroaches whether we desire it or not.

Technology is dependent upon the newness of the next generation of dazzling whistles.  The desire for greater enhancement of stimuli is wired within the human psyche; and like the rat which becomes addicted and comes back for more, we require the overload.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of gathering, incorporating, and applying the information concerning Federal Disability Retirement and the bureaucratic process of obtaining the benefit can be, at best, a daunting task. There is always that “piece of evidence” of statutory linkage which must be considered; and as technology continues to progress without regard to individual circumstances, it is anathema to the regressive nature of a progressively deteriorating medical condition.

Ultimately, however, in whatever “age” we find ourselves in, we must play by the rules of the game, and acquire as much information as we can, and be able to filter that which is relevant as opposed to mere fluff.  Like the proverbial bubble filled with hot air, there is much information “out there” which is either irrelevant, inconsequential, or simply filled with errors.  One must be careful as to the source, and who to listen to.

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS, the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement will be a long and complicated one.  How one gets there will be the key; what information to use, and what tools to covet, will make all the difference in this complex world of post-whatever in which we find ourselves.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Misinformation Leading to Self-defeating Actions

The “I was told” phenomenon is pervasive in our society, where information is plentiful, and more dangerously, where the dissemination of such information, at no cost to the recipient (except for detrimental consequences resulting from reliance upon the purveyor of such vast knowledge of unsolicited tidbits), is promulgated without discretion or discriminating tastes.

It is the one aspect, of course, in which George Orwell was perhaps mistaken; for, in his book, 1984, Orwell conveys the notion that it is the societal limitation of words which will lead to restriction of knowledge.  In the modern world, however, it has become the unfettered expansion of any and all information, which has had the collateral effect upon society of engendering dangerous ignorance.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to first obtain accurate information, then to determine the relevance and applicability of such information, then to act upon it.

The “I was told” phenomena should be ignored, as such nebulous sources of information, unless verifiable, should never be relied upon.  For example:  Having an active EEO matter does not extend the Statute of Limitations in being required to file a Federal Disability Retirement application within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.  And another: One does not need to, and should not, wait for Social Security to make a determination in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for OPM.

Remember always that the 1-year Statute of Limitations is a “hard” limitation; there are only a limited number of exceptional circumstances which can climb over that obstacle, and one should not try to test the strength or height of that wall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire