Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Ordered lives

There is, first of all, chaos and disarray; and whether from a biblical worldview or the natural paradigm of a universe formed from a massive energy source that exploded with such force as to hurl a spinning residue of astronomical proportions into far galaxies that resulted in the starry heavens we witness today; it is from the opposite of a placid tranquility that we experience the ordered lives of everyday existence.

There are, of course, the extremes of the spectrum – of that person who is obsessive and compulsive about the “ordering” of one’s life, where every teacup and saucer must be placed in the cupboard within precise millimeters of one another, and no angle of a picture on a wall must be allowed to circumvent the geometric consistency with the right angles of the corners; or, by contrast, the slob who believes that pants, plants, underwear and empty pizza boxes belong in the same corner of the bedroom as expensive china and puppies who snuggle in bathroom showers.

Somewhere in between the two extremes upon the spectrum of life, exists the ordinary person of ordinary means, who wakes up each ordinary morning to go about in ordinary ways; all within the constraints of ordered lives.  All, or most of us, like, enjoy and look forward to some semblance of order in our lives.

Chaos is good for an exciting moment; monotony of discourse for the rest of the day requires that sanity mandates a certain sequence of events, and that is why dystopian stories of a universe in disarray after a nuclear war or some other disastrous consequence of political missteps left in the hands of incompetent world leaders allows for small-budget films to be successful in scaring the hell out of us all.

Divorce, death, illness and tragedies disrupt the otherwise sought-after ordering of lives left peaceful; medical conditions tend to do that, don’t they?  They interrupt the tranquility that we so seek with quiet resolve; and then the medical condition becomes a chronic state of existence, and more than just a nuisance, they interrupt our plans, our hopes, and the essence of our ordered lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the interruption that ensues from the disruption of a medical condition, resulting in the breaking up of one’s ordered life, often comes to a point where consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit that is “there” for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  And, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may come at a time when the previous state of ordered lives is sought after again, if only to reach a destination where chaos is no longer the new norm of everyday existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The informed paradigm shift

Often, in ages older and generations beyond, it somehow becomes more difficult to be malleable and bend with the times, circumstances and turmoil of the day.  Does staid decay by refusal to adapt become a law of sorts for the aged?  Is it only youth that can change, or bring about pliable lives, or can the irrelevancy of old men and women be altered with an informed paradigm shift?

There is always a tautness and tension between generational divides; youth believes in beginning over again, to invigorate all plans and prospects of accomplishments – even of reinventing the wheel by trial and error.  And of the old, whose wisdom is never accessed, whether because of pride of youth of an arrogance fraught with silliness, it matters little.  The pendulum that swings between the two extremes, must by law of gravitational pull come to rest somewhere in the middle.

Paradigm shifts come about so infrequently, but there is often an underlying reason:  Just as wholesale genetic overhauls rarely strengthen a Darwinian foundation for survival, so the principles upon which one lives one’s life should not be abandoned after a lifetime of experiences in learned cynicism.  The fact is, it is always difficult to change when circumstances dictate.

Somehow, we believe ourselves to be the masters of our own destinies; and whether the fate of a generation is collectively overpowered by a consciousness of unfathomable mysteries, or each of us must singularly carry the burden of our future lives as isolated pockets without friendship or love, we like to think that we can control our future.  But there are events and circumstances beyond our control, transcending fault or personal responsibility; and the social contract of good citizenry – of abiding by the laws, following the normative constructs of societal acceptability, etc. – follows upon that path of accomplishment.

That is true of a medical condition – for, when a medical condition begins to impact major life activities of a person, an informed paradigm shift must by necessity occur.  It is not a matter of bad fate or unfortunate luck; it simply is, and the sooner one becomes “informed”, the better the paradigm shift for one’s future.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from just such a medical condition, where the medical condition or event begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, is may well be time to consider a paradigm shift.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, often requires just such a paradigm shift – a pliability in one’s thinking, and an alteration based upon the information (i.e., being “informed”) presented; and the next step once a cognitive paradigm shift has occurred, is to reach out in order to begin the administrative process of engaging the expertise needed in order to weather the trials of tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Comfort in regularity

There are those who relish the seas of daily change and the excitement of altered circumstances in daily discourse.  But as the rhythms of a seasonal perpetuity teach us of Nature’s need for regularity, so the biorhythms imparted can often form avenues of predictable patterns.  There is comfort in regularity (no, for those with singular minds, we are not here referring to the constancy of utilizing bathroom facilities; although, there is also some truth in that perspective, as well); of engaging in the monotony of expectations, unchanging circumstances and boredom of daily redundancy.

If we interpreted Bishop Berkeley’s philosophy to the extreme, each time we were to leave a room, the physical world we left behind would vanish; upon our re-entrance into the “same” room, it would again materialize, but who knows if the armchair in the corner with the slight tear in the seam of the cushion has not been moved several inches to one side or the other?

Wasn’t that always the fear in Star Trek, when Scotty would push the lever for the transporter, and the molecular deconstruction of the individual would occur – but the danger involved the potential interference within that short timeframe, when the reconstitution of matter might bring about a missing limb, a lesser intellect, or leave on the dinner table in the previous location one’s eyes, nose or mouth?  But the digression into science fiction merely points out the obvious; whether via molecular transporter or physically walking from one room into another, the expectation of “sameness” is what we rely upon, in order to maintain a sanity which otherwise would be lost in a sea of constant change.

It is, ultimately, the paradigmatic confrontation between the age-old perspective of two old philosophical grouches – of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of permanence seen in a world of a singular whole as opposed to the constancy of an ever-changing universe.  Note that, in either perspective, there is a regularity that is sought and discovered:  the expectation of consistent change constitutes that regularity we seek; and the regularity of a singularity of permanence reinforces that comfort in the same.  That is what we forever sought and continue to seek – and it is in the comfort of regularity that we maintain our balanced perspective.

That is why the turmoil of change is often devastating 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 employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  The inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties is frustrating enough; such alterations often require accommodations, but when such requests are rejected, it is like a verdict upon one’s worth by the agency or the Postal facility:  You are not worth the trouble of change.

Yet, that change or alteration in the schedule, flexibility of attendance, or other minor adjustments, are often of no greater effort by the Agency than Scotty pushing the lever to initiate the power of the transporter.  But, then, Captain Kirk was quite good at making adjustments and ad-libbing as he went along – something that most Federal agencies and the Postal Service are unable to do; and that is when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes an ever-present need that will ensure the comfort in regularity of purpose, goals and future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The locked certainty

It must be nice to walk around this world of insecurity with an intractable sense of locked certainty.  There are those some few who possess such a perspective:  everything is without any shades of grey; “rightness” is defined by one’s power, position and capacity to impose, and those who stand in the way are mere leftovers in the residue of history’s garbage heap; and, whether in the privacy of one’s thoughts (if there remain any) or in that moment of vulnerability when the alcohol allows for an openness not previously manifested, there is revealed a glint or twinkle of a doubt, one normally never finds out, as the opportunity for such fissures upon a locked certainty rarely unravel.

How does one go about “unlocking” such a fortress of beliefs, ideas and faith in self?  Perhaps, never.  How did one arrive at such a point of foundational, unmovable certitude?  Darned, if this writer knows.

Authoritarians; totalitarians; cult figures and other assorted and assertive leaders; is it mere brashness and bravado, or is there some “secret knowledge” they possess where the “rest of us” merely squander?  Is it merely a restatement of that ancient division between Parmenides and Heraclitus?  Where, seeing the world as a singular whole and unchanging, in contrast to a perspective where everything is in a constant state of perpetual flux?  Is the psychological emanation that distinguishes and differentiates the two derive from that foundational belief-system that is proposed, or is the duality of such teleological posits merely offering a false choice of two extremes?

There are people like that – both in fiefdoms of past ages where the Medieval colonies restricted and constricted both in thought and in cultural diversity; and, today, in Federal agencies and U.S. Postal facilities, where all Federal and Postal workers who have a medical condition are viewed as “suspect” and unproductive workers who are merely shirking their duties out of sheer laziness.

Can you change their minds?  Probably not.  Is there a key to unlocking that locked certainty of belief?  Unlikely.  So, what is the “solution” to such a problem?  Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is “out there” to be accessed.

In order to successfully maneuver through the bureaucratic maze and administrative obstacles, however, one must shatter one’s own “locked certainty”, and try to view the process as a means to an end, and realize that a successful endeavor such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, begins with the realization that there never was a guarantee of security from life’s lottery of hope, but that the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity allows for a second chance at an apple already ravaged by those who surround you with that locked certainty of suspicion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire