Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Price of Admission

Private entities charge more; exclusive arenas tend to be out of reach; and it is, ultimately and as in all economic realities, determined by an admixture of supply (how many are allowed) and demand (how desirous is the goal of entrance and acceptance).  For every admittance, there is a price to pay.  Often, it is not merely the affirmative transfer of money or goods, but rather, the negative aspect of what one must “give up” in order to attain the end.  It often involves a comparative analysis, an economic evaluation of gain versus loss, and in the end, the emptiness of the latter being overtaken by the value of the former.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to awaken an awareness that one’s career may be coming to the twilight of that lengthy, successful run, it is often that “price of admission” which makes one hesitate.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must 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, the question is double-sided:  the price one “has been” paying to remain as a Federal or Postal employee, as opposed to the loss of employment status, or becoming an “ex-member” of that exclusive club.

Change always portends a trauma of sorts; the medical condition and the revelation of vulnerability, mortality and progressive debilitation was in and of itself crisis of identity; but when it becomes clear that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and that further changes to one’s career and livelihood must by necessity occur, then the avalanche of reality’s namesake begins to dawn.

The price of admission for one’s health, ultimately, is priceless; and that is the reality which one must face when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Quality of Input

We often forget that the quality, validity and accuracy of conclusions produced by computers will depend upon the input of information provided.  Thus, predictability of future weather forecasts are contingent upon present information selected, and the computational analysis resulting in the future paradigm is founded upon current constructs, analyzed through the cumulative data previously provided, with a dash of witch’s brew and a genuflection of hope.  In other words, the trash produced results from the trash collected; a rather self-evident tautology of sorts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing 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, the issue of what information to provide, the amount of documentation, the precise wording selected, and the cumulative historical and current data introduced, will determine the statistical ratio of increased chance of success versus the possibility of an initial denial.

Receiving a denial from OPM is a down heartening experience, to put it mildly.  Expectations are that the subjective pain or psychiatric stresses which one experiences, will immediately be recognized and become translated into a societal benefit through a monetary annuity, especially as Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered for all FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset employees in the Federal system, and upon proof and sufficient information and documentation provided, one becomes eligible for the benefit.

The difference between preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, on the one hand, and computational analysis of information in other sectors of information processing, on the other, is that an intermediate human factor is present.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated for sufficiency by someone at OPM, and it is this very human element which remains the “X factor” in all Federal OPM Disability Retirement applications.  What can be done about it?  It is simply a reality which must be taken into account, processed and accounted for.  While bureaucratic and ultimately a rather depersonalized process, it is nevertheless an administrative system which must be faced.

It is as old as the ageless adage of yore, attributed to Isaac Newton:  What goes up must come down; or, what information is provided, is the basis of conclusions reached, and it is the quality of information in culling together a Federal Disability Retirement application which is paramount in achieving success.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Uncertainty and Confusion: The Federal Employee’s Sense of Identity

It is through ascription from third parties, over extended time periods, where the development of self-identity takes root, through subtle, incremental ways, until one day, unnoticed, without fanfare and unheralded, it becomes a known quantity of acceptance within one’s social circles, professional associations and the greater macrocosmic world we encounter.

The day or the time can never be pinpointed; having a name plate designed and placed upon one’s desk does not provide it; and calling yourself repetitively the title or nomenclature doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements of the sought after.  That is the anomaly; one’s identity is who one is; yet, it cannot be established by the is-ness of being; it is dependent upon the declared identification of that is-ness by others who recognize the being-ness of the individual seeking the is-ness of the person within a specified time, constrained by the community of place, and bordered by the parameters of choice. “Oh, that is so-and-so”; “Yes, Linda is the Director of ____”; “Our Letter Carrier? He’s John ___”; and so does one live within the identity of third-party ascriptions, and how we develop the self-reflection of who we are.

When lost, the crisis of self-identity comes to the fore. When it is stripped prematurely; when choices must be made to abandon the identity; when external circumstances necessarily dictate a change of identity; the crisis is exponentially quantified.

For the injured Federal employee or the chronically ill Postal Worker who must 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, the crisis of identity is often inseparable from the anxieties driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, loathing, and anxiousness over a future unknown and unanticipated. For, having a medical condition which suddenly dictates the terms of one’s choices, is essentially a negation of all that one has worked for; and to top it all, one’s very identity which has been ascribed — almost without thought, presumptively and assumed throughout without daily payment or homage for retention or reapplication to maintain the worth and value of that title — is about to be stripped, lost, taken away, and thrown into the greater heap of forfeited titles.

Abandonment, release, and sudden absconding from a known and identifiable context of life; that is how it often feels when one loses one’s identity. The medical condition itself, however, must dictate the terms of disengagement; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a necessity and the urgency of doing so will allow for that plateau of rehabilitation in order to attend to the priorities of life; for, without life, there can be no identity, whether one’s past, present, or future ascription of the honorific title is grand or insignificant. In the end, one needs to recognize that the title most prominent and of greatest priority, is the given life as recognized in one’s reflection, and not the fleeting glory attained through accolades from others, no matter how great it all felt at the time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire