Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Loyalties unrequited

Like the letter expressing undying love, returned without a forwarding address and stamped with a vengeance with ink smudges unable to erase.  Of course, such imagery is likely to be a puzzle and an unknown quantity for most, as no one writes letters, anymore.  What would be its modern equivalent?  An email returned, a text message ignored, or a Facebook request blocked?

Loyalties, on the other hand, are a funny thing; if left unspoken and implicitly assumed, each party to the “agreement” of loyalty can walk about with differing perspectives and alternative understandings.  The one with authority may well see it as a tacit, unilateral bondage; all others assume (most often wrongly) as being a bilateral vehicle for mutual benefit.  For many, such presumptuous loyalties never reach a pinnacle of an actual test; for, the test is in the crisis created, when that which is implicit must be expressed in terms loudly declarative to all.

Then, of course, the sad truth is that linguistic elasticity (i.e., in modern parlance, “alternative facts”, “hyperbolic truth”, or in archaic language, “lies”, “falsehoods” and “deceptions”) has resulted in the devastation of language, truth and reliance upon certainty of constrained declarations.

Language once reached a pinnacle of communicative practicality, perhaps redacted in the British command of subtlety and decorum, reflecting the sophistication of Shakespeare, Milton, Waugh and Hitchens, and even coopted by that New England appearance of relative kinship as characterized by Buckley, Vidal, etc.  Now, in modernity, language has become a free-for-all, where volume dominates substance and we can all maintain a straight face even when encountering a logical inconsistency, a methodological fallacy, or an outright lie.

This is a strange universe, a convoluted time and a conundrum of an age gone mad – especially when it comes to the communicative tool of language, and the underlying meaning of what is said, what is expected, and what can be stated with any meaningfulness at all.

Loyalty requires language – whether implicit or explicit – which consolidates trust, accord and like-mindedness.  The test of the viability of such an agreement can quickly become abrogated when life, reality and events intervene.  There is thus, often, a “crisis” which arises, which tests the veracity of that which may have been unjustly relied upon.  As in the heat of battle, whether one’s “own” will do as commanded, follow to the end and sacrifice for that tacit agreement, one will never know until put to the test.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who mistakenly believe that loyalty between the Federal agency and the Postal facility is a bilateral condition precedent – of work for these many years, and dedication beyond the agreed-upon hours of compensation, in return for commitment and caring when times become tough – the loyalty unrequited becomes a reality too quickly realized.

Letting the Federal agency know, or giving the U.S. Postal Service a “heads up”, of a mere intent to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application, can readily result in unwelcomed reactions and initiation of administrative movements previously unexpected.

Family relationships often become frayed because of intimacy of care; friendships can fluctuate as the howling winds of clashes between warm and cold fronts; and loyalties can be mistaken as to whether it is unilateral or bilateral, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application can echo the hollow reverberations of loyalties unrequited, and we often walk away astonished at our own naïve beliefs, now dashed and damaged into the hallways of life’s cynicism learned.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The compromised life

We all make them, though we deny it.  Iconoclasts scorn it; the extremes of either side scoff at it; and, in the end, it reflects the reality of who we are, how we live, and by what vaunted principles we purportedly possess.

On a theoretical level, it is easy to remain the stalwart – that singular entity standing on principle and commitment.  The one who has never experienced war – to express beliefs of “courage”, “unwavering loyalty” and blind bravery declared in wrappings of the flag and national identity.  Or of fidelity and traditional values despite personal shortcomings of multiple marital infidelities and 3 or 4 marriages, with the devastation of a trail of longing children with a hole in each heart, wishing that principles could be exchanged for a single memory of playing catch on a summer’s day.

If you are sequestered whether by wealth or capacity to ignore, it is easy to shout out principles; but, then, when the test of life intrudes, the failings of reality reconstitute an extraordinary hypothetical into a quivering crumbling of an ordinary person.

Ordinariness is certainly rarely looked upon as the paradigm to follow, and the argument often goes:  You never want to dumb down deviancy (Moynihan’s famous phrase extrapolated from a generation or two ago, lost forever by events of social and cultural turmoil hence), and so, even if no one actually lives like the pinnacle of beautiful thoughts and voices stated by writers, essayists and politicians (who themselves bifurcate “personal conduct” from the espoused rhetoric emitted from hollow mouths with a dead-panned look of seriousness), the common masses are admonished by rebukes of being responsible for the “cultural rot” that dissipates throughout.

Reality has a way of compromising the apex of beautiful words, paragraphs, pages and entire narratives of a singular life.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may be preventing the Federal or Postal worker from being able to perform all of the essential elements of the position occupied, the concept of a compromised life is now a reality.  For, the sequential perspective of what is expected – of continuing until retirement age a career fulfilled, with regular promotions and deserved merit pay – may need to be ‘adjusted’ in accordance with the reality of life’s impositions.

Having a compromised life and accepting the compromises of life’s misgivings is not a sin, nor a diminution of one’s principled belief-system; instead, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is merely a recognition that theoretical foundations were always meant to be modified, and those speechifying vanguards of social commentators never meant the fulfillment of their own words, anyway, and it was always the compromised life that reflected the reality of the boorish insistence that we were angels and gods unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Objectivity

In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, a level of objectivity in making one’s case is a goal which must always be in the purview of formulating an application.  If a Federal or Postal Worker is attempting to formulate and prepare a FERS or CSRS disability retirement application without the assistance or representation of an OPM Disability Attorney, this becomes a difficult task — for the identity of the person making the affirmative argument for approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is the same person who is describing the medical condition, the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal job, and the legal reasons why such an application under FERS or CSRS should be approved.  

There are methods to avoid the appearance of “self-promotion” — a term which may not seem applicable to formulating a FERS or CSRS disability retirement application, but one which simply cannot be avoided completely. For, representation and being a proponent for one’s “cause” — however valid, and however arguably sustainable — nevertheless necessarily may imply a self-interest which engenders self-promotion.  If a Federal or Postal employee insists upon formulating, preparing and submitting an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS without proper representation, then one’s focus should be upon an “objective” basis — what the medical reports, narratives, diagnostic tests, psychological tests, etc., reveal, and to attempt to discuss such medical documentation in an objective, independent and dispassionate manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: OPM’s Specific Denial I

On those occasions when an OPM denial specifically (and correctly) identifies and asserts deficiencies in a disability retirement application, it is important to have a targeted response in addressing the denial.  The reason for such a targeted approach is for two primary reasons:  (1)  One should always address the alleged specific basis of OPM’s denial of a Federal disability retirement application, and (2) By specifically addressing and answering OPM’s specific basis for the denial, if the Office of Personnel Management denies the application a second time, and it is therefore appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board, it is important to view the entire case of OPM as “unreasonable”.  In other words, it is important at the outset to “prejudice” the Administrative Judge as to the unreasonableness of the Office of Personnel Management. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this — because the “prejudice” which the Judge may perceive is in fact based upon the truth of the matter:  OPM is indeed being unreasonable, and it is important for the Administrative Judge to see such unreasonableness.  It is important to be able to say to the Judge, Your Honor, do you see how we answered the basis of the denial — and yet, even after specifically addressing the basis of the denial, OPM still denied it?  What else can we do?  It is always important to prepare each step of the case not only for the “present” case, but also for the potential “next” case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM’s Generic Denial

Often, cases are mishandled not because of the “present” mistake, but because the case was never prepared for the “long-term” event.  Let me elaborate and explain. Obviously, an applicant for disability retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS wants to win the case at the earliest stage of the process.  The attorney who is handling any such disability retirement case, similarly, would like to “win” the case at the earliest stage possible.  However, sometimes that is simply not going to be the case. 

In an initial denial, it is often important to not only address the case for the Reconsideration Stage, but also to prepare the case for the next stage — the Merit Systems Protection Board (and, similarly, in preparing an application for Disability Retirement, it is important to prepare such an application not only for the initial review at OPM, but also for the Reconsideration Stage).  By this, I mean that, because there is at least a “possibility” that the disability retirement application will be denied again at the Reconsideration Stage, it is important to point out the deficiencies, the lack of clarity, the inadequate reasoning, the outright lies and mis-statements which the Office of Personnel Management may have engaged in as part of the “Discussion” Section of the denial letter.  Often, while OPM may give some “lip-service” to make it appear as if your case was thoroughly reviewed, a closer reading (on second thought, it need not even be a closer reading) clearly shows that OPM did a shabby job in denying a case.  It is what I ascribe as OPM’s “generic denial” — a denial so devoid of any particularity or care as to reveal a complete lack of proper administrative review of the case.  Such lack of proper administrative review is what needs to be shown; it needs to be shown because, if OPM denies the case again, then it is advantageous to the applicant to have the Administrative Law Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board see that he will be hearing a case which may not have been necessary — but for the lack of diligence on the part of OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire