Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Sacrifice

What does it mean to sacrifice?  Is it a concept learned, or an act embraced during a moment of trial?  If not learned, can it occur when two strangers meet, or do the circumstances, upbringing, genetic material inherited, etc., all make the difference?  And of “learning” — can it be by osmosis, classroom lectures, or purely by observing and watching others engage in the act of sacrifice?  What compels a person to sacrifice one’s own life, well-being, wealth, the shirt on one’s back, or the last dollar in one’s pocket, and does it count at all if it is done for one’s own self-aggrandizement?

Say a person sacrificed a limb in order to save another’s life, but remained anonymous except for the inquiring reporter who wrote a piece delineating the admirable qualities of that person, etc.  We would all likely read such a story with interest and read it and share it with out children, friends, family, etc., and talk about good character displayed and the fine example shown.

What if that same sacrificing person was overheard to have said, “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have done it.”  Would that change the calculus of our thoughts?  Would we think less of the person for having second thoughts?  Or, would we suspend our disbelief and say, “Oh, he’s just saying that because living without a limb must be traumatic, but he doesn’t really mean that.”?

What if, in addition to the sacrificing individual making such a statement, it turns out that the sacrificial act was just an accident and was not deliberately intended — would that further downgrade our admiration for the person?  What are the qualities that must all come together in order for an act of sacrifice to be admired and shown as a paradigm of exemplary behavior?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the intersecting issues between enduring the pain and difficulties of a medical condition, with the requirements of performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, come to the fore when reflecting upon the conceptual paradigm of “sacrifice”.

At what point does sacrifice turn into foolhardiness?  Is it when the pain and suffering can no longer be endured and others, including the Agency or the Postal Service itself, begins initiating the process of removal or placing you on a Performance Improvement Plan?

While we may never know precisely the distinction and difference between sacrifice and self-destructive behavior — what people mistakenly obscure between “bravery” and “bravado” — what should always be kept in mind is the unmistakable fact that one’s health should be a primary concern, and that “sacrifice” should be reserved for a worthy cause.

Thus, when the intersecting ideas of “sacrifice”, “work” and “health” clash as irreconcilable differences, a divorce must occur between the three at some point, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may be the best option left before throwing away the chance of an admirable act of sacrifice is lost to an unworthy cause at the price of one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Attorney: Beliefs beyond boundaries

There are beliefs that are presumed to be true, if not merely conventional.  Superstitious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with daily activities and being productive, are acceptable; believing in the existence of aliens on other planets, for instance, or even that some have visited this planet, will not make a difference in the conduct of one’s life; on the other hand, if the same person believes that the alien is invisible and shadowing him wherever he goes, it might begin to impede ordinary and acceptable behavior.

There are “flat earth” associations, and one may cling religiously to the belief that the earth is flat and not round or oval, and argue vociferously that when you walk and see the horizon, there is no indication other than that the earth is flat; and such a belief would likely remain harmless and largely irrelevant.

Then, of course, there are beliefs beyond boundaries of acceptable and normative accountability, like embracing a belief in a date certain that the world will end, where such a belief results in preparation for the coming doom, spending all available resources in building and reinforcing a bunker constructed in one’s backyard, quitting one’s job in order to prepare for the inevitability of the end.  Or, of a belief that all women on Thursdays who wear blue are germ-carriers, because when Jason was five years old there was a woman who wore blue on a particular Thursday who stopped, patted him on the head and said, “Nice boy”, and on that very day, by that woman who wore blue, he became deathly ill and ended up in the hospital for two months teetering on death’s doorstep.

Is that an “unreasonable” belief to have?  Can one not make the argument that there is a “rational” basis for such a belief, and it is within the reasonable boundaries of acceptability?  Would you call such a person “crazy”?  And, so long as he goes to work each day, is productive, doesn’t harm anyone – and no woman on Thursday enters his cubicle wearing blue, he never runs out screaming, “Don’t let her touch me!” – no one would be the wiser for holding such a belief.

And of the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to take the necessary steps to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because he or she believes that taking “advantage” of such a benefit means that he or she is no longer “worthy” – is that a belief beyond boundaries of rationality?

Yet, that is often what pauses the Federal or Postal employee from preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the mistaken belief that is beyond the proper boundaries that there is something inherently “wrong” with the Federal or Postal employee when you file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, when in fact all you are doing is to finally recognize that health, life and one’s well-being are more important than killing yourself over a job that has always accorded the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement and the Price of Loyalty

Salinger’s character, Holden Caulfield, recognized the influence of movies, and the media in general.  When used as a tool for political purposes, they mold and direct the issues to be discussed, the pathways of thoughts to be taken, and the passions to be experienced.

Though we think we are libertarians within the secluded confines of our own minds, what actually occurs is that we fail to recognize the subtle influences of those forces which we rely upon so much for our daily focus and guidance.  Where did we learn such high-minded concepts such as “loyalty“, “commitment” and “dedication”?  And who taught us to apply such vaunted paradigms upon the stereotypes of our lives?

For Federal and Postal employees 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 agency or the U.S. Postal Service, often the one stop-gap measure preventing the Federal or Postal employee from taking the necessary and pragmatic steps in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is in clinging to a false sense of misdirected loyalty.

Loyalty requires a bilateralism which simply does not exist, or exists so rarely as to be inconsequential, but which pervades with Federal and Postal Workers under the guise of “mission of the agency”.  Such false pretentiousness (and pretending) quickly dissipates when that mission of the agency becomes a proposal to remove based upon the mission’s “other” sidebar — for the “efficiency” of the service — and then it becomes an emergency and a time of enlightenment.

Throughout all of those years, loyalty was lauded, but existed as a one-way street — from the Federal employee to the Federal agency, and not the other way around.  But when a medical condition hits, it is of paramount importance to focus upon the singular entity of significance:  the health and well-being of one’s self.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be one of those necessary steps required as part of that process of self-care, and one should be wary of paying too high a price for that overinflated commodity listed under the category of “L”, which also includes “Lies” and “Lip-service”, as well as “Loyalty”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Extrapolated Life

Originating from mathematics, the concept of extrapolation works well within numerical or statistical restrictions, because the inherent precision constrained by present trends versus application to unknown quantities, poses a self-correcting device not otherwise discovered with linguistic flexibility.

But what of a person’s life?  Most descriptions possess mere “slice of life” indicators.  An employment application; information gathered on a background check; security clearances obtained; personal financial statements; a family discussion about an incident which involved a relative; these are all moments in time, partial reflections upon a wider context of a complex life.  But that is how we are viewed, and how we view others; for, it is simply an impossibility to convey, or to hold with accurate assessment, the entirety of a person’s life, leaving aside the lives of everyone and anyone we encounter.

And so we are left with designating labels of convenience; that is John who works in IT; Mary, the office manager, and oh, by the way, she has two kids, one of whom had the flu last week; and so it goes.  Are such categorical delegations adequate?  For specific purposes, and in defined ways, they are useful in their own methodological curtailments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending to 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, it serves well to understand the relevance of contextual extrapolation.  For, people have a tendency to want to tell the fullness of one’s life story.

Where to begin?  How to introduce one’s self.  What to include, and what to exclude.

Such is the contrast between David Copperfield and Holden Caulfield; the lengthy version of a biography, or the brevity of a pointed narrative.  Most want to divulge the former; the listener normally desires the latter.  To divulge too much is to indulge in needless chatter; discretion is, indeed, often the greater part of valor.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, in the writing of one’s narrative, one should try and apply the precision-methodology of extrapolation in mathematics, but with a linguistic application sufficient to relate the relevant facts.

In the end, Caulfield’s concerns were probably overstated, and Copperfield’s remembrances of past childhood hurts could have been somewhat abbreviated; and a compromise between the two in all likelihood would have produced the best of narratives, at least for purposes of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire