Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Initial Stage

There are multiple stages in a Federal Disability Retirement process.  The term “process” is used here, because it is too often the case that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage this administrative procedure, fail to realize that there are multiple potential stages to the entire endeavor.  That is a mistake that can come back to haunt.  One should prepare the initial stage “as if” – as if the Second, Reconsideration Stage of the process may need to be anticipated, and further, invoking the rights accorded through an appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Why?

Because that is how the Administrative Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management review each stage – and especially the initial stage of the process – by reviewing the weight of the evidence, conformity to the existing laws concerning Federal Disability Retirement, and considering whether or not an initial denial will involve much resistance at the Reconsideration and subsequent stages of the Administrative Process.

Every Federal Disability Retirement application put together by the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker  and submitted through one’s own Human Resource Department of one’s Federal Agency or the H.R. Shared Services facility in Greensboro, North Carolina (where all Postal Federal Disability Retirement applications are submitted and processed), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is considered “valid” and a “slam dunk” – precisely because the person preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application is the same person who daily experiences the medical condition itself.

How can OPM deny my claim?  I cannot do essential elements X, Y and Z, and the doctors who treat me clearly see that I am in constant pain, or that I am unable to do certain things, etc.

But the Federal or Postal employee preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must understand that there is a difference between “having a medical condition” and proving to a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (an entity who will never know you, meet with you or otherwise recognize your existence except in relation to a case number assigned to every Federal Disability Retirement application submitted to Boyers, Pennsylvania) – that such a medical condition no longer allows you to perform all of the essential elements of your official position.

Preparing one’s case for the Initial Stage of the process is important in establishing the foundation for the entire process itself.  It is not merely a matter of “filling out forms”; it is a matter of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one’s medical condition has a clear and unequivocal nexus to the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The expected party

It is the emptiness and void of what could have been, or even should have been; of regrets untold and remorse unuttered.

Whether for a special celebration marking a person’s birthday or an event of magnified relevance; or a turning point in a person’s life – of a 10th anniversary, exceeding expectations of mortality, in waiting, or perhaps a common achievement by others in everyday living but for handicaps and disabilities that make it challenging to meet; whatever the event, the party never thrown for it magnifies a negation of recognition, and like a pinprick into the heart and soul of a person’s life, it deflates the very essence of joy.

“Oh, it would have been nice to—” but the person is gone, and hears not the sudden want and desire of recognition.  “It’s too bad we didn’t get together and—” except that the inaction following the time of relevance has long passed, and it is such actions which derive the sincerity of words spoken, otherwise mere empty vessels of utterances without meaning or purpose.

Most can justify and minimize, and instead replace such statements of regretful remorse with offensive parries, as in:  “Oh, she wouldn’t have appreciated it, anyway”, or the kicker – “He didn’t like those things.”  But that is not the point.  The party never thrown is not merely a negation of recognition earned, but a window into the heart of those who never truly cared in the first place.

Words are cheap and can be bandied about and flaunted endlessly without consequence of actions; but the negation of that which should have been, and could have been initiated but for want of selfless endeavor, is a missing slice of life that can never be replaced.  That is, unfortunately, what is often left behind during the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The recognition of past contributions is suddenly no more; that party which “might” have been considered, is no longer; and suddenly the ‘golden boy or girl’ who could do no wrong, is the pariah, the dead-weight in the office, and the continuing drag upon the agency’s mission.

Whether the agency or the U.S. Postal Service will ‘support’ the Federal or Postal worker’s Federal Disability Retirement application, and the unstated or concealed reasons for such support – to ‘get rid’ of the dead-weight, as opposed to showing some empathy; or to have that position filled by someone ‘more productive‘, is beside the point.

It matters not the why or even the ‘if’; for, whatever the underlying reasoning, don’t expect to received that recognition you once never sought but always seemed to get.  For, in the end, the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted through one’s agency, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will know one’s ‘true friends’ and sincere coworkers, by the party never thrown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire