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

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The Source

Every vibrant and expanding civilization relies upon it; the crumbling ones disregard it; and the stagnant ones begin to question their necessity. It is applied in various contexts, but the importance of maintaining its relevance as the authoritative foundation cannot easily be dismissed.

We hear the word used in different contexts: Whereof the source of the the River Nile? What are your sources in arriving at your conclusions? And are they “original sources”, or “secondary” ones? And of the infamous “anonymous” sources — can they be trusted, or does the mere intimation of anonymity betray an unreliability precisely because there can be no accountability by the very nature of a faceless and nameless origination?

In modernity, since everything is “sourced” through Googling, and very little attribution is verified by “original” sources, does it matter anymore whether one’s asserted authority for declaring X, Y or Z is based upon primary or secondary “sources”, or even if it was an anonymous “third-hand” source?

Furthermore, does an obscure source of a little-known citation have any greater impact than one that is well-publicized and of common knowledge to all? If, in the course of a conversation, everyone relies upon the believability of a “source” — say, a stockbroker who has never been wrong, but then someone pipes in that “so-and-so” says to stay away from that company because it’s about to crumble under its heavy debt-structure” — who do we believe? Does it matter if the “so-and-so” referred to is a Board Member, or some insider at the accounting department of the company who is “in the know”?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal Worker’s ability and capacity to continue in his or her career, the sources and resources that you put together in preparing, formulating and filing your Federal Disability Retirement application should be original, reliable and dependable. — from the doctors who support you, to the lawyer who will represent you, to the credibility of the “sources” you gather.

For, in the end, the search for the source of the Nile matters not for “where” it is, but from what mystery of origination would flow such that the beauty of a civilization would spawn such a wealth of culture and originality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Broken Promises

It is a surprise that we are constantly surprised by them.  Why should we be?  Do we elevate man to such a pinnacle of virtue as the angels who look down upon us with remorseful eyes?  Are there more of them today, like shattered mirrors or destroyed lives littering the highways of hopeful futures stretching out into a path of devastated backdrops in the history of unknown commoners who lay quietly in the tombs that speak not but in haunting whispers in muted graveyards long abandoned with the silence of church bells that no longer toll?

Promises are but linguistic constructs that are controlled by the good intentions of those who make them, and restricted by the constraints of social virtues that no longer exist, have been modified, disavowed and have now been deemed archaic in this modernity of relative moral standards.

Once upon a time (or so the fairytale goes), a handshake, a nod, a single word without the written confirmation, the 10-page fax to declare a deal made, or the fine-print of agreements incomprehensible – they constituted the affirmation of man’s purity of intent, motivation and virtuous underbelly unseen but for the flight of angels touching and tugging upon our conscience when evil forces attempted to lead us astray.

Now, we have found the power of linguistic elasticity.  It is no longer a “lie”, and perhaps it was always known, just as Eve realized the cunning of justification, persuasive argumentation and methodological coercion; no, broken promises no longer exist – instead, it is a mutual “misunderstanding”, failure of minds to meet, or just plain wrong-headedness on the part of the one who relied upon a promise made.

No one really believes anyone else’s handshake, anymore – and, in any event, who shakes hands these days?  What can it mean but a mere vestige of an arcane eccentricity that needs be relegated to those rustic movies where granddad and obscure relatives and neighbors would jump from frame-to-frame in old movies where a wave to the camera was the memorabilia to preserve, now replaced by thousands of Selfies stored in electronic devices neither for posterity nor discretion of family enjoyment, but for self-aggrandizement and public display for prurient intentions.

Like granddad’s smile that once reassured as the solid Rock of Gibraltar, promises don’t mean anything, anymore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who think that assurances of accommodating medical conditions because, somehow, laws are in place that provide for that, think about it for a moment:  Without the laws, would a promise mean anything?  Further, do the laws really protect, or are they also just linguistic modalities easily manipulated?  Fortunately, however, laws can work both ways, and Federal Disability Retirement Law operates in favor of Federal and Postal employees with a standard of proof geared towards an approval – of a preponderance of the evidence.

No, the promises made by Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service may not amount to much, and the heap of junk piles left behind by broken promises may litter the once-beautiful landscape of arcane handshakes in years past, but the availability of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits remains a reality for those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that there is now an incompatibility between one’s medical conditions and the performance of one’s essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Natural empathy

Is there such a thing, or do we just fake it even when we do not naturally “feel” it?  If the official, technical definition fails to make the distinction between “feeling” and “understanding”, does it not discount the differentiation of the traditional bifurcation – that of rational capacity as opposed to part of one’s emotional quotient?

Further, if it is merely an emotion, do some have a greater capacity because of a genetic predisposition, while others at a minimal level acquired through accident of birth, and thus can one be held responsible for merely being who we are?  On the other hand, if it has a closer affinity to an “understanding” one possesses, then can it not be cultivated and enhanced, and therefore within the purview of an educational system that includes “empathy instruction”?

How would one “teach” empathy?  Would you present slide shows of unfortunate events, and by instructional imprinting, have the teacher or headmaster unravel with emotional turmoil and manifest tears of sorrow, and hope that the students will by some mysterious osmosis embrace that capacity to experience such travails “as if” one were in the other’s shoes?  And, what do we mean when we attribute empathy as a “natural” course of human characteristic – is it counterintuitive to the distinction made of its opposite, of an “artificial” construct?

In Darwinian parlance, of course, there is little room for Natural empathy – the weak merely dilute the sacrosanct genetic pool of the strong and those fit to survive, and time wasted in trying to protect the weak or to understand those less fortunate will only succumb to the inevitable devouring by prey otherwise in waiting.

In the “civilization” of the human animal, there are certainly historical instances of unexplainable natural empathy, but whether there was always even therein a hidden agenda, a personal motivation, or a self-centered glint of purpose, we shall never know.  The naïve will posit that natural empathy is central to the human character; the cynic, that it is neither natural nor a tendency discovered in any species known, but just another societal construct forced upon the strong as part of the social contract to defend the weak.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the health condition has resulted in testing the natural empathy of coworkers, supervisors and managers at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, there may well be a division and diversity of opinions on the matter.

Whether natural or artificial, unfortunate events do indeed test the capacity of human character, and when the Federal or Postal employee prepares a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the uncaring and impervious attitudes of those encountered along the long and arduous process in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can indeed test the attitudes of a generation yet to experience the cruelty of an otherwise imperfect universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: “Oh, can I help?”

It is the grammatical interjection or discourse marker; in either usage, it is in response to some new or surprising information received.  Thus do we often encounter that individual (we all know of at least one) who, sitting silently, idly and unnoticed throughout, suddenly perks up after all (or most) of the work has been done – whether in preparation of a meal; cleaning up after the dinner party; or where the main elements of a project have just been completed.  And the uninvited interjection:  “Oh, can I help?”

There may even be a hint of clever knowingness in the eyes emanating from that query – of a challenge and defiance, to dare one to question the sincerity of the offer, even when the history of that singular uniqueness has many times over manifested a consistency of never having acted upon the discourse marker.

Yet, we are required to graciously accept it as sincere, and to respond with resignation that, No, there is nothing more to do, but Thank You for the offer, anyway.  For, we all know that the test of sincerity is not words upon words, but rather, that individual who, without uttering a single word, gets up and acts, and engages, participates, contributes and embraces with nary a muttering.  It is the pause between the utterance and the action that makes all of the difference, in common discourse as well as in everyday lives.

There are many, many people who interject with the “Oh, can I help?” but fewer still who act without words unnecessary and unappreciated because of humility in silence.

It is that chasm between word and act, utterance and initiation, a cocoon existence in the silence of one’s thoughts and the breach of entrance into the objective world around – or, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:  the gap between the suffering silence of a medical condition and taking that step in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, which can be an administrative process that can take many months, and sometimes years.

It is well and good for the individual who consistently utilizes the discourse marker to avoid entanglement in undesirable projects, but when it begins to harm one’s own interests, then it is time to not merely utter a sentence, but to prevail upon the world and act upon the need.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who, because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, can no longer continue in the career or vocation of choice, the grammatical interjection of, “Oh, can I help?” should immediately be followed with initiating the steps necessary to secure one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, by making inquiries with a lawyer who has experience in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire