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

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Sad stories

Is sadness relative?  Are there sad stories that are so sad that even the ones that were considered sad prior to the sadder story being told, somehow nullify the lesser sad stories and make them into not sad stories?  Do we, after hearing the sadder tale, turn to the first story teller and say, “Yours was not so sad, after all, and in fact you have it pretty good”?

If a person tells of having just buried his mother, and you ask, “How old was she?”  He responds, “She was 95”.  Then, someone else says, “I just had to bury my 5 year old daughter.”  There would be a dead silence, would there not?  Surely, we say to ourselves, the death of a person who had a long life is not nearly as sad as the ending of one so tender in years, and as death is merely a part of life, there is something inherently sadder about the child’s life ending than that of a person who had a long life?

Both represent a life ended, but it is the knowledge that the former had fulfilled the natural course of a life while the latter was the victim of an early tragedy, unnaturally ended and interrupted for all of its promise, hope and anticipation for the future – surely, there is a qualitative difference between the two sad tales?

Or of someone who was recently fired from a job and is desperately trying to seek new employment; say that person is looking through the want-ads in the employment section (yes, yes, that is entirely outdated nowadays with special apps for resume-sharing and online submissions, etc.), and in the course of searching, reads a story about a far-off country where war, famine and general devastation are ongoing, and discovers with interest a sub-story about a family that is homeless and is being hunted down by enemies, etc.  Does one at that point straighten one’s posture and declare, “Wow, even though I am jobless, I have it pretty good in comparison to that family in country X”?

Yet, if sadness is relative, does that necessarily negate the sad tale completely, or does it merely reduce its impact and value until another comparative judgment is made?  Do we go and search out a less sad tale after debunking the sadness of one’s own with a sadder tale, in order to “restore” the sadness of our own?  Or, does each sadness remain a sadness in isolation regardless of the comparative sadness to another’s?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the sadness of that medical condition becomes such and to an extent where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sadness aside, every tale of ending a career is a sadness in and of itself, but the key to getting beyond any such sadness rests in the next steps, not in the footsteps of one’s past or those of others, but in getting good legal advice and moving on into the next phase of one’s future.  Anything else would, whether in comparison to another’s sadness or not, be the truly sad tale of sadness defined.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Lawyer: The Complexity of Unpredictability

Some view human behavioral unpredictability as a declaration of the underlying complexity; others would have it that, far from any such convoluted aspiration towards mystery and intricacy, a yawn and ensuing boredom more likely represents the determinism and simplicity of humans.

Which represents the true picture?  Perhaps youth and a naive lack of experience in encountering the universe of everyday conflict is what we discover in the spectrum of opinions; and cynicism abounds upon greater enmeshment and entanglement with the human condition.

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, the question often arises as to whom, when and the timing of divulging the intent to file.  As the saying goes, discretion is the greater part of valor; unless there is a compelling reason to do so, limiting the information where relevant; restricting the venue of information to the extent possible; and keeping mum until and unless necessary, should be the guiding principle.

Why?  Because, first and foremost, medical information (which is obviously the primary foundational basis of a Federal disability retirement application) is sensitive in nature, confidential in scope, and entails vast privacy concerns for all.  Further, one never knows how an agency and its representatives may react (thus the charge that human beings are complex in nature), but the predictability of big-mouths and lack of discretion (alas, the corollary charge of simplicity of humans) should restrain and constrain any urge to divulge earlier than necessary.

“Necessary” is the key word, and that applies to people, timing and context of dissemination of such confidential information.

For the Federal and Postal employee contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the general rule, always, should be to believe in both contradictory assertions:  Because human behavior is complex and unpredictable, be discreet in revealing information; and because human behavior is simplistic and unimaginative, similarly be discreet and restrained in providing sensitive information.

As one side of a coin is worth just as much as the other, it is best to feel the nature of two faces in a world replete with two-faces.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire