OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: The Recurrent Nightmare

Perhaps it is explicit, of images which repetitively beat the drum of constancy; or, sometimes, despite every effort, one cannot recall the harrowing particulars of a nighttime of eternity filled with dissipation of fear and loathing.

Restorative sleep is lacking; whether from pain, nightmares or paralyzing panic attacks; and the medical designation of insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or psychiatric conditions of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, intrusive nightmares; or perhaps it is much more direct and simple:  pain which prevents getting into a comfortable position in order to drift off into the dreamland of serenity, and where the sharpness compels one to awaken with a scream, only to find that it is the silence of one’s aloneness which permeates the quietude of the voice which no one hears.

The next morning, the profound fatigue and exhaustion, beyond the mere ache of tiredness, with residual cognitive dysfunctions,follows one throughout the day, like a scent of undefinable and unidentifiable aura, always there but never quite connected, either in location, distance or substantive content.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a semblance of such a state of being, it becomes like a recurrent nightmare, and work becomes impacted in so many different ways.

In physical-intensive jobs, in the greater potentiality for mistakes and accidents; in cognitive-focused positions, in analytical miscues and inability to focus and concentrate.  Perhaps it all becomes reflected in one’s performance review, or one becomes placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan” (a PIP); or even be handed an Agency’s Proposed Removal; whatever the cost, for the Federal or Postal worker, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

No, Federal Disability Retirement is not the “be all” and “end all” of solutions; but it is an option which should always be considered when once the recurrent nightmare engulfs the Federal or Postal worker with consequences of adverse actions imposed upon a fragile state of being ready to crack under the weight of a chronic disease or medical condition of such seriousness and sufficiency as to have impacted one’s capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Silent Sufferer

The silent sufferer rarely gets noticed; but, of course, that is the whole point.  It is analogous in an inverse manner to the childhood adage that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  From a purely philosophical, conceptually vacuous standpoint, how does one “show” pain?  How does one reveal the inner turmoil of Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or a Bipolar Disorder?

Certainly, physical manifestations of uncontrollable tremors, trembling, etc., can be indicators; but the more complex state of psychiatric conditions which are negatively reflected to the world — of paralysis from action; of lethargy; of an overwhelming “sense” of worthlessness and hopelessness; where stamina or energy, self-motivation and initiative, cannot simply be forced; rather, one is lifeless in a world of activity and sensory overload, not because one cannot self-will movement and progress, but because one is mentally and physically unable to act upon one’s volition.

It is, ultimately, the age-old question of Appearance versus Reality.  So, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question to be answered is not whether an effective description creating a nexus of one’s medical conditions with one’s positional duties as a Federal or Postal employee should be assembled; rather, the question is how.  One must overcome the appearance of normalcy, by cracking open the reality of the underlying medical condition, and to bring forth, as Heidegger would put it, the uncovering of the reality of Being — by using selective words to reveal to the OPM Representative the starkness of one’s medical conditions.

Eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be proven; in order to prove it, one must show the reality of the Real, as opposed to the silence and concealment of that which is mere Appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Uniqueness of Medical Conditions

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, there are always unique aspects of particular medical conditions which impact upon specific elements of the positional duties of a Federal or Postal employee.

Thus, for example, shoulder problems (rotator cuff tears; shoulder impingement syndrome, etc.) limits the ability to engage in rotational movements, and specifically restricts overhead lifting, or lifting above shoulder-level, and therefore constrains the ability to perform multiple craft-required duties for the U.S. Postal Service.

Similarly, for psychiatric medical conditions, Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, and similarly oriented psychiatric medical conditions related or on a coordinated spectrum, impact the ability to maintain a sustained analytical perspective and performance of duties.  Thus, for information-based positions (Information Technology Specialist; Budget Analyst; auditors; personnel management duties, etc.), the very cognitive-intensive duties are directly impacted by such uniquely psychiatric conditions.

These examples, however, are merely referential samples, and in no way reflect an exhaustive discussion of how a medical condition impacts a particular kind of job, or the various elements which make up a Federal or Postal job.  

Thus, by way of cross-over example, a person who suffers from shoulder pain can be prevented from performing the essential elements of an information-based administrative job, because of the high distractability of the pain, the inability to take pain medications during work hours because of the sedation it creates, and because of the radiating pain and numbness to one’s extremities, preventing the repetitive type of work on a computer keyboard, etc.

Ultimately, one should never think in terms of a one-to-one ratio or correspondence between a specific medical condition and a particular element of a job.  Crossovers of medical conditions and their impact upon a job are ultimately unique to the individual, and it is the job of the OPM Disability Attorney to properly represent that uniqueness.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Difficulty of Accommodation

For Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the issue of accommodation must be addressed at some point, and one often wonders why a Federal agency is either unwilling or unable to accommodate the medical disabilities of a Federal or Postal employee.  

The line between “unwilling” and “unable” is often a complex one, because Agencies must contend with an obligation to attempt to accommodate the medical disability, but remember that such an attempt and obligation is merely one of “reasonable” accommodation.  This means that an implicit cost-benefits analysis is quickly engaged in, where the effort, likely success, extent of any workplace adjustments, whether in the end the essential and core elements of the job functions can be accomplished even with the reasonable accommodations, etc., can successfully be implemented.

An appearance of attempting to accommodate is often all that is indulged, and so the reality is that the Agency seems more unwilling than unable. Further, the simple fact is that, many medical conditions — e.g., those which are psychiatric in nature, are simply medical conditions which are termed “non-accommodatable“.  For, regardless of what workplace adjustments are made, a Federal or Postal worker suffering from Major Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, delusory thought processes, etc., where symptoms upon one’s focus, concentration, ability to have a reasoned perspective, etc., are all impacted, and therefore is inconsistent with any cognitive-intensive work.  As such, the medical condition becomes “inconsistent” with the particular duties of the job, and therefore it is an unreasonable and unattainable goal to consider any accommodations.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire