Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in 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, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Dreams quashed

It has a ring of finality to it, a tone of termination, a quake of unequivocal endings; to extinguish, to suppress or to stamp out; it is often used as an example of some authoritative juggernaut putting down and out a rebellion by some wayward bandits; and so when it is conjoined and combined with another word – one that denotes hope for the future, a flicker of light for something positive – that has a positive connotation, it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, or a compound concept that cancels out one another.

The first word allows for a future hope and anticipation of things yet to come; the second, a denial of the first, a negation of that which one lives for.  Dreams quashed is an admission of defeat where once victory was in hand; a resignation to the reality where warmth of hope yet remained; and a bowing to a reality where the subjective universe perhaps allowed for thoughts beyond that which the objective world would dictate.

The compound concept of dreams quashed, when applied to a young soul just starting out in life, is perhaps a tragedy; as one gets older and reaches towards the dusk of life, or of the old man in a rocking chair rocking the finals days of breath away into the sunset, perhaps less so.  Yet, for everyone, whether young, old or in-between, dreams constitute the fiber of life’s worth, the filament that connects between despair and a will to move forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede and block the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the recognition that a career may be coming to an end, and anticipation of that “dream job” one finally obtained after college, and the realization that the camaraderie of working on a team, of having a unified purpose and a singular mission that always moved towards the future, to fulfill mini-dreams and projects that leaped into the beyond such that tomorrow was worth living and the next day was an anticipated victory of some proportions, perhaps microscopically relative to the greater universe, but nonetheless a platform that reflected upon one’s self-worth; these constitute those very “dreams” that appear to be in danger of being “quashed”.

Sometimes, however, the dreams of yesteryear need to be adjusted, such that it is not truly a quashing, but merely a modification.

Federal Disability Retirement is a recognition not of a dream quashed, but of a priority realized – that health is not always a given in life, and that which we took for granted was never to be freely accepted, but a gift received by a token of one’s sense of mortality.  Dreams quashed are merely hopes deceived, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to merely delay the inevitability of another dream revived but perhaps left forgotten in the rush to make a living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Morning quietude

It is that early morning time when dogs remain still, mice scurry about and the soft snore of distant somber drifts down hallways without traffic of daily discourse.  Morning quietude is a slice of a coming day before the tumult of life begins.

Modernity possesses a level of activity heretofore untried and unimaginable; the constant barrage of emails, the connectedness that everyone feels pressured to comply with; the fact that we are glued to technology, dependent upon it, anticipating it for satisfying our every needs; and beyond the storms of everyday living, there is still a need for that brief period of morning quietude.  It is, in many ways, an extrapolated slice of a metaphorical interlude; for, like the stages of a linear life itself, there are periods of extremes that can be charted on any graph that reflects the daily heights and depths of human activity.

The other side of the spectrum, of course, is the nighttime rest – whether of the need for a period of “down-time” before turning in for the night; or even of sleep itself: how difficult, whether immediate or preceded by a period of insomnia; or even of tossing and turning throughout each night, every night.  Then, morning quietude dawns.  Does it last for very long, or will the rush of the day’s noisiness shatter any semblance of peaceful calm?

Medical conditions are likened to those mornings shaken and interrupted.  For, with unexpected rudeness, they awaken us from that slumber we feel where we were once immortal, invincible and unchallenged.  Then, one day we wake up and realize that we are all too human, and our bodies deteriorate, our minds begin to slip.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates one to begin considering 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 is like that interruption of morning quietude that finally makes us realize that one has no choice in the matter.

Just as the peace and calm of early morning cannot last forever, so the Federal or Postal employee who cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job cannot sit idly by and watch as events continue to deteriorate at one’s job, in one’s personal life, and the clash between health and work.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the next logical step after the morning quietude is broken – when the mice no longer make noises and the dogs begin to bark.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The Kokeshi doll

They are wooden dolls that are colorful, with expressions painted upon that remain frozen except for the change that naturally occurs when viewed from differing angles of sight, reflecting altered perspectives and modified vantage points depending upon one’s own emotions.  They sit on tabletops, shelves and can be a child’s playmate, though parents often view them more valuably as display items rather than taking the chance that the little brother may play them as reenactments of a prior war imagined to be fought by banging pieces of wood and throwing them against the yet-undamaged wall.

The heads are often disproportionately larger than the remainder of the body; and the rest and remainder, often just a block of smoothed wood with hands painted in a one-dimensional pattern, revealing no motion but straddling limply alongside the rectangular shape, like a submissive figure shuffling down life’s difficult trials in the daily struggles we all face.

The Kokeshi doll never complains, but always delights; never talks back, but eternally agrees; and never fails to bring light into a dark corner, but forever allows for a reminder that it is the trivial joys of life that make for worthwhile endurance in times of misgivings.  We are all, in many ways, expected to be like these inanimate objects that we have projected our own emotional well-being upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the fact that you are no longer able to remain impassive, implacable, disaffected and unmoved by the manner in which the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has begun to treat you, is not an extraordinary insight to possess and be suddenly enlightened by.

Though we may enjoy the delightful colorfulness of a Kokeshi doll, we cannot expect to be nor act like one.  It was always the productivity released, the competence revealed and the level of contribution inputted that made the Federal or Postal employee “valuable” to a Federal agency or a Postal facility; but when a medical condition hits a person, it is simply “not right” that the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service should treat the Federal or Postal employee as merely another Kokeshi doll who should remain quiet and unperturbed standing in a corner.

Thus, when the Federal agency or Postal facility fails to treat the Federal or Postal employee as something more than the inanimate object a Kokeshi doll ultimately is, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, before that rough-and-tumble younger brother comes along and really begins to mistreat that block of wood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Then, forgotten

To die is forgivable; to be forgotten, not so much.  Perhaps that is why the 15-minute rule of one’s fame is so important to most people; that, to be “appreciated” in a life-long struggle just to remain relevant makes fools of us all, and the basis upon which con-men and scams continue to effectively play their course.

It is, of course, the “then” that matters – that prelude to the state of being forgotten, that defines what a person’s life was, remains, and will continue to be in the future amongst and amidst the remainder of a family, friends and acquaintances left behind.  For, the long and wide expanse before the “then” constitutes a life lived, the experiences encountered and the salacious intertwinements amassed; in short, it is what a person is remembered by which the definition of a life well lived and the cumulative amalgamation of challenges met.  Then, after all is said and done, the person is forgotten.  Oh, for a time, not entirely, perhaps.

In the painful memories left behind with family; of a legacy foretold and secured; but then, even those relatives, friends and loved ones slowly fade away into the eternal trash bin of history’s unnamed tombs, and then, forgotten.

Why else do people wave and try to get noticed when television cameras are rolling?  Or try and get that footnote published in the Guinness Book of Records?  Is the innate fear of becoming forgotten so powerful as to make fools of old men and not merely excusable because of youth yet unfettered?  Is it so important to be secured in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, in some footnote or esoteric reference that history will record, will annotate an accomplishment, an event or some memorable deed that we did; and, even if that were to happen, would not the same result occur – then, forgotten?

History is full of forgotten men and women – even those who have been recorded in the annals of relevant history.  How many battles and wars where young men just beginning the journey upon a life filled with potentiality and the first kiss of love, cuts short a future yet unlived, and instead becomes buried in the timeless echoes of a graveyard unrecognized?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who fear the dictum of “Then, forgotten”, either with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal facility, or just among the colleagues once worked with, the plain fact is that too much focus upon the “forgotten” part of the equation undermines the precursor prior to the “then” part.  There is always life after a career, and greater experiences beyond the work one has done.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should not be based upon any fear or unwillingness to “let go”; instead, it should be based upon a recognition that health and getting better is, and should always be, a priority that overrides the fear of one’s own fragile mortality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Clarity of purpose

It is always a burden when the passageway beyond is a mist of obscurity.  It helps to possess it, even in partial shades of inane generalizations; but lack of it, especially in youth, is neither a crime nor a blot of misdeeds upon one’s reputation so early in a life or career.  We have known them, whether as a “type” or an individual; that rarity of endangered species where the target-point of life is an unwavering straight line directly from birth to death (or at least for the moment when a career goal is sought).

Clarity of purpose is something one “ought” to have, but rarely manifested in the lives of ordinary people.  We talk of a nation’s “manifest destiny”, or of the importance of having some “foundation” in life; of faith, purpose and a desire or motivation to – what?  That is often the problem; not so much that we have no purpose in life, but that clarity of that essence is too often subverted by events unasked for and circumstances untold.

In W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge, where Larry merely wants to “loaf” after his traumatic wartime experiences –  does lack of clarity of purpose as defined by conventional society evince a mere deviation of acceptable behavior, or constitute a complete violation and breach of man’s destined existence harkening from the residues of Puritanism and religiosity in general? (Note the comedic definition of Puritanism from H.L. Mencken:  “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”).

Modernity no longer believes in destiny, fate, or purposeful existence; and thus do we lack great figures, anymore – as Churchill who consistently defied death in war because of an inherent belief that he was destined for greater things, and thus the gods would not dare to undermine that predetermined fate of life.  Instead, the insidiousness of Darwinian belief – a foundation where reductionism to pure materialism and life lived by sensation, pleasure and tactile responsiveness:  these are the purposeful endeavors for us all.  It is, however, still a requirement that, in order to reach a destination of accomplishment, we “clarify” the “purpose” for which we engage to act.

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 one’s Federal or Postal position, the need to define, refine and clarify such a purposive action is a crucial component in the successful formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Wandering and meandering with merely a general sense of what needs to be done, like Larry Darrell’s search for meaning in Maugham’s masterpiece, will likely result in a denial by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  There are legal statutes to consult; case-law that should be cited; and a streamlining of medical evidence in order to pinpoint, with circumscribed accuracy, the argument and methodology for approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

In sum, there needs to be a tactical and strategic clarity of purposive action throughout, in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Life’s burdens

In chaos, where does one find refuge?  One suspects that for children of modernity, the escape into the virtual world of computer games, Internet conversations, constant checking and updating of profiles, and the entire gambit of projects unrelated to the reality surrounding, is that very reservation of constancy which is needed by all.

Life has burdens; parents have an obligation and duty to contain and protect throughout those crucial periods of growth; but what happens when parents have never known the stability of life’s promise and become parents even before being ready themselves?   Do they, as well, have the leisure of becoming lost and transfixed upon the unreality of a virtual universe?  It would seem so, just by mere observation of local lore, of walking down any street in the country and seeing seemingly mature individuals transparently ensconced in a trance beheld by a mobile device.

Life has real burdens; upon birth, there was never an accompanying set of detailed instructions as to how to “deal” with them; and, in the end, it is questionable as to whether any generational transfer of wisdom could be imparted within a society where independence is encouraged and separateness of lives is demanded.  In a society where age determines adulthood, where division defines maturity and fissures constitutes the unassailable stamp of approval in becoming independent and partitioned; neighborhoods are merely so defined because of their antiseptic aggregation of nearness by cluster, and not because anyone is expected to actually interact with one another.

No, there is no such thing as sharing the burden, or lessening the load which one encounters in the course of living a life.  It is, indeed, an absurdity – and Sartre’s play, No Exit, reflects upon that issue, as we are born without asking, live without a means of filing an appeal, and die with souls extinguished without value or worth of knowing.  Knowing what?  Of that certainty of teleological embracing as in foregone eras, when faith, trust and a sense of belonging defined a life.

One may scoff and say that all of that is mere tripe; that there never was a time before when society breathed as an organic unit and life lifted burdens within the constancy of sustained relationships.  Even the old places are now being destroyed, and one sees the devastation of sectarian wars and ravages of inherited hatreds in countries where wealth and technology has not quite arrived, but where family units were still fairly intact.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, life’s burdens become exponentially magnified when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  When that situation arrives, it further alienates and separates, especially in a society which trumpets the virtues of independence, when in fact it merely identifies the loneliness.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is one avenue to undertake, especially when it becomes clear that neither the Federal Agency nor the U.S. Postal Service is going to do what communities and neighborhoods of yore once did – of caring by providing an “accommodation” for one’s medical condition.

For, in the end, just as there was never a set of instructions accompanying a newborn’s life, so there is very little information “out there” for the Federal or Postal employee whose career may come to an end because of a medical condition, except for specialized areas of legal help which serves to lift some of life’s burdens in the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire