Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Counting the days

Do we count the days when vacations lapse within the final hours and minutes, when in the beginning sunsets were timeless moments of restful hours yet to come?  What anticipation of worry-less days, and of looking forward to sleeping in, letting one’s guard down and the muscles relaxing from the tensions of anxiety-filled build-ups: No emails (at least for a few days, maybe…until the thought begins to intrude, then grow, then overwhelm, of the accumulation of those hundreds sitting there waiting…waiting…), no phone calls, no need for the greatest necessity in modernity — the ability and capacity to multitask.

The days began with lazy hours and hazy minds; of the sleepiness still caught between eyelids barely opened, and thoughts of the rat-race still barely behind.  It takes days just to unwind, and just when you begin to relax, it dawns on you that you are already counting the days when summer is over, the kids are back to school, and even the commercials on television are already pushing to get those supplies that are blaring with fanfare of sales and super-sales.

Do lions in the wild count the days?  Do the salmon as they fight to go upstream relinquish the solitude of mindless numbers?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition forces one to count not just the days when vacation is at hand, but every hour, every day, every week because survival to the end of the week is the mode of existence, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, counting the days is nothing but a clear indication that the numbered days are shrinking exponentially, and lost with the sequence of each count is the unalterable truth that days counted are days lost, especially when one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Fair Games

It depends upon how you read the concept, which word or syllable you place the accent or emphasis upon, doesn’t it?

In one sense of the concept, it has to do with games found at the county or state Fairs — you know, where cotton candy is sold and prizes are awarded for the largest potato grown or the fattest pig shown.  In another sense, it is in contrast to its opposite — of games where you have a good chance because rules are imposed and upheld, as opposed to “unfair” games where the proverbial deck is stacks against you.  It is in this second sense of the term that we apply.

Fairness itself is a difficult concept, precisely because of its malleability.  One concept of fairness is an arguable delineation based upon rules, perspectives, and even perhaps of cultural backgrounds.  Rules themselves can be attacked, and are “fair game” when it comes to disputatious boundaries, where there are essentially none to circumvent.

You can argue that such-and-such a call was unfair, and that obnoxious fan sitting next to you might counter, “But that’s within the rules of the game,” and you might then counter to the counter, “Then the game is rigged and the rules are unfair!”  What would be the counter-answer to the counter of the counter?  Perhaps, to say: “Listen, buddy, I don’t make up the rules.  It’s fair by definition if everyone who plays the game has to play by the same rules.”  Is that the silencer — the conversation-stopper — that cannot be argued against?

But what if everyone theoretically has to “play by the rules of the game”, but the rules are administered in a lopsided manner?  Is that what makes the game “unfair”?  Isn’t that what fans the world over complain about when the umpire, for example, sets the “strike zone” (or in other contexts, the “foul zone” or some such similar animal) too wide for some pitchers and too narrow for others?

Or, wasn’t there something like the “Jordan Rule” where a certain player was allowed to take an “extra step” (or two or three, for that matter) and no “traveling violation” was called, because the beauty of his fluid movements surpassed and transcended any “rules” that might disrupt the mesmerizing effect of such human defiance of gravity right before our eyes?  Could you imagine what an uproar that would have caused, where the player-in-question flies through the air with such acrobatic display of gravity-defying beauty, slam-dunks the ball to the rising wave of appreciative fans, and a whistle is blown — and the basket is disallowed?

That awkward motion that the referee engages in — you know, where both hands are balled up into a fist and made into a circular motion, indicating that a traveling violation has occurred — and then pointing to the scoring table and telling them to subtract the 2-points just previously awarded…is it “fair”?  Should fairness sometimes be overlooked when beauty-in-mid-flight entertains us to such ecstatic delights?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, life often begins to appear as if “fairness” is no longer an applicable rule — for, is it “fair” that one’s health has deteriorated despite doing everything to take care of it?  Is it “fair” that others seem to have lived a life of excess but seem not to be impacted at all by the abundance of maltreatment?  Is it “fair” that others appear to be receiving favoritism of treatment, while your Federal Agency or the Postal Service appears to be targeting you for every minor infraction of the “rules”?

Life, in general, is unfair, and when a Federal or Postal worker seems to be the target of unfair treatment because of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, it may well be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Life is often unfair in general; but when it comes to applying and enforcing “the Law”, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney, especially when seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.  And like the “Jordan Rule” concerning extra-rule-violation treatment, it is best to make sure that your attorney makes the Rules of the Game enforced — and fair.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Monday’s Startle

There is not much that needs to be said about Mondays.  The standard response to, “So, how is your day going?” is quickly understood with the response of, “It’s Monday”.  What is it about the first work-day of the week that brings about the startle of life?  Is that why the traditional week’s cycle begins from Sunday-to-Saturday, because we want to avoid the memory of a week beginning so disastrously?

Do we dread work so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the expectation of the day following the day off becomes so anticipated with angst and considerations of impending disasters, that what we come to expect we impose our will upon the universe such that reality follows our fears and imagination?  Or, is it that there is an across-the-board truce that comes about without a word of acknowledgment — shortly after the close of business on Friday afternoon — when everyone heaves a sigh of relief, goes into the weekend, and everyone follows the protocol of no longer bothering one another?

How did we come to that unspoken rule — you know, the one where emails suddenly become reduced in volume (except by those with OCD who increase the length and number because of the unresponsiveness of the previously-sent dozen or so), phone calls are put on hold and the furious activity of keyboard punching and looking about anxiously at the clock-that-never-moves — where suddenly a peaceful calm descends like a spirit from on high above the clouds, the white flag of a temporary truce is reached without anyone saying a word, week after week, month after month, year in and year out?

It is reported that such unspoken occurrences were common during every war — our own Civil War, the two World Wars (but not in the more recent ones in Southeast Asia and the Middle East), where ceasefires were embraced around Holy Holidays and some Sundays without any need for negotiated settlements, but with merely a wave and a smile.

Then, Monday’s startle comes with a roar.  Whether because it remains such a contrast against the quietude of the day before, or merely the release of pent-up energy allowed to aggregate over the 2 days of respite and restoration, one may never quite comprehend.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition which necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Monday’s startle is often a chronic condition because of the inability to escape from the anxiety of the medical condition itself over the weekend, Holidays or summer months.

Monday’s startle can be survived, for the most part, precisely because of Saturday’s respite and Sunday’s quietude; but when every day of the week and weekend results in the same angst as Monday’s startle, it is likely time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to focus upon one’s health, lest Monday’s startle turns into an endless stream of red flags replacing the white ones of truce where such flags are warning signs of an impending condition that only gets worse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The waiting room

We have all experienced the psychology of the cursed “waiting room” — that place which is assigned as the “intermediate” lull, like purgatory for the virtuous-to-be, where they think that by making you believe that you have now been chosen to wait in a separately sequestered area, your patience will become refreshed and you will allow for another lengthy wait.  The psychologists have it all figured out, don’t they?

First, you are left to wait with the “rest of them”; then, your name is called, and you leave those who have been waiting just as long, or some even longer, with a smug smile, thinking to yourself, “Whew, finally!”  But that sense of relief is short-lived, for it becomes clear that the room you have been lead into is merely another surreal suspension of reality’s cruel viciousness — for, this is merely an intermediate form of torture: The Waiting Room, where the real wait begins.

Somehow, the psychologists have figured out through studies conducted that patients, clients, potential customers, etc., will tolerate quite a bit of waiting so long as there is an “interlude” between waiting periods.  So, say you are at first forced into a queue with a group of others — the studies have revealed that 20 – 30 minutes is the maximum before agitation begins to manifest itself, unless you are “selected” and sequestered into a separate queue where your tolerance for a further waiting period can begin anew.

Of course, in reality, nothing has changed — it is simply that your waiting has been transferred from one area to another.  Can this occur multiple times?

Apparently, the studies have shown that, yes, so long as the logistics of the waiting period have been altered — as in, say, after 20 minutes for the 2nd waiting queue, a nurse walks in, looks at you and places a folder into the filing basket attached to the door.  Somehow, that momentary interruption focuses the waiting individual that your time is approaching, that we have not forgotten about you, and you will soon be seen.

The psychology of intermediate contacts increases one’s hope for the end of the waiting period, despite the fact that the same waiting period continues — it is just that the hour’s wait is broken up into segments of three 20 minute slices, and that, according to all of the psychological studies, makes all the difference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, one of the frustrating aspects of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, is the long and arduous wait that must be anticipated before a decision is made.

Expect the worst; hope for the best.  There are multiple stages to the process — of the Initial Stage; of the Reconsideration Stage; of an Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board; and even of a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB.

Thus, if you took all of the multiple stages, the “wait time” is tantamount to the slicing up of that very “wait time”, and the best way to give yourself the benefit of a higher percentage of success is to make sure that you increase your chances of getting it approved at the Initial Stage by consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest you remain fuming in the Waiting Room where everyone else taps his or her foot while the collective blood pressures continue to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Representation: The habit that prevents

Kant was known to have followed a daily habitual routine that was marked with such precision that townspeople would set their watches and clocks by his various points of presence — i.e., if he was by the butcher’s shop, it was 3:15:17; if at the corner of Kroenigsburg Street, 3:16:09; and when he turned the corner of 7th and Main, it was 3:20:12.

One wonders if, had he paused at a random street corner to sneeze, would time have stopped, the universe become paralyzed, and the gods of the underworld been defeated in paroxysms of trembling fright?  Or, had he broken the daily routine of predictable sequences of the uninterrupted sojourn, marked by the two-steps-tap-tap with the cane of his choice, over and over again — step, step, tap, tap; step, step, tap, tap — would anyone have noticed?

Certainly, the townspeople would; and perhaps his rigid philosophical outlook, his moral foundation of principles that forever retained the universality of truth — maybe rigidity may have faltered and we would all be the poorer for it.

Could his mind have expanded into other arenas of philosophical discourse had he traveled beyond and broken the habit that prevents?  Does one’s actions of daily monotony determine the “type” of mind, thoughts, conscious processes, cognitive approaches, etc., such that there are habits that limit, prevent, pause or otherwise freeze?

Habit is a peculiar trait for human beings; it offers both solace and a sense of security in the very regularity of its path, somewhat like the repetition of a musical stanza that is both anticipated and relished despite its very predictability.  It becomes a harmful dependency, however, when the habit that prevents begins to forestall, stunt and actively become an obstacle that restrains necessary growth.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may well be that the habit that once allowed for success — of being punctual; of overextending one’s capacity in order to accomplish the impossible; of having such a dedication to “the mission” that one’s own health was always secondary — while honorable and laudatory while it lasted, may be the habit that now prevents.

Prevents what?  Of seeking greater health, of changing course in order to set a different goal; of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, the habit that was once a positive trait becomes one that prevents, depending upon changing circumstances and altering contexts, and for the Federal or Postal employee needing to break the habit of always working for the “mission of the agency” or to complete all tasks for the Postal Service, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM, may be the best next habit that results in more than the monotony of a daily walk, but a step which breaks the routine of all prior steps in order to reach an important goal — one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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