OPM Disability Retirement Law: Avoidance

It begins with a subtle turning away, perhaps; reduction of contact, lessening of coincidental interactions, etc.  The fact is, in an office environment, or out in the proverbial “field” of employment, if a coworker or supervisor wants to get a hold of you, they normally can, and with aggressive intent, quite quickly.  But suddenly and in a spiral trajectory of avoidance, people begin to shun and shove aside.

It’s not like the medical condition is contagious, or will by some mysterious process of osmosis spread like a viral wildfire merely by standing next to you; but that is how it is perceived and attributed.  When a medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, whether the person is a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, the palpable sense of ostracizing begins immediately.

Loss of productivity; being placed on a PIP; developing a reputation for being on the wrong side of an agency’s favor; these are all of the ills which portend; and the greater the degree of avoidance by fellow workers, the increasing pressure of evidence to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement.  Federal Disability Retirement is a process which can take many months, and is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The inevitable is written in the rosters of future events; avoidance merely delays that which will come about, anyway; and procrastination exponentially compounds the cumulative problems aggregated by neglect.  Thus does avoidance work to wound, and rarely to enhance, the fragile future of the Federal or Postal employee in securing one’s financial stability, by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: Doldrums

It is an actual pocket of calm in areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where maritime sailors dreaded in days of yore because they presented calm and quietude when the necessity for winds to power the sails of movement suddenly died and disappeared.  One could be trapped for weeks, and sometimes months, when the doldrums hit.

In modern vernacular, of course, they represent a parallel metaphor — of that state of emotional inactivity and rut of life, where melancholy and gloominess overwhelms.  Sometimes, such despair and despondency is purely an internal condition; other times, it is contributed by circumstances of personal or professional environment.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from the former because of a medical condition which leads to a state of dysphoria, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often commingles with the latter, precisely because the internal and external are inevitably interconnected.  The emotional doldrums become exacerbated by the toxic environment engendered and propagated by reactions engaged in by the agency; and the continuing effect becomes a further cause because of the hostility shown and heightened actions proposed.

How does one escape the doldrums of stale despair?  For the mariner whose power depended upon the winds of change, waiting for altered conditions was the only avenue of hope; for the Federal or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents a doldrum of another sort, taking affirmative steps by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the primary and most effective manner for efficacious change.

Sitting around helplessly like a victim of the vicissitudes of life may have been the way of past responses; for the Federal and Postal employee of modernity, we have greater control over the destiny of one’s future, but to utilize the tools of change requires action beyond mere reflection upon the doldrums of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Pretending

It is the creative imagination which ultimately separates man from his counterpart; and, in the end, those costumes we display, and wear as vestiges of who we were, what we have become, and how we want others to appreciate us — in the aggregate, they reveal either our pretending selves, or at the very least, our pretentiousness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the extension from childhood through adulthood is best personified in the ability and capacity to “pretend” — assume the role of the loyal civil servant; march on in quiet suffering; brave through in silent grief the turmoil of a progressively worsening medical condition.  But when “pretend” encounters the reality of pain and self-immolation of destruction and deterioration, there comes a point in time where childhood fantasies and dreams of want and desire must be replaced with the reality of what “is”.

That annoying verb, “to be”, keeps cropping up as an obstacle of reality, forever obstructing and denying.  Reality sometimes must hit us over the head with harsh tools of sudden awakenings; for the Federal or Postal worker who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the wake-up call is often the alarm-clock that rings after a long weekend, when rest and respite should have restored one to healthy readiness on the workday following, but where somehow the face of pretending must still remain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Law

The Law is a peculiar concept:  at once, it comprises the aggregation of individual lawyers, judges, clerks; it represents the legislative branch of local, state and Federal governments; it encompasses the buildings where the concept itself is applied, argued and rendered; it is governed by the multiple statutes, regulations, court opinions, etc.

Wittgenstein’s philosophical works on language games is interesting when one views the “law” from such a perspective:  the legal systems has no corresponding anchor in the “reality” of our lives, except in the very self-contained world of our language.  We speak about “the law”, live with its consequences, discuss “rights”, “legal precedence”, “court opinions”, without ever pointing to an object in the universe (except of our own creation, such as documents, buildings, people who are involved in the law, etc.) as a corresponding feature of relevance.  But certain areas of the law have “real-world” consequences.

Indeed, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the connective relevance between the law, the individual, and the medical condition contains a corresponding reality, impact and significance.  The individual who files for such a benefit, the “I” who is the Federal or Postal employee, experiences the very real medical condition; the engagement in the world, as a Federal or Postal employee, is an encounter which occurs in the reality of the day-to-day world.

For some, the “law” is not merely a conceptual construct; it is a basis for which to plan for one’s future, and maneuvering through the morass of this confusing world of reality, virtual reality, complexity of language games, and the burdensome and onerous weight of the legal maze identified as Federal Disability Retirement, requires a reality-check on a daily basis.

Reality as defined by a person who suffers a medical condition, is often more “real” than those who have never encountered the experiential suffering of such constancy of reminders, that to be alive is not merely saying the words; it is a daily struggle through the acute sensing of one’s own frailty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Work as the Causal Inception

In a claim filed with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), causality and whether it is work-related, occupationally related, etc., are issues which will inevitably arise, precisely because the statutory mandates which govern OWCP rules and regulations require proof of a causal connection.

Under Federal Disability Retirement for FERS & CSRS employees, however, such work-related causality is not an issue, because it is not a requirement that a medical condition was “caused” while performing one’s Federal or Postal job, or that there be some connection to an occupational hazard or inherent workplace relationship.  That does not mean, however, that there cannot be a workplace connection; merely that, whether or not there is any such relationship between the medical condition and the work environment, it is not an issue which possesses any significant relevance to the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

These “fine distinctions” can be confusing for non-lawyers (and, indeed, even for lawyers who are supposedly trained in being able to analytically dissect multiple compounding concepts within statutory language).  

“Causality” to the workplace can, however, be discussed and even referred to in a medical report, or in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A), as a provision for historical and background context, but it is not an essential element to prove in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Too much emphasis on the historical context, however, can lead to the unforeseen and dangerous consequence of having one’s case characterized as a “situational disability“, and one must always be cognizant of such a danger.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Extrapolating Carefully from “The Law”

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize the major legal cases (those “landmark cases”) from which many other cases derive their foundational basis.  Such cases form the fundamental and overriding criteria of a legal arena, and this is no different in arguing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, either for Federal or Postal employees.  Furthermore, in citing a case to argue for one’s position of eligibility and entitlement, it is equally important to have read the cases carefully, and to argue the merits of an issue persuasively and accurately.  

One of the worst things that a lay, non-lawyer applicant can do is to mis-cite a case or a statute, and its meaning and ancillary conclusions.  For, when the Office of Personnel Management reviews a case and refutes a particular issue, and further points out that a legal precedent or statutory authority has been mis-applied, one’s credibility as to the substance of the application is not only undermined, but further, the viability of one’s legal argument has been subverted.  As such, it is normally advisable to leave the law to lawyers — and in Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS or CSRS, to leave it to lawyers who specialize in the field. For, to do little or no harm to one’s self is certainly better than to saw off the branch which one has grasped onto, no matter how tenuous the position to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Patient/Applicant

Before even thinking about starting the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, it is important for the patient/applicant to approach his or her doctor and get an initial commitment of support. For, ultimately, the most essential lynchpin of a disability retirement application hangs on the support of a doctor — from the first and initial stage, all the way to the Merit Systems Protection Board (where live telephone testimony may be necessary).

The “patient” needs to approach the doctor with sensitivity. It is probably not even a good idea to talk about anything beyond the first stage of the process — instead, the focus should be about how “support” for a disability retirement application is actually part of the rehabilitation and healing process of medical treatment. For, ultimately, a disability annuitant under FERS or CSRS is not asking to be “totally disabled” by the doctor (and, indeed, most doctors do not want to release their patients into the retirement “pasture” of full disability); rather, it is simply a medical support of reasoning that a particular patient is no longer a “good fit” for a particular kind of job. Don’t scare the doctor off with a view of the “long process”; rather, the initial commitment is all that is needed — for the first stage of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire