Postal and Federal Employee Disability & Injury Compensation Laws under FERS & CSRS: Decisions & Complexities

The complexities inherent in modern technological life, and the methodologies of arriving at a decision-making process, make for a consciousness counterintuitive to one’s natural state of being.  Rousseau depicted a romanticized version of man’s state of nature; but the point of his philosophical thesis was to provide a stark contrast to the civilized world of social compacts and the justification for societal intrusion into liberties and rights reserved exclusively and unequivocally.

In what epoch one was born into; whether one ever had the deliberative opportunity to accept or reject the social contract of today; and the greater historicity of man’s cumulative unfolding of unintended paths of social consciousness; these all provide the backdrop as to why life has become so complicated.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker, there is the added issues of multiplicity of bureaucratic layers, and the decisions which must be made in the greater context of the microcosm of another civilization of administrative facets:  what choices one is faced with; VERAs, MRA+10, Social Security Disability requirements; deferred Retirements; injuries on the job which may prompt an OWCP/DOL filing; and the seemingly endless avenues which the Federal and Postal employee may have to face.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is confronted with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job, the option which should always be considered is Federal Disability Retirement.  If a medical condition exists, Federal Disability Retirement from the OPM is often the best and only option which will attend to the needs of the moment.

In the end, it is not the complexity of life which wears upon us all; rather, the capacity to engage a rational methodology of arriving at a proper decision, which cuts through the peripheral irrelevancies and provides a real-life, substantive basis for the meaningful values underlying the superficialities of daily fluff.

OPM Disability Retirement for the Federal and Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, may be the option of solving that greater conundrum when a medical condition begins to impact daily living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquir

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Roadmaps

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to allow for the medical evidence and other supporting documentation to “speak for themselves”.  Yet, at the same time, a cover-letter, or a “roadmap”, should always accompany a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In representing Federal and Postal employees, at every stage of the process — whether at the Initial Stage of compiling and preparing all aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application; and at the Reconsideration Stage, in rebutting and responding to an OPM denial for the First Stage of the process — a cover letter always accompanies a disability retirement packet.

The cover letter is, and should be, lengthy to the extent of providing a concise roadmap of addressing all of the essential elements of the disability retirement packet; with appropriate “red flags” to apprise the OPM Representative of the relevance of the attached documents; of arguing the relevant law which clearly and by a preponderance of the evidence shows that each of the legal criteria in a Federal Disability Retirement application have been met; and why the Office of Personnel Management has no choice but to approve the Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

But like all roadmaps, it is important to establish the credibility of such a map, by showing that each statement, assertion and claim is vindicated by the truth of a relevant document or evidentiary source.  Credibility is established by substantive content backed by truth.  Have you ever followed a roadmap that resulted in taking you to the other side of town?  Such roadmaps are worth the paper they are printed on, and make for good fire starters.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: A Word about Approvals

It is the general policy of the Office of Personnel Management to withhold releasing of information concerning a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, via telephone.  

This is a good policy, in that a potential conflict and mistake can occur between an action taken on a case (i.e., an approval or a denial) and what is inputted into the computer system; or, as has been the case in the past, where the secretary or receptionist divulges the decision over the telephone — and is mistaken.  

Generally, one must wait for the Office of Personnel Management to send the hard copy of the decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Receipt of the actually letter of approval or denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the Office of Personnel Management, constitutes the official notification of the decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application.  If the Federal or Postal employee’s representative or attorney receives the decision of approval or denial from the Office of Personnel Management, that also constitutes official notification.  

The problem of telephone notification of an approval is that, if what is told over the telephone differs from the actual notification and decision rendered by the Claims Representative who is handling the case, then obviously that would be an upsetting matter to the Federal or Postal employee who is anxiously awaiting the decision.  

For the Federal or Postal employee who has waited many, many months for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management, waiting a few more days in order to receive the actual approval letter (or a denial letter, whichever the case may be) is well worth the wait.  

It is better to wait a few more days to get the decision in person.  As the old adage goes, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bushes”…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency & the Individual

The National Reassessment Program (NRP) now implemented in full force, along with the Voluntary Early Retirement, the cash incentives (many have called to ask whether or not, if one is not eligible or offered the early retirement, but the cash incentive with a resignation is still being offered, should you take it?), and the Postal Service’s ultimate goal of shedding its payroll of anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive” by doing away with all “light duty” or “modified duty” slots (there actually is no “slot”, but rather merely an ad hoc set of duties “made up” on a piece of paper, which is what I have been arguing for years and years, and as the Bracey Decision by the Federal Circuit Court addressed) — all of these developments are merely a large-scale, macrocosmic level of what happens every day on an individual, singular basis. 

This is merely a reflection of an Agency, and how it acts, reacts and responds to injured workers, workers who have medical conditions which impact one’s ability to perform one’s job, and worker’s who are not “fully productive”.  It is merely that which happens every day to individual workers, but on a larger scale.  Think about it:  A Federal or Postal employee who develops a medical condition, and cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; job performance soon begins to suffer, although perhaps imperceptibly at first; and the question becomes:  How will the agency, via its representative, the “Supervisor”, treat such an employee?  Sadly, more often than not, in a rough-shod, unsympathetic, and often cruel manner.  The Postal Service is simply doing it on a larger scale; but be fully aware, that every day, a Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, encounters such behavior and treatment — only, on a microcosmic, individual scale.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Denial at the First Stage

I would like to state that none of my cases have ever been denied at the Initial Stage of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; not only would such a statement be untrue; it would also be unbelievable.  And yes — even the cases that I file on behalf of my clients, get a similarly formatted denial:  a restatement of the criteria for eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS; a discussion with an elaborate reference to doctor’s notes, dates of treatment, targeted extrapolations of statements by the doctors which are not only selectively chosen in a narrow manner to favor the decision of denial, but further, which are often taken out of context.  Some might wonder:  Doesn’t OPM have greater respect for Mr. McGill?  The answer is:  At the First Level, the representative from the Office of Personnel Management is merely making a decision on one of thousands of files, and a template is being used to process and get rid of cases.  However, one must always remember (as I try to remind everyone) that this is a “process”.  A denial at the First Stage of the process is merely part of the greater process.  It is not something to get annoyed at, or concerned about; it is a stage and a decision which must be dealt with, argued against, and rebutted in the proper, rational, legal manner. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: The OWCP Paradigm

One may choose OWCP benefits because, financially, it pays more (75% non-taxed for an individual with dependents; 66 2/3% for a single individual) than a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  It is a pragmatic paradigm to rely upon for the immediate time-frame; however, it is not a practical paradigm for the future.  Obviously, one should obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management for one’s disability retirement, concurrently with receiving OWCP temporary total disability payments.  However, upon an approval from OPM, you need to elect between the two — because you cannot be paid by both concurrently.  Many people (rightly) choose to remain on OWCP and keep the OPM Disability Retirement annuity in “limbo or annuity purgatory” — again, because OWCP pays more.

However, as a paradigm for the future, it should not be relied upon forever.  This, because OWCP is not a retirement system.  Instead, it is a system of allowing for payment during a time of occupational disease or injury, for a person to be able to recover from such an injury.  While on OWCP benefits, however, you cannot work at another job (unlike under FERS & CSRS disability retirement); in fact, if you engage in too many physical activities similar to those which you might do at work, you may find that you will be criminally charged for “fraud”.  This has happened to many people, and it should frighten anyone who is on OWCP.  In such cases, you will often find that you have been videotaped over hundreds of hours — but the “edited” version upon which OWCP investigators charge you with, will be a video clip of about 5 minutes.  Next:  Why OWCP is not a good paradigm for one’s future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire