OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Avoiding the Pedantic Prophet

Doomsayers are everywhere, and in every generation and region of thoughtful pronouncements, prophets foretelling of anticipated events await to ring the ears of those who desire future confirmation of that which was already expected.

Beyond the general prophesy of future events, however, is the one who focuses upon minutiae and details irrelevant to the greater paradigm of events.  It is like the man who was informed that major surgery would be necessary, and oh, by the way, the scalpel to be used is made by a German manufacturer whose great uncle was related to Lord Byron.  Interesting tidbits may be relevant in limited circumstances; one should avoid the pedantic repetition of facts, events and details which detract from the main theme of a narrative.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, part of the process must involve the preparation of a Statement of Disability as required by completion of Standard Form 3112A.  Certainly, details can be important; but a meandering rambling of peripheral issues detracting from the centrality and essence of one’s case, can not only become a self-undermining proposition, but annoying as well.

Begin the narrative with the focus upon the condition, then build upon that with reverberating ripples of riveting prose of significance and tactile tenses entailing direct links to positional requirements.  For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a person’s story, told in narrative form, as a paper presentation to OPM which must be singularly focused, coherent and comprehensively conveyed.

When the world is foretold of coming to an end, one does not want to know the color and make of the undergarment to be worn by your neighbor; at best, it distracts; at worst, it may well reveal a privacy concern you did not want to stomach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Creativity Is Important In the Applicant’s Statement

It is important to creatively inter-weave facts, feelings, medical impact, symptoms and conditions into a persuasive Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It should not be overly emotional; it should not be voluminously long; it should not be preachy; it should not be written as a doctor would write it.  It is the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, and it should be from the Applicant’s perspective; but as with every writing, the “audience” to whom anything is written, must always be kept in mind.  Remember that the audience is a reviewing Office of Personnel Management representative — one who is evaluating, analyzing, and making a decision upon the application for disability retirement. 

Of course the independent attachment of medical documentation will be persuasive; of course a review of the position description will have an impact; and of course the analysis of comparing the medical condition with the type of job one has will be scrutinized and will be relevant.  It is the applicant’s statement of disability, however, which will most often be the determining factor.  That is why such a statement must creatively weave all of the various aspects of a disability retirement application — facts, emotions, job impact, medical impact, doctor’s statement, personal statement, impact statement — all in a bundle, all inter-weaving, all in a persuasive, creative description.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Pre and Post

Issues revolving around the initial application stage, during the application stage, and after the approval, are often of equal importance.  This is because the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS will ensure the financial and economic survival and viability of the Federal or Postal employee.  Thus, in the pre-approval stage of the process, it is often good to engage in some future planning:  How hard will I fight for Social Security Disability?  Will I be getting a part-time job to supplement my income?  Where will I live?  During the process of obtaining disability retirement, there is the long wait, and the ability to remain financially afloat while receiving little or no financial support.  Post-approval, there are issues of the potential for receiving a Medical Questionnaire from the Office of Personnel Management.  Whether the current doctor will continue to be supportive, or will I move and need to find another doctor?  Because getting Federal disability retirement benefits is a life-long process, it is important to get sound legal advice from a competent attorney throughout the process — pre, during, and post process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Social Security Disability

Under the rules concerning FERS disability retirement applications, one must file for Social Security Disability.  As most people already know, there is an interaction/offset between Social Security Disability benefits and FERS disability benefits, if both are approved (100% offset in the first year of annuity, 60% offset every year thereafter).  One would assume (dangerously, as it turns out), that if an application for Social Security disability is approved, that it would automatically render an approval under FERS disability retirement a “sure” thing.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The fact that Social Security has a higher standard of proof — where one must be considered “totally disable” as opposed to (under the legal standards for FERS) “disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job”) — one would think that, legally and logically, if you have met the higher legal standard of proof, then the lesser standard would have been automatically met.  Unfortunately, because the two standards are applied in different, independent agencies, the fact that Social Security Disability benefits are awarded is not a guarantee that the FERS disability retirement application will automatically be granted.  However, there is clear case-law stating that OPM must consider the approval by SSD as one factor among many in the consideration of FERS disability retirement applications.  It is important to cite such cases in support of your application for FERS disability retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire