Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Twilight’s Landing

Sleep is often the category of escape; restorative sleep, a palliative prescription for a medical condition.  Upon closing one’s eyelids, the images which pervade from the day’s stimuli slowly recede as the dark chasm of one’s own consciousness begins to fade, and sleep begins to overtake, leading us into that shadow of twilight’s landing.

It is when chronic pain, discomfort, and the gnawing neurons which fail to relax but continue to send signals of dismay and distress, that the world of wakefulness and the dawn of sleep fail to switch off; or the continuing anxiety, depression or panic attacks control and jolt one into the awareness of darkness.  Medical conditions have an impact not only upon the daytime soul, but in the sleeplessness of non-sleep as well.

For Federal and Postal workers who are formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application and preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A, one aspect of the descriptive narrative which is often overlooked, both by the doctor as well as the Federal or Postal applicant, is the role that profound fatigue plays upon performing the essential elements of one’s job.  While often implicitly stated or otherwise inferentially contained, explicit extrapolation is important in order to convey all of the elements of one’s medical condition and their impact upon the Federal or Postal employee’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Perhaps one was reprimanded or suspended for “sleeping on the job”.  Was it mere laziness, or was the underlying medical condition the intermediate cause of an act or event otherwise seen as an insubordinate statement of defiance?  Reasons and rationales provided make all the difference in this very human universe of language games and counter-games.  For, in order to effectively submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the important thing is to make sure and sufficiently describe and delineate the primary and secondary causes of one’s underlying medical conditions. This includes the inability to have restorative sleep, the profound and intractable fatigue one experiences, impacting upon one’s daily cognitive functions, etc.

Otherwise, the medical conditions are not adequately conveyed, and when one goes back to sleep in attempting to reach that twilight’s landing, the difficulties of the world will be magnified by another potential problem — a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Fear and the Masking of Medical Conditions

Fear can exacerbate, and simultaneously hide the underlying cause.  The Western philosophical quest for the essence of a thing never considers whether the human element of fear is part of the problem; instead, the focus has always been to unravel and lift the veil from the world of appearances by either recognizing the imperfection of perceptual engagements, or by acknowledging that the objective world is unreachable and unknowable.

But fear is the penultimate human emotion of irrational masking; and when an individual has a physical or psychiatric condition such that this medical condition begins to deteriorate and debilitate, and impacts upon one’s workplace relationships, social engagements and family security, the exponential magnification of fear can mask the condition itself — or, at the very least, deliberately cover the symptomatologies which trigger alerts daily.  But the underlying motivation prompted by fear can only conceal for a time, until a flash-point occurs where the seriousness of the medical condition exceeds the ability of fear to mask; and when that crisis-point reaches fruition, the condition itself becomes a point of crisis.

Yes, fear can mask for a time; man has the unfathomable capacity to lie not only to one’s self, but to lie to the self which lies.

For Federal and Postal employees who walk with fear because of financial and workplace security, who are beset with a progressively deteriorating medical condition, fear is a factor of which one must contend.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a great leap of faith.  But faith should first be reinforced with information; and so the best medicine to treat fear is to initially gather the information on the entire process.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement; understand, reflect, and battle against the fear of ignorance.  That is the proper methodology and approach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Related Conditions

The Weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal published an informative article entitled, “The Puzzle of Chronic Fatigue“.  For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from the condition identified generally as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the article provides an informative analysis of the medical condition, as well as a greater understanding of the underlying causes — and a possible link to a retrovirus identified as XMRV.  

It is an article worth reading, if only to have a better understanding.  Perhaps it can be pointed out to the treating doctor.  Perhaps some of the article’s substantive content can be used as persuasive argumentation against some of the common counter-arguments given by the Office of Personnel Management in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

In any event, being informed about updates on medical issues is always an important step in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, if only for the purpose of expanding one’s ability to access greater understanding of a particular kind of medical condition.  For, ultimately, the attorney who represents an individual who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must be able to accurately describe the impact of the medical condition upon one’s employment; and, to do so, one must always be up-to-date on the most recent medical discoveries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Case of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is one of those medical conditions that the Office of Personnel Management systematically “targets” as a condition which is prima facie “suspect”. This is despite the fact that there are cases which implicitly “admonish” OPM from engaging in the type of arbitrary reasoning of denying a disability retirement application because they “believe” that “no objective medical evidence” has been submitted, or that the “pain” experienced (diffuse as it might be) is merely “subjective”, or that the chronicity of the pain merely “waxes and wanes”, and a host of multiple other unfounded reasonings. Yet, cases have already placed a clear boundary around such arbitrary and capricious reasonings.

A case in point, of course, is Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit case, decided on November 26, 2007. In that case, it clearly circumscribes the fact that OPM can no longer make the argument that an Applicant’s disability retirement application contains “insufficient medical evidence” because of its lack of “objective medical evidence”. This is because there is no statute or regulation which “imposes such a requirement” that “objective” medical evidence is required to prove disability. As long as the treating doctor of the disability retirement applicant utilizes “established diagnostic criteria” and applies modalities of treatment which are “consistent with ‘generally accepted professional standards'”, then the application is eligible for consideration. Further, the Court went on to state that it is “legal error for either agency (OPM or the MSPB) to reject submitted medical evidence as entitled to no probative weight at all solely because it lacks so-called ‘objective’ measures such as laboratory tests.” Statues are passed for a reason: to be followed by agencies. Judges render decisions for a reason: for agencies to follow. Often, however, agencies lag behind statutes and judicial decisions. It is up the an applicant — and his or her attorney — to make sure that OPM follows the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire