OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Game of Calumny

If not one’s reputation, what is the remaining value?  If truth is not a goal, then what fills the void?  Yes, from ashes to ashes, and back to dust, and the elements which make up man are constituted by nothing unique beyond the environment from which he originates, and to which he returns; but the linguistic act of reductionism fails to achieve a full embrace, and just like the defensive football player who hesitates for a moment and sees the blur of the ball carrier speed past, so the aftertaste of materialistic reductionism is somehow unsatisfying.

For, to say that X is “nothing more” than an aggregate of atoms is to characterize a masterpiece as a mere collection of colors, and that is precisely Roger Scruton’s point, isn’t it?  Then, there is the game of calumny, of the capacity to try and strip another through slander and innuendo.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, that game by other Federal and Postal employees becomes a daily onslaught.

Somehow, it is not enough that one must suffer from the gods of fate and contend with deteriorating health.  Instead, one must further deal with the sudden isolation into disfavor, like lepers of yore shipped to colonies in deserted islands beyond the reach of virulent populations scared of their own shadows.  Slavery was outlawed decades ago, but the treatment of workers barely has changed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the game of calumny by one’s “fellow” workers is merely another indicator that we are not merely a collected mass of elements to be spat upon, and that is a positive side to man’s inhumanity; but, then, finding out the truth about one’s fellow man is always better than to live in ignorance thinking that one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service was going to be supportive through thick and thin.

The time of “thin” has arrived, and it is in the thick of things that one must now fight for one’s rights.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Attorney: Formulating the Effective Case

Is it inherently presupposed that a case to be formulated is one which should be “effective”?  By the insertion of that term, of course, it immediately implies a retrospective vantage point — an “ends” to “means” view of an outcome-based approach.

If a Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, receives a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one assumes that the case was not “effectively” formulated.  On the other hand, if an approval is received from OPM, one need not consider any such issue, but merely moves on to the “when” phase — as in, “When am I going to get paid“?

Outcome-based formulation of a case is never an unwise approach; but the mere fact that a denial is issued by OPM after reviewing a given Federal Disability Retirement application, does not mean that the case itself was not originally “effective” in the formulation and submission.

There are OPM “administrative specialists” who systematically deny cases; certain others who require a higher standard of proof beyond what the law mandates; and even those who extrapolate clear evidence in a denial which establishes eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement, but nevertheless concludes with a disapproval.  Such arbitrary outcomes may seem unfair and unwarranted, but it is a reality which must be faced.

In light of this, the positive outlook to embrace is the fact that Federal OPM Disability Retirement is an administrative process with multiple stages for appeals and additional bites at the proverbial apple.  From the outset, it is always a good idea to carefully prepare, formulate and file an “effective” case; but the mere fact that the first attempt fails to achieve the outcome desired, does not diminish or extinguish the positive assessment reached at the outset when first the Federal Disability Retirement packet was submitted; rather, it just means that additional proof and evidentiary addendum must be forthcoming to satisfy the bureaucratic process of further effectuating the efficacy of an already-effective case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Partial Life

To whom do we owe our due?  What motivates, compels and propels?  Is it by way of a sense of indebtedness (a sort of negation attempting to claw back and regain a foothold), or an assertion of one’s rightful ownership of life, land and property?  Or perhaps there is a sense of a higher calling, whether by teleological justification, or a whisper of duty?

Some days, we walk within a mist of stupor, half-alive, barely conscious, and hoping to simply get through the day.  Other days, a breath of fresh air fills our lungs, and life promises a brighter future, like the winds suddenly lifting the stagnant kite higher into the heavens where promises of greater glories hold truth in the palm of an angel’s hand.  We often fail to recognize the power of our own daily will; it is free to choose, undetermined in the morning, past memories in the afternoon, and concretized by night.

There is a difference when an individual is beset with a chronic and debilitating medical condition, precisely because in such circumstances, one’s daily life is no longer free to choose like entrees on a menu for a preset course of delectable meals.  No, individuals with impacting medical conditions can only live lives of partial living, bifurcated into elementary segments:  times of pain, times of being pain-free; times of lethargy and cognitive loss of focus, and rare times of mental acuity and clarity of judgment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer daily from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the judgment to file for Federal Disability Retirement may come when the proportionate bifurcation of the partial life reaches a critical point where the segment of pain exceeds the portion of non-pain, or put quite simply, when the quality of life deteriorates so miserably that one’s days off are merely used up in order to recuperate for further days of pain or cognitive dysfunction.

Federal Disability Retirement, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a benefit available to all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

When those days of a full life become transformed into a chronic continuum of days of partial life, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire