Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Foreigner

The “foreigner” reflects a dual-edged phenomena:  on the one hand, the individual perceives the strangeness of his or her surroundings; on the other hand, those strangers from the “other” land may similarly view the foreigner with interest, suspicion, hesitation, etc.

It is a mutual encounter of cultural clashes.  The singular traveler into untried waters would welcome a friendly face, and thus is often susceptible to criminals and scammers in foreign parts who prey upon unwary tourists.  Within the context of the tourist industry, the “business” side of the industry wants to appear personal and attending to individualized needs, while at the same time dealing in large volumes through a bureaucracy of efficiency.

But being a “foreigner” can occur in one’s own country, too — as in the context of engaging an unknown entity, or an administrative process which is strange and different.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who has been a productive member of the Federal workforce for many years, it is a strange encounter indeed to have to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The entire administrative and bureaucratic process is like stepping onto a foreign land and trying to navigate the streets, towns and cities within the context of trying to understand a language heretofore unfamiliar.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an entrance into a land of peculiar and unknown foods and attractions.  For the foreign traveler, it is often best to seek the guidance of a tour guide.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The title reference, of course, is to the old Spielberg film concerning contact with an alien being; but such a remote, rare and unique experience need not be with an entity from another galaxy or planet, but can be closer to home.

Most people will never need to experience engagement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM Division of Disability, Reconsiderations and Appeals, in order to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (whether under FERS or CSRS), leaving aside having to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

But when the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself in such a unique situation such that contact with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the MSPB becomes necessary, such an experience will be as peculiar and strange an an encounter of the “third kind”.  Moreover, the experience itself may be an unwanted and unpleasant one, because it is something accomplished and pursued while experiencing a personal crisis involving a medical condition.

The encounter itself — however strange, unpleasant or unwanted — nevertheless is a reality which must be dealt with, and in so doing, it should be done in as efficient a manner as possible.

In an initial encounter with an alien being, one would assume that there might be some trepidation and reluctance, mixed with a great amount of suspicion.  That would be natural.  In a similar encounter with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to also have a healthy dose of skepticism; better yet, you might want to contact an expert who has had some past experience in dealing with the entity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Excessive Reliance

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is never a good idea to proceed with excessive reliance (or any at all, for that matter) upon expected or presumed actions on the part of one’s Agency.

The preponderance of the evidence in proving a Federal Disability Retirement application is always upon the Federal or Postal worker, and one should affirmatively and pro-actively proceed without regard to what the Agency will do, says it will do, or might do during the process.

Yes, the Agency has its portion to complete; yes, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does review the entirety of the Disability Retirement packet, including the standard forms which the agency must complete, along with other personnel information that is forwarded to OPM.

But the crux and essence of a Federal Disability Retirement applications always remains the medical information gathered and submitted, along with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in conjunction with the asserted nexus constructed between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s job.

Any other approach is merely to run a fool’s errand for a fiefdom from which one is attempting to flee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Collateral Work Issues

There is often, and inevitably (it would appear), collateral work issues which appear in parallel form, along with the impact of a medical condition upon a Federal or Postal worker.  Such issues can take multiple and varied forms — from actions on the part of the Federal or Postal employee which impact upon the performance of the job itself; to behavioral issues at work; to issues concerning actions by the Federal or Postal employee outside of the workplace, but which leads to legal issues which are brought to the attention of the agency.  Whether such collateral issues directly influence or have a peripheral reverberation upon a Federal Disability Retirement application is anyone’s guess.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, it is best to assume that (A) the Office of Personnel Management will know, or will somehow find out, about the collateral issues, via being informed by the agency or through some non-pertinent document which mentions or otherwise touches upon the issue, and (B) that OPM will use it as a basis for an argument that there was an underlying motive for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, aside from the medical issue itself.

There are ways to counter such selective attempts by OPM to use a collateral issue to defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application, and it is best to have both a paper-trail as well as a clear time-line of events, to show that the collateral issue existed in a parallel, but separate, universe than the central issue of one’s medical condition.  OPM searches to defeat; it is the job of the Federal or Postal employee to rebut the search, and to destroy the effort in order to force the issue, and obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Helpers

Then, of course, there are those Human Resources and OPM personnel who have been, continue to be, and will always be, greater helpers throughout the process in assisting Federal and Postal employees to obtain disability retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  They are diamonds in a sea of hindrances and obstacles.  And when you come across such an individual, at any stage of the process, one must always express one’s gratitude.  One might argue that they are “just doing their job”, but what such individuals do is clearly beyond the job that they are paid to do.  No only do they assist in the process, but they “humanize” the process; and, especially when a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical disability receives not only assistance in the process, but guidance in providing help to ease and smooth the road to approval, it is indeed a pleasant experience to come across the human touch. A word of thanks to all such Human Resources Personnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Futility of Waiting for an Agency

In Federal Disability Retirements, the general rule is as follows:  waiting for your agency to act in some way that may prove to be beneficial to your case, is an act of futility.  Whether it is to wait for a performance appraisal; whether to see if the Agency will accommodate you, or not; whether you are waiting for a response from your Supervisor to see if he or she will support your Federal Disability Retirement application, etc. — in the end, a disability retirement application under FERS or CSRS is a medical issue.  It is not an “Agency Application for Disability Retirement”; it is not a “Supervisor’s Application for Disability Retirement”.  It is a medical disability retirement, inseparable from the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for the benefit.  As such, the proper focus should be placed upon the sufficient and substantiating medical documentation.  If the medical documentation, combined with the applicant’s statement of disability, are persuasive with respect to the correlative force of being unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then such a combined force makes all other issues essentially moot and irrelevant.  Don’t wait upon an agency to act; to act affirmatively without depending upon the agency is always the best route to follow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Applicant’s Statement & Essential Elements

When an applicant for FERS & CSRS Federal Disability Retirement benefits begins to craft his or her Applicant’s Statement of Disability, certain foundational questions must be considered before composing the historical, emotional, substantive and impact-descriptive narrative.  For instance, to the legal criteria, To be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, one must show that one’s medical conditions prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — the initial and most foundational question obviously is:  What are the “essential elements” of one’s job? 

Now, that may seem like a simple — even simplistic — question.  One needs only to look at the official position description and pick out the major factors of the position.  If only it were that easy.  For, there are many “implicit” essential elements which are not explicitly stated, and it is often those unspoken, “un – described” elements, which are directly impacted by one’s medical conditions and disabilities, which must be creatively woven into the narrative of one’s disability statement.  Always remember to take care of the “foundational” issues first; thereafter, the narrative can extrapolate from the major factors of the position description.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire