Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Automatic Pilot

Then there is the story of the individual who was driving an RV, set the acceleration mechanism on “auto”, and left the driver’s seat to go and make some coffee.  Obviously, one need not have too great an imagination as to what happened next.

“Auto pilot” is a concept which one considers in the context of comfort and alleviation of human effort; by allowing for machines and artificial intelligence to dominate and take over, such technological advances allow for human beings to engage in other pursuits.  The problem with such a perspective, however, is that most people go through life on auto-pilot to begin with; and allowing for machines and smart-technology to engage in human action merely perpetuates further thoughtless action.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one will encounter many steps and stages of the phenomena identified as “auto-pilot” — both at the Agency level, as well as the case-worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Whether because of being overworked, or after years of mundane administrative tasks which dull the intellectual capacities of the human brain, it is often difficult to “jolt” the worker into focusing upon one’s particular Federal Disability Retirement application.  While one can argue that, “If you have seen one, you have seen them all”, it is important to acknowledge that one’s own Federal Disability Retirement application is unique precisely because each medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is identifiably singular in relevance and importance, and as such, “shaking up” the sleeping giant of auto-pilot is crucial in getting a Medical Disability Retirement claim to successful completion and approval.

To do this, it is wise to make certain that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is well-formulated, streamlined, and presented in a coherent, comprehensible whole.  That way, if one encounters an auto-pilot, it will not end up like the driver of the RV and result in a vehicle driving over the proverbial cliff.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Human Element & Application of the Law

It may well be that technological advances will one day allow for imputed algorithms to precisely calibrate and decide everything in life; but for the time being, we must all deal with the human element in the process of decision-making.  

Comparative stories abound about how X obtained disability retirement benefits with minimal documentary proof, and even less of an actual medical condition.  It is always an anomaly as to how one can possibly answer the query which involves the following:  “X told a friend of Y, who knows of Z who filed and got his Disability Retirement benefits approved within T-amount of time”.

The particulars of each case must always determine the outcome of the case; some stories become inflated with the telling of the narrative when passed through third parties multiple times; but, on the other hand, there is the possibility that the final narration of the story is entirely true.  The reason is because the human element is still the determinative factor in any Federal Disability Retirement application.  

There is no computerized algorithm which is applied in making a determination at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  And, so long as human beings continue to remain a part of the administrative, bureaucratic process in scrutinizing a Federal Disability Retirement application, by analyzing the content and substance and applying the relevant laws, there will never be a perfect continuity or consistency of application.  

In some ways, this is a good thing; for, as each human being is unique, so the story of each medical condition and the impact upon one’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is also particularized and unparalleled.  May it be so in the future, lest we ourselves become mere drones in this world of conventionalized perspectives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Pushing for a Decision

In these difficult economic times, when alternate or secondary employment is hard at best, waiting upon the Office of Personnel Management for a decision on one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, can be unsettling.  

There are, of course, multiple ancillary methods of “putting pressure” upon the Case Worker at OPM — contacting a supervisor; repeatedly calling and leaving multiple voicemails; sometimes, contacting a congressman/woman to initiate a “congressional inquiry” into the matter.  Whether, and to what extent, such ancillary methodologies work, is anyone’s guess.  

Hume’s argument concerning causation is probably at work here:  If an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received shortly after pressure is initiated, one can declare that it “worked” — that the effect of an approval followed the causal impact of such pressure.  If a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received shortly after such pressure is initiated, perhaps one may suspect that while the pressure may not have “worked” to one’s liking, nevertheless, the fact that a decision was made shortly after the initiation of such pressure may “prove” that the effect followed the cause.  

Or, as Hume would argue, does the fact that the rooster makes a ruckus shortly before the sun rises, mean that the former caused the latter? One will never know.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: OPM and the Law

The Office of Personnel Management is the agency which determines all applications for Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS (or CSRS-Offset).  In making such a determination, a standard of “objectivity” is expected by each and every Federal and Postal employee, in making such a determination.  

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) applies a set of criteria as determined by statute and further expanded upon by the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  The entirety of “the Law” which governs and guides the eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits is thus based upon a patchwork of legal holdings, statutory language, and cases and legal opinions which have “evolved” over the years.  From this patchwork of laws, one expects a “representative” from OPM to apply it fairly, objectively, and without any arbitrariness or capricious intent.  Yet, since the individuals applying “the Law” at OPM — at least at the first and second “Stages” of the process — are not themselves lawyers, how realistic is this?  

Ultimately, legal arguments in persuading OPM to approve a case are best made when they are concurrently explained — explained in their logic, their force of argumentation, and in their applicability to a given issue.  Simply declaring that “the Law” applies will not do; one must sensitively guide OPM to understand the very laws which govern their behavior.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) , located in Washington, D.C., is the agency which makes the decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset.  They are the responsible agency for the first two “stages” of the process of attempting to show eligibility and entitlement to a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  By “stages” is merely meant the initial application stage of the process, as well as the second, “Reconsideration” stage of the process — where a Federal or Postal employee has the right to, within 30 days of an initial denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application, request that his or her case be “reconsidered”, and further have the right to submit any additional medical or other supporting documentation for review and consideration. 

If the case is denied a second time by the Office of Personnel Management, then the Federal or Postal employee who has filed the Federal Disability Retirement application, or the attorney representing the Federal or Postal employee, has a right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  The Office of Personnel Management is taking quite a long time in making a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application, and although they are attempting to get caught up with their workload, the volume of cases filed and received by OPM on a weekly basis has made such an attempt difficult.  As has been stated by this author many times, Patience is a virtue, and as such, Federal and Postal employees must be the most virtuous of all, because patience is what is needed to endure and survive the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire