OPM Disability Retirement: Tidbits

The term itself is an interesting one; for, unlike its corollary, it refers to the “choice” or “pleasing” morsel of food, as opposed to “leftovers” or “crumbs”, which imply food which has either been rejected or left behind after the table sitter has made the prime decision.  “Tidbits” in its secondary meaning, of course, implies information; the conceptual applicability has transferred from one within the exclusive context of foods, to include information, facts, statements, etc.

Thus, a tidbit:  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to understand and recognize that, while most mistakes in the preparation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application are “correctable” (what an ugly word — both in appearance and in phonetic structure), what one cannot do is to put “blinders” on the eyes of OPM or before an Administrative Judge, once certain information has been submitted to OPM.

Thus, if an individual wants to attempt the First Stage of the administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement on his or her own, without the assistance of an OPM Disability Attorney, thinking that it is an “easy” case, that is all well and good, but while the tools of representation for an attorney include use of the malleability of language, such that “linguistic gymnastics” will be engaged in as the primary sport of the attorney; nevertheless, elasticity of language does have its limits.

Facts, once exposed, can be explained and amended, but the essence of the fact or statement remains in the hands of OPM.  This constitutes and comprises the tidbit of the day; a choice and pleasing morsel?  Perhaps not in consequential substance, but hopefully in terms of informational relevance.  Ah, but to have been offered instead a morsel of apple pie!

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Discretionary Selectivity

Having the discretion to do X can have two possible meanings:  One has the power or authority to choose to make decisions; or, alternatively, one has the ability to do X, as in having the judgment and talent to discern in order to selectively choose, refrain to act upon, etc.  The two are not necessarily possessed by one and the same; i.e., the fact that a person has the power or authority to do X does not mean that such a person should, or competently could, assert such power or authority to act.

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 important for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to recognize that while he/she as the potential applicant, has the “discretion” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is often unwise to be both the subject of the application, concurrently with being the object of the application, and as such, the highest recognition of discretionary selectivity is to recognize the inability to assert sound discretionary judgment, and to delegate the (applying second meaning of the concept of “discretion”) act to someone else; or, at the very least, to ask for assistance in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In most issues of life, to be both the subject (the applicant filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits) as well as the object (the person of whom the application itself is the primary focus of discussion in a Federal Disability Retirement application) presents a difficulty and obstacle, if only because the one suffering from a medical condition is hardly the most objective person to be describing and communicating the essence of the medical condition and its impact upon the subject of the object.

Discretionary selectivity requires the ability to approach issues in an objective manner; but when the subject (the pervasive “I”) becomes inseparable from the central focus of discussion (the “thou” or “him/her”), it is often a good idea to delegate the vehicle of communication.  This is not a matter of split personalities; it is a practical approach in order to “how” best be effective in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: When a Mistake is Made

Mistakes made in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, are usually correctable, and for a number of reasons:  most mistakes merely require additional clarifications; some “mistakes” are only apparently so, but substantively valid otherwise; and ancillary mistakes of an innocuous nature can reflect the inconsistencies of reality, as opposed to a direct contradiction between two or more persons.

While blinders cannot be placed upon the Case Worker at the Office of Personnel Management once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted, nor does it usually require such drastic measures.

The question to be asked, of course, is whether or not the alleged “mistake” should be addressed, to what extent, and how prominently?  For, the old Shakespearean adage that “thou protesteth too much” can apply in a Federal Disability Retirement application, where too much emphasis upon a particular issue can unduly magnify the issue itself, as opposed to dealing with the issue in a passing manner.

Thus, a statement made in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, or by a treating doctor, which indicates an undermining of meeting the legal criteria of eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application, should probably be addressed.

A direct statement made in a Supervisor’s Statement may or may not be relevant.  Often, such statements are merely opinions meant to undermine a Federal Disability Retirement application, but whether it is worth addressing is a discretionary issue.  The real issue concerning discrepancies or mistakes have to do with who is making it into a loud noise; and the one who makes the loudest noise, is often the one who attracts the greatest attention.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Reluctance through Negation

Making mistakes is part of the entire process of going through life; receiving advice and proper counsel helps to mitigate such mistakes; the distinction between “advice” and “information” is not merely a conceptual difference, but a pragmatic one which impacts one’s actions, thoughts, and application of thoughts to actions.  

“Going it alone” in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is no longer the only viable option; there is much information “out there” on the internet, and other publication resources are available; but as has been written about previously, there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “information” and “knowledge”, where the former is merely a compilation of facts and perspectives upon those facts, whereas the latter is a filtered compendium of the latter based upon experience, reflection, and considered logical analysis.  

The Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement, who encounters the morass of information and hesitates because of the reluctance to engage in an administrative process, complex though it may be, is making a crucial mistake.  

Most “mistakes” which result in a denial from the Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are correctable.  Such mistakes, however, must be identified, recognized, and addressed in any subsequent appeal, either at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, or in the appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Reluctance to begin or continue the process of preparing, formulating, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management, because of the potential negation through mistakes, while understandable, should not result in failing to file.  

The medical condition should be the determinative factor, as well as the quality of life for the Federal or Postal Worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Making it Easy for OPM

Whether inadvertently or not, an Applicant who has formulated, prepared and filed a Federal Disability Retirement application either under FERS or CSRS will make it easy for the Office of Personnel Management to deny a case.  

Thus, for instance, on the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, where the applicant is asked concerning the status one is in at the agency, if the applicant agrees with the Agency or the Supervisor that the Agency has “accommodated” the individual in his or her employment, then the Office of Personnel Management will often focus selectively upon that answer and argue that, inasmuch as X has stated that the employee has been accommodated, and Y (the employee — you) has agreed with the agency, therefore Y is not eligible or entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits because Y has been accommodated.  

But, as it has been previously stated on multiple occasions, the term “accommodation” is a technical term of art, and if one fails to appreciate the nuances of the term, the applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS can fall into the trap of using the term in a non-technical, general way, and thereby defeat one’s own application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Consequence of Confusion

Often, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, there are “indicators” which are telltale signs as to whether or not something was done or not.  Federal and Postal workers who call in to inquire about the feasibility of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are often vague about certain facts and issues, and understandably so, because things have never been explained properly, or as is more often the case, explained but with mistaken information.  For example:  Federal and Postal workers often confuse OWCP & Department of Labor issues, with issues concerning OPM Disability Retirement.  Such statements as:  “I already filed for Department of Labor disability benefits”, or “I filed a CA ___”, or “I’ve been separated for X number of months” (when in fact he or she has merely been on LWOP with the Agency).  

The problem with confusing the concepts between OWCP benefits and OPM Disability Retirement (and to make it even more confusing, to mix those two with SSDI issues) is that a person may be on OWCP or SSDI for over a year after being separated from Federal Service, and fail to file for OPM Disability Retirement — and forever be foreclosed from doing so because he or she never realized that you must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, independently and separately from OWCP or SSDI.  Read up and study the conceptual distinctions; for, there may be some long-term consequences from such confusions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Correcting a Misconception

I will have to write an article entitled, ten mistakes people make in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Or, better yet, perhaps it would be helpful to point out Ten Things Federal and Postal Employees should do to prepare to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS.  

In either event, in speaking to multiple individuals over the past couple of days, common and recurring misconceptions have arisen, as they inevitably do, and when such mistaken notions concerning FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement benefits — the process, the benefit itself, the legal criteria for eligibility, etc. — it is necessary to immediately correct the mistake.  

Often, the mistaken idea comes in the form of, “I read somewhere that…”  Now, assuming that the mis-statement was not read on my website or in any of my related articles; and assuming that, even if it were read by something I had written, but had instead been mis-interpreted or somehow taken out of context, the only way in which to clarify or otherwise “correct the record” is to repetitively and incessantly state and restate the correct law concerning the matter.  The point of mistaken conceptual confusion was: That in order to file for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, one has to be separated from Federal service.  That is simply untrue.  In fact, for obvious economic reasons, most people continue to try and work while awaiting the approval of his or her Federal Disability Retirement application.  Furthermore, if one is separated from Federal Service, he or she has only up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, from the time of separation.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire