FERS Disability Retirement: Preparing for the unknown

How does one prepare for the unknown?  If the very basis of preparation is to prepare for something, how can you then engage in that activity if X is an anomaly, a conundrum, a mystery yet to be uncovered and revealed such that the prior stage of preparing for it can be accomplished?  Is there a necessity for the pre-preparation stage?  Does one have to prepare in order to prepare to perform the actual act of engaging the substance of that which must be prepared for?

Certainly, learning about a subject — reading, researching, analyzing and evaluating — prior to performing acts which constitute “preparation” is an important component, but how many people have time to do such things?

Nowadays, if a person is asked whether they can “do X”, we just whip out our Smartphone, Google it and watch a You-Tube video and declare, “Yeah, I can do that.”  Is that what self-appointed lawyers do, these days — winging it by quickly reading some summarization of an article, then head into court and stand before a judge and make motions, argue cases, etc.?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may well become a necessity.

It is the “preparing” part of the entire process which may be the lynchpin of success or failure.  Yes, you can read various articles (including this writer’s many pointers, legal articles and the like), but always understand that each case is unique — as is yours — and legal guidance based upon the individual circumstances of a particular case is very important in preparing for the unknown.

The “unknown” is the Federal Disability Retirement process, the administrative venue and the bureaucratic morass that encompasses the entirety of Federal Disability Retirement Law, and while no lawyer should contend that he or she knows “everything” about a subject, an experienced lawyer can certainly provide for valuable “pre-preparation”, as well as the preparation and the substantive work on formulating and finalizing that which is yet unknown, but ready to be revealed, uncovered, and refined into a Federal Disability Retirement application that stands a good chance of challenging the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: The Kettle’s Whistle

Why do we invent such irritating devices?  When the jarring whistle of the kettle’s boil screeches to gain our attention, is it precisely for that reason — in order to remind us that there is water boiling, that a fire or burner is causing it, and that you cannot just leave it like allowing for the needle on a record-player to turn endlessly upon a music-less disc with soft scratches upon a rotation that is going nowhere (ah, those days when music was truly enjoyed!).

Are noises created to always reflect the reality of its source?  Does the sound of the waives match the soft lapping of the ocean’s beauty, just as the raging storm’s fury mirrors the torrent of rain and thunder?  When first a child hears the sound of a distant train, and only later sees the monstrosity that forms the engine and the caboose, does he or she reflect, “Well, that certainly didn’t turn out to be what I thought” —? Similarly, does pain match the warning of a body’s injury?  Does a voice that sounds purring parallel the gruffness of a wrestler’s weight?

If the kettle’s whistle is meant to irritate and to alarm, it is doing its job; and the kettle that fails to so whistle is one that has lost its purpose and utility, even though it still boils as well as the next one purchased in replacement of the one which lost its capacity to irritate.

Medical conditions are like that, as well — of the capacity to alarm, to trigger warnings, to possess a reason thereof.  We resist it; of the voice that says that change needs to be forthcoming.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal job, it may be that the kettle’s whistle is warning of an impending need — of a change.

Getting up, taking the kettle off of the burner and stopping the whistle is akin to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS: For, in the end, the kettle’s whistle is merely the warning we needed, prompting us to act when all around us are indicators that what once was can no longer be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Promising Beginning

We look upon with sadness that which once was, and remorsefully retro-fit what could have been despite that which never was meant to be.

The promising beginning is the one that originated with fullness of hope and expectations; then, there is a “middle ground” — a point where paths diverge and perhaps the critical juncture where success, failure, or something in-between presents itself; and then the journey continues for some time until a point is reached where retrospective regrets may begin to develop, and we think to ourselves: Ah, what a promising beginning, but….  It is, of course, the “but” that pauses and the silence which follows that tells us all the rest of the story; of the wrong path taken, the promise left unfulfilled and the caravan of decisions left undiminished.  But from whose perspective?

Perhaps there were interruptions — of relational interests that took some focus away, or a boredom which set in to detract from the singularity of focus which was required; but such decisions may have merely moderated that “promising beginning” that was never meant to be.  And of those issues where one had no control over — such as a medical condition that reminded one that, while careers are important for a time, one’s health should always be a priority, no matter the time or circumstances.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, and where the once “promising beginning” seemingly has stalled or stopped completely because of the medical condition, it may be time to shed one’s self of false expectations and unrealistic values, and to look to the future by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Not all beginnings are meant to have an ending as promised, and in any event, remember that the only promise that needs keeping is the one that allows for an ending of hope, where expectations include the priority of one’s health and the necessity for change when change is required.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Nonsense confiscates meaning

It obviates and nullifies it; often, it will make impotent that which once maintained vibrancy and efficacy.  That is where Orwell misconstrued the power of nonsense; for, in his classic novel, 1984, the scene which discussed the production of the newest edition of allowable Newspeak words and the reduction and elimination of certain concepts — he failed to realize that it is the greater dissemination and wide volume of words which undermines meaning, and not the other way around.

By exponentially adding — by quantitative overload — to language, we undermine the precision of language and thereby create a chaos of nonsense; and the result is that nonsense confiscates meaning.  Have you ever come across a person who takes a paragraph to convey the meaning of a single word?

By contrast, when you meet an individual who so succinctly states an idea and, with the sword of a sharp sentence, can slash a page to within a tidbit of profundity, you realize the benefit of brilliance over the darkness of ignorance.  Succinctness, precision, concise conceptual bundles — they are all important in conveying proper meaning; and “meaningfulness” is what persuades, while nonsense confounds and makes a conundrum of that which should be a vehicle of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Applicant’s Statement of DisabilitySF 3112A — is the vehicle by which “meaning” is delivered.

Do not get sidetracked with the nonsense of too much explanation; and an overly abundant profusion of nonsense may in fact harm one’s case.  A balance between the short “bullet-point” approach and a meandering diatribe against one’s agency needs to be pinpointed.  Do not let nonsense confiscate meaning, thereby undermining the ultimate goal of a Federal Disability Retirement application: To obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The words we never use

Are they like scraps of papers left in one’s back pocket, or in the vast chasms of oversized purses that seemingly have no bottom and certainly reveal no corners?  Do we keep them in our wallets, reserve them for special occasions, or otherwise allow them to float in the ethereal universe of unclaimed inventions?  Is there a Lost-and-Found Section within an agency entitled, “U.S. Department of Words” (or, should there be) that deals exclusively with ones that are never used?  And in a pragmatic society where utility is the key for relevance, applicability, value and worth, is there any sense to pointing out that which is never used, never recalled, rarely regurgitated and almost certainly never thought of even in the privacy of soliloquies left unstated?

The words we never use can be categorized into: A. Ones we’ve never learned about nor looked up, B. Ones we once knew when once we were serious-minded students who diligently looked up every word we knew not the definition of because we wanted to better ourselves, sound more intelligent and appear with greater utterances of sophistication at cocktail parties we were never invited to — therefore, we once looked them up, memorized them, tried to use them in sentences, and then promptly forgot them, or C. Ones we never came across, have now no interest in using them because we have become old and lazy.

There is a fourth possibility — that we “know” them but “fear” that the mere utterance of them will make a nightmare of a reality we want to avoid.  “Divorce” is one such word for kids who watch their parents fight, and wonder about their own security in the universe of unstable families; “Chronic” or “intractable” are two others — for those with medical conditions who do not want to hear their doctors talk about the consequences of certain disabilities which have developed over the past couple of years.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where such medical conditions have now come to the point of being chronic and intractable, and thus prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in his or her career with the Federal government, it is time to consider another set of words which were previously never used: Federal Disability Retirement.

Avoiding the use of words will not undo the reality surrounding the conceptual paradigms encountered; and procrastinating the thought, initiation or formulation of an effective FERS Disability Retirement application will not make such words go away; they will remain, even if they are words which we never wanted to use.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Formulating the argument

How does one formulate “the argument”?  Is it merely a reaction that comes naturally, like the person who has been tagged as one who is “constantly argumentative”?  Do all arguments need to provide a foundation of rational discourse — of coherence within an invective of counter-statements, and structure countermanding a deterioration of civility?

For example, when a person begins to answer the questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS — does one pause, consider the various answers that may be provided, and establish a methodology in proceeding to satisfy the question? Does the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits consider first the consequences of one’s answers, and do you weave throughout a thoughtful argument for an approval?  Or, should the “argument” be filed via a separate Legal Memorandum, pointing out the relevant laws, citing the statues and quoting from various cases that have previously addressed the issues posed?

Most people who file for FERS Medical Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management fail to consider the preemptive arguments that should be made within the answers to questions posed on SF 3112A, and thus are denied at the First Stage of the process because the applicant thought that a simple question asked required a similarly-simple answer as requested.

Then, of course, when the Initial Denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received through the mail, the Second Stage of the process — the “Reconsideration Stage” — merits further formulation of legal arguments.  At whatever “stage” you are at — whether at the First and Initial Stage; the second, “Reconsideration” Stage; or even at the Third Stage, an Appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — formulating a coherent, cogent and rational argument that persuades OPM to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application is an important component in a winning FERS Medical Retirement application.

Remember — to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not like having an argument with a friend or spouse; it is an argument which must be based upon facts, evidence, and legal precedents, and to have the best “shot” at it requires the hand of an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Standard of incompatibility

How does one “prove” a standard of “incompatibility”?

Physical injuries often allow for a medical opinion to impose certain restrictions:  No lifting more than X-pounds; no standing more than 2 hours within an 8-hour period, etc.  These, then, can directly “prove” that a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by comparing such restrictions as against the positional requirements of a given job, and “showing” that the standard required can no longer be met.

The “other” cousin of the standard, as reiterated by cases represented by Henderson v. OPM and related precedents, allow for a “different” type of proof, where one may show that there is a general incompatibility between the entirety of one’s position and the medical conditions one suffers from.

It might be argued that such a standard is more “nebulous” and “harder to prove”, but in fact, the opposite is often true: specificity on a 1-to-1 ratio between a given medical condition or symptom and an element of one’s positional duties no longer becomes necessary.  Rather, a general showing of incompatibility between the “type” of job and the “nature” of a medical condition is enough to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement.

The trick, of course, lies in the manner of “proving” it, but it should be of some comfort to Federal and Postal employees that there is another type of standard beyond the 1-to-1 ratio standard that applies generally for “physical” duties; for, in the end, many psychiatric conditions can only meet the “incompatibility” standard, although some specificity of inability to perform a particular function of the job may be present as well.

To meet either standard is a burden of proof that must be shown by the appellant in all OPM Disability Retirement cases; to understand, apply and satisfy such standards, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Presumptuous Act

What would we say about a person who, having bought a lottery ticket, goes out and spends lavishly, quits his job and becomes indebted far beyond his means — all prior to the day when the “winning numbers” are declared?  We would consider that he or she is: Crazy; irresponsible; or, perhaps, has some “insider knowledge” that we are not privy to.

Most acts lack a presumptuous intent; many, merely of thoughtless motivations; and rarely but some, of such egregiously bold-faced assault upon common decency that we disbelieve and attempt to substitute some rationally-based justification to explain away the presumptuousness of such an act.  Would our opinion of such a person — the one who buys a lottery ticket, then quits his or her job and proceeds to spend lavishly while abandoning all “reasonable” displays of conventional wisdom — change if additional facts were to be posited?

How about: The doctor has given him 30 days to live, and when we ask the person about the lottery ticket, the response is: “Oh, I don’t expect to win; it is just a metaphor for my life’s prognosis”.  Would such a response change our opinion; for, no longer is the person “crazy”; perhaps somewhat “irresponsible” in that the debts left behind will still have to be paid by someone; but yes, we would likely lean towards the third option in our thought processes: that the “insider knowledge” was the very private knowledge held close to his or her heart: Mortality suddenly betrays careful living, and abandonment of conventional lifestyles is a natural consequence of having nothing left to lose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer a similar (but perhaps not quite as devastating a scenario) situation like that of the hypothetical individual noted above, the “presumptuous act” that others may deem so may not be so outlandish as one may first assume.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not quite like the example above, but often, some see it as such; for, to “give up” a well-paying job, a reliable career or a secure position in the Federal System is certainly a drastic situation; and the alternative may not allow for much of a choice: To remain and suffer, and continue to deteriorate until one’s body or emotional state has been so damaged as to suffer through life for the rest of one’s allotted time on earth; to ignore that is indeed the height of presumptuousness — of taking things for granted.

Health should be a priority, and preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not a presumptuous act; rather, its opposite is what presumes too much — that your health will continue to withstand the deteriorating condition that you have all along experienced for these many years.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Keep Confidence

There can be a duality of meaning, or perhaps even a tripartite of understanding; for, to “keep confidence” can mean the protective blanket of not sharing information with others and maintaining a “confidentiality” of data; or, it can mean that one maintains a level of confidence — a surety of belief in a successful endeavor.  Or, perhaps even a third meaning which involves both: Maintaining confidentiality while secure in the belief of the endeavor involved, which is to work towards the goals agreed upon and progressing towards that goal, all the while maintaining the confidentiality that is explicitly and implicitly retained.

That is, in a nutshell, what an attorney-client relationship should be and continue to remain.  Thus, from the moment of an initial telephone consultation, the confidence that is kept should be twofold: Security of privacy so that the discussion can be forthright and without reservation; and, if the case is to go forward, the confidence in its eventual success.  Both components are essential for the successful outcome of an endeavor that may, at least initially, have some characteristics of trepidation and uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the issue of confidentiality is exponentially magnified because of multiple elements that work against the Federal or Postal employee: An agency’s Human Resource Department that is known to “share” sensitive information; a decidedly weighted bias in favor of “management” or those in superior positions; medical issues that should be divulged only to those in strictly “must know” positions; and an extremely sensitive decision on the part of the Federal or Postal employee on matters of health, employment and one’s future.

Containment of confidences is important; keeping confidence in both senses becomes vital; and one thing that the potential client can be assured of: Anything spoken to or shared with this attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will always be maintained in order to “keep confidence”, in whatever manner of meaning the phrase may imply or express.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire