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 Disability Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Looming Crisis

Whether the Federal government temporarily shuts down, and for how long, is ultimately besides the point; the essence of the problem concerns the long-term viability of government operations, and the ability to sustain benefits promised, or to refine and reform, to what extent, and in what manner.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the medical and work challenges already faced have created an unstable atmosphere, and so the potential looming crisis is merely a further problem to be dealt with.

The fact that the Federal government is unable to agree upon a budget process which has been impending for quite some time, is just another testament to the cold and indifferent attitude of a bureaucracy which fails to account for the daily needs of its citizens.  There have been government shutdowns in the past; and there will be more in the future.

For the Federal and Postal employee, what impact will be felt as a result of the contentious legislative process, will have to be seen.  In the meantime, however, what the Federal and Postal employee must do is to pursue the process, regardless of what Washington does, in order to stand in the proverbial line of the Federal bureaucracy, hoping for a favorable outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Looming Government Shutdown

Whether or not there comes to fruition the possibility of a government “shutdown”, partial, and to what extent, etc., the underlying reverberations result in the anxiety it causes to thousands of Federal and Postal workers, both Federal Disability Retirement annuitants and to the applicants who are awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management.  

Those who are receiving an annuity will likely be unaffected, for the wheels of bureaucracy should continue to issue the annuity checks and electronic deposits.  Those awaiting a decision from the Office of Personnel Management will likely experience a longer wait — a wait on top of the already unbearable timeframe which the Office of Personnel Management is subjecting the applicants of a Federal Disability Retirement.  

Ultimately, it is a preposterous situation where those who are blameless in the matter (the hardworking Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS) will be the very ones who will be subjected to the consequences of looming budget crisis. Certainly, the current budgetary growth trend is unsustainable (that is not an arguable point); but annuitants of a Federal Disability Retirement under either FERS or CSRS do not appreciably contribute to the budget deficit.  Many go on to other jobs and careers and pay taxes, precisely because Federal Disability Retirement allows for a Federal or Postal worker to go out and earn another income from another job.  However, as with so many events in life, it is those who are least responsible who must bear the brunt of a crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: During the Lengthy Process

During the “waiting time” of the lengthy process in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to begin the secondary process of preparing for the next “phase” of one’s life.  

Many Federal and Postal workers unfortunately view the waiting period — that period when one’s Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, and is waiting for a determination by a Case worker at the Office of Personnel Management — as a time where everything is on “hold” because the lack of a determinative decision results in a paralysis of an ability to plan for the future.  However, submission to such paralysis would be a mistake, and a misuse of the most valuable resource which one has:  time.  For, ultimately, one must make future plans based upon an assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved.  

This assumption is based upon the factual underpinnings of the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself:  it was filed with the support of a doctor; the Federal or Postal worker is unable to continue in his or her job; the medical condition is expected to last a minimum of 12 months.  If all three of these basic criteria are met, then one must proceed with the assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will ultimately be approved.  

Based upon the foregoing, the time of waiting should be spent — not in anxious despair and despondency because of the wait — but rather, in preparing for the future.  To allow for those things which one has no control over to control one’s life would be a foolish endeavor.  OPM will ultimately make a decision, and whether at the First Stage of the Process, the Reconsideration Stage, or before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board, one should be preparing for the next phase of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: OPM, Authority & Rights

The decision-making process in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is placed into the hands of an administrative agency known as “The Office of Personnel Management“.  

OPM, as the acronym which the agency is known by, is the administrative bureaucracy which makes a determination on each individual Federal Disability Retirement application, after reviewing the submitted medical records, Statement of Disability as formulated and presented by the Applicant and his or her Attorney; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation — in other words, the full compendium of the evidence, based upon a legal standard which is low on the totem pole of legal standards — that of “Preponderance of the Evidence“.  

It is helpful to understand that the Office of Personnel Management is merely following the statutory procedures as created and mandated by law:  OPM, as the first-line administrative agency, must make an initial determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, not because they want to, desire to, like to, etc. — but because they are the designated entity set up to do so.  They have the “authority” under statutory mandate to make a determination of eligibility at the “First Stage” of the process, as well as at the “Second Stage” (the stage often known as the “Reconsideration Stage”) of the process.  

As an inverse matter, however, the individual Federal or Postal applicant has the “right” to dispute any negative determination made by the Office of Personnel Management at either of the first two stages of the process.  

It is important to distinguish between the conceptual differences and distinctions between “Authority”, “Rights”, and the use of the term “right” as in “right or wrong”.  OPM has the authority to make an eligibility determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application because they are statutorily mandated to do so; the individual Federal or Postal employee has the right to appeal such a decision; the fact that OPM may have the right to deny a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS does not mean that they are “right” in doing so; they merely have a statutory authority, and nothing more.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire