FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Striving for an Unobtrusive Life of Quietude

When first entering the adversarial universe of trial lawyers, a kindly but seasoned opposition who easily made foolish mincemeat out of the flustered composite of inexperience and youthful exuberance, but later approached to compliment the young whippersnapper to give some sagely advice: “You have a yellow pad. That is good. You kept looking down at it as if it was a security blanket. That is revealing”.

Whenever I see a man with a roadmap, and it is my job to disrupt the travel route from Point A to Point Z, it makes my job easier to make the opposition take some circuitous routes to force the journeying adversary onto more interesting pathways, to make him take in the sights and travel in a zig-zag manner, rather than in the straight line he desires to take. Point taken.

Revealing too much can have the negative effect of allowing the opposition to know one’s travel route; and if the purpose of one’s mission is to make miserable any goal-tending individual and preventing him or her from attaining a life of unobtrusive quietude (as is often the superficial purpose in life of Supervisors, Managers and other minor dictators who control multiple miniature fiefdoms throughout the Federal and Postal Sectors of employment), then providing an insight into one’s itinerary is like posting a copy of the newly discovered treasure map on Facebook and expecting secrecy because you clicked on a few privacy settings.

It is, indeed, a sad world in which we live; for, if the goal of most is merely to attain an unobtrusive life of quietude, the minimalism of expectation is for each to respect the privacy-space of one another. But perhaps that is asking too much of humanity.

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has interrupted the unobtrusive life of quietude, filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits through one’s agency (if one is not yet separated from Federal Service, or has been but still within 31 days of such separation) is the administrative requirement. If separated for more than 31 days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application needs to be filed directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In either event, of course, all Federal Disability Retirement applications end up at OPM.  But in so doing, timing, the extent of any prefatory information to be revealed to the agency; to whom; for what purpose; and the ultimate question: When? These are all questions and concerns which must be dealt with in a sensitive, thoughtful manner, and particularized to each situation.

Mapping out a strategy on the proverbial yellow pad is an intelligent approach to take; providing a copy of what one has prepared, to whom, when, and to what extent, will determine whether one’s journey is an unobtrusive straight line from point A to point B, or a zig-zagging line of confusions beset with multiple points of disquietude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Sequential Propriety

In many societies and cultures which still consider social protocol of applicable importance, correctness and orderly rectitude must be followed in rigorous detail.  It is the process itself which constitutes substantive relevance, and not merely the ritual itself.

Thus, for example, engaging in the details of business dealings prior to enjoying a meal, or bringing up the subject of a disputed issue during a meal or in the presence of family members, may be a violation of such social protocol as to justify irreparable severance of any future business dealings.  Sequence of actions, tested and applied over decades and centuries of norms developed through cultural screens of human institutions guided by sensitivities impacted by trial and error, retain a purpose beyond the mere folly of observable appearances scoffed at by foreigners to the cultural protocol.

For those who are unfamiliar to the importance of such subtleties, a singular breach may invite a fury of cold shoulders resulting from the rudeness of misunderstandings. For the Federal and Postal Worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is something to take note of. Not in the sense of social protocol; rather, in the lessons which can be gleaned from the importance of sequential application.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, it is important to recognize that proper sequence of compiling the evidence and presenting one’s case can be crucial in the successful filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Doing things “out of step’ can result in preemptively harming one’s own OPM Disability Retirement application.

Whether it is like the proverbial gaffes of, for example, “letting the cat out of the bag”, or “speaking out of turn”, one should always take seriously the relevance and importance of social protocol as a cultural phenomena which contains a logical basis, and is not merely a compendium of silly rules garnered to make outsiders uncomfortable; rather, proper sequence and protocol of actions often teaches us that how one performs the process itself is just as important as the end product for which we strive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Art of Argumentation

The Art of Argumentation is a dying form.  Watching any “debate” forum on television or the radio; viewing the Presidential debates; it has become, instead, a time of pontification, where the loudest, most vociferous voices, and those who can filibuster the time, seemingly “wins” the debate.  

For the art itself to be effective, it must be accomplished in a manner where the opponent is unaware of the subtle impact of the argument itself; it needs to be conveyed in a manner of a conversation, where persuasion is mixed within the content of a narrative.  Of course, there are numerous forms of argumentation —  a strict, logical proposition; a legal citation where one argues that the opponent has little to no choice but to abdicate a position because of what a case-law states; but in most instances, the subtleties must be observed because of the obfuscation of the circumstances and the lack of clarity of the law.  

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 to compose one’s argument as a conductor would an orchestra:  the facts, the evidence, and the law must be gathered and coordinated; streamlining should be an inherent part of the process; and the tone and tenor of the various instruments will need to be brought together into a coherent whole.  

No one likes to sit and listen to a screechy violin, no more than to listen to the drone of a tuba.  The art of an argument must bring together all of the instruments into a melodious whole, where the listener — in this case, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is lulled into a state of rapture, to the extent that an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is granted with a smile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Logistics, Strategy and Substantive Paradigm

In any and every endeavor, whether on a large scale or of little consequential impact, a tripartite approach must be devised:  the logistics of the case (the “how” and the mundane mechanics of procedural actions involved); the strategy of it (the methodological plan of action, involving the choice of which issues to prioritize and tackle, etc.), and finally, the substantive paradigm of the case.

It is often the latter which is overlooked, precisely because everyone is always too busy trying to immediately figure out what to do and how to do it.  In a pragmatic sense, the logistical plan and the strategic outlay are crucial in any legal action; as a persuasive foundation for winning, however, devising a substantive paradigm of a case may be the essence of a winning path.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee who encounters the myriad of voluminous standard forms to be filled out, the need to obtain medical reports and records, and to simply survive the morass of administrative and bureaucratic requirements, leaves one merely attempting to stay afloat in the logistical mandates — of trying to satisfy all of the Agency demands and requirements.

Additionally, to even contemplate devising a “strategy” of how to go about proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, one’s Federal Disability Retirement case, becomes an obstacle and a burden, especially when one is having to deal with the medical condition and treatment of that condition concurrently with the stress of trying to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application.

As for the substantive paradigm of a case?  That may be the customary casualty of a Federal Disability Retirement case — that coordination of all issues, of the medical, the position one occupies, the persuasive legal argumentation, in a compendium of interconnected sources, arguing to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management the what, where, why and irrefutable how, in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Legal Sufficiency Test

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, one is required to meet the legal sufficiency of the eligibility criteria as set forth by statute, expanded by regulations and clarified by cases which have come before Administrative Judges at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Whether one meets the legal sufficiency test in the presentation of medical and other supporting evidence, is the area of disputable territory, which is why the entirety of the administrative process has been put in place.  From the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, they are mandated to review each case and make a determination as to legal sufficiency.  Often, however, they are not concerned with, ignore, or otherwise remain oblivious to, the legal standard of proof, of whether the applicable criteria has been met by a standard of “preponderance of the evidence”. Indeed, in many denial letters, they have instead indicated a much high standard of review, including whether the evidence is “compelling”, or whether the medical condition “prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming to work altogether”.  

Unfortunately, the first two (2) stages of the process — the initial application stage, then the Reconsideration Stage — is reviewed by the Office of Personnel Management, with the potential for mis-application of the proper burden of proof.  

Legal sufficiency is not a standard which is applied until it enters into the “legal arena” — that of the Merit Systems Protection Board before an Administrative Judge.  Because of this, it is often a good idea to cite legal opinions in order to “apprise” the Office of Personnel Management of the applicable legal criteria, and to remind them of what extent of evidence meets the legal sufficiency test.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire