FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Carousels of Summer

The mounts littered throughout the roundabout can be diverse and captivating; in the swirl of the rotating platform, the child in us wants to sit upon every creature, from unicorns to zebras, the traditional horse and the mythological creatures of one’s limitless imagination.

As we grow older, we come to realize that the spinning sensation itself remains static; the difference between climbing into the bosom of one creature as opposed to another, is indistinct and ultimately irrelevant; when one’s childlike imagination and excitement wrought in ignorance of the cruel world becomes extinguished, the fun of being naive and clueless is no longer an option.  Cynicism comes with maturity; the older we get, the less likely are we to allow ourselves to travel into the realm of the unreal.  Life tends to do that to us.

The road of hard knocks is littered with tales of turmoil and turbulence; storms come and go, and while the devastation left behind can be somewhat repaired, the psyche and soul of damaged people can rarely be glued back together, as fragile porcelain leaving behind fissures wide and gaping as the childlike wonderment we once knew.

Federal and Postal employees know the experiences of life:  the internal battles, the power struggles and the herd-like mentality of agencies and departments.  Then, when a medical condition hits, and the Federal or Postal employee is no longer the golden-boy of past cliques, one is cast aside like the child who is left outside of the teams picked in linear sequence, until the silence of being ignored becomes a reality as shame and embarrassment shouts in muted suffering.  Sometimes, the wisest move is to move on.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the best and only option remaining.  To attempt to stay is like the biblical admonition of “kicking against the goads“; to walk away and do nothing is merely to spite one’s self; and so the Federal or Postal employee who has a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, should always opt for the best remaining alternative.

To prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is ultimately not an admission of defeat.  Rather, it is to enliven that imagination once grasped, but since forgotten; of the child who discovered that changing from the seat of a dragon on a carousel to the bosom of a resplendent unicorn makes all the difference not in the change itself, but within the comfort of the limitless imagination of one’s mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Mental Health, Stress and First Steps

Disquietude is a negation of a former state of being.  Perhaps it is merely a retrospective re-characterization or romanticization of a time or status that never was; or, maybe even a partial remembrance of a slice of one’s life measured as a fullness in comparison to what is occurring in the present.

Regardless (as opposed to the nonsensical, double-negative modern vernacular of “irregardless”), to have a sense of disquietude implies of a former time, event, or state which had a greater positive light than the present one.

And it is in this context that the Federal or Postal Worker who begins to contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is living in California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota or Texas (have we effectively zig-zagged a sufficiency of states in order to make the point, yet, or perhaps we need to include Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin in order to make the point), that one must understand the greater bureaucratic involvement which one needs to undertake before engaging the complexity of the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

First, it is a Federal issue, and therefore, it will be unlikely that one will find, for example, a Florida Federal Disability attorney, or an Oregon, Kentucky or Louisiana Federal Disability lawyer; for, it matters not whether or not the lawyer lives in, or is licensed in a particular state, precisely because this is a Federal issue, and not a state issue.

Second, Mental Health issues — aside from being a valid and viable basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application — can either stand alone, or be in combination with a physical disability (isn’t it interesting how we bifurcate “mental” as opposed to “physical”, whereas both are part of the same physiological state of a person?).  Sometimes, mental health issues stand alone; other times, they can be concurrent medical conditions, or secondary ones.

Third, stress is a basis for a Mental Disability Retirement claim, although it must be properly and carefully approached because of issues concerning situational disabilities.

And Fourth, how one approaches the first steps in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, will often determine the success or failure of the disability case.

Overall, it is the plan itself, the cogency of the approach, and the gathering of the proper documentation, which will determine the efficacy of those first steps, and whether the stress, mental and physical health of one’s being, will be relieved as a result of filing for a Federal Disability claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Representation Is Not Limited

When calls of a repetitive nature occur, it is time to provide some clarification.  Often, from the very nature of a question, it becomes clear that some extent of confusion or puzzlement underlies the very question itself.

For “Federal matters” — i.e., in cases where representation by an attorney occurs before a Federal administrative body, such as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C., which is the Federal Agency which receives, evaluates, and determines all Federal Disability Retirement applications for Federal and Postal employees who are under FERS or CSRS — the attorney who represents the Federal or Postal employee can be licensed from a state which is different from the state in which the Federal or Postal employee resides.

This is why it is not necessary for the Federal or Postal employee who lives in, for example, the State of Arizona, to be represented by an attorney licensed in Arizona, for representation before the Office of Personnel Management.  Indeed, because Federal Disability Retirement Law is a very particularized field, it may simply be impractical to find a “local” attorney to represent the Federal or Postal employee in the very state in which the Federal or Postal employee resides.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, not a State issue, and as such, national representation is accordingly performed by those who engage in such practice of law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Attorney Clarifications

In obtaining an attorney to represent a Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for FERS or CSRS employees, various questions will often occur, which result in different answers from most other inquires concerning legal matters not related to Federal Disability Retirement issues.  For most legal matters, localization and jurisdictional limitation is the standard rule.  

Thus, where a tort occurs, or a contract is entered into, such issues will often constitute a “state” issue, and so one must often obtain an attorney who is licensed to practice law within the state that the issues arises.  However, because preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a “Federal” issue, an attorney who is licensed in any given state — for instance, the state of Maryland — can represent a Federal or Postal employee who is living and working in any other state.

The question is often asked during an initial inquiry as to whether I have a “local” attorney in a person’s particular state or jurisdiction; the answer is “no”, but I represent Federal and Postal Workers from all across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, etc.  Furthermore, a Federal or Postal employee inquiring about the services of a particular law firm might want to consider whether practicing Federal Disability Retirement law is merely one of multiple types of cases that it handles.  

A lawyer who is a “generalist” and has many hands in multiple pots may not have the same focus as one who specializes in practicing a specific type of law — that of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Just a thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Workplace (Part 2)

In filing for FERS or CSRS Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the Office of Personnel Management, it is important to stay away from issues which may explicitly or implicitly characterize the particular medical condition as being “situational” in nature.  However, this does not mean that the medical condition cannot have originated from, or been exacerbated by, the workplace environment.  Remember that OPM disability retirement is not like OWCP/Worker’s Comp — the issue of causality, or whether the medical condition occurred as a result of your occupation, is not important to prove. 

However, sometimes, it is simply an indisputable fact that the medical condition originated from the workplace, or was exacerbated by conditions in the workplace.  Such origination or exacerbations, once it takes on a “life of its own” and becomes chronic and pervasive such that the medical condition impacts a person both at the workplace as well as outside the workplace, then it has transformed into a medical condition beyond being merely “situational”.  Thus, that which originated as a “situational” medical condition may well no longer be a situational one.  In such cases — and that is normally the case in almost all medical conditions which begin as a situational disability — there would be no problem with filing for OPM disability retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Pre and Post

Issues revolving around the initial application stage, during the application stage, and after the approval, are often of equal importance.  This is because the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS will ensure the financial and economic survival and viability of the Federal or Postal employee.  Thus, in the pre-approval stage of the process, it is often good to engage in some future planning:  How hard will I fight for Social Security Disability?  Will I be getting a part-time job to supplement my income?  Where will I live?  During the process of obtaining disability retirement, there is the long wait, and the ability to remain financially afloat while receiving little or no financial support.  Post-approval, there are issues of the potential for receiving a Medical Questionnaire from the Office of Personnel Management.  Whether the current doctor will continue to be supportive, or will I move and need to find another doctor?  Because getting Federal disability retirement benefits is a life-long process, it is important to get sound legal advice from a competent attorney throughout the process — pre, during, and post process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire