Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Adaptable Criterion

If a criterion is advanced at the outset, one expects that the details of its applicability will result in a fair outcome so long as the requisite subsets are adhered to.  The problem is one of generalizations, however, and the linguistic malleability of hermeneutic interpretation, and in the end, the honesty of the individual.

There may have been a time when the sin nature of man was contained, and Pandora’s box was sealed, or at least somewhat secured; but once relativism creeped into the general populace, the game of restraint was lost forever.  Once, when man was left to individualistic devices, and information concerning the world was considered esoteric and reserved for the ivory towers of science and theological hoods of mystery shorn by Jesuit Orders of secrecy and cavernous enclaves of furtive whispers echoing down dark chambers in secluded corners, the application and usage of criteria demanded knowledge beyond the commonplace. Now, with Google and other search engines, everyone knows everything, or nothing at all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the “trick” is to review the legal criteria, amass the information in a manner which fits the applicability for eligibility, then to “make the case” for an approval.

Is it a science?  Or, more precisely, are the regulatory subsets “open to interpretation”?  And more to the point:  Do the Administrative Specialists at OPM adhere to the “letter of the law”, or is hermeneutics less than an honest methodology these days?  Where human nature is concerned, one need not stray too far from the general knowledge of the masses.

If one has lived long enough, you know that you should always walk through the busy streets of a city with one hand on your back pocket, protecting your wallet.  Pickpockets are everywhere, and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the Federal and Postal worker should always be cognizant of the fact that the adaptable criterion is not the fault of the agency or the promulgators of legal standards, but merely reflects the fact that Pandora’s box was left open long ago, and the serpents of horror and dishonesty were left to roam the earth like never before.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Attorney: The Cauldron of One’s Past

The oversized iron pot hangs over the open fire, and the gurgling of ingredients steams and burps the lid in predictable sequences of rhythmic timing; the aroma is an admixture of sweet and mysterious combinations of one knows-not-what; perhaps of bones, marrow and herbs, here a whiff of something which touches upon the dark recesses of one’s memory, and there a hint of harboring horrors, reminding us of past deeds and loathsome reminiscences.

The figure who stands hunched over the source of pervading uprisings, is covered in a dark shawl; a bony hand gripping the large wooden ladle, mixing, turning, crouching over to sniff and taste; and from the chasm of the figure’s hollow mouth, toothless and echoing a chamber of snorting chafes, the sigh of satisfaction emits, as the cauldron of one’s past is ready to be served.  And so the story goes.

Who among us would want the fullness of one’s past and history of deeds to be revealed?  What pot would hold the full taste of one’s misdeeds, private concerns and actions engaged?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the process itself sometimes feels like one is forced to partake of a witch’s brew — who will be in the mix?  What private information will have to be revealed?  When will the pot of information be ready?  Who will mix the ingredients?  The mysteries contained within the mixture of the witch’s brew is indeed terrifying.  Every process which is unknown and, moreover, unknowable, is one fraught with concerns and trepidation of purpose.

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is like the witch’s cauldron — it must bring to the fore one’s current circumstances (the medical condition), the impact upon the future (finances, future job prospects, etc.), and potentially the confrontation with one’s past (agencies love to do that).

The key is to understand the complexities of the administrative process, and to maneuver through the bureaucracy of the witch’s brew.  In doing that, one must always be cognizant of the cauldron of one’s past, and keep out of the reach and grasp of those bony fingers which reach out to encircle one’s throat, lest you become an ingredient in the admixture of the skeletons found at the bottom of the pot.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Law: The Fatigue of Profundity & Requirement of Repetition

Profundity is overvalued.  With the advent of the internet and information technology, the widespread dissemination of seemingly esoteric array of knowledge and know-how (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two), everyone is vying for the heard voice, and the break-out from the herd.  One becomes easily fatigued by seemingly deep insights, or “new” data and facts upon otherwise mundane concerns.

Repetition is considered as a trait of boredom; but the longer one lives, the more one recognizes that there is truly little new under the sun, and the apparent newness of X is merely a regurgitation of the old Y of yore.   But repetition does have its own uniqueness of value, and inherent strength of significance.  For, often, a person who turns the same corner as thousands, and tens of thousands before, may be encountering the next block for the first time, and what those before him or her did has little to no significance to the epistemologically privileged experience for that singularity of uniqueness.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the knowledge that many, many Federal and Postal employees before were able to file for, and get approved, Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so long as one is under either FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the comfort of which one may partake rests in the fact that one is not alone; yet, it is not purely a “repetition” of sameness but a genus of similarity; for, as each medical condition and every circumstance reveals a uniqueness which must be dealt with individually, so each Federal Disability Retirement case must be handled with care.

At the same time, however, it is of value to recognize that repetition of relevant laws, statutes and regulations, cited in the ordinary course of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, is necessary for success in obtaining the benefit.

From the standpoint of OPM, the fatigue of profundity comes in failing to view a particular case with “new eyes”; from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the first time, it is the inability to recognize the requirement of repetition which often results in an ineffectual formulation of one’s case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Long Goodbye

The relegation to the basement office; the loss of niceties with coworkers; the negation of superlatives from higher ups; the clues become overt, blatant and uninviting.  Long goodbyes are often fertile ground for the souring of relationships forged over decades, and human interactions which reveal a perversity once thought uncommon.  Does the past count for anything, anymore?

Medical conditions and their impact are meant to evoke empathetic responses; instead, they often bring out the worst in humanity.  For Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, they portend of headaches and interruption of efficiency; they are a bother.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the growing absences, the need to attend to one’s medical conditions — all become the priority of life and living.

From the agency’s viewpoint, it is a malignancy of logistical magnitude; another problem to be solved; and the longer the goodbye, the greater the extenuating interruption.  It is this clash of interests which calls for resolution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an indicator to the agency that there is an end in sight, and once filed, it is merely a waiting game before finality of decisions is reached.  Often, the mere filing relieves the increasing pressure felt, like the encasement of boiling water which needs an outlet.

Medical conditions often require a long journey of sorts; it is the long goodbye which makes it all the more evident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire