FERS Disability Retirement: Life as a Series of Problems

There are television series; of “mini-series”; of a series of movie episodes once popularity of the first viewing has established the call for a following.

In television and theatrical drama, there has to be an opportunity for “character development” — of getting to “know” a person, of seeing him or her in various contexts in order to determine “who” a person is by what they do, how they react and the very essence of their belief-systems.  Rarely is a play, a story or a novel of any interest when it involves a person or multiple individuals sitting around expounding upon their beliefs or “principles” of life, and why is that?  Is it because a person who talks without being tested can offer nothing more than the sound of air?

The movie of life always presents us with a series of problems; that is what makes a good story, of course — of conflicts, their resolution; the way in which individuals are “tested”, and not merely by hypothetical presentations of analytical problem-solving gestures.

Medical conditions — whether later in life or occurring earlier— always present a challenge that tests a person in so many ways, precisely because medical issues hit at the core of everything about a person: How we see ourselves; what we are able to do; where we go and seek guidance and counsel; and all of the multitude of reverberating effects upon so many varied aspects of our lives.

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, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is just one of life’s series of problems.

It is never a guarantee; it is never a “sure thing”; and as OPM appears to be denying more FERS Disability Retirement cases under this Administration than ever before, it is important to prepare and formulate a plan for a Federal Disability Retirement application and to recognize it as another slice of life’s problems in a series of such problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Serendipity

It is a chance or accidental event which turns out to be a momentous, joyful one; and while its occurrence may have been unexpected, it is not unwelcome after the event takes place or reveals itself, precisely because of the joy it brings.  Thus does a serendipitous event surprise us; for, one’s daily experience is that the opposite is true: chance occurrences, accidental events and unexpected moments normally result in negative consequences we want to avoid.

A sudden windfall; an unexpected visit from an old and dear friend; a surprise party held by everyone you actually like; these are all serendipitous events; but of their opposite, we come to expect: bad news about our kids; friends who disappoint; a career that doesn’t turn out to be what it promised; a life that didn’t fulfill the potentiality which others had expected.

So, is it the expectations left unfulfilled or the accidental nature of an occurrence which makes the difference?  For the former — how does one come to assess and judge expectations, of others or from ourselves?  Were they realistic, within reachable goals and planned with achievable milestones?  As to the latter — is it because of the “surprise” nature of a serendipitous event in combination with the joyous outcome that makes it “special”?  For, if it was accidental, but nevertheless expected, would it detract from the momentousness of the event?

Life is full of mundaneness and repetitive monotony, and a serendipitous event is something to hold with special smiles and hearty laughters precisely because of their accidental and unexpected natures; for, its very opposite — of a calamity which may also be accidental or unexpected — occurs often enough.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition turns into the opposite of a serendipitous event by preventing the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management should be carefully considered.

It is a long and complex administrative process, with many and varied bureaucratic pitfalls.  But in the end, when an approval from OPM is obtained, it may be declared a moment of serendipity — of that rare exception to the general rule of life, where misgivings are plentiful and momentous ones a rarity.

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

 

OPM Disability Retirement: This fast-paced world

Even 2 – 3 year olds are seen with Smartphones maneuvering their way through Facebook; and while the old industrial towns where blue collar jobs were once thriving become ghost towns from closure, shut-downs and transference to foreign parts for cheaper wages and greater corporate profits, the once-idyllic panorama of life lived in still-shots of single frames, painted with a single flower wilting in a child’s hands is forever fading into the pastoral beauty of past lives no longer remembered.

This is a fast-paced world; unrelenting; unforgiving; unable to provide a modicum of sympathy.  Those in the thick of it pass everyone by; and while we give lip-service for the need to “reduce stress” and live a more “contemplative” life, the reality is that we have created a machine where no one knows how to turn the switch off, leaving aside trying to slow down the mechanism of this juggernaut called “society”.

Some few thrive on it; most dread the Mondays that follow; and the rest of us merely walk through like zombies and the living dead, mindlessly winding our way through this maze called “life”.  Some few of us are able to laugh it off; fend against the daily stresses; somehow survive the burdens that this fast-paced world places upon us.  We, all of us, are mere beasts of burden, now, caught in the trap of our own making, walking as Camus’ Sisyphus in the unrelenting struggle to push the boulder up the hill only to see it roll back down, and to begin each day anew to push it back up.

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, this fast-paced world may oftentimes appear to have changed gears into hyper-drive.  For, the medical condition merely slows down the individual; the rest of the world, including the Federal Agency or the Postal facility, merely continues on.

No one has time for illness or injury; that is why we must rely upon the available laws that favor one’s particular situation, and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is a pathway towards countering this fast-paced world which leaves so many behind.  Begin by consulting with an attorney who possesses the knowledge to apply the mechanisms already in place to obtain what is by legal right yours — and by doing so, to answer the perennial question of how one slows down in this fast-paced world where even the sick and injured are no longer cared for?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Present who of past what

It is a peculiarly human endeavor: of looking at a photograph (yes, digital nowadays, no doubt), and trying to discern from a present who what the one-dimensional picture says about what we were doing some years past, or maybe a few weeks or even yesterday.  It is the present “who” of one’s identity, trying to extract meaningfulness from a singular snapshot of an emotional freeze, whether of self-conscious “cheese!” declared knowing that the picture was being taken, or of a cold stare that locks out the soul’s essence of what we actually felt, and trying to extrapolate within a 3-dimensional universe the foundation of what had occurred.

We all play that peculiar game, do we not — of standing in the present by the very being of who we identify as ourselves and looking at a photograph of someone whom we can identify as the “I” in the image before us, and then remembering, with the contextual history hidden within, of the past what that depicts the picture present who stands before staring at the past what; while others may be doing the same thing many times over, multiplied exponentially in volumes unimaginable, yet each instance being insularly singular because there may never be a discussion about the present who of past what that no one talks about?

It is akin to having a medical condition, isn’t it — and of continuing to smile, walk about, carry on “normally” and everyone else in their insular universes not knowing about the medical condition you carry about, and the suffering you must endure because of the present who of who you are but of the past what where others see you and judge you as you were, what you were, who you were, while all the while it is the present who of today that has changed and is no longer the past what of who you were?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is preventing the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job and positional duties, that feeling is often familiar and well known — the present who of past what.

Others see you and expect the same; you may even appear to be unchanged, but inside, you know that the present who is no longer of the past what, and that is precisely what must be conveyed in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether as a Federal or Postal employee you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; for it is precisely the present who of past what that is the you of today with the historical context of the past what, but nevertheless needing the present who for a future whom no one but you can know or discern.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Arbitrariness of life

What defines arbitrariness?  Is it when there is a lack of pattern, or does our own input of misunderstanding or lack of comprehension determine the defined formlessness of the world around us?  Is Kant right in his implications – that the “noumenal” world that is outside of our sphere of cognitive input remains unknowable, arbitrary, unfathomable and unreachable, and it is only by the categories of internal psychological structures that we naturally impose upon the world, make sense of it, and “order” it so that we are thus able to comprehend it, that such an understanding between the bifurcated universes of the phenomenal world we comprehend and the noumenal world we can never grasp defines the penultimate concept of that which is arbitrary?

And what of the “arbitrary life” – is it merely that which we do not understand, or is there more to it than that?

Most people live lives that establish a consistent “pattern” of progression.  Thus do old sayings go: “A person is a communist in the morning, a radical in the early afternoon, but if he is not a conservative by nightfall, he has never grown up.”  Or even of the implicit response of the Sphinx: “a man who is four-legged, then two, then three” – implies a systematic progression, then degeneration of sorts; in other words, a pattern of life-cycles.

And we expect a blue-print of what it means to live a “successful” life – of education, work, family and career, where there is a consistent increase in wealth, wisdom and weariness of strangers that continues to expand and grow.  But what if there is an interruption to that “pattern” or “blue-print” that everyone expects?  What if misfortune befalls, bankruptcy is added or divorce, death or even a hurricane and flooding descends upon one’s life – does the unfortunate event suddenly make one’s life an arbitrary one? Or, what about the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must suddenly face a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job – does that make the interruption of life’s constancy suddenly into an ‘arbitrary’ life?

The definition of that which makes X arbitrary is always related to the “randomness” of events; but for human beings, it is indeed the perspective one has and the calm within a storm that influences whether the objective basis of that which is arbitrary is influenced by the subjective approach of a person’s life.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the initial steps in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may determine, objectively, the future course of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, as to whether it was “arbitrarily” compiled or systematically composed.

Like the orchestra that has an off-tune instrument, the symphony created will determine whether one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is a crescendo of progression, or merely a disturbing sound of failure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire