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 Retirement Lawyer: The Recurrent Nightmare

Perhaps it is explicit, of images which repetitively beat the drum of constancy; or, sometimes, despite every effort, one cannot recall the harrowing particulars of a nighttime of eternity filled with dissipation of fear and loathing.

Restorative sleep is lacking; whether from pain, nightmares or paralyzing panic attacks; and the medical designation of insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or psychiatric conditions of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, intrusive nightmares; or perhaps it is much more direct and simple:  pain which prevents getting into a comfortable position in order to drift off into the dreamland of serenity, and where the sharpness compels one to awaken with a scream, only to find that it is the silence of one’s aloneness which permeates the quietude of the voice which no one hears.

The next morning, the profound fatigue and exhaustion, beyond the mere ache of tiredness, with residual cognitive dysfunctions,follows one throughout the day, like a scent of undefinable and unidentifiable aura, always there but never quite connected, either in location, distance or substantive content.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a semblance of such a state of being, it becomes like a recurrent nightmare, and work becomes impacted in so many different ways.

In physical-intensive jobs, in the greater potentiality for mistakes and accidents; in cognitive-focused positions, in analytical miscues and inability to focus and concentrate.  Perhaps it all becomes reflected in one’s performance review, or one becomes placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan” (a PIP); or even be handed an Agency’s Proposed Removal; whatever the cost, for the Federal or Postal worker, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

No, Federal Disability Retirement is not the “be all” and “end all” of solutions; but it is an option which should always be considered when once the recurrent nightmare engulfs the Federal or Postal worker with consequences of adverse actions imposed upon a fragile state of being ready to crack under the weight of a chronic disease or medical condition of such seriousness and sufficiency as to have impacted one’s capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Twilight’s Landing

Sleep is often the category of escape; restorative sleep, a palliative prescription for a medical condition.  Upon closing one’s eyelids, the images which pervade from the day’s stimuli slowly recede as the dark chasm of one’s own consciousness begins to fade, and sleep begins to overtake, leading us into that shadow of twilight’s landing.

It is when chronic pain, discomfort, and the gnawing neurons which fail to relax but continue to send signals of dismay and distress, that the world of wakefulness and the dawn of sleep fail to switch off; or the continuing anxiety, depression or panic attacks control and jolt one into the awareness of darkness.  Medical conditions have an impact not only upon the daytime soul, but in the sleeplessness of non-sleep as well.

For Federal and Postal workers who are formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application and preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A, one aspect of the descriptive narrative which is often overlooked, both by the doctor as well as the Federal or Postal applicant, is the role that profound fatigue plays upon performing the essential elements of one’s job.  While often implicitly stated or otherwise inferentially contained, explicit extrapolation is important in order to convey all of the elements of one’s medical condition and their impact upon the Federal or Postal employee’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Perhaps one was reprimanded or suspended for “sleeping on the job”.  Was it mere laziness, or was the underlying medical condition the intermediate cause of an act or event otherwise seen as an insubordinate statement of defiance?  Reasons and rationales provided make all the difference in this very human universe of language games and counter-games.  For, in order to effectively submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the important thing is to make sure and sufficiently describe and delineate the primary and secondary causes of one’s underlying medical conditions. This includes the inability to have restorative sleep, the profound and intractable fatigue one experiences, impacting upon one’s daily cognitive functions, etc.

Otherwise, the medical conditions are not adequately conveyed, and when one goes back to sleep in attempting to reach that twilight’s landing, the difficulties of the world will be magnified by another potential problem — a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Restorative Measures

Sleep obviously has an evolutionary purpose.  Anxiety, stress, negative thoughts and perspectives; aggressive behavior, combativeness (otherwise known to spouses as “being grumpy”); inability to maintain one’s focus, concentration, attention to detail; all of these, and much more, can often be ameliorated by a good night’s sleep.

Stress is the overarching component which becomes exacerbated by lack of sleep; it feeds upon all other aspects of the human body, by impacting physical endurance and stamina, by increasing one’s cognitive dysfunctions and capacity to process the quantitative and qualitative amassing of information; and it is thus the vicious cycle of lack-of-sleep leading to greater-stress resulting in increased inability to attain a state-of-restorative sleep. Throughout, stress can be the invisible thread which ties the binds of cyclical ruination and self-destruction.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition has impacted one’s ability to maintain a continuity of restorative sleep, consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency if one is still employed or not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, or filed directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management if separation has already occurred but one still falls within the 1-year timeframe of the Statute of Limitations, must always be an option.  Federal Disability Retirement allows for one to reach that plateau of self-restorative venues, by having the time and proper perspective to seek out effective medical treatment, not otherwise distracted by the countless demands of one’s Federal or Postal job.

Stress is the silent robber who stealthily destroys one’s health by a thousand cuts; lack of restorative sleep is the subtle, pernicious and progressively deteriorating condition which turns slowly into a crumbling foundation; and failure to act upon correcting the steady onslaught of self-decomposition will only lead one to a state of paralysis, where the shifting plate tectonics will one day reach a crisis point of collision, in the convergence of stress, anxiety, physical collapse, and self-ruination; all because we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Restorative Sleep & a New Day

For whatever evolutionary reasons, the necessity of sleep is apparent to anyone who lacks it.  On just a basic level of understanding, one assumes that the extent and level of daily activities results in the corresponding necessity of one’s sleep pattern; but one sees certain individuals do next to nothing, who seem to need a vast amount of sleep, and conversely, those who expend a tremendous level of energy who seem to thrive on minimal periods of somnolence.

The necessity of sleeping is a given; when interrupted patterns occur, and identifiable sleep disorders intervene, including insomnia and sleep apnea, then we begin to recognize the differentiation between mere ‘sleep’ and the concept of ‘restorative sleep’.  The former is simply the state that one finds one in; it is the latter which is the more meaningful state.

Whether because of chronic pain which, throughout the period of attempted sleep, interrupts the pattern of relief sought through sleep; or severe psychiatric conditions which require lengthy periods of quietude; mere sleeping does not necessarily result in the state sought — of restorative sleep, in order to wake up to a “new day”.  Without that level of restorative sleep, the human mind and body is unable to perform at the peak level which must be attained, in order to thrive in the technologically challenging work environment of modern day.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who must face such a challenge daily, where one’s medical condition begins to impact the ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal Worker to enter into a period of interlude in order to attain that sought-after restorative sleep.

The respite from the turmoil of work and responsibilities is often the recipe needed, and until the Federal or Postal Worker acknowledges the need, that proverbial “new day” may never arrive, and one may find that sleep is not a friend of the night, but an adversary to be battled within the darkness of one’s mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Related Conditions

The Weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal published an informative article entitled, “The Puzzle of Chronic Fatigue“.  For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from the condition identified generally as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the article provides an informative analysis of the medical condition, as well as a greater understanding of the underlying causes — and a possible link to a retrovirus identified as XMRV.  

It is an article worth reading, if only to have a better understanding.  Perhaps it can be pointed out to the treating doctor.  Perhaps some of the article’s substantive content can be used as persuasive argumentation against some of the common counter-arguments given by the Office of Personnel Management in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

In any event, being informed about updates on medical issues is always an important step in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, if only for the purpose of expanding one’s ability to access greater understanding of a particular kind of medical condition.  For, ultimately, the attorney who represents an individual who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must be able to accurately describe the impact of the medical condition upon one’s employment; and, to do so, one must always be up-to-date on the most recent medical discoveries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Psychiatric Disabilities

Perhaps there will always be a suspicion that a distinction is made by a governmental entity/bureaucracy, between physical medical conditions and those which are deemed “psychological“.  For Federal and Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there are ample legal tools to point out to the Office of Personnel Management that such a distinction is not only improper, but moreover, contrary to the “law of the land“.  

The Federal Circuit Court has pointed out clearly and unequivocally that the law does not allow for OPM to make a distinction between that which is “objective” medical evidence and that which is “subjective“.  Further, beyond the conceptual distinction applying to the medical evidence, this means that the categories encompassing the two should not be distinguishable when applying the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement.  Thus, rational conclusions based upon clinical examinations, a long history with the patient, consistent symptoms as related to by the patient to the doctor — all are valid, and “as valid”, as the “objective” medical evidence purportedly revealed by an MRI or other diagnostic tools.  

Thus, the credence and credibility of Major Depression, Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and a host of other psychiatric disabilities, hold an equal level of legal validity as the long list of physical disabilities.  Don’t ever let OPM go down an argumentation route where no law exists to support it; they may often try, but it is up to the Federal or Postal Worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to meet them at every juncture of such sophistry.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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