Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Separation and Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The stick figure across the street

We all drew them.  They are simple figures, one-dimensional, created not only by children and uncreative hands, but by sophisticated artists who convey complexity through their uncomplicated depiction.  Upon such lack of depth, we can project an unending dearth of fillers, precisely because the simple lines invite us to increase the servile skinniness by piling a composite upon the lean figures which are mere caricatures devoid of substance.

The neighbor across the street, whom we have never met, and who is but a figure the size between forefinger and thumb, and remains the remnant of a stick figure, and continues to convey, so; and when the annoying bark of a midnight dog awakens the sensibilities of insomnia and a sleepless night, or of such a thin veil of loss of restorative slumber that wakefulness becomes a better alternative, then we can fill in the gaps of the stick figure, add some meat and substance, with diatribes of invectives piled upon curses and unimaginable energies of words rarely considered and never previously uttered.

Coworkers used to be nothing more than such stick figures — before they earned that status of enamored stature.  That is why leaving a career, cutting short a lifetime of accomplishments, and turning away from the vindictive familiarity of a workplace once loved, is so difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset.

Once upon a time, the stick figures were mere appendages and afterthoughts in the life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker; but over time, they gained substance, girth, and an unmerited significance merely by osmosis of daily encounters.  Thus, when a medical condition hits the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker with a force of plenitude such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be considered, it is not just the separation from mere commerce and economic entanglement which must be considered, but rather, extrication from a social network of figures who have evolved, over many years and sometimes multiple decades, into caricatures amassing and aggregating personalities, comradeship, shared sense of missions accomplished, and much more.

So long as they had remained mere stick figures from across the street, the distance of time, the separation of dimensions, and the wall of strangeness allowed for an ease of abandonment.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, however, the process is no longer merely a wave of goodbye to the stick figure across the street; no, instead, that has become the unwanted uncle who has no other home to go to, and must by obligation be evicted despite the relationship which has developed beyond the formless caricature painted upon our own minds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Pension Annuity: Today, life is good…

It is the set of 3 periods at the end of the sentence, identified in grammatical terms as an ellipses, allowing for a trailing thought or a hesitation of motive, and here which differentiates from a singular finality of a period postulated to prevent a purposive punctuality of partition from a postscript.  If the last two periods were extracted and deleted, the delineation would connote a declarative assertion, unhesitant in conclusion, and confident in execution.  With those two additions, it implies and denotes hesitancy, a pause leaving the impression of loss or lack of confidence, and unable to determine the cogency of opinion formulated but for the ellipses.

In the end, however, how is grammar tied to life itself?  Do mere additions of two dots in a sentence reflect the reality of that which we live?  Do the bundles of human complexities, emotional upheaval and physical pain, cognitive dissonance cut us off from nature’s impenetrable divide?

How often do we walk around, and stop and realize that we remember nothing about our surroundings, who we passed, what buildings we strode by, because the inner thoughts we became a hostage to allowed only for sight by the eye of our own minds, and not for the purposes attributable to all other species on the planet — for observation and judgment to determine the course of future destiny, in surviving a predatory world.

What makes us unique, but the linguistic divide that confronts us daily; and thus is it that the 3 harmless dots dangling at the terminal confinement at the end of a sentence is more than a mirage of grammatical repose; no, it defines who we are.  For, the reality of the ellipses is contained in the reflection of the truth manifested; insert an emotive adjective, and the dots disappear; yet, the changes wrought will remain beyond the grammatical addendum, the deletion of the dots, or the conversion from hesitancy to declarative assertion of utmost confidence.

It is, in the end, the “today” which is the operative word, and not the trepidation engendered by the ellipses; and it is the unstated “tomorrow” which can bring about changes to the substantive undercurrent of life beyond linguistic elasticity.  It is real life, and not grammar, which must ultimately determine destiny, fate and the whims of gods playing with human caricatures with arbitrary thunderbolts and childhood cruelty with breaths of unexpected pillars placed as obstacles within our paths.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that the gods of fate have placed the burden of a medical condition upon life’s lottery of challenges, the need to prepare, formulate and apply 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, becomes an encounter where the linguistic divide between life and living, on the one hand, and language and grammar, on the other, coalesce and the the chasm must by necessity be bridged.  For, it is precisely the medical condition itself (life and living) which must then be formulated into a declarative state of disability and linguistic evidentiary postulate (language and grammar), in the form of an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, that makes for the differentiation between failure or success.

Beware of the pitfalls of grammar, and note the ellipses, as well as the dangling participle, lest either unveil a true hesitancy in living, as opposed to a mere red mark from a teacher in a fictional classroom, either in one’s mind or in the eye of one’s mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire