FERS Disability Retirement: The Performance Appraisal

It is the system that we have created, a monster which cannot be slain, and the machine that cannot be turned off.  We learn it from an early age — good grades are the foundation for a successful future, and if a teacher has the audacity to give you a lesser grade than what you believe you deserve, call that teacher — harass him or her; file a complaint; heck, file a lawsuit.

In the Federal employment system, performance reviews are often given out like candies — and such reviews can come back to make it appear as if there is nothing wrong.  Managers and supervisors are reluctant to give a “less than fully successful” rating, lest a grievance be filed or a headache ensues; but for the person whose performance has been suffering because of a medical condition which has begun to impact a person’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the reflection upon the record when a Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed may have to be dealt with.

The Office of Personnel Management tends to rely heavily — and unfairly — upon performance appraisals, but there is another legal standard which can be applied — that of incompatibility between one’s medical conditions and the positional elements of one’s job.

Consult with a Federal Disability Lawyer who specializes in FERS Medical Retirement Law and discuss the impact of one’s performance appraisal within the complex administrative procedure of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: The Kettle’s Whistle

Why do we invent such irritating devices?  When the jarring whistle of the kettle’s boil screeches to gain our attention, is it precisely for that reason — in order to remind us that there is water boiling, that a fire or burner is causing it, and that you cannot just leave it like allowing for the needle on a record-player to turn endlessly upon a music-less disc with soft scratches upon a rotation that is going nowhere (ah, those days when music was truly enjoyed!).

Are noises created to always reflect the reality of its source?  Does the sound of the waives match the soft lapping of the ocean’s beauty, just as the raging storm’s fury mirrors the torrent of rain and thunder?  When first a child hears the sound of a distant train, and only later sees the monstrosity that forms the engine and the caboose, does he or she reflect, “Well, that certainly didn’t turn out to be what I thought” —? Similarly, does pain match the warning of a body’s injury?  Does a voice that sounds purring parallel the gruffness of a wrestler’s weight?

If the kettle’s whistle is meant to irritate and to alarm, it is doing its job; and the kettle that fails to so whistle is one that has lost its purpose and utility, even though it still boils as well as the next one purchased in replacement of the one which lost its capacity to irritate.

Medical conditions are like that, as well — of the capacity to alarm, to trigger warnings, to possess a reason thereof.  We resist it; of the voice that says that change needs to be forthcoming.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees 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 his or her Federal or Postal job, it may be that the kettle’s whistle is warning of an impending need — of a change.

Getting up, taking the kettle off of the burner and stopping the whistle is akin to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS: For, in the end, the kettle’s whistle is merely the warning we needed, prompting us to act when all around us are indicators that what once was can no longer be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Cicatrize

It is a word which one does not come across very often; and yet, the greater question is: How many words are “out there” which we do not know, have never heard of and will hardly use?  Do words limit the universe of our thought-processes?

If paragraphs are composed of sentences, and sentences formulated from single units called “words”, do our thoughts retain paragraphs, sentences, or the singularity of words?  In our insulated monologues and soliloquies, do we hesitate because we fail to consult a dictionary, stop because we cannot come up with a synonym, or retreat because of a lack of an antonym?

In modernity, we have dispensed with the idea of memorization, precisely because — with a Smartphone constantly at our sides — there is (A) Either no more need for it, (B) It is cruel to force kids to undergo such mentally strenuous exercises or (C) There is simply too much information “out there” for memorization to be practical any longer.

I once knew a person who didn’t count sheep in order to try and fall asleep, but would recite the sonnets of Shakespeare — and would never be able to recite them all before slumber would overtake him.  Of course, “context” is important, and if there are no conditions within which a word should materialize, be utilized or otherwise applied, the need to retain such a word within the memory banks of one’s brain would never come about.  Yet, how many useless bits of information do we look up on a Smartphone on a daily basis, and “retain” much of it?

The word “cicatrize” means to heal by way of scar formation; by extension, one can become creative and apply the word in non-medical contexts, as in: “The constant taunting by his classmates resulted in a cicatrized numbness of his sense of self-worth; but in the end, Johnny could never have the thickness of skin needed to survive, and cried himself each night for the cruelty of the world that haunted him”.

That is the fun of words, isn’t it?  To take it and play with it; to retain it and fool with it, like a pebble in one’s pocket where you can feel the texture of a small remnant of the greater universe between thumb and forefinger, and fiddle without end in an insular universe that is limitless and infinite?  For, it is always the infinite that we seek; of paragraphs abounding and pages beyond the next one to turn.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, always remember that the application itself is a “paper presentation” to OPM — one which must be comprised of words, sentences, paragraphs, and even entire pages.

It must tell a “story” about your condition, your capacities and your frailties in the most personal of ways.  And while the world of such a bureaucracy may be cicatrized against an empathetic tendency of the truth of your condition, it is best to seek counsel and advice from an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law so that the cicatrization does not impede a persuasive argument compiled precisely in order to cut through the cicatrized minds at OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement Denial: The Middle Stage

It is like those siblings who are “in between”; of caught in relevance and significance by being squeezed on the one side by the “giant first one”, and on the other side by an even greater presence; and, somehow, the middle stage is lost and forgotten.  Is that how life itself is viewed, as well?  Of being cooed and oohed over the baby-years, and then forgotten once the younger sister comes into the family; or of being cast aside by children in their teenage years, then suddenly realizing that time lost can never be regained, but recognizing that one’s parents now are too old to appreciate?

Is that why the “Middle Ages” are viewed as irrelevant, stuck between the “Ancient Era” of the great Roman and Greek periods, and then suddenly skipped over into the Renaissance and into modernity?

The “Middle Stage” is like the Middle Age years — of being present but quickly fading; of being there but barely noticed; of shying away and fearing the next stage because the one before was so full of energy and the disappointment of the failures of the previous stage is merely a foresight into the fearful expectations of the next.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition now prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “Middle Stage” is called the “Reconsideration Stage” of the administrative process.

The Reconsideration Stage is the stage where the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application has been denied at the Initial Stage, and it is the Stage before the Third Stage — an appeal to the U.S.Merit Systems Protection Board.  It is not a stage to be “overlooked” — as some inevitability of a further denial — but one which provides for an opportunity to enhance and add to one’s Federal Disability Retirement application by providing additional medical and other documentation in order to obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

If the applicant decided to forego consulting with an attorney at the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, then it is a good time to consider contacting an attorney at the “Middle Stage” — the Reconsideration Stage of the process — to discuss the next and crucial steps in order to correct any past mistakes and affirmatively assert the proper legal basis in meeting the preponderance of the evidence criteria in your quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The spare

It is a peculiar word when left alone, for it often is used with an accompaniment, as in “a spare tire”, “With room to spare”, or even, “Do you have any spare change?” queried the panhandler to the passerby.  It is a word which either describes a certain set of circumstances or of a person’s demeanor, characteristic or even of physical features, as in: “He had a spare bedroom”; “He was a spare, bald-headed man”; or how about: “He was spent and had no energy to spare”?

But to make it into the central character, as in the title above — “The spare” — makes it suddenly rather peculiar, for it is meant to always be the character actor, the word that “adds onto other words” and the unique little offshoot that never takes center stage.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue in the chosen career of one’s life, the word retains multiple relevant applications, whether standing alone or in accompaniment with other words.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who no longer has any spare energy left at the end of the day; when one must be careful in using sparingly any accrued Sick Leave or Annual Leave; when time can no longer be spared beyond doctor’s appointments and attending to work, family obligations and the spare time no longer forthcoming; and where that spare reserve of energy is now devoid and profound fatigue has set in, it becomes time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement, because any spare time, effort or energy has now become a deficit to be reckoned with, where the spare of anything and everything must be focused upon that which can never be spared: One’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Sorrow behind the facade

How do we know a person’s sorrow?  Of other emotions, we question and retain suspicions, but why is sorrow placed on a separate plane, untouchable and abandoned as sincere despite warranted evidence to the contrary?  Of love, we question constantly — as to sincerity, whether fidelity has been maintained and preserved; of joy or happiness, daily do we self-analyze and evaluate; but of sorrow — once the tears pour forth upon the event learned and considered, there are few who doubt for fear of being tarred as the cynic who had no feelings or remorse.

There are instances — of an unnamed president who purportedly was seen joking and laughing on his way to the funeral, but suddenly turned dour and despondent in facial expression once recognition was noted of cameras filming and spectators observing; or perhaps there are relatives who are known to have hated a deceased kin, but arrived at the funeral out of obligation and duty; of those, do we suspect a less-than-genuine sorrow?  Is it because sorrow must by necessity be attached to an event — of a death, an illness, an accident, or some other tragedy that we consider must necessarily provoke the emotional turmoil that sorrow denotes?  But then, how do we explain the other emotions that are suspected of retaining a facade and a reality beneath — again, of love and happiness?

Medical conditions, especially for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, are somewhat like the sorrow behind the facade.  Few will openly question it — whether because to do so is simply impolite or impolitic — but some will suspect as to its validity, especially when self-interest is at stake.  The declaration, “Is there a malingerer within our midst?” will never be openly spoken.  For, what is the evidence — excessive use of SL, AL or LWOP; frequent doctor’s appointments; inability to maintain the level of productivity previously known for; lack of focus and concentration at meetings; inability to meet deadlines, etc.

For others, these are harbingers of irritants that delay and impact the agency as a whole; for the Federal employee or Postal worker suffering from the medical condition, they are the symptoms and signs beneath the brave facade that is maintained, in order to hide the severity of the medical condition in a valiant effort to extend one’s career.  There comes a time, however, when the reality of the medical condition catches up to the hidden truth beneath the facade, and once that point is reached, it is time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

In like manner, the sorrow behind the facade is similar to the medical condition in and around the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service — both may be real, but it is the “proving” of it before OPM that is the hard part.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire