OPM Disability Retirement: Key Words, Conveyance of Information, and Satisfying the Legal Criteria

There is often a misunderstand about a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS: that the magic of linguistic compliance will bring about success, as opposed to the compilation and delineation of information needed to meet the legal criteria in a case.

There are no “magic words” or “key phrases” which the Federal or Postal applicant, the treating doctor, or the lawyer representing the Federal or Postal employee, can utilize or include in any Federal Disability Retirement packet, which will ensure or otherwise exponentially increase the statistical variances of being successful in applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Rather, the “key” to a successful filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application is to compile the necessary and required documentation in order to meet the medical and legal criteria mandated by law, in becoming eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The difference may be somewhat subtle: on the one hand is the misguided approach of thinking that Federal Disability Retirement application-X was successful because it contained certain key phrases and elements, and thus in thinking that a regurgitation and reenactment of those phrases or elements, if used in another Federal Disability Retirement application, will result in an identical outcome.

The proper approach (satisfying the converse grammatical requirement and avoiding the necessity of saying, “on the other hand”) in opposition to the “key phrase” thought, is to recognize that each Federal Disability Retirement application-Y is constituted by unique facts and medical data peculiar to the individual case, but that in the application of those facts and data, compliance with the administrative criteria is somewhat self-reflective. Similarity, however, does not imply successful extrapolation of previously-applicable content from another Federal Disability Retirement application.

That is the mistake which is often made: One success often leads to the laziness of regurgitation; to put it crudely, one can starve by feeding upon the same food within a confined organic digestive system. In the end, a successful Federal Disability Retirement application must not rely upon prior successes, but rather, recognize the uniqueness of each set of circumstances, apply the relevant law to such peculiarities, and argue the evidence in the context of the conveyance of information meeting the statutory criteria espoused by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Events

Society often proceeds in starts and fits; from one event to the next; from a noted day off on a calendar; from that three-day weekend to the next; from a noted celebration; and time is then marked off and set in our minds as details to fill into the wide linear void of time. But chronicity of medical conditions counters such attempts to neatly bifurcate time into segments of comprehensible packages, precisely because there is no break in the duration of progressive deterioration.

Chronic pain is an equalizer of time; it negates and nullifies, and throws one into the deep abyss of a time when time did not exist; of a prehistoric state of being where sensation, events, environmental dangers and the necessity to survive by reacting consume and overwhelm any sense of segments of time.  Civilization and societal niceties create the neat packages of time-oriented existence; like pristine lawns in a suburban neighborhood, property-lines establish our lives like time-lines on an itinerary of a corporate employee.

How does one break that abyss of timelessness?

Federal Disability Retirement through the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, allows for that recuperative segment of time in which a Federal employee may turn to, in order to break the chronicity of a progressively deteriorating medical condition.

At least Federal and Postal employees have that option.  For many in the rest of society, the niceties of a segmented life will continue to determine one’s ability to escape that prehistoric time of timelessness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Key Words and Phrases

In every writing endeavor, there arises over time an identification of the efficacy of certain key words and phrases.  The problem with such identification, however, is that the deliberate extrapolation and insertion of such “keys” will often lead to over usage, inapplicable repetition, and loss of effectiveness resulting from the very recognition of the centrality and importance of such words and phrases.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often a tendency to want to know what the “key” is to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement case.  It is like searching for the entrance to a secret passage:  we believe that if X is discovered, inserted into the proper keyhole, then the mysteries of that which we fail to understand will be opened.  But proper flow and substantive appropriateness of any medical terms must always be considered within a greater context.

Ultimately, it is not any particular word or phrase which leads one onto the path of success in a Federal Disability Retirement case; rather, it is the substantive conceptual underpinnings behind such words and phrases which matter.  Not the words themselves; nor the phrases which describe; rather, the meaning behind such words and phrases within the context of the entirety of one’s medical condition — that is the key to a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Random Decisions

Waiting is indeed a requirement in the entire administrative process of preparing, formulating, then filing for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As this author has repeatedly noted previously, if patience is a virtue, then it necessarily follows that Federal and Postal employees must be the most virtuous of individuals, for the very act of waiting for a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management mandates such a virtuous response from the Federal or Postal Worker who has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Is there a systematic and logical basis in the sequence and order of the decisions which are being made?  Perhaps.  Stories always abound, of course, of specific instances where a Federal Disability Retirement application was approved within a very short timeframe, but without knowledge of the specifics, including whether the facts included exigent circumstances beyond everyday occurrences, one cannot make a determination as to why an “exception” to the sequence of decision-making was made, if at all.

From an outsider perspective, it appears that the sequence of decisions made by OPM is rather random.  Yes, there is somewhat of a pattern of first-in, first-out, but of course that depends upon whether or not such a pattern is based upon the assignment of a CSA number from Boyers, PA or at the entry point of being assigned to a case worker in Washington, D.C.

The randomness can be troubling; waiting is a frustrating part of the process; but beyond that, virtue can be tested beyond the limits of reasonableness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Vicious Cycle

The circle is the sign of perfection; from the center, the equality of distance to the perimeter of the geometric figure; it also represents an endless cycle, whether of a process, a routine, or of life itself.  The qualitative nature of the circle, however, can be quite different from individual to individual.  Thus, for some, it is described as a “vicious cycle”  — where the circularity of a process feeds upon itself.

Entrance into the repetitive viciousness of the cycle often begins with an interruption, an incident or an issue which does not get immediately resolved in a positive manner.  For the Federal or Postal employee whose options have become limited because of a medical condition, the circularity of the vicious cycle involves the attack, counterattack and adversity engaged in between him/herself and the agency for which he/she works.  Thus, going head-to-head with the agency in a repetitive, endless cycle is an obvious indicator that it is time to contemplate Federal Disability Retirement.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the issue of an agency’s attitude towards the whole process should be taken into account — NOT as to the impact that the agency may have upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but rather, on the more important issue of whether one has a choice to file or not.

That endless cycle — that perfect geometric circle?  It also represents the truism that once the roller coaster begins, it self-perpetuates, and keeps going on the same, repetitive, circular, and endless path of adversity and persecution.  Only the Federal or Postal employee him/herself has the power to get off from the endless cycle — by filing for Federal Disability benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Myth of Sisyphus

Albert Camus’ classic essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus“, involving the Greek mythological figure who was condemned by the gods to perform a meaningless task in repetitive perpetuity, is appropriate as a metaphor for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Camus’ point was to reveal the absurdity of the human condition, and yet to find meaning in the penultimate meaninglessness of that very human condition — to reverse the philosophical template where essence precedes existence, and to instead grapple with meaning, value, significance and substance in the midst of human toil and turmoil.

For the Federal or Postal Employee, the heroics of continuing to work in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, can seem like the task of Sisyphus:  the meaning and value of such toil is questioned; the chronic pain or uncontrollable psychiatric symptoms begin to loom larger in proportion to the lack of sensitivity by coworkers, supervisors, and even family members and friends.  Yet, like Sisyphus, it is important to continue the day-in and day-out work, if only to survive for the next day.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit available for the Federal or Postal worker who finds that he or she is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is, in many ways, an avenue to break away from the repetitive toil — a pathway which Sisyphus himself did not have.  It allows for the recuperative timeframe, and to perhaps move on to another career or vocation, away from the work which either contributed to the deteriorating medical condition, or one which could no longer be pursued because of the medical condition.  Either way, pushing the boulder up the hill and watching it roll down the hill, only to push it back up the next hill, is a manner of living which constitutes mere existence, as opposed to embracing the potentiality of the human condition.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an option which any Federal or Postal worker who has a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, should be seriously considered.  It is a benefit which was not available to Sisyphus; it is available to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, as long as you have the minimum 18 months (for FERS employees) of Federal Service (it is assumed that if you are under CSRS, you already have a minimum of 5 years of Federal Service).  Sisyphus, of course, is presumably still rolling that boulder up the hill (or watching it descend), as we speak.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Service Disability Retirement: How Many Should Be Listed (Part 2)?

The listing of the medical conditions in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as it is descriptively written on the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) for FERS & CSRS disability retirement, to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management, is a separate issue from the creative description of the symptoms which the applicant experiences as a result of the identified listing of the medical conditions.  Thus, a distinction should be made between the “official” diagnosed medical conditions (which should be limited in number, for reasons previously delineated) and the multiple and varied “symptoms” which result from the listed medical conditions.  Thus, while one may suffer from the medical condition termed as “Fibromyalgia”, the symptoms can be multiple:  chronic and diffuse pain; impact upon cognitive abilities, inability to focus and concentrate, symptoms which are often termed as “fibro-fog”, etc. 

When the Office of Personnel Management approves a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS and identifies the specific medical condition by which it is approved, it will identify the medical condition, and not the symptoms.  This distinction is important because, when an applicant prepares the narrative to show the Office of Personnel Management what he or she suffers from, the differentiation between conditions and symptoms is important to recognize when creatively and descriptively writing the narrative of one’s medical conditions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire