Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Foregone conclusions

There are many; some, within the universe of a greater subset, are perennial by nature, and can never be altered but for some miracle yet to be considered (like the fact that the Baltimore Orioles will have ended its season sometime by early June of each year); others, of a more generic knowledge, assumed and forever predictable, ever to be presumed as a law of nature (as in, somewhere in the world a war will be started within the next year, or that a child will be born, or even that a medical condition will impact someone, somewhere).

Foregone conclusions are tidbits of knowledge gained from experience of life; and where the cynic will declare that they establish the circularity of repetitive reality that cannot be avoided or ignored, the idealist will counter that miracles and exceptions may yet prove otherwise such that what was presumed to be a conclusion is never foregone but merely imagined.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who harbor thoughts of foregone conclusions based upon the deteriorating health of one’s present circumstances — that you will be “fired”; that the PIP imposed will inevitably lead to termination; that filing a 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 will be defeated by one’s own Agency or the U.S. Postal Service — remember that it is up to the sole determination of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and not one’s Agency or the Postmaster of one’s Postal Facility.

All Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applications are submitted to OPM, and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service can only have limited influence upon the viability and persuasive effect of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Where there is a will to fight and an objective basis in which to file a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is never a foregone conclusion that there is not a chance for a successful outcome.

Now, as for those Orioles’ fans who think that there is hope for next year…well, you must truly be an idealist to avoid the foregone conclusion that, yes, the sun will rise again tomorrow, and set yet again later, but a season’s end that began in early May is not a great indicator of next year’s beginning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The unknown

What is it about “the unknown” that terrifies us?  Is it merely from the stories of childhood that kept us up late into the night with limbs and face under the heavy blankets, hoping that those goblins wouldn’t suddenly pounce upon the flesh that remained uncovered, with sweat and suffocation preferable to the gnawing of a hungry predator?

Or from insecurities that remained despite the best efforts from parents who were clueless but wanted a dissimilar approach from their own childhoods; yet, despite those efforts to “never be like my mom and dad”, such exertions were merely untested applications from tentative and unlearned methodologies, leaving the insecurities manifesting through thoughtless hesitations because no one knows what they are doing?

The unknown is always, by definition, an uncertainty, and thus a conundrum that instills fear, prefatory pause and trembling of confidence.

When a medical condition enters into the picture as a factor to contend with, the unknown becomes a depth of fear and loathing, precisely because there can never be concretized stability within a wrapping of the unknown.  Suddenly, with the medical condition present, the unknown becomes an uncertainty; the uncertainty compels anxiety and an angst that cannot be controlled.

People enjoy watching horror shows and movies depicting the supernatural; of monsters and goblins that suddenly pop up from nowhere and frighten; because, once removed as a spectator who can fear and yet know simultaneously that you are merely an observer of the horror and mayhem, the fear of the unknown is recognized in the third person, and therefore separable enough from the reality of the virtual.

When one suffers from a medical condition, however, the observer and the sufferer become one and the same, inseparable, unable to merely act as a dispassionate spectator.

For Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the unknown is the uncertainty of a future undetermined.

Thus, what needs to be focused upon is what is known, and let the unknown unravel — by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition can focus upon the known quantities of life: One’s health, one’s happiness, and the present circumstances that cannot continue perpetually into the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Ordered lives

There is, first of all, chaos and disarray; and whether from a biblical worldview or the natural paradigm of a universe formed from a massive energy source that exploded with such force as to hurl a spinning residue of astronomical proportions into far galaxies that resulted in the starry heavens we witness today; it is from the opposite of a placid tranquility that we experience the ordered lives of everyday existence.

There are, of course, the extremes of the spectrum – of that person who is obsessive and compulsive about the “ordering” of one’s life, where every teacup and saucer must be placed in the cupboard within precise millimeters of one another, and no angle of a picture on a wall must be allowed to circumvent the geometric consistency with the right angles of the corners; or, by contrast, the slob who believes that pants, plants, underwear and empty pizza boxes belong in the same corner of the bedroom as expensive china and puppies who snuggle in bathroom showers.

Somewhere in between the two extremes upon the spectrum of life, exists the ordinary person of ordinary means, who wakes up each ordinary morning to go about in ordinary ways; all within the constraints of ordered lives.  All, or most of us, like, enjoy and look forward to some semblance of order in our lives.

Chaos is good for an exciting moment; monotony of discourse for the rest of the day requires that sanity mandates a certain sequence of events, and that is why dystopian stories of a universe in disarray after a nuclear war or some other disastrous consequence of political missteps left in the hands of incompetent world leaders allows for small-budget films to be successful in scaring the hell out of us all.

Divorce, death, illness and tragedies disrupt the otherwise sought-after ordering of lives left peaceful; medical conditions tend to do that, don’t they?  They interrupt the tranquility that we so seek with quiet resolve; and then the medical condition becomes a chronic state of existence, and more than just a nuisance, they interrupt our plans, our hopes, and the essence of our ordered 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the interruption that ensues from the disruption of a medical condition, resulting in the breaking up of one’s ordered life, often comes to a point where consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit that is “there” for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  And, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may come at a time when the previous state of ordered lives is sought after again, if only to reach a destination where chaos is no longer the new norm of everyday existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: “Oh, can I help?”

It is the grammatical interjection or discourse marker; in either usage, it is in response to some new or surprising information received.  Thus do we often encounter that individual (we all know of at least one) who, sitting silently, idly and unnoticed throughout, suddenly perks up after all (or most) of the work has been done – whether in preparation of a meal; cleaning up after the dinner party; or where the main elements of a project have just been completed.  And the uninvited interjection:  “Oh, can I help?”

There may even be a hint of clever knowingness in the eyes emanating from that query – of a challenge and defiance, to dare one to question the sincerity of the offer, even when the history of that singular uniqueness has many times over manifested a consistency of never having acted upon the discourse marker.

Yet, we are required to graciously accept it as sincere, and to respond with resignation that, No, there is nothing more to do, but Thank You for the offer, anyway.  For, we all know that the test of sincerity is not words upon words, but rather, that individual who, without uttering a single word, gets up and acts, and engages, participates, contributes and embraces with nary a muttering.  It is the pause between the utterance and the action that makes all of the difference, in common discourse as well as in everyday lives.

There are many, many people who interject with the “Oh, can I help?” but fewer still who act without words unnecessary and unappreciated because of humility in silence.

It is that chasm between word and act, utterance and initiation, a cocoon existence in the silence of one’s thoughts and the breach of entrance into the objective world around – or, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:  the gap between the suffering silence of a medical condition and taking that step in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, which can be an administrative process that can take many months, and sometimes years.

It is well and good for the individual who consistently utilizes the discourse marker to avoid entanglement in undesirable projects, but when it begins to harm one’s own interests, then it is time to not merely utter a sentence, but to prevail upon the world and act upon the need.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who, because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, can no longer continue in the career or vocation of choice, the grammatical interjection of, “Oh, can I help?” should immediately be followed with initiating the steps necessary to secure one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, by making inquiries with a lawyer who has experience in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Coordinating the efforts

The amazement of tandem coordination is discovered in various corners of Nature – of tentacles of an octopus seemingly working without the complexity of entanglement; of an eagle’s capture in mid-flight of its prey, where the claws and wings attack and devour with perfect harmony; and in modernity, the capacity and ability to “multi-task”, as the parlance of efficiency has been noted.

The human animal is a formidable creature – perhaps not the best at any one thing (speed is set by the Cheetah; endurance, in the Wolf’s persistence; but of competence in all areas, the two-legged, vertical organism sets the standard for excellence), but able to compensate for deficiencies by exerting acceptable levels of efficiency in many.

However, we often confuse the ability and capacity to multi-task with the presentation of an objective, impervious world of multiple data bombarding simultaneously.  Thus, the fact that the tentacles of an octopus may seemingly work in coordinated fashion in swimming and engulfing does not mean that if a dozen marbles were thrown at it in a single shot, that it would be able to respond appropriately.  Similarly, speed in short bursts may be impressive, but it may not translate into an ability to adapt if objective conditions require greater endurance for quantitative calibration of speed.

There is a limit and a ceiling for tolerance in performing feats, and for the human animal, the mere fact of showing minimal competence in some forms of multi-tasking, does not necessarily convert well when the necessity arises to coordinate complex issues which are further impeded by a medical condition of an impactful nature.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fallacy often arises that, because one has been capable in an administrative or executive capacity, one may be able to coordinate the efforts for one’s self in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Bridging the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties; conforming to “the law” in formulating one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A; of obtaining the proper medical documentation that will meet the standards of the compendium of legal opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board – these, and many others, must be taken into account when preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

And, like the hunter in past lives who suddenly becomes winded, becoming the hunted is not where the Federal Disability Retirement applicant wants to be when coordinating the efforts in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Comfort in regularity

There are those who relish the seas of daily change and the excitement of altered circumstances in daily discourse.  But as the rhythms of a seasonal perpetuity teach us of Nature’s need for regularity, so the biorhythms imparted can often form avenues of predictable patterns.  There is comfort in regularity (no, for those with singular minds, we are not here referring to the constancy of utilizing bathroom facilities; although, there is also some truth in that perspective, as well); of engaging in the monotony of expectations, unchanging circumstances and boredom of daily redundancy.

If we interpreted Bishop Berkeley’s philosophy to the extreme, each time we were to leave a room, the physical world we left behind would vanish; upon our re-entrance into the “same” room, it would again materialize, but who knows if the armchair in the corner with the slight tear in the seam of the cushion has not been moved several inches to one side or the other?

Wasn’t that always the fear in Star Trek, when Scotty would push the lever for the transporter, and the molecular deconstruction of the individual would occur – but the danger involved the potential interference within that short timeframe, when the reconstitution of matter might bring about a missing limb, a lesser intellect, or leave on the dinner table in the previous location one’s eyes, nose or mouth?  But the digression into science fiction merely points out the obvious; whether via molecular transporter or physically walking from one room into another, the expectation of “sameness” is what we rely upon, in order to maintain a sanity which otherwise would be lost in a sea of constant change.

It is, ultimately, the paradigmatic confrontation between the age-old perspective of two old philosophical grouches – of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of permanence seen in a world of a singular whole as opposed to the constancy of an ever-changing universe.  Note that, in either perspective, there is a regularity that is sought and discovered:  the expectation of consistent change constitutes that regularity we seek; and the regularity of a singularity of permanence reinforces that comfort in the same.  That is what we forever sought and continue to seek – and it is in the comfort of regularity that we maintain our balanced perspective.

That is why the turmoil of change is often devastating for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  The inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties is frustrating enough; such alterations often require accommodations, but when such requests are rejected, it is like a verdict upon one’s worth by the agency or the Postal facility:  You are not worth the trouble of change.

Yet, that change or alteration in the schedule, flexibility of attendance, or other minor adjustments, are often of no greater effort by the Agency than Scotty pushing the lever to initiate the power of the transporter.  But, then, Captain Kirk was quite good at making adjustments and ad-libbing as he went along – something that most Federal agencies and the Postal Service are unable to do; and that is when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes an ever-present need that will ensure the comfort in regularity of purpose, goals and future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire