OPM Disability Retirement: A Day Does Not a Life Make, Nor a Decade

The tragedy of extinguishment is the failure to recognize future potentiality.  We often gauge the value of a lifetime based upon the quality of any given day.  Yet, what happens in an arbitrary period of a life, whether viewed randomly on a day, or even assessed and evaluated over a decade, will rarely reflect the comparative worth of a lifetime as analyzed on a linear continuum.

Youth is a wasted period of emergence; middle-age is often a reflection upon that wasteland of remorse; and old age brings physical and cognitive infirmities which engage in fruitless efforts of counting the remaining days.  And so does a circularity of the absurd prevail upon us.

Medical conditions merely exacerbate and are an unwelcome source of further despair.  When a medical condition impacts upon one’s “quality” of life, whether upon the ability to perform one’s positional duties

as in the Federal sector, or debilitates and prevents the physical capacity, such a condition magnifies in exponential despair the devaluing of the human condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a way of countering the valuation of a lifetime of contributions based upon a given day of despair.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, whether intentionally or unwittingly, will make disparaging judgments upon the worth of an individual once a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  But such valuations are based upon pure ignorance of witless magnitude.

For every Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, judgment on any given day does not a life make, and indeed, nor does even a decade declare the true value and worth of a person.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: NRP, the Flight Surgeon and others

What do the National Reassessment Process for the U.S. Postal Service, the Flight Surgeon for the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and other entities/personnel from other agencies have in common?  

With respect to Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS, the commonality which weaves throughout all is the ability to declare an effective end to a Federal or Postal employee’s career, by asserting that the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of his or her job, and because the agency is unable to accommodate the Federal or Postal employee, the resulting option left is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the Office of Personnel Management.

Logically, one would assume that such an agency action would result in essentially an automatic approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Such an assumption would be erroneous, and to proceed to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the erroneous assumption could result in delay, detriment, and ultimate denial by the Office of Personnel Management.  

One must always remember that, separate and apart from what the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service does, the Federal or Postal employee must always be the one to affirmatively prove one’s case, by gathering and presenting the proper medical documentation, and formulating the nexus between the medical condition suffered and the essential elements of one’s job.  

Whether the Flight Surgeon at the FAA medically disqualifies you; whether the National Reassessment Process makes a declarative statement that no jobs are available to a particular Postal Worker; or whether the Federal Agency states that they are separating you because of your medical inability to perform your job — while the commonality between them exists, it does not extend to the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But…

I often wonder how many unrepresented disability retirement applicants there are who, having received a denial letter at the First Stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, never file a Request for Reconsideration because they believe what the Office of Personnel Management stated in the Denial Letter.  Sometimes, I will get telephone calls from people who want to file, and during the course of the conversation, it will come out that they had filed a few years previously, and had been denied.  “Did you file a Request for Reconsideration, at the time?” I ask.  “No,” is the answer.  “Why not?” I ask.  The typical answer?  “Because I just thought there was no way to fight them on it.” 

I used to be amazed at such answers, but after some thought, it makes sense.  As an attorney, my first instinct (both trained and natural) is to always take something to the next level, with the firm belief that I will prevail just by pure persistence, and by using the law as “a sword” in the process of fighting for my clients.  But most people are not lawyers (some would say, thank goodness for that, we have enough lawyers in the world), and when the Office of Personnel Management writes up a denial letter, then allegedly cites “the law”, and makes bold conclusions such as, “You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the laws governing disability retirement…”  It all sounds convincing.  It all sounds like any further action will be an act of futility.  But just because OPM “says so” doesn’t make it true, doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t make it unwinnable.  They may say you don’t meet the eligbility criteria; I would argue otherwise.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire