Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Attorney: Beliefs beyond boundaries

There are beliefs that are presumed to be true, if not merely conventional.  Superstitious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with daily activities and being productive, are acceptable; believing in the existence of aliens on other planets, for instance, or even that some have visited this planet, will not make a difference in the conduct of one’s life; on the other hand, if the same person believes that the alien is invisible and shadowing him wherever he goes, it might begin to impede ordinary and acceptable behavior.

There are “flat earth” associations, and one may cling religiously to the belief that the earth is flat and not round or oval, and argue vociferously that when you walk and see the horizon, there is no indication other than that the earth is flat; and such a belief would likely remain harmless and largely irrelevant.

Then, of course, there are beliefs beyond boundaries of acceptable and normative accountability, like embracing a belief in a date certain that the world will end, where such a belief results in preparation for the coming doom, spending all available resources in building and reinforcing a bunker constructed in one’s backyard, quitting one’s job in order to prepare for the inevitability of the end.  Or, of a belief that all women on Thursdays who wear blue are germ-carriers, because when Jason was five years old there was a woman who wore blue on a particular Thursday who stopped, patted him on the head and said, “Nice boy”, and on that very day, by that woman who wore blue, he became deathly ill and ended up in the hospital for two months teetering on death’s doorstep.

Is that an “unreasonable” belief to have?  Can one not make the argument that there is a “rational” basis for such a belief, and it is within the reasonable boundaries of acceptability?  Would you call such a person “crazy”?  And, so long as he goes to work each day, is productive, doesn’t harm anyone – and no woman on Thursday enters his cubicle wearing blue, he never runs out screaming, “Don’t let her touch me!” – no one would be the wiser for holding such a belief.

And of the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to take the necessary steps to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because he or she believes that taking “advantage” of such a benefit means that he or she is no longer “worthy” – is that a belief beyond boundaries of rationality?

Yet, that is often what pauses the Federal or Postal employee from preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the mistaken belief that is beyond the proper boundaries that there is something inherently “wrong” with the Federal or Postal employee when you file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, when in fact all you are doing is to finally recognize that health, life and one’s well-being are more important than killing yourself over a job that has always accorded the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: Agency Adverse Actions

Calamities coalesce in concurrent coordinated couplings; often enough in life, when one action is engaged, another follows in reactive reflection.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who has a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the necessity to, or mere hint of the need to, file 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, often invokes a concurrent action on the part of the agency.

Whether such actions are mere coincidences (unlikely); retaliatory (a good chance); or deliberatively intentional (often enough) is anyone’s guess.  Trying to figure out the underlying motivation of agencies is merely a waste of one’s valuable time; what to do with the agency’s adverse actions, is the more productive approach to embrace.

The argument that finds some precedence for OPM in arguing against a Federal Disability Retirement case, is that somehow the Federal Disability Retirement application was merely a pretense to avoid termination, and thus is somehow invalidated.  But, in fact, the reverse can be argued as well:  Because of the medical condition, the agency’s adverse actions reflect the poor performance, the excessive taking of SL, LWOP, etc., and irrefutably confirms the validity of the Federal Disability Retirement filing.

What the agency’s adverse action states; how it is characterized; what surrounding correspondence exists; and the extent of one’s medical documentation around the time of the agency’s actions, and prior to, are all important components in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law Blog: The Mannequin

The garment may alter, but the pose remains stilted; and no matter what angle the inertia of fashion may be looked at, the expression remains impassive and impenetrable.  Mannequins pose for the public, display the wears without complaint, and fill spaces without disturbances or complaints.  They simply “are”.  Such an existence — of an uncomplaining coexistence with eyes meant to attract upon the changing appearances intended to detract — is often the very definition of a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker.

Like mannequins stilted in front of a display window, the Federal and Postal worker is often “there” for years and decades, quietly performing the work that is assigned, accomplishing without accolades but for internal performance reviews and peer ratings, expected to remain silent but for the wears which are displayed.  But then an illness, a medical condition, a disability suddenly enlivens, and the once quietude of existence becomes a focal point of harassment, workplace hostility and trends of gossip.

That mannequin was a person, after all, and interest is remarkably shown when ignoring and repetitive superficiality of meaningless salutations once pervaded the office or work environment.

For Federal or Postal employees, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option remaining.

The eyes which merely looked beyond the stilted figure but are now upon the live entity, need to again be diverted, such that life can go on again.  To get beyond an environment of poison is to sometimes exit quietly and without fanfare; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a way for Federal and Postal employees to step outside of the self-destructive hostility, and to rebuild the life once dreamed of by attending to one’s medical condition, first, while securing a future or a second vocation.

Once attained, perhaps those who surround with love and concern will look upon the mannequin beyond the mere appearances, and instead to the substance of the person beneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire