Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Dreams quashed

It has a ring of finality to it, a tone of termination, a quake of unequivocal endings; to extinguish, to suppress or to stamp out; it is often used as an example of some authoritative juggernaut putting down and out a rebellion by some wayward bandits; and so when it is conjoined and combined with another word – one that denotes hope for the future, a flicker of light for something positive – that has a positive connotation, it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, or a compound concept that cancels out one another.

The first word allows for a future hope and anticipation of things yet to come; the second, a denial of the first, a negation of that which one lives for.  Dreams quashed is an admission of defeat where once victory was in hand; a resignation to the reality where warmth of hope yet remained; and a bowing to a reality where the subjective universe perhaps allowed for thoughts beyond that which the objective world would dictate.

The compound concept of dreams quashed, when applied to a young soul just starting out in life, is perhaps a tragedy; as one gets older and reaches towards the dusk of life, or of the old man in a rocking chair rocking the finals days of breath away into the sunset, perhaps less so.  Yet, for everyone, whether young, old or in-between, dreams constitute the fiber of life’s worth, the filament that connects between despair and a will to move forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede and block the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the recognition that a career may be coming to an end, and anticipation of that “dream job” one finally obtained after college, and the realization that the camaraderie of working on a team, of having a unified purpose and a singular mission that always moved towards the future, to fulfill mini-dreams and projects that leaped into the beyond such that tomorrow was worth living and the next day was an anticipated victory of some proportions, perhaps microscopically relative to the greater universe, but nonetheless a platform that reflected upon one’s self-worth; these constitute those very “dreams” that appear to be in danger of being “quashed”.

Sometimes, however, the dreams of yesteryear need to be adjusted, such that it is not truly a quashing, but merely a modification.

Federal Disability Retirement is a recognition not of a dream quashed, but of a priority realized – that health is not always a given in life, and that which we took for granted was never to be freely accepted, but a gift received by a token of one’s sense of mortality.  Dreams quashed are merely hopes deceived, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to merely delay the inevitability of another dream revived but perhaps left forgotten in the rush to make a living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: A mote in society’s dustbin

What is the greatest fear?  Is it to be forgotten, cast aside, without a mere footnote in the linear history of societal acknowledgments?  Must society now adjust to the credited observation of Warhol’s dictum, that fame’s span of 15 minutes is too lengthy, given the fast-paced nature of modern technology?  Is watching one’s self in a public forum the satisfying conduit for vicarious living, such that it makes content the populous who would otherwise revolt in the disparity of despairing livelihoods?

The Biblical reference of comparing the mote in someone else’s eye, as opposed to the beam in one’s own, is of interest beyond the failure to recognize the reflection of insincerity displayed by lack of self-awareness; more than that, it is the comparative disparity which fails to prod.  While the mote itself is the foreign substance which irritates and prompts the pointing finger, it also represents the insignificance of life’s judgments in general, to the way in which we all live.  It is the tiniest piece of substance, and yet the finger-pointing it prompts reveals a readiness to judge, and is reflective of a character defect in us all.

And when that mote is extracted and flicked away, it floats unnoticed into the greater dustbin of society, where morning mists evaporate in the rising sun of daily tumult, and where giants of men with promise and potentiality fall with a thud and a shudder for all to hear.

It is irrelevancy of which we fear; that no one will have noticed, and the imprint of our lives will matter not against the rising tides of artifices constructed in the imagination of our own awakenings.  How many nameless tombs echo the mournful solitude of an estranged life in a world devoid of warmth and snuggles?  Why are teddy bears, stuffed animals and lifeless companions purchased with purrs of gleeful delight?  We are but mere motes in the dustbin of society; moreover, we fear being extracted, even from that status of being an insignificant irritant, and flicked away where even the shadows remain unnoticed and when mice scurry away with but barely an ear’s twitch.

That is why Heidegger’s comment that we engage in projects to avoid the ultimate meaning of our lives — the extinguishment of one’s conscious soul — reverberates with haunting excess.  Of course, some would scoff at that philosopher and retort that his shame in participating in the Third Reich revealed the true nature of his philosophy; but that is for another day to reflect upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who believe — nay, “feel” — that their work is not “done” with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and therefore must endure the humiliation piled upon the progressively worsening medical condition despite the self-immolative process of remaining, the real fear is the underlying, subterranean seething of man’s refusal to be cast aside as a mere irrelevancy, like a mote in society’s dustbin.

In the end, however, does it really matter whether the “mission of the agency” has been accomplished (remember that bureaucracies and their foundational rationale for existence never comes to a terminus; a new one is always adopted as perpetual replacements in the linear eternity of a behemoth’s lifespan), or the last truckload of mail has been delivered?

Federal and Postal employees are known for their “dedication” and conscientious resolve; but when filing 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, becomes a hindrance because of an unfounded and unjustified adherence to a principle which does harm to one’s own health, then the mote in the eye of one’s brother becomes more than an simple comparison to the beam in one’s own eye; it becomes itself a mote which should be flicked aside into the dustbin of society’s joke, where the laughter is directed upon all who have fallen for the epic comedy of life itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The 90/10 rule

It is a general principle to which most of us adhere to, or at the very least, confirm and affirm by own own actions or lack thereof.  In work, 90% of what we do constitutes drudgery and repetitive toil of uninteresting accomplishments; we strive, however, for that opportunity to perform the remaining 10%, which makes for an interesting career.

A similar proportional reflection applies to marriage and love; there are corollaries to the statistical generalizations, however, such as our own children and those of others — where 90% of other people’s kids are bratty and selfish, but only about 10% of parents know it, would acknowledge it, and might even own up to it, but where 90% of parents believe that their own kids are the cutest and most brilliant prodigies yet known to mankind.

Then, of course, there is grandpa’s admonition about people in general:  90% of the people you meet aren’t worth a penny’s value of attention, and of that 10% who might show some promise, 9 out of 10 (i.e., again, 10%, or 1% of the aggregate) will turn out to have merely fooled you.

What does that say about choosing a life-partner in romance or marriage?  90% of the time, people in general are going to disappoint, and 10% might meet expectations of contentment; but then, 90% of us believe that, from the “other’s” perspective, we ourselves always fall into that 10%, when in fact we likely fall into the 90% ourselves.

For Federal employees and U.S. 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 the Federal or Postal job, such a state of affairs likely falls into the minority of Federal or Postal workers — again, generally about 10%, if that.  The problem, however, is that the majority of that 10% or so (again, probably about 90%) believe (mistakenly or self-delusionally) that they will fall into the 10% of such groupings who are able to continue their Federal or Postal careers despite the progressively deteriorating condition.

What the Federal or Postal employee who falls into that initial 10% or less of the workforce, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should do, is to ensure that you become part of that 90% or more of Federal employees or U.S. Postal Service workers who recognize that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not merely a matter of statistical luck, but requires a foresight of effective preparation and competent insight — in other words, to be in that 10% as opposed to the 90%, attesting to the fact that, all in all, the 90/10 rule has some grain of truth to it, if only somewhat on a 10/90 scale.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The heckler

We see them from afar, as lone voices suddenly erupting with disruptive force, often barely audible, sometimes unintelligible, but rarely unnoticed.  In some corners of the world, their acts can become dangerous; inciting violence, being put upon by the surrounding crowd; their license to interrupt has been somewhat muted by the responsive threat of retaliation, voiced in more recent days.  Most of us sit back and wonder who “those” people are — such fury and passion to deliberately interject without invitation or welcome, and with the full knowledge that the subsequent events will lead to being either escorted out in less than gentle ways, or set upon in more violent fashion.

Are there causes which still exist, worth fighting for, anymore?  Is it just boiled-over frustration against a political firestorm of ineptitude and economic vicissitudes which leaves the ordinary person powerless and voiceless?  Or, is that interruptor a paid badger from another camp, merely acting as an apparently passionate interlocutor, but nothing more in reality than an employed spoiler to reveal the disarray of discontent allegedly felt by the greater populace?

It is a tradition of American politics, certainly, to have the presence of at least one heckler rise from the quietude of the sheep’s fold; and like the wolf covered by the lamb’s clothing, with barely an eye peeping through to gauge the exact timing for the sudden uproar, the impertinence of a question posed, a harassing shout and a barrage of epithets and garbled sentences drowned out by a sea of groans from around; does it all really matter?

There have always been hecklers of time and badgers of dishonor; and like the crowd which follows blindly in sequence of movements, such temporary interruption of a planned event is but merely a nuisance of life tolerated.  How we treat the heckler is but a reflection of life itself. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a similar interruption of “the event” of life, such as a medical condition which cuts short the Federal or Postal career, and where a responsive interlude must follow — filing 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, is often the only choice left, and the best alternative to pursue.

Suddenly, it becomes the “quiet one” who must turn and heckle; for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often that part of the crowd which never made waves and rarely complained, but merely went about his or her business and accomplished quietly the “mission” of the agency or the daily repetition of work at the Postal Service.  Then, suddenly, the Federal or Postal worker was “singled out” as the “troublemaker” — all because of a medical condition which the Federal or Postal worker never asked for, never wanted, and rarely complained about.  But like the heckler who knows of the oncoming consequences, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is surely a cause worth fighting for — despite the rude exit which is certain to follow.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Government Employment: The Daily Diatribe

This is an angry time.  Contrary to the appearance of sophistication and quiet aplomb conveyed by shoulders shrugged and ignorance attributable, the festering anger which forms a quaking (or quacking?) undercurrent, like shifting undersea tectonics just before a major earthquake which then results in a tsunami, the fact is that the fragile threads of common courtesy and conventional manners have disappeared over time, in increments of eroded concerns, likened to the moth which remained hidden in the darkness of a closeted space, eating away quietly at the fine costumes of societal consternation.

Conversations and rational discourse are replaced by daily diatribes of sputtering infamy; yes, Hitchens was a contrarian, but we miss his voice precisely because he could do it without us knowing it, and in addition with that fading British accent that always put a stamp of civility upon the acerbic wit.

Whether anger and certain medical conditions have any connection, will likely never be established as a causal certainty.  But 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, escape from the cauldron of daily diatribes can only contribute to better health and greater psychological stability.

Calmness of discourse, quietude of mind; there is no longer a place of repose or respite from the vicissitudes of this complex societal aggregate defined by the fast pace of technological whims.  We all have to find our corner of rectitude from this constant clanging of harshness; how we go about discovering that unique slice of life, attuned to our needs and satisfying our desires, is the question of a lifetime.  For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal Service worker who needs to consider first the state of his or her medical condition, and connect the deterioration and progressive decline to the daily diatribe of the workplace, there is no rational basis for delay or procrastination.

In life, priority is established by sequencing one’s life:  Health, family, career, etc.  Somewhere, the daily diatribe fits like the proverbial square peg in a round hole (or, as the contrarian Hitchens might have said, Is it a round peg in a square hole?); but whether the greater macro-society engages in the daily diatribe of life, it is the “little people” of minor consequence who must pay the price, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it might be a good time to look for that shining light on a hill, and move on to the next phase of living this life of escapism and constant seeking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Reduction and Emergence

The fear in most instances is that the latter will not follow upon the former; that the state of diminution will become permanent, and the potentiality promised by a subsequent stage of linear progression will instead reflect a downward spiral or, worse, remain in a state of stagnant immobility.   And, indeed, neither in physics nor in human living, is there a stated and inevitable law of nature which mandates that following a period of reductionism, emergence of a greater state of affairs will occur.

Perhaps personal experience even dictates thoughts and reflections otherwise perceived; for, why is it that inventions and innovations seem to occur in youth?  Or that the older populace wants to merely hoard and fend off losses, like the football team that tries desperately to hold on to a lead, and loses in the process because they have failed to play with aggression and abandonment of fear?

Federal Disability Retirement should always be looked upon as an opportunity for the future.  It is likely the most thoughtful paradigm formulated by the Federal government, precisely because it encourages the system of disability payments to be “self-paying”, by allowing for disability annuitants to enter into a different vocation even while receiving a Federal Disability annuity, thereby continuing to pay back into the “system”.

Federal OWCP/Worker’s Comp does not allow a person to work at another job at all, while concurrently receiving permanent partial disability benefits; and Social Security Disability has such a low threshold of allowable earned income that it discourages further alternatives in employment.

But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who receive Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal and Postal worker can make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays, and all the while continue to receive the Federal disability retirement annuity, and meanwhile, accrue further years of Federal Service while on Federal Disability Retirement, such that at age 62, when one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is recalculated as “regular retirement”, the time that one was on Federal disability retirement counts towards the total number of years of service.

Thus, when a Federal or Postal employee first considers filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, there is always the fear involving the immediate reduction of one’s income; but such a limited perspective should always include the further possibility of the corollary potentiality — that of emergence in the near, intermediate or long-term future.

Regrouping sometimes takes some time; but whatever the specific circumstances which necessitate consideration in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, one should always be careful that a skewed perspective of future opportunity is not altered or quashed because of the medical condition from which one suffers.

As emergence is the natural consequence resulting from a period of diminution, and is the pink dawn of hope for the promise of a bright future, so reductionism is merely a temporary interlude in this brief visit upon the historical expansion of man’s infinite and limitless plenitude of potentialities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire