OPM FERS Disability Retirement: Coordination of Elements

There is no question about it: It is a complex process.

Administratively, it must be passed through multiple levels of agency review in order to get a completed packet — the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B); Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D); effectively answering the Applicant’s Statement of Disability such that it provides the proper nexus between each of the questions on SF 3112A — for, although it may not be so obvious, the questions must both be answered separately as well as viewed in the totality of each as being a component fitting in with each other, in order to answer it to completion.

Then, there is the coordination of internal and external elements, and the intersecting impact within and without — of a medical report effectively prepared and consistent with the history of treatment modalities; of a nexus persuasively argued establishing the connective impact between the medical condition and the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job elements; and the interconnectedness of essential elements to the physical or cognitive inability to perform one or more of the essential elements, etc.

Throughout the process — whether for a denial and a rebuttal response at the Reconsideration Stage, or at the initial preparation stage in the First Stage; or, even of an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the coordination of elements is important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law in order to more effectively establish the coordination of elements.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Plans

We all make them; whether for an anticipated journey or vacation; of a future date far in advance or nearby in time; or merely for an afternoon get-together with an associate, coworker, friend or family member — plans are essential to the coherence of a person’s daily life.

We have “planners” that we carry with us everywhere, and “planned vacations”, “planned playtime” for our kids; a “planned evening out” and meals planned well in advance even before our appetitive natures begin to rumble with echoes of hunger and delight.  There are “coordinated planned attacks” by terrorists, and “exit plans” before an assault is waged upon the enemy.  Then, there are life coaches who help to plan one’s future decisions, counselors who plan for college entrance exams and therapists who assist in planning this or that major decision.

From the moment we realized that simply reacting to the world around us was no longer an efficient methodology in maneuvering through a complex world, where the prey had become suspicious and did not stick around to remain as out next dinner course and predators began planning for counterstrategies to man’s wily peculiarities, we began to plan for the future.

However, the one thing that we have no plan for is the unexpected jolts of life’s servings that come upon one without warning or predictability, such as a deteriorating health condition that was never planned for.  Dreams that spawn plans are easily destroyed by life’s tumults that come in waves of unpredictable surges, just when we think that our “plans” are being realized.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition impacts and prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to alter one’s long-term plan and goal towards retiring upon reaching the “regular retirement age and time-in-service”, and instead to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Medical conditions are often the one set of goal-stopping issues that skewer one’s plans; it is normally unplanned for, and is a plan-modifier that requires not only a change of plans, but a new set of plans that should include a plan to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be planned for submission to OPM, and should also include a plan to seek to counsel and advice of an attorney who specializes in such planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing 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 sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Forgetting for a moment

It is a game we play, or perhaps “have to” in order to retain our fantasy-world and “pretend” selves. We like to think that we gave up, long ago, those childish dreams and fantasies we engaged and tolerated as younger selves, and that as adults we must daily face the realities of problems encountered, difficulties arisen and turmoil challenged.  But we haven’t.  We have merely replaced it with another, more productive methodology of play-acting: Forgetting, for the moment.

Perhaps it occurs when we take a day off; or engage in a sports activity, like golf or a pick-up game of basketball where we can imagine ourselves in our glory days, not quite good enough to become pro or even semi-pro, but better than most by sheer force of will, practice and dominance of creative moves that would be whistled away as a travel violation by any half-competent referee, but in the imaginative world of concrete basketball, we can take those extra steps, much like Michael Jordan used to do under the “Jordan Rule” of play.

What we forget; how we forget; the technique of forgetting; whether and why; when and where; these all depend upon individual circumstances and requirements of the day, forged with dependencies, co-dependencies and enablers of time and leisure.

Perhaps it is by daydreaming; or sitting in a café fantasizing of having won the lottery; or in simply watching a television show or a movie where, just for a moment, you can forget everything and become consumed by the story, the special effects and the emotional upheaval of the actors and actresses on the flat screen of make-believe.  Then, of course, in the next moment, or sometime thereafter, reality sets in and we must go about the daily business of living.

The one component in life that makes the whole activity of “forgetting for a moment” difficult, is when you are suffering from a medical condition.  For, a medical condition never seems to “let up”, never allows for a moment of forgetfulness, and never ceases to remind.

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 one’s Federal or Postal position, not only will the medical condition itself not allow for forgetting for the moment, but it is also the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service that also disallows such momentary distractions.

Life is always a bundle of problems, but when you are a Federal or Postal employee, that bundle of problems comes with it a greater bundle when you are beset with a medical condition.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be the best option available, and consulting with an attorney who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement is probably the next best course of action to undertake in this long and complex road where, at the end of it all, you may be able to engage in that most pleasurable of activities: Forgetting for a moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire