Misnomers and the OPM’s Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division

The problem with misnomers is not just the inaccuracy of designation which is either explicitly or implicitly conveyed, but the unintended consequences of the string of reactions and responses which can occur as a result thereof.  Sometimes, interpretive mistakes occur purely on a subjective basis; in which case it is not truly a case of a misnomer, but rather merely the misunderstanding by the recipient of the information.  Other times, a word or designation can be open to multiple meanings, where reasonable people can differ on the inferences to be made.

For Federal and Postal employees who have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Service employee is under FERS or CSRS (such acronyms have specific, esoteric meanings only to Federal or Postal employees, and as such, cannot constitute an objective misnomer, but rather a potentially subjective one), the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process can result in the failure to recognize and properly respond to various misnomers throughout the process.

For example, when a Federal Disability Retirement case is assigned to an Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and one receives a letter informing the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant that X is further needed — the identification of the OPM Representative that he or she is from the “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division” is both confusing and a misnomer.

For, the recipient of the letter (and just to receive any correspondence from OPM other than an approval letter or a denial letter is an amazing fact in and of itself) can well infer from the designation that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application has already been denied without notification (i.e., because it is in the “Reconsideration & Appeals Division”). In fact, all cases fall under the aegis of “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals” section of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Misnomers may be unintended. It is the recipient and the responder who must, unfortunately, live with the consequences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Approaching a Reconsideration

The proverbial definition of insanity is to engage in the same repetitive activity with the expectation of receiving a different result.  While such a definition may not provide a clinically accurate or legally acceptable formulation, it does implicate the chaotic character and the futile act of responding in a particularly fruitless manner.

For Federal and Postal employees who have attempted to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, and have received an initial denial, the process of having OPM reconsider one’s case must be approached in a 2-tier manner:  First, one must meet the “deadline” of filing for Reconsideration with OPM within thirty (30) days of the denial, or upon receipt of the denial (although, to be on the safe side, it is best to use the former date as opposed to the latter);  next, with the box checked to indicate submission of additional medical documentation, to then gather, prepare, compile and submit additional medical evidence within thirty (30) days thereafter, unless a further extension is needed and requested.

However, one should also understand that in an OPM Reconsideration case, it will not be the same Case Worker who will review the case, but it will be reviewed thoroughly by someone else as if it had never been previously reviewed. As such, there is the confounding conundrum of a dual anomaly: The First Case Worker who issued the denial based the denial upon certain specific points; yet, what the First Case Worker denied the case upon, may have no bearing upon what the Second, Reconsideration Case Worker will evaluate the case upon.

What does one do? Whatever one’s answer is to this complex conundrum, do not engage in the proverbial act of insanity; better to get some legal guidance than to spin one’s wheels in an insane world of futility.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unknown Resulting from a Partial Answer

If a question is not fully answered, is it a lie or a mere oversight?  If one places reliance upon a partial answer, was it because the question was not properly posed, or the answer only fragmentally provided, or as a result of a deliberate attempt to mislead?

Everyone has experienced the process of “switch-and-bait“, where the sales pitch is declared as one never matched in the history of the world; but upon arrival, the original declaration of the event was merely the “bait” in order to complete the “switch” to persuade the attendee to accept another product.  In such circumstances, it is indeed fortunate if the only real consequence was a wasted trip, and one can turn around and walk out.

In law, knowing only the “partial answer”, or the incomplete set of facts, can lead to irreversible consequences.  For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to receive full answers — from all sources — in order to make the right decision for one’s future.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a serious step for the Federal or the Postal employee’s future. As such, the information which one relies upon in making that important decision — from what the process entails, to the consequential interplay between FERS & SSDI and a multitude of other questions and answers — should be fully understood.

If a source of information seems incomplete, there is often a reason, and sometimes an underlying motive. Beware the buyer; always seek an authenticating source.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A Federal Issue

Most legal issues require representation by an attorney licensed in the state where the legal matter arises. Thus, divorce proceedings; accidents and torts of various kinds where the injury occurs; contracts where they are formulated and agreed upon; negligence actions where the act occurred, etc.

But for such administrative proceedings such as the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the state from which the attorney received his or her legal license becomes irrelevant precisely because the practicing of Federal Disability Retirement law crosses all state lines, and does not involve any issues which are unique to a particular state at all, but rather is entirely a “Federal” issue involving Federal statutes, regulations, administrative agencies, etc.

Further, while many individuals may still express a “comfort” zone of desiring to “see” the attorney by visiting him or her in an office, such a personalized encounter may simply be an impracticality. Agencies span the entire country, and indeed, Federal workers are stationed throughout the globe in Europe, Asia, the Philippines, etc., and representation for such Federal issues as filing for, and obtaining, Federal and USPS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is best done by an attorney who is experienced in the administrative process of law entailing all aspects of OPM Federal Disability Retirement law.

Fortunately, with modern technology, including email, fax, phone, express delivery, etc., close contact with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is merely a “push-button” away. In an impractical universe, it is best to use the services of practical technology.

Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, not a state one, and this should always be kept in mind when seeking representation in the matter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Misinformation

The problem with a society which provides unlimited information is that the traditional controls and mechanisms known for verification and validation of accuracy become diluted or altogether abandoned.  Plagiarism has become a pervasive problem; as vastness of information exponentially explodes, so the chances of being identified for unauthorized copying becomes infinitely lesser, while those who “play the odds” increase in boldness and in sheer volume.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is a procedural requirement that — sometime during the process of filing with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the Federal or Postal employee must show that he or she has filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with the Social Security Administration.  But it is the “when” which have become enveloped within a convoluted complexity of misinformation.

Various Human Resource Offices are insisting (in error) that SSDI must be filed before an application to OPM can be submitted.  Such misinformation may preclude a Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement to meet the 1-year Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (after separation from Federal Service), or for other Federal or Postal employees who are still employed, if only because the process of SSDI can be an equally, if not more so, of a daunting administrative process as filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Further, in attempting to file online for SSDI, there is the question as to whether one is still employed, and if so, SSDI will not allow the online applicant to proceed any further, precisely because such an applicant would be immediately disqualified, anyway.

The fact and correct information is as follows:  At some point in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee needs to file for SSDI, and show OPM proof of such filing.  From OPM’s perspective, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application, they need to make sure that the Federal or Postal Retirement annuitant is or is not eligible for SSDI, for offset-provisions of benefits between SSDI and FERS.  Thus, it is ultimately merely a payment/compensation issue.  Filing for SSDI is not in reality a prerequisite for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but merely a check upon a coordination of payment benefits if both are approved.

In this vast universe of information, one must expect a correlative dissemination of misinformation; like the black hole in the greater universe of thriving galaxies and dying planetary systems, one can be sucked into the void of ignorance and suffer irreparable consequences as a result.  That is why Captain Kirk needed to be periodically beamed up — if only to make sure that the molecular reconstitution was properly performed in order to continue on in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Local Lawyers and Federal Issues

Federal and Postal employees are particularly susceptible to harassment and hostile work environments, for two primary reasons:  First, agencies (as reflected in terms of organic microcosms of collective individuals forming an organized unit, but represented by individual men and women) tend to view themselves as little fiefdoms, circled and protected by a moat of Federal Laws rarely understood by laymen, and further empowered by secrecy and the pervasive presence of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, and Second, through a maze and web of complex Federal Statutes, Executive Orders and internal regulations, with layers upon layers of bureaucratic anomalies, an entity which remains shrouded with an obtuse, obscure administration of procedures barely comprehensible by those who run the agency.

The third reason, of course, is that despite Federal Agencies popping up throughout every city in every state, local lawyers have failed to make it their business to become knowledgeable about Federal issues, Federal laws, and their impact upon the local population.

This is especially true of Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Fortunately, however, Federal issues are not limited to the state, county or city in which a legal issue arises; therefore, as an attorney who practices OPM Disability Retirement, representation can occur from one state in assisting the Federal or Postal employee from any other state — including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, etc.  Federal issues know no boundaries; that can be a negative thing in terms of state sovereignty; but in terms of being represented for a Federal Disability Retirement case, it has the advantage of being competently handled by those who know the system.

As deteriorating work environments often lead to an increase in medical issues, so the Federal or Postal employee must often fall back upon leaving the system by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Being susceptible to a power-centered entity often has that sort of result:  of greater medical problems; an exponential explosion of discontent; an increase in the need for rehabilitative care.

Fortunately for the Federal and Postal employee, there is the added employment benefit of Federal Disability Retirement.  Tap into that which exists for one’s advantage; the benefit is there for a reason — not the least of which is because of the stressful environment created by the behemoth called, the Federal Agency.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Verification Process

The process for verifying information is a procedural matter which is applied with a systematic methodology.  Verification is essentially a comparative analysis — comparing what is said in one sector of information, with claims made in another.  Consistency of information and claims is therefore what is crucial.  This general overview is applicable in nearly all areas — of law, of marketing, of scholarly endeavors, etc.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to maintain a consistency of claims and assertions.  Thus, there should be a logical and sequential order in the approach of putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.  What is so surprising is how many Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will prepare and submit an Applicant’s Statement of Disability independent of a written medical report from one’s treating doctor.  

Assumptions and presumptions should be avoided at all costs (yes, and the cost of assuming or presuming can be high, indeed, with the consequence of a denial from OPM).  Of course, consistency and verification of information is applicable not only in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — the same methodology of verification should be applied as to claims by those who represent Federal and Postal employees.  

There is a lot of information “out there”, but whether and to what extent such information is accurate, useable, or even relevant, is a question to be asked and answered by the Federal or Postal employee preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire