Attorney Representation in Federal Disability Claims: Directions

The crude form of the proverbial image formulated is:  Up the creek without a paddle, but normally with an epithet inserted.  It portrays a vivid scene of being in a symbolic state, directionless and without a means of guiding or maneuvering.  One is thus subject to the winds of time, the vicissitudes of circumstances beyond one’s control, immediate or otherwise, and where a growing storm of unforeseen proportions and magnitude is coming at a rate of ferocity uncontrollable and unable to be prepared for.

People with medical conditions have that sense of progressive disintegration, where the things that one has worked and strived so hard to achieve, are now in danger of loss and ruination. For the disabled Federal employee or the injured Postal worker who suffers from an accident or other health condition, such that the medical condition is impacting the capacity and ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the growing fear of being swept aside by slow, insidious and deliberative steps by the agency — of a poor performance review; of initiating a “Performance Improvement Plan“, or a PIP; of threats of separation and termination because of one’s absenteeism and exhaustive use of LWOP; all point towards an inevitable direction which is far from the destination that the Federal or Postal employee wants to arrive at.

Lifeboats are funny things; they may save the life, but without a paddle, one may drift and yet fail to survive for lack of food or water.  Sustenance is the key to a life worthy of living.

For the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS, when a medical condition begins to threaten one’s employment with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Filed through one’s agency if one is still employed or separated from Federal Service but not for more than thirty one (31) days, the application is ultimately processed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for a determination of eligibility and entitlement.  It is a benefit which, in and of itself, provides for a basic annuity such that the sustenance of a livelihood is provided for, in order for the Federal employee or the Postal worker to attend to one’s health, and continue to look to a brighter future in the years ahead.

Thus, in that sense, Federal Disability Retirement is the needed oar for the man or woman in the proverbial boat, stranded up the mythological creek, waiting for the means to direct the drifting dictation of life’s daring demands.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Seeking an Attorney

Old methods of operating are sometimes so ingrained that accepting a different paradigm is sometimes difficult.  In normal circumstances, an individual who seeks the counsel and representation of an attorney would (and should) seek out a local attorney who is versed and experienced in the laws of one’s particular state.  Most legal issues require the counsel and representation of the state within which the legal issue arose — whether it be contractual, tort, domestic relations, or other matters — and, indeed, an attorney is generally restricted to practicing law in the state in which he or she is licensed by.  

In representing Federal and Postal employees in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, however, the Federal or USPS Worker must understand that the issue to be litigated concerns a “Federal” issue, and not a state issue.  As such, an attorney who specializes in representing Federal or Postal employees to fight for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will normally not be a “local” attorney.  

Because Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, the fact that an attorney is licensed in a different state is irrelevant.  The attorney certainly needs to be a licensed attorney — otherwise, such an attorney who is not licensed should not hold himself or herself out to be an attorney.  For representation to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management or, if the Federal or Postal employee has already filed, or been denied and filed a Request for Reconsideration with the Office of Personnel Management and was denied again and is now in need of filing an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, the necessity of an attorney at any level of the process should focus upon the specialization and experience of the attorney in Federal Disability Retirement issues — and not on whether the attorney is “local” or not.  

Indeed, in all likelihood, one will not find a “local” attorney who has even an inkling of an idea what Federal Disability Retirement law is all about. Paradigm shifts are difficult to accept, but they are nevertheless necessary in a world of ever-changing circumstances.  While “going local” may be a great paradigm to adhere to in supporting local farms and local products, it is probably not a practical approach in attempting to secure Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney