Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Pragmatic Steps

The practical aspects of every process must never be overlooked.  When an issue or procedural process appears complicated, what often happens is that people get entangled in the details of such complexity and overlook the fundamentals which support the composite of such perplexing complications.

This principle of never forgetting to take care of the essentials, is no less true in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One can, for example, get entangled in the details of the legal interpretation of what constitutes a viable accommodation under the law, and whether or not the agency is able to offer such a proposal of accommodation.  And, indeed, agencies will often misinterpret and attempt to characterize actions on their part as constituting an accommodation (i.e., that they “allowed” the Federal or Postal employee to take sick leave, annual leave or LWOP to attend to his or her medical appointments — hardly a legally viable accommodation under the law, when all that was initiated was to allow the Federal or Postal employee to do that which he or she already had a legal right to do), and when that happens, it is up to the applicant and his/her Federal Disability Retirement attorney to point such mis-statements out to OPM.

The web of complications in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits can be wide and perplexing; but just as a spider must prepare the threads which connect into an intricate criss-crossing of singular threads into a composite of such threads in order to effectively catch its prey, so the Federal or Postal worker wwho contemplates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must carefully build his or her case beginning with the first, fundamental steps on the road to a solid foundation

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Response to the Denial & Properly Reading the Signs

Responding to an OPM Disability Retirement application denial is fraught with dangers of addressing the right issue; whether such a response does so adequately; and the determination of the extent of what constitutes “adequacy” in such a response.  Properly reading the “road signs” is the key to a successful response.  For, to begin with, cogency and brevity are not characteristics which are common in an OPM Disability Retirement denial.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management utilizes multiple templates in referring to the sufficiency of legal and documentary proof, and will often shift arbitrarily in declaring why, and to what extent, a Federal or Postal disability retirement application did not meet the standard of proof required, which is governed by a “preponderance of the evidence”.  They will, of course, often cite various legal “criteria”, and number them accordingly, as in:  “You did not meet Criteria Number 4 in that…”

In responding, it is important to address the critical issues which OPM regards as central to its decision, and as all roads lead back to Rome, so it is with a response to a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement case: All roads lead back to the original nexus of whether a Federal or Postal employee can perform all of the essential elements of one’s job within the context of the severity and extent of one’s medical conditions, and to the issue of whether or not a “reasonable” accommodation could have been provided by the individual’s agency.

Broken down into its foundational components, the pathways can be ultimately discerned, and the proverbial fork-in-the-road leading one to the right way back to Rome will often depend upon how the traveler interprets the signs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire