OPM Disability Retirement: The Three Little Pigs

We are all familiar with the fable of the anthropomorphic three little pigs and the materials used in building their respective houses.  The point of the story itself, however, concerns not the elements used, but the craftsmanship employed, and the effort expended, which reveals the underlying values and provides for fertile fodder in teaching the importance of hard work, careful application and sufficient preparatory labor in securing one’s future.

It wasn’t as if there was any justifying rationale for the first two pigs to have built such insufficient shelters; the moral lessons to be drawn can include:  laziness; lack of orientation for the future; insufficient imaginations; a desire for momentary pleasures as opposed to delayed gratification for future gains; the importance of care and craftsmanship; or, to leave it as just a good story.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lessons gleaned from the fable of the three little pigs can be replete with guiding principles:  building the foundation through the proverbial block-by-block methodology; care in the crafting of the linguistic bridge between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions impacting one’s health; deliberation and agonizingly detailed effort expended to formulate one’s Statement of Disability in SF 3112A; compilation of a sufficient legal basis and argumentation in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, etc.

For, the house that the third pig built withstood the multiple onslaught of  attempted subversion not because the adversary failed to expend sufficient effort, but because one’s own work proved worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Insipience

The thread of differentiation and conceptual distinction can be based upon a mere sliver.  In practical life, pausing a moment because a person forgot his or her keys, can result in avoiding a chain of events terminating in causal calamities, merely because the time differentiation as a consequence of the slight delay allows for time to alter the historical ripples of cause and effect.

Words and conceptual distinctions can have similar minutiae of differentiations.  Linguistic gymnastics and elasticity aside, the word “insipience” conveys a meaning of being foolish and lacking of wisdom.  Changing a single consonant, and instead transforming the word into “incipience”, suddenly alters the concept into one encompassing origination and beginning stages.  Upon closer inspection, however, such a singular change of a consonant resulting in a radical alteration of meaning explodes with a recognition that the two are closely related: That which is in its beginning stages is often lacking of wisdom, precisely because little or no thought or reflection has been allowed.

That is precisely why the beginning stage of a process is so important — because it lays the foundation for all that follows. For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the importance of beginning the sequential procedure of formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application cannot be overly stressed.

Federal Disability Retirement is a submission which is reviewed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.  As such, the reviewing process is accomplished be an agency separate and distinct (in most cases) from the one the Federal or Postal employee is employed by.  The early stages of formulation and preparation in a Federal Disability Retirement application will provide the necessary and important foundation for the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

It is thus the incipience of formulating and preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, which will determine whether or not the outcome will be insipient, or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Orchestration

The quality of a piece of music is defined by sound and silence.  It is the former which is focused upon by most individuals; it is the importance of the latter which is ignored, precisely because the negation of X is never recognized as X until and unless its existence is suddenly lacking.  Silence — that momentary pause which allows for sound to pass by in waves of sonorous beauty — is the untouched beach combed by the lapping waves of quietude.

The orchestration of combining each entrance of every instrument, at the precise moment, preceded by pauses of silence, and tapped by the conductor with precision and sensitivity, is the core of a brilliant musical performance. But orchestration embraces such beauty of composition in all walks of life — from the predator silently creeping to pounce upon its prey in the footprints upon grounds which give way with a flicker of silence or sound, allowing for alerting the victim or not; to the composition of a breathtaking novel in coordinating characters, scenes and descriptive metaphors; the ability to coordinate the complexity of singularities into a cohesive whole is the art of orchestration.

And so it is in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS. Federal Disability Retirement may seem to be a purely administrative endeavor which has no connection to the beauty of musical orchestration; but it is in the cohesive adherence of law, statement of facts, and procedural preparedness, that the invisible thread of creativity must come to the fore.

One’s Statement of Disability, standing without the law, is insufficient; the argument of the law, without the medical foundation prepared, is merely a hollow voice of reason; and the lack of creating a bridge between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements and essential elements of one’s job, leaves an abandoned castle surrounded by a dangerous moat.

Metaphor is a key to understanding complexities of life; for the Federal and Postal Worker who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS through OPM, the orchestration of life’s complexities may require a conductor who guides the instruments toward a successful outcome in the preparation, formulating and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Preparation

Observing competence in action often results in the disarming effect that all endeavors are easy and effortless, and that the price to be paid, the admission fee for fame, is merely based upon luck, whom you are associated with, or what school you attended.  And while it may be true that meritocracies are fading into the oblivion and sunset of historical anachronisms, and the new and acceptable approach to societal fairness is to implement the distribution of wealth via Piketty’s proposed paradigm in his compendium work, Capital in the Twenty First-Century; nevertheless, there are some things which one must still prepare for, and formulate a road-map for a successful outcome.

GPS devices tell us what to do, where to turn, how many miles the journey will take; administrative and bureaucratic facets of life still lack any such electronic directional voices.  For Federal and Postal employees who must consider the reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the reality of preparation must be faced and confronted.  Preparation must involve: obtaining effective medical reports (how does one go about doing that?); what are the legal parameters which increase the chances of a First-Stage successful filing (is this based upon the law or some other factors?); what are the procedural steps which must be adhered to (is there a sequence to be followed, or can one approach the process through multiple avenues and tentacles simultaneously?).

The fact that one pays a single admission fee to watch a symphony or ballet does not mean that players perform based upon the singularity of the fee; that would be an absurdity. Preparation constitutes multiple actions behind the curtains, far in advance of the final performance displayed for the seated audience. It is up to the Federal and Postal employee to go backstage before the performance begins, and to unravel the hidden devices, the invisible threads, and the wizard behind the proverbial curtain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Bridge Too Far

It is an indelible comment in history, marking a failure of calculations resulting in catastrophic consequences in the unwise attempt to quickly end the war.  As a tactical consideration, the attempt to outflank German defenses by securing key bridges in order to isolate the enemy, constituted a brilliant idea; in practical application, the unconfirmed attribution of the comment that the Allied Forces may be going “a bridge too far” proved to be the very downfall of such a bold military strategy.

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

Bridges represent vital and necessary supply lines between two entities, organizations, populations, and even ideas.  They allow for the free flow of supplies and communication; they constitute the “lifeline” between two otherwise disparate groups.  It is such a bridge, or “nexus”, which is similarly of great importance in all formulations of Federal Disability Retirement applications. For the Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing to submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through one’s agency (if still employed by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or otherwise separated but not more than 31 days since the effective date of separation), and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making sure that the “bridge” between one’s medical condition and the impact upon the positional duties of one’s job is a vital and necessary part of the process.

Like physical bridges which connect various populations, the nexus which brings together the Federal Disability Retirement application in a FERS or CSRS submission, will determine the very persuasiveness of one’s presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A bridge which is inadequate will fail to establish that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position; and one which overextends itself may raise red flags of overreaching and exaggeration, undermined by a Supervisor’s Statement or the Agency’s contention that they have attempted to accommodate an individual to a legally viable degree.

While a 1-to-1 ratio of a medical condition-to-an-essential element is unnecessary in establishing eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (see my multiple articles on the Henderson case), nevertheless, a linguistic construction of an adequate bridge between the two must be firmly established.

In the end, as with the Allied attempt to swiftly conclude the war resulted in the unnecessary cost of human lives, so one must take care in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such that one does not go “a bridge too far” in making one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire