Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Rise

It is attributed to objects and people; the sun does it in the morning and the moon at night; tides rise and fall; employment rates, statistical variables; the careers of people; and for this coming week, the anticipation of religious significance and theological arguments over the historical occurrence of a matter specifying an Easter Event.

As a noun, it is used to describe great historical events of a period: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire; the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, etc.  In entertainment circles, a variation of it is often applied, as in, “is X in or out?”, or “Is Y up or down?” Whether the bread rises sufficiently, or we miss witnessing the sun rise on any particular day, shows the vast array of elasticity in how we apply a particular concept in everyday usage.

Technically, of course, neither the sun nor the moon ever “rise”; rather, the rotational perspective from any given viewpoint provides an illusion of such a phenomena.  When it comes to describing the state of an object, such loose usage of language is harmless; but when applied to a person, one should remain vigilantly sensitive to such choice of descriptive language.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions, such that their careers “rise or fall”, or their individual and professional status and stature go “up or down”, the impact upon such lives matter beyond everyday and common application of language.  The rising fortunes and falling health of Federal and Postal employees should matter to those beyond family and friends.

The options?  Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is one option.  It is a benefit which is available to all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum number of years of service, but one which must be proven to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

And what of that event previously referred to for this coming week?  That is the one account where, by those who apply significance to the event, the second half of the description never came about: the rise occurred, but not the fall; or, another way to put it is that the rise conquered the fall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Process Mentality

The importance of understanding that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, as a “process”, is critical in reaching the mental preparedness necessary to endure the potentiality of the lengthy encounter.

The analogy of the approach should be likened to the difference between WWI and WWII — of trench warfare as opposed to a blitzkrieg.  It is the former which must be prepared for, and not the latter.

For, at each step of the way — from waiting for the proper medical reports to be prepared by the treating doctors, to formulating the narrative of one’s statement of disability; to waiting for the agency to complete the processing of their potion (i.e., the Supervisor’s Statement and the Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation efforts); to the intake processing unit of OPM at Boyers, PA, then down to Washington D.C. where assignment of the case will take some time; to final assignment of the case, and potential routing for review by a contract doctor — this is all merely at the First Stage of the process.

If it is denied at the First Stage, then one must fight the process through the Reconsideration Stage, and possibly beyond.

Thus is the mental preparation at the outset required in order to survive the multiplicity of bumps and turns within the process itself.  It is best to know the trials in order to survive the process, and to prepare for it as best one can.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Unequivocal Doesn’t Mean That One Is “Right”

In a denial letter from the Office of Personnel Management, the Claims Specialist/Representative will often make statements in confident, unequivocal terms.  “You have not…”   “The medical evidence fails to show…”    “Your doctor never…”   “The law requires that you…”  Such a voice of unequivocal confidence often leaves the impression that there is no room for argument; that the case is lost; that there really is no point in even attempting to argue with the Office of Personnel Management.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Merely because an individual makes statements in an unequivocal manner, is not a basis for determining the truth or falsity of his or her argument.  In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there is almost always room for disagreement.  We are speaking about interpretation of medical documents, the significance of what is said, etc.  We are talking about the different and proper application of the OPM Disability law, and the multitude of case-law which would be applicable.  Don’t let the voice of a statement fool you as to the validity of the statement.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, the Office of Personnel Management is rarely right; they just like to sound like they are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Approvals & Disapprovals

Approvals of Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS & CSRS, for an attorney who specializes exclusively in that area of law, are self-evidently a professionally satisfying bit of news.  If the OPM Disability approval occurs at the initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, all the better; it means that everything was properly prepared and executed. 

Disapprovals, of course, constitute a temporary setback.  It is a disappointment.  Professionally, it means that the Office of Personnel Management found something wanting; it may not be substantive; it may be as simple as the OPM Representative being in a bad mood on a given day. At the same time, it is a challenge for the Attorney — a time to redouble one’s efforts, discern what is needed to win at the Reconsideration Stage, and win the full confidence of the client.  Winning a case only lasts for the day of the win.  Every attorney worth his or her salt wants to win every case. 

Watching the Olympics during these couple of weeks, it is interesting to see how “winning” is an inherently human desire.  But as with everything in life, it is not just winning; it is how one wins.  Watching each athlete conduct him or herself, it is interesting to observe how there are “winners for the moment”, and “winners in a greater-context-of-life”.  This is not to even discuss the “losers” — or those who believed they should have gotten a gold medal, but instead had to “settle” for silver or bronze.  How one loses at anything in life —  a sporting event, a contest, competition, or a legal case — and how one responds to the “loss”, is what is important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Approaches & Decisions

With each case, a story must be told.  If the case gets denied, normally my approach is not so much that a “narrative” must be retold, but rather, I tend to view the Reconsideration Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement application process more as the “battle” to set the proper stage — to either win at the Reconsideration Stage, or to win at the Merit Systems Protection Board stage.  What is interesting is that, within the three stages of the process (excluding the appellate stages of the Full Board Review and the appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals), the need to tell a coherent, empathetic, sympathetic and compelling story of a dedicated and loyal Federal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that it impacts him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, comes “full circle”. 

I approach the “Reconsideration Stage” of the Federal Disability Retirement process under FERS & CSRS as the “center point” of battle, in many ways, precisely because it is the step just before taking it before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  It is the place to give the Office of Personnel Management a subtle warning:  This is your last chance before the destiny of the Disability Retirement Application is taken completely out of your hands and control, and placed into the hands of an Administrative Judge.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire