OPM Disability Retirement: The Process of Decision-Making

As has been previously stated in repetitive fashion, 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 understand and acknowledge the duality of the process — for it is a process, as opposed to a singular event, both as an administrative legal issue, as well as for the individual Federal or Postal employee in a personal sense.

To clarify:  As an administrative issue, it is a process which involves multiples stages of argumentation (potentially).  Yes, it would be nice if every case was decided with an approval at the First/Initial Stage of the administrative process; however, there is a purpose and a reason why there are multiple stages.  It is precisely because it was anticipated that there would be denials and appeals to such denials, that an administrative procedure for multiple stages of review and further submissions of evidence and arguments was constructed and implemented.  It is not an entitlement pursuant to a fixed date, a fixed age, or a triggering event.  Rather, it is an administrative process which must be proven, applied for, and affirmatively shown that one is eligible.

From the personal perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, the decision of “when” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is also a process, as opposed to a singular event.  There are, of course, cases where a traumatic injury or life-changing accident occurred, and such an event is the triggering moment for filing.  But for most Federal or Postal employees, the medical condition suffered is a progressively deteriorating process, and it is often difficult to determine a “date certain” where one can point to on a calendar and state, this is the day and hour when I cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of my job.

This is why there is an inherent complexity to a process, as opposed to a singular event of certitude — for, it is always the unknown and the uncertain which gives rise to the anxieties of life, and a process is indeed a period of the unknown, and a chasm of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Dissipated Dream, Delayed

It is an enjoyment and pleasure of the highest order, and yet costs nothing; if remembered, the visual residue can be stored in the safety deposit boxes of one’s memory, “as if” it actually occurred; and retrieving the memories can be as vividly regurgitated in the virtual reality of its existence, as that of having actually been there.

Dreams, if remembered, can be as real as memories of experienced events.  No, they cannot be videotaped (at least, not yet); and the money exchanged, the actions engaged or the people we meet in the fantasy realm of our self-contained consciousness, do not translate well in the harsh reality of everyday life.  And then we open our eyes, and unless we deliberately try and remember the images so vividly splashing upon the walls of our eyelids just before the flutter of opening them, they dissipate into the ethereal universe of some mysterious universal consciousness.  But what of the other sense of a dream — that of youth’s future endeavor and plans of greatness?  Of the many places desirous of visiting, the encounter with a kindred spirit yet to be fulfilled, and the pleasures of momentary categories of accomplishments?

Medical conditions have a tendency to dissipate such dreams, to scatter them across the cold and harsh tundra of reality, and to stamp them into the frozen plains of time.  But a dissipated dream need not be destroyed; it may merely be delayed.  Federal Disability Retirement can allow for that eventuality.  What others deem to defecate, one need not accept as the final word.  No, it is not the monetary payment of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity which will burst forth with riches of dreams delayed; rather, it is the opportunity to attend to one’s medical conditions, such that the medical conditions may be somewhat resolved, the nightmare put behind, and linear progression of life’s plans restarted.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should merely be a bump on the road.  While some Federal and Postal employees may consider the entire bureaucratic process of filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to be akin to a nightmare of sorts, it is the path out of one’s rut of dreamless nights.

Dare to dream; never believe that the dream dreamed is a dissipated dream; rather, dreams of one’s subconscious, just as the childhood one of unrealistic plans for the future, should merely be a delayed embracing of that which is larger than the smallness of our fears.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Banners and Slogans

It is indicative of a society, its values and ethical underpinnings, reflected in accepted public slogans and banners.  Habits are formed by repetitive acts performed first with some thought, then subsequently on automatic pilot.

Each of us walks around with a complex web of intricate belief systems developed over many years; rarely can we penetrate beyond the veil of slogans and banners, for they make up the majority of our consciousness.  That is why it is rarely fruitful to engage in debate; our preset ideas are intractable and unable to be altered; we remain who we are, what we believe, and why we stand for things as they are.

When was the last time you witnessed a debate or discussion resulting in the admission of one or the other of the participants with a declaration of a changed outlook?  To hold fast to an opinion is somehow a virtue, even if one is frightfully wrong.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may necessitate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the obstacle preventing one from initiating the necessary steps will often be the very psychological barrier which is deemed to be a virtue.

Hard work and sacrifice at the expense of one’s health is held up to be a virtue to applaud; but at some point, such an intractable outlook becomes merely nothing more than stubbornness, and even the grandest slogan of bureaucratic thoughtlessness would admit that stubbornness is not an attractive character trait to retain.  At some point, the world of sloganeering and banners tooted about the “mission of the agency” must be overcome with the self-understanding that one’s mental and physical health is paramount; otherwise, automatic piloting will negate the need for human control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a necessary component for self-preservation for those Federal and Postal employees who are suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job.

Setting aside the societal banners and slogans which impede good judgment may be the first step in the process, and is often the greatest obstacle to overcome.  For, one’s education is often comprised of being soiled with the residues of social experimentation, and in that sense, we are mere guinea pigs in service to others.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Fear and the Masking of Medical Conditions

Fear can exacerbate, and simultaneously hide the underlying cause.  The Western philosophical quest for the essence of a thing never considers whether the human element of fear is part of the problem; instead, the focus has always been to unravel and lift the veil from the world of appearances by either recognizing the imperfection of perceptual engagements, or by acknowledging that the objective world is unreachable and unknowable.

But fear is the penultimate human emotion of irrational masking; and when an individual has a physical or psychiatric condition such that this medical condition begins to deteriorate and debilitate, and impacts upon one’s workplace relationships, social engagements and family security, the exponential magnification of fear can mask the condition itself — or, at the very least, deliberately cover the symptomatologies which trigger alerts daily.  But the underlying motivation prompted by fear can only conceal for a time, until a flash-point occurs where the seriousness of the medical condition exceeds the ability of fear to mask; and when that crisis-point reaches fruition, the condition itself becomes a point of crisis.

Yes, fear can mask for a time; man has the unfathomable capacity to lie not only to one’s self, but to lie to the self which lies.

For Federal and Postal employees who walk with fear because of financial and workplace security, who are beset with a progressively deteriorating medical condition, fear is a factor of which one must contend.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a great leap of faith.  But faith should first be reinforced with information; and so the best medicine to treat fear is to initially gather the information on the entire process.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement; understand, reflect, and battle against the fear of ignorance.  That is the proper methodology and approach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Prospective Affirmation versus Retrospective Correction

Moving forward with the right tools is generally more effective than looking back and trying to correct deficiencies; thus, the age-old adage of being penny wise, pound foolish applies; and 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 make a determination early on to clearly assess the strength of a case, the needs required to optimize such strengths, and to obtain assistance where necessary.

As to an objective assessment of a case:  one is normally not the best evaluator in analyzing the strength or weakness of one’s own Federal Disability retirement case.  This is because of a self-evident principle operating in each such Federal Disability Retirement case:  the subject who suffers from the medical condition cannot objectively evaluate from a third-party’s perspective the viability of a case in terms of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the coherence and compelling nature of the evidence to be presented.

Most believe that his or her case is a “slam-dunk”; few in actual reality ever are.  To get denied by OPM at the First Stage; then at the Reconsideration Stage; then to go pro se before the Merit Systems Protection Board; then to obtain a lawyer — while it is good to get a lawyer at any stage of the process — is it wise to attempt a retrospective correction of one’s mistakes?  At what stage does it become too late?  Where in the process does “correction” override “mistakes”?  Compare that to a prospective affirmation of one’s inadequacies — that it is difficult, if not impossible, to objectively evaluate one’s own case; that an effective compilation and presentation of a Federal Disability Retirement case is necessary in order to win in a Federal Disability Retirement case; and that providing a legal citationin support of one’s case is an essential element of a compelling case:  combining it all, it would seem that being wise for the pound is preferable than being foolish for the penny (to make an inverse adage applicable).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Anxiety of Procrastination

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there are numerous issues, points, time-frames,etc., during the administrative process, when a Federal or Postal employee’s anxieties may become exacerbated — both because of the inherent complications resulting from the process itself, as well as because of what others do.  Many of the complexities which arise are beyond the control of one’s capabilities.  Thus, if one is accustomed to having some “control” over events and circumstances, it can quickly become a process full of anxieties, exasperation and frustration.  

Time is often beyond one’s control — the time the Agency takes to fill out their portion; the time a doctor responds to a request for a medical narrative; and, finally, the time that the Office of Personnel Management takes in reviewing and rendering a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

One point of frustration which often builds without ceasing, however, is within the control and capacity of all Federal Disability Retirement applicants — procrastination.  Procrastination merely delays the inevitable, and compounds the complexities because it merely allows for outside difficulties and problems to continue to build, without resolution.  If the need arises to begin filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, procrastination should not be part of the game plan.  This is especially true because the Office of Personnel Management is a bureaucracy which takes a long time itself, and procrastinating at the front-end of the process will only delay things further at the back-end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire