OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Confronting Reality

When are the times we try and avoid it?  Is that the line between sanity and the “darker world”?  If we avoid it more than we embrace it, does it constitute a step beyond eccentricity and fall into the category of bizarre behavior?  If that were the case, how many of us would meet that definition?  Does engaging in entertainment — whether of the couch potato type or of the active one — constitute avoidance?

Say a person binge-watches a certain television series for 72-hours straight, then sleeps for another 72 hours; such a person has certainly “avoided” the reality of life’s responsibilities, duties, obligations, etc.  But would we deem such a person to be insane?  If he were a bachelor who has no commitments or responsibilities, and acted in such a manner during “vacation time” or during a period of unemployment, we would perhaps not give it a second thought.  But say the same person had a toddler whom he neglected for those 100-plus hours — then, of course, we would consider it as irresponsible behavior, if not criminal neglect.

“Confronting reality” is often deemed the antonym of “avoiding reality”; it is something we all do — both confronting and avoiding — and crosses the diving line between “responsible” and “irresponsible” behavior.  Of course, the latter is sometimes necessary in order to refresh one’s self in order to engage in the former, and so we embrace entertainment and leisure activities in order to adequately prepare ourselves to cross over from one to the other.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her position, confronting reality is often delayed in order to try and extend one’s career with the Federal government.  Often, early on in suffering from a medical condition, it becomes quite clear whether or not the Federal or Postal worker can continue in his or her chosen career.  This is the point where “confronting reality”, however, clashes with the desire to avoid it and to instead embrace the make-believe universe of “What ifs” — What if things improve?  What if the Agency or Postal Service is willing to be patient?  What if they can accommodate me?

Consult with an attorney experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for as difficult as it may be in confronting reality, it is the reality of the law that will help you avoid the pitfalls which you will surely want to avoid in the days to come.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Technically correct

What does a person mean when it is said, “Yes, that is technically correct”?  Does it matter where the inflection resides, or which part of the statement is emphasized?  If greater syllabic magnification is placed on the word itself, whilst the remainder of the sentence is left in a monotone of boredom, is something else being conveyed beyond the mere words declared?

What if the hesitation on the first word is elongated, as in, “Ye-e-e-s, you are technically correct.”?  Or, how about this one:  “Y-e-e-e-s…you ARE technically correct.”?  Further, why do we always expect a conjunction to follow, as in, “Yes, you are technically correct, but…”?  Does such a sentence imply that a person can also be un-technically correct?  If so, what would that mean and what factors would be included in coming to such a conclusion?

What practical or real-life consequences are inherent in the truth of such a statement, such that it might alter or modify our approach to a given subject?  If an engineer is building a skyscraper and turns to the architect and says,” Yes, you may be technically correct, but the entire building could nonetheless collapse” — how is it possible that the architect could be “technically correct” yet mistake the un-technical side of things such that it could result in a life-threatening disaster?

Or, in law, if a lawyer is “technically correct” but might nevertheless lose a case before a jury, does that mean that the “technical” argument in the law may not carry the day because the jury might take into consideration factors other than the law itself in rendering its collective decision?  Yet, isn’t “the law” nothing more than an aggregate of technicalities to begin with, and therefore, does it even make sense to speak of being “technically correct” within the purview of the legal arena?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be technically filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether technically under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it may be technically correct that certain legal criteria must be technically met; however, when putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application, just remember that the technically sufficient Federal Disability Retirement application should always, technically speaking, contain an aggregation of medical documentation, legal argumentation and personal narrative combined to make an effective presentation, better guided by a legal technician otherwise known as a counselor, attorney or lawyer in this technically empowered universe — technically speaking, of course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Things not likely to happen

It is not likely that tomorrow morning you will wake up and find that aliens have taken over the earth (although, if one were to read various supermarket tabloids, that has already occurred many times over, both while asleep and awake); it is not likely that you will win the lottery with that last dollar spent on running a random set of numbers (though millions each day shell out astronomical sums in the aggregate with dreams – and sometimes actual plans reflected upon – of what one will do “when” the improbable event will happen); and it is not likely that the email received the other day from some banker in Burkina Faso who wants a “trusted friend” to allow for a transfer of a cool $100 million and would allow you to keep half of it just because you happen to be the only person in the universe who has a bank account and can keep a secret, will actually honor such a request.

Nevertheless, people actually consider such fantasies, and to the detriment of those who do so with serious intent, harm themselves either by delaying what could be done, setting aside the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and turning over valuable time to endeavors not likely to happen.

Often, and unfortunately, medical conditions have that same characteristic – of things not likely to happen.  It begins by happening – of a medical condition that should not have been, or is seen to be “unfairly” targeting a particular individual, and a period of disbelief ensues where the question is, “Why me?  Why not the other guy, instead?”  Then, once the phase of acceptance comes about, one begins to adapt, compromise the levels of acceptability and quality of life, and modification of expectations surely follows soon thereafter.  Then, one hopes, prays, angrily shouts to the heavens or otherwise with quiet resignation begins to ruminate – yes, the medical condition may be unfair, but so is the lot of life we all live.

And the principle of things not likely to happen applies to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the things not likely to happen includes: The medical condition will just go away; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will just let things slide and be very understanding; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will actually accommodate your medical condition; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will find you another job at the same pay or grade; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will grant SL, AL or LWOP in unlimited amounts so that you can attend to your illness or medical condition; and the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will show empathy, sympathy and understanding and make you feel “welcomed” while you endure one of the most difficult periods of your life.  Not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Alliteration of Life

Cathartic calamities caused creatively cannot cooperatively contain characteristic contents clearly coordinated contumaciously.  Sometimes, the insistence upon form can result in the nonsensical loss of clarity in substance; life often reflects the absurdities we establish by convention and societal imposition, and we pay the price for it.

Life is like being a letter in a series of alliterative words; we are helpless in being attached, but cannot dissociate ourselves, separate one’s self, or otherwise excise the offending aspect.  We are forever wedded like the proverbial two peas in a pod, with an incessant but futile search for a seam to burst out.  The problem, too, is that it may all sound proper and profound; but beneath the surface of consonant melodies and mellifluous motions of letters harkening back with pleasantries of sound, sight and solace, the reality of it is that the emperor with no clothes needs to be called out, lest the closeted secrets remain dormant.

Medical conditions tend to make of life an alliteration of sorts; squeezed between the implanted word in front and crushed by the one behind, we are left without choices in being a pawn in the cycle of life’s fate.  Like the word that sounds melodious as it rolls off the tongue of the creator, we keep trying to fit in despite the absurdity of the substance and content.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a metaphor of life is well-known.  Despite being stripped of dignity and design, the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition is treated as half-human, half-worth and half-baked.  They are relegated to the corner office, the basement of windowless reserves, and raked over the proverbial coals to perform menial tasks meant to humiliate and defeat.  But it all “sounds nice” — the courageous attempts by the agency to accommodate; the superficial empathy shown by supervisors and managers; it is all meant to soothe.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often seen as just another daunting task, an obstacle placed in front of the already-stretched limits of the Federal or Postal employee; but then, what choices are there?

Like the alliterative words caught between others just because of the consonant attached, the Federal or Postal worker with a medical condition represents the alliteration of life, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely another reflection in the pond of life, provided productively as previous payment portending possible potentialities progressively purchased.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Hostile Work Environment and the Centrality of the Medical Condition in a Government Employee Retirement Claim

Pithy quotes are replete throughout advisory or “self-help” books; it is a cottage industry involving coming up with linguistically sticky statements, like post-its tacked on to our sleeves in order to remind us of daily living tools to carry.  “Keeping the main thing the main thing” is one such quote, and numerous similar mutations, which remind us that prioritization of concepts, in any endeavor, is important to keep in mind, and to not allow for peripheral concerns to overwhelm and dominate.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers intending on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the centrality of the medical condition should always be paramount, penultimate, and properly placed atop the prioritized priority list of planned penmanship (such early morning alliteration is indeed a challenge).

This is normally not a concern; for, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, suffers from a medical condition, which is the primary basis for which such a life changing event must be engaged.  But in the course of encountering the adversarial administrative process — of the agency, the supervisor, coworkers, the H.R. Department, and in the end, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — it is easy to become sidetracked with issues of a hostile work environment, of harassment, increasing disciplinary measures, suspensions, initiation of a PIP, etc., and to forget that the centrality of the medical condition should be the guiding principle and light which drives the engine of success or leads to the drone of failure.

Getting sidetracked with peripheral issues remains the singular and problematic course of careening causal catastrophes; it is, as stated at the outset, the centrality of the medical condition which needs to be placed at the forefront, the mid-section, and the conclusory compendium of all carefully calibrated cases in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire