Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement and the Price of Loyalty

Salinger’s character, Holden Caulfield, recognized the influence of movies, and the media in general.  When used as a tool for political purposes, they mold and direct the issues to be discussed, the pathways of thoughts to be taken, and the passions to be experienced.

Though we think we are libertarians within the secluded confines of our own minds, what actually occurs is that we fail to recognize the subtle influences of those forces which we rely upon so much for our daily focus and guidance.  Where did we learn such high-minded concepts such as “loyalty“, “commitment” and “dedication”?  And who taught us to apply such vaunted paradigms upon the stereotypes of our lives?

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, often the one stop-gap measure preventing the Federal or Postal employee from taking the necessary and pragmatic steps in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is in clinging to a false sense of misdirected loyalty.

Loyalty requires a bilateralism which simply does not exist, or exists so rarely as to be inconsequential, but which pervades with Federal and Postal Workers under the guise of “mission of the agency”.  Such false pretentiousness (and pretending) quickly dissipates when that mission of the agency becomes a proposal to remove based upon the mission’s “other” sidebar — for the “efficiency” of the service — and then it becomes an emergency and a time of enlightenment.

Throughout all of those years, loyalty was lauded, but existed as a one-way street — from the Federal employee to the Federal agency, and not the other way around.  But when a medical condition hits, it is of paramount importance to focus upon the singular entity of significance:  the health and well-being of one’s self.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be one of those necessary steps required as part of that process of self-care, and one should be wary of paying too high a price for that overinflated commodity listed under the category of “L”, which also includes “Lies” and “Lip-service”, as well as “Loyalty”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Extrapolated Life

Originating from mathematics, the concept of extrapolation works well within numerical or statistical restrictions, because the inherent precision constrained by present trends versus application to unknown quantities, poses a self-correcting device not otherwise discovered with linguistic flexibility.

But what of a person’s life?  Most descriptions possess mere “slice of life” indicators.  An employment application; information gathered on a background check; security clearances obtained; personal financial statements; a family discussion about an incident which involved a relative; these are all moments in time, partial reflections upon a wider context of a complex life.  But that is how we are viewed, and how we view others; for, it is simply an impossibility to convey, or to hold with accurate assessment, the entirety of a person’s life, leaving aside the lives of everyone and anyone we encounter.

And so we are left with designating labels of convenience; that is John who works in IT; Mary, the office manager, and oh, by the way, she has two kids, one of whom had the flu last week; and so it goes.  Are such categorical delegations adequate?  For specific purposes, and in defined ways, they are useful in their own methodological curtailments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it serves well to understand the relevance of contextual extrapolation.  For, people have a tendency to want to tell the fullness of one’s life story.

Where to begin?  How to introduce one’s self.  What to include, and what to exclude.

Such is the contrast between David Copperfield and Holden Caulfield; the lengthy version of a biography, or the brevity of a pointed narrative.  Most want to divulge the former; the listener normally desires the latter.  To divulge too much is to indulge in needless chatter; discretion is, indeed, often the greater part of valor.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, in the writing of one’s narrative, one should try and apply the precision-methodology of extrapolation in mathematics, but with a linguistic application sufficient to relate the relevant facts.

In the end, Caulfield’s concerns were probably overstated, and Copperfield’s remembrances of past childhood hurts could have been somewhat abbreviated; and a compromise between the two in all likelihood would have produced the best of narratives, at least for purposes of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire