Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: The Diatribe

There may well be an appropriate time for a lengthy diatribe.  The act itself often finds its impetus in bitterness; it also implies a lack of control, overwhelmed by anger and originating in attribution by an act of injustice.  But where emotion controls rationality, the loss of sequential propriety normally results in a corresponding lack of coherence and comprehension.

For Federal and Postal Workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, the urge to right past wrongs is a compelling force which often erupts in a diatribe of sorts, within the content of a Federal Employee Disability Retirement claim. This is, unfortunately, a self-defeating proposition.

Yes, agency actions often comprise a compendium of injustices; yes, treatment of coworkers can be the basis of collateral actions; yes, discriminatory behavior may be a justifiable basis for filing EEO actions; but, no, weaving one’s frustration into the substance of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not the right path to take, for the simple reason that it is not the appropriate venue in which to vent.

Federal and Postal Workers who intend on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, need to bifurcate the issues, and recognize the practical dualism in existence:  OPM is a separate Federal agency from the one employing the chronically ill or injured Federal Worker who intends to submit a Federal disability Retirement application (in most cases, unless of course the Federal employee works for OPM — and even then, the section which reviews the Federal Disability Retirement application is separate and distinct within the agency).

Context and appropriateness are invisible lines which need to be followed.  Diatribes may have their place in literature; it rarely serves a useful purpose in filing for CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: GPS or Map Reading

Unforeseen consequences have become the expected norm; for, as technology progressively innovates, the quickened pace of advancement defies any allowance for thoughtful retrospection, leaving aside the need for anticipatory planning, as to the future impact of present actions.  Creating an antiseptic society which declares that simplicity of thoughtless actions is the goal to achieve, should anticipate a tremendous stunting of evolutionary progress.

For, if the theory of evolution is based upon environmental stresses which force microcosmic mutations, then what would be the reverse impact — when technology unburdens such stresses?  We no longer read maps; the GPS tells us where to go, when to turn, what street we are on, and when we have arrived.  We are daily told what to do; we need not figure out anything, anymore.  When we encounter a life-situation where our involvement and active participation is crucial to the success of an endeavor or process, the training which we have previously been given will reveal itself.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, must by necessity be an active one, and not passive.  Decisions must be made; steps must be initiated; statutory and regulatory processes must be followed.

Life does not run the course of an electronic voice emitted by one’s Smart phone; some functions must engage the mind of the participant; map reading is still a skill which may be required, when the technology we relied upon fails to deliver.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stifle, and that is entirely understandable.  But the rest of the world continues to forge forward, and so do administrative processes, whether we like them or not.

In the end, the minor evolutionary mutations are never dependent upon any singular act of inaction; but the cumulative impact of a population waiting for direction can be altered by a single Federal or Postal employee who takes the affirmative step in preparing for his or her future by deciding to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — if not for the greater populace, then at least for his or her personal life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Getting to Your Final Destination

Following a GPS can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Yes, there are ways to override specific elements; yes, you always have to be smarter than the technology which one utilizes; but since we have come to a point in our ordinary lives of placing reliance upon technological efficiency, the natural course of events is to simply enter the vehicle, punch in a destination point, and follow blindly.

It is a metaphor of how we operate in the world in all aspects of our lives; and while we like to engage in self-aggrandizements of how we are the highest beings in intelligence, innovation and inventiveness, the fact of our ordinary lives betrays the simplicity of our mindlessly habitual actions.

Following blindly a GPS is rarely the shortest route; it is never the most efficient way; and it is almost certainly not the road to be taken as the safest course.  Once there, of course, all questions about the manner of “how” one got there, disappears; but it is often important to consider the “how”, and not merely the fact that one got there.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are seeking to obtain a period of respite, it is important to consider “how” one will get there.  Trudging along and slogging through routes without considering the options and avenues will often result in the further deterioration of one’s health.  Mindlessly and repetitively doing the same thing will not advance an individual one iota towards the destination that one seeks.

Federal Disability Retirement is an option which should be considered, and whether one is under FERS or CSRS, it is an avenue which may be the singular road which effectively “gets there” for the Federal or Postal Worker who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is an option worth considering, but one which the Federal or Postal Worker must “override” the mindlessness of continuing in the same course as yesterday, and the day before.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer blog: Meeting the Legal Criteria

Lawyers often speak about “the law” as if it has the character of a science — of established principles which are objective, without the arbitrary influences of subjective interpretive devices or nuances. But even science itself fails any pure test of universal unalterability; one need only read Kuhn’s description of shifting paradigms in the history of science (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) to understand that objectivity is merely another word for pragmatism. For, that which “works” or is “effective” in the eyes of the greatest number of people, is what matters to most people. That is why success is an irreplaceable harbinger of general opinion.

In the Federal government, one would like to expect application of rules, regulations, etc., somewhat in an algorithmic form, where favoritism is lacking, and where everyone has a “clean shot” at everything.

Especially when it comes to a benefit such as Federal Disability Retirement, which impacts those who are most unfortunate — one beset with a medical condition such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job — an expectation that an objective criteria which can be met by pure factual presentation, legal magnification of relevant statutes and laws, and perhaps some modicum of argumentation for persuasion, is what should occur in a perfect world. But as the proverbial perfect world fails to materialize, we must do with what we are given; subjective interpretation, and selective analysis are merely human frailties and imperfections.

That is why legal argumentation and countering of subjectivism must be employed.

Federal Disability Retirement, whether for FERS or CSRS employees of the Federal government, must be fought for, and “won”; there is no mathematical algorithm of objective application; there is no parallel universe of perfection; there is only the human condition, which requires interpretation, knowledge, analysis, and argumentation which persuades and cajoles.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Meticulous Preparation

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to take the time, effort and care to prepare each element of the application for Federal Disability Retirement with meticulousness.  The term and conceptual implication of the word, “being meticulous” involves precision and the imagery of a methodical approach, of attending to the details and formulating the various aspects of the packet with thoughtful thoroughness.  

As a watchmaker who must attend to the minute details of his masterpiece (yes, it is a deliberate pun on using the term “minute” to infer both the idea of size as well as a quantity of time, but pronounced in different ways), it is in the very details of a Federal Disability Retirement case where the battle for approval or denial must be fought. It is often pointed out that ease of effort distinguishes between the professional and the amateur; that the professional makes it all look so easy.  Yet, the amount of preparation and practice which the professional undergoes prior to going on stage, or showing his or her abilities before a watchful crowd, is what the audience does not see.  

Similarly, when the Office of Personnel Management reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application and sees how everything logically “fits” together and proves by a preponderance of the evidence that a Federal Disability Retirement application has met all of the legal criteria for an approval, it is the meticulous preparation which has gone into fitting all of the “pieces of the puzzle” together, which provided the foundation for such success.  

Like those automobile commercials where precision driving through difficult obstacles ends with the cautionary statement:  “Beware, do not try this on your own, as the drivers in this ad were all professionals”; so it is a similar statement to the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS:  it is not an easy matter, and meticulous preparation must be taken to formulate the medical, legal, narrative and multitudinous elements necessary to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Reluctant Doctor

In preparing, formulating, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the linchpin (sometimes spelled “lynchpin”) is comprised of a supportive doctor who is willing to provide substantive medical evidence, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and that the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  

Originally, a linchpin referred to a metal fastener which prevented a wheel from becoming separated or dislodged from the axle.  Similar to the conceptual analogy of the “weakest link” in a chain, the idea of viewing a Federal Disability Retirement application in such terms and perspective is to recognize the centrality of a foundation, and how everything else is supported by that foundation.  If the foundation itself is weak, then the chain may snap, and the wheel may fall off the wagon, and everything which is supported by the foundation may come tumbling down.

Such a weak linchpin may be characterized by “The Reluctant Doctor.”   For, ultimately, it will be the treating doctor’s opinion which will provide the primary basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  To presume the support of one’s treating doctor may reveal an unfounded sense of confidence.  To declare that, “Of course my doctor will support me.  He’s been my doctor for X number of years,” is to be naive about the psychology of doctors.

Doctors enjoy engaging in the practice of medicine; they abhor the administrative necessities of supporting their patients in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  The Reluctant Doctor is fairly widespread; it is up to the potential applicant, or his/her attorney, to explain the process, beginning with a simple request for an assurance of support from the patient — the applicant who will be filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Burden of Proof

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS, one is often asked (and should also ask of one’s self) the following question:  What does it take to be eligible?  What proof proves my case?  How much proof must I submit (quantity) and is the proof I submit sufficient (quality)?  All of these questions fall under a generic rubric in law, termed as “burden of proof“. 

Every legal process — and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is no different — applies a legal standard:  a set of criteria in determining whether or not a Federal or Postal Worker is eligible for — qualifies for — Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. 

In applying a statutory set of criteria, there is the general application of what constitutes, or meets the needs of, the evidence, documents, and proof that is submitted for review.  The overriding standard that is supposed to be applied for determining the process, is a standard of law called, “Preponderance of the evidence.”  It is a relatively low standard used in civil law — where, if the proof submitted shows that it is more likely so than not so, then one has met “by a preponderance of the evidence” that a Federal or Postal employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits. 

Does this standard apply at the administrative level — at the Office of Personnel Management?  The answer is “Yes”, but not necessarily consciously.  One only effectively argues that the standard of proof has been met when one encounters a Judge — at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  But, nevertheless, OPM is supposed to follow “the law” and the burden of proof, and it is simply one more argument that one can, and should, make to the Office of Personnel Management when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire