CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Shrinking Attention Span

Social commentators have noted the prevalence of the decline of genuine empathy, often linked to a greater entanglement with the virtual world, as created by television, movies, media, the internet, and the exponential use of social media.  When emotions are spent and expended upon a lifeless screen of images and words, with limited encounters with actual human interaction, one wonders about the inevitable march of human evolution towards a world of emotionless drones and androids.

Science fiction is no longer a genre about the future; the future is now.  As part of the defining phenomena of our times is the shrinking capacity for holding one’s attention; for, as we become attuned and disciplined to view the entire lifespan of an individual or event within a 2-hour period — as that constitutes the estimated time of a film or play — so the capacity of a person to endure the patience to listen to, attend to, or otherwise sustain one’s attention for the true lifespan of an individual becomes correspondingly diminished.

Society no longer has the ability to focus, concentrate, or have sympathy for, conditions and events which last a real lifetime.  This presents a growing problem in our society, and one which is reflected in daily life.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s employment arena in the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the sustained reaction from one’s coworkers, supervisors and managers is a telling tale of increasing impatience with anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive”, as defined by a society of working drones.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which provides an outlet away from the compassionless environment of a workforce which, once not too long ago, viewed themselves with greater empathy by embracing disabled workers and with great fanfare declared programs of accommodations and patience.  But somewhere along the way, the virtual world caught up with the reality of human nature; we are what we seek to become.

Federal Disability Retirement is an avenue of relief for the Federal or Postal Worker who requires an attention span greater than the time needed to view a movie; it is there for one’s lifetime, to attend to the realities of a world otherwise distracted by the glow of an electronic screen while one’s neighbor suffers real human needs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The title reference, of course, is to the old Spielberg film concerning contact with an alien being; but such a remote, rare and unique experience need not be with an entity from another galaxy or planet, but can be closer to home.

Most people will never need to experience engagement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, OPM Division of Disability, Reconsiderations and Appeals, in order to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (whether under FERS or CSRS), leaving aside having to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

But when the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself in such a unique situation such that contact with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management or the MSPB becomes necessary, such an experience will be as peculiar and strange an an encounter of the “third kind”.  Moreover, the experience itself may be an unwanted and unpleasant one, because it is something accomplished and pursued while experiencing a personal crisis involving a medical condition.

The encounter itself — however strange, unpleasant or unwanted — nevertheless is a reality which must be dealt with, and in so doing, it should be done in as efficient a manner as possible.

In an initial encounter with an alien being, one would assume that there might be some trepidation and reluctance, mixed with a great amount of suspicion.  That would be natural.  In a similar encounter with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to also have a healthy dose of skepticism; better yet, you might want to contact an expert who has had some past experience in dealing with the entity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Insufficiency Test

The validity of an allegation that there is an insufficiency of X is partly determined by an objective standard, and partly (if not mostly) derived from a judgment as to the nexus between X and the standard to be applied.  

In Federal Disability Retirement cases, whether under FERS or CSRS, the basis of most Federal Disability Retirement denials is that there is an insufficiency of proof, whether as to issues of accommodation, medical opinion, medical documentation; questions about deficiency of service; and multiple other specified areas — but all will ultimately be determined to have a “lack” of something such that it fails to meet a “sufficiency” test.  But sufficiency can only be determined by comparing what exists (i.e., what has been previously submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) to what the legal standard of proof requires.  

Further, since the overriding legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“, which requires that something be ‘more likely than not’, the narrow gap between human involvement in the judgement of sufficiency, and a truly objective basis for such insufficiency, is susceptible to human error.  Because of this, appearance of quantity in addition to quality is often what is required.  

As decisions by OPM are rendered by a wide range of people whose judgment, competence and approach in evaluating a case differ greatly, it is unfortunately necessary to take into consideration the foibles of human error.  Until a precise algorithm is invented which applies fairly and accurately in all cases across the board, we must continue to deal with human beings, the their errors of judgment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Helpers

Then, of course, there are those Human Resources and OPM personnel who have been, continue to be, and will always be, greater helpers throughout the process in assisting Federal and Postal employees to obtain disability retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS.  They are diamonds in a sea of hindrances and obstacles.  And when you come across such an individual, at any stage of the process, one must always express one’s gratitude.  One might argue that they are “just doing their job”, but what such individuals do is clearly beyond the job that they are paid to do.  No only do they assist in the process, but they “humanize” the process; and, especially when a Federal or Postal employee who has a medical disability receives not only assistance in the process, but guidance in providing help to ease and smooth the road to approval, it is indeed a pleasant experience to come across the human touch. A word of thanks to all such Human Resources Personnel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire