CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Applicant’s Mindset

“Motivational Speakers” will often focus upon the “mindset” of the audience, and argue that a change of attitudinal perspective is the “key” to success in this or that endeavor of life.  Whether true, how much of it is true, and whether a generic, universalized approach can be effectively tailored for a particular individual is always questionable.  

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, however, it is important for the applicant to have a correct “mindset”, and to approach the entirety of the administrative process — its legal hurdles, the regulatory criteria which must be met, the gathering of the evidence, confronting the issue of the Agency’s alleged attempts at accommodation, etc. — with an approach that, indeed, Federal Disability Retirement is what is desired and is set as the “telos” or the end goal.

Often, because the Federal or Postal Worker is still beset with “second” thoughts and innate conflicts of still wanting to stay on the job or, more often, hoping that somehow the medical condition will resolve itself and this unpleasant episode of life can be overcome, that the mindset of the Federal or Postal worker prevents the efficient progress of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Such internal confusion or innate conflict can stall a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Whether consciously or subconsciously, it is important that, once a decision to move forward has been made, the Federal or Postal worker intending to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits resolve any doubts or conflicts, and to aggressively move forward.  

Don’t delay and procrastinate every time the Agency appears to act compassionately — they will not be able to accommodate you.  Don’t pause the forward progress of a Federal Disability Retirement application because you had one good day at work — the profound fatigue and need to rest and recuperate is a condition of chronicity over time, and not just an episodic event.  Federal Disability Retirement is not a death sentence; it is a sentence to allow for a further narrative of life beyond a particular type of job.  

Poetry is not just a single line, but a melody created through a compendium of conceptual depictions of beauty.  Life is not measured by one’s medical condition upon a particular segment of one’s life, but over the course of a lifetime.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Filing

If you believe that preparing, filing, and winning a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS is merely a matter of filling out forms, then don’t hire an attorney. Do it yourself.

On the other hand, if you believe that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application involves:  gathering, reviewing, and compiling the proper and compelling medical evidence; of drafting and clearlly delineating & describing one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s job; of citing the proper legal authorities to provide the legal backing and forceful persuasion necessary; of being counseled in negotiating removal actions; of rebutting spurious arguments made by the Office of Personnel Management; of preparing the groundwork for subsequent appeals; of ultimately winning a case, as opposed to trying to squeak by with a hope and a prayer, then you might consider hiring an attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement & Treatment Compliance Issues

While the issue of ‘causality’ is not one which often comes up in OPM disability retirement cases (by obvious contrast, of course, is the fact that causality, whether it was caused while working, on the way to work, outside of the parameters of work, etc, is often an issue in OWCP/DOL cases), there are certain cases where such an issue may be important to address. Baker v. OPM, 782 F.2d 993 (Fed. Cir. 1986) is actually a case which continues to remain of interest, in that, there, the Court noted that where obesity had a causal impact upon the appellant’s back pain, and since the appellant failed to follow medical instructions to lose weight, therefore the cause of the back pain was not as a primary and direct result of a medical condition, but rather because of non-compliance of reasonable available corrective or ameliorative action.

Thus, there are certain areas where you will be in danger of having your disability retirement application denied: one such area, where the Merit Systems Protection Board has been fairly consistent, is non-compliance of a prescribed medication regimen. In other areas, however, especially where surgery is recommended but where the percentage of success cannot be easily quantified, there is much more leeway. Disability Retirement is an area of law which encompasses a wide range of complex and potential “legal landmines”, and it is often a good idea to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney to help guide your way.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire