OPM FERS Disability Retirement: Coordination of Elements

There is no question about it: It is a complex process.

Administratively, it must be passed through multiple levels of agency review in order to get a completed packet — the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B); Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D); effectively answering the Applicant’s Statement of Disability such that it provides the proper nexus between each of the questions on SF 3112A — for, although it may not be so obvious, the questions must both be answered separately as well as viewed in the totality of each as being a component fitting in with each other, in order to answer it to completion.

Then, there is the coordination of internal and external elements, and the intersecting impact within and without — of a medical report effectively prepared and consistent with the history of treatment modalities; of a nexus persuasively argued establishing the connective impact between the medical condition and the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job elements; and the interconnectedness of essential elements to the physical or cognitive inability to perform one or more of the essential elements, etc.

Throughout the process — whether for a denial and a rebuttal response at the Reconsideration Stage, or at the initial preparation stage in the First Stage; or, even of an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the coordination of elements is important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law in order to more effectively establish the coordination of elements.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The shaken confidence

Tree limbs can be shaken; hands can shake, evidencing some agreement or initial salutation of a wordless sort, or even accompanied by some utterances; and the earth can shake as the subterranean tectonic shifts invisible and otherwise unnoticed, which then can result in tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The shaken confidence can take many forms; and the forms themselves cannot so easily be identified.  It presumes, first of all, that there was “confidence” to begin with, lest that which is shaken could not possibly have occurred unless it preexisted the loss of it.  Yet, too often, the evidence of its very existence is merely the lack of any contrary characteristic — i.e., a negation that fails to manifest existence and thus cannot actually be proven.  Of a person who walks about without any noticeable trace of lack — do we say of him or her, “He has confidence’?  Or is it just the one who has an overabundance of it, who struts around like a proud peacock or a rooster who takes no guff of whom we attribute “overconfidence’?

In normal discourse we just assume that, unless there are indications to the contrary, everyone who stands and walks amidst and among us possess some level of “confidence” or, in more particularized form, of “self-confidence”.  What are the events or issues that “shake” it, and what can an attribution of such an event mean?  Perhaps it is triggered by some tragic source — a trauma of a very personal nature, of death or an accident, perhaps; or can it be by mere utterance of words, of a berating boss or an insensitive spouse?  Or, how about a realization that one’s presumed immortality is simply not so?

None of us believe in immortality — at least, not in the sense that we will live forever walking about this earth.  Yet, until an event “reminds” us of our mortality, we take it for granted that life goes on as the day before, and the day before that; and so the concept of immortality resides by avoidance or ignorance, until something “reminds” us that, indeed, mortality is the nature of life, and flesh is by each instance and in incremental subtlety progressively deteriorating within the microscopic cells of slow degeneration.  And of a medical condition — can it be the source of the shaken confidence?

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 one’s Federal or Postal job — the shaken confidence resulting from the progressively deteriorating medical condition is just as real as the earth that trembles and groans from tectonic shifts that moves and crumbles the structural integrity of high engineering feats.

Federal Disability Retirement is often not a choice made in confidence, but from a lack thereof; for, a medical condition cannot be viewed within a vacuum of a mere diagnosis that can be surgically extracted; rather, a medical condition is a sequence of aggregated tragedies — of the medical condition itself; the symptoms which result; the impact upon one’s personal and professional life; of the effect upon family and friends; of the triggers upon one’s psyche as well as the physical pain and mental anguish experienced.

In short, the shaken confidence of the one who used to walk about the earth as if you owned it, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is simply the first step in regaining that “shaken confidence” that was once a day before in a time now long forgotten presumed to have always been there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Price of Admission

Private entities charge more; exclusive arenas tend to be out of reach; and it is, ultimately and as in all economic realities, determined by an admixture of supply (how many are allowed) and demand (how desirous is the goal of entrance and acceptance).  For every admittance, there is a price to pay.  Often, it is not merely the affirmative transfer of money or goods, but rather, the negative aspect of what one must “give up” in order to attain the end.  It often involves a comparative analysis, an economic evaluation of gain versus loss, and in the end, the emptiness of the latter being overtaken by the value of the former.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to awaken an awareness that one’s career may be coming to the twilight of that lengthy, successful run, it is often that “price of admission” which makes one hesitate.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must file 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, the question is double-sided:  the price one “has been” paying to remain as a Federal or Postal employee, as opposed to the loss of employment status, or becoming an “ex-member” of that exclusive club.

Change always portends a trauma of sorts; the medical condition and the revelation of vulnerability, mortality and progressive debilitation was in and of itself crisis of identity; but when it becomes clear that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and that further changes to one’s career and livelihood must by necessity occur, then the avalanche of reality’s namesake begins to dawn.

The price of admission for one’s health, ultimately, is priceless; and that is the reality which one must face when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Quality of Input

We often forget that the quality, validity and accuracy of conclusions produced by computers will depend upon the input of information provided.  Thus, predictability of future weather forecasts are contingent upon present information selected, and the computational analysis resulting in the future paradigm is founded upon current constructs, analyzed through the cumulative data previously provided, with a dash of witch’s brew and a genuflection of hope.  In other words, the trash produced results from the trash collected; a rather self-evident tautology of sorts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the issue of what information to provide, the amount of documentation, the precise wording selected, and the cumulative historical and current data introduced, will determine the statistical ratio of increased chance of success versus the possibility of an initial denial.

Receiving a denial from OPM is a down heartening experience, to put it mildly.  Expectations are that the subjective pain or psychiatric stresses which one experiences, will immediately be recognized and become translated into a societal benefit through a monetary annuity, especially as Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered for all FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset employees in the Federal system, and upon proof and sufficient information and documentation provided, one becomes eligible for the benefit.

The difference between preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, on the one hand, and computational analysis of information in other sectors of information processing, on the other, is that an intermediate human factor is present.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated for sufficiency by someone at OPM, and it is this very human element which remains the “X factor” in all Federal OPM Disability Retirement applications.  What can be done about it?  It is simply a reality which must be taken into account, processed and accounted for.  While bureaucratic and ultimately a rather depersonalized process, it is nevertheless an administrative system which must be faced.

It is as old as the ageless adage of yore, attributed to Isaac Newton:  What goes up must come down; or, what information is provided, is the basis of conclusions reached, and it is the quality of information in culling together a Federal Disability Retirement application which is paramount in achieving success.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire