Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Guiding Sense of Direction

Global Positioning Systems are widely relied upon these days.  In conversations, there is never anymore an effort to recollect, whether of an old movie, a struggling synonym, or a name on the “tip of the tongue’ — for one only needs to whip out the smart phone, do a quick search, and the delicious exertion of an extended discourse greets the cessation of social interaction with silence. But one’s hand-held GPS merely gets the individual from point A to point B; it does not provide a wider perspective of one’s place in the greater world.

In the old days, the social interaction of spreading out a map before taking an extended trip was a requirement, unless of course one wanted to foolishly brave the winding roads of unfamiliar territory with the declared intention of undertaking an adventure of sorts. It was the mental exercise of figuring out the confusing grid system, of marking and remembering various routes, which taught one about the smallness of one’s being within the greater context of the world.

And in a similar vein, the pleasure of struggling to remember the name of something once known, but now locked in fuzzy storages in the dusty bookshelves of past memories, is now replaced by expediency and wasted efforts. Making decisions of important issues is somewhat akin to using a GPS or searching for information on the internet.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a decision somewhat akin to using a GPS or searching on the internet.

For, in the end, it is not just a matter of traveling to a different point from one’s departure-point; it is important to have a wider perspective on all of the legal issues involved, the impact for future courses of decision-making, and the proper deciphering of the complex grid which characterizes a Federal Disability Retirement application. One can always push a button and go through the motions; or, one can have a deeper understanding by expending a little more effort in any given endeavor.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is too important an avenue to undertake, to leave it to chance, or to declare that it is an adventure of sorts. It is likely necessary that one may have to resort to figuring out the complex grid of the administrative process, and in most cases, that will require the guidance of a map greater than a simple directional device.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Detracting Deviations

Multi-tasking is a glorified term for describing an ability to competently engage and perform more than one task at a time.  It was once encapsulated in the query:  “Can he walk and chew gum at the same time”?

In the modern age of technology, it has become accepted as a given that such variations of task-tackling is a necessity and conveys evidence of competence.  For, in a world beset with smart phones, computers, laptops, iPads, etc., where the implosion and delivery of information at an instant’s request and access through the push of a button is commonplace, the capacity to respond quickly and sufficiently are considered marks of competent survivability in today’s world.  But there is a growing body of medical evidence that undisciplined response to texting and other forms of technological communication stunts that part of the brain activity which is essential for judgment, focus, attention-span, etc.  The ability to stay focused and not deviate from a singular course of action is also an important tool — even in this day of multi-tasking necessity.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is a necessary component in compiling a successful disability retirement application, to convey an effective case of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that nexus between one’s medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Undisciplined deviation may accomplish a thousand tasks, but if the primary pipeline bursts because a main line was overlooked, such deviation from the primary purpose will have been for nothing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Conceptual Constraints

Within the world of biology, the distinction between an unicellular eukaryote and a prokaryote is one defined by the absence of a distinct, membrane-bound nucleus.  The latter is thus without a homunculus, constrained by a parameter and protected as the central seat of control.  One would assume that, because of this, the former would be easier to genetically manipulate, while the former would be more difficult.

Similarly, while widespread dissemination of responsibility and delegation of authority may have the positive effect of getting much work done, the corollary negative impact may also become uncontrollably representative of an organization:  loss of qualitative control.

Upon reading a denial letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one may begin to suspect that you are dealing with a prokaryote-type of entity:  for anything may be said, and what may be stated may not even remotely be the law of the case.

Being unconstrained by a membrane may have its advantages for survival; being unconcerned by the constraints of language will have its definite impact upon a Federal or Postal employee attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: confusion for the Federal or Postal Worker, or worse, surrender and retreat.  But there are ways to counter such an untethered approach — but one which must use all of the legal tools available to the Federal or Postal applicant.

The key is to build a membrane and change the prokaryote into an eukaryote.  In order to do this, however, one must know the law, apply the law, and force the law upon the organism — thereby effectuating the genetic modification.  Thus does science, logic and law coalesce into a unified, rational whole.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: How One Perceives a Case

How one views a case often determines the approach which is undertaken.  Thus, if the belief is that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is merely a simple administrative process which requires the compilation of the medical documentation, answering some questions and filling out some forms, then such a belief will determine the extent of preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

The other side of the perspective, however, is held by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  OPM views every Federal Disability Retirement application based upon a multitude of criteria:  legal sufficiency; consistency of statement-to-evidence; weight of medical documentation; analytical comparison to what the agency states; a review of the composite of forms, documents and statements made, etc.

Is OPM’s approach an adversarial one?  One often hears that such administrative and bureaucratic processes are “non-adversarial” in nature, but what exactly does that mean?  If the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management is to apply a legal criteria in order to determine the legal sufficiency of a Federal Disability Retirement application, doesn’t that make it into an adversarial process?

Euphemisms are invaluable tools in the utilization of language as a means of communication; but words ultimately must have a static meaning — at least for the duration of the sentence to be uttered.  That being the case, one must conclude that how one perceives a case should be based upon the meaning of language used in describing the case; and the meaning is quite clear in preparing, formulating, filing, and awaiting a decision of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Relying on Common Sense

The problem of relying on “common sense” (as that term is often used and understood) is that such reliance not only reflects a presumption that one possesses that very quality that we deem and recognize as “common sense”, but further, that we assume that we have such sense to realize one possesses it, and additionally, that the person to whom such sense is applied also has it.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, it is indeed an arbitrary delegation and assignment of one’s case, that the Case Worker would possess that very quality in the process of evaluating, analyzing and reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Instead, what normally happens is that the OPM Case Worker mechanically applies a sheet containing the “7-part Legal Criteria” and determines whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement application satisfies each of the criteria.  But much of Federal Disability Retirement has to do with subtle implications and “reading between the lines” of a medical report, and coming to a “common sense” conclusion by extrapolating and actually analyzing the connection between one’s positional duties and one’s medical conditions, and determining whether or not an inconsistency exists.

Further, when the Bracey decision concerning the concept of “Accommodations” is considered, the issue of inconsistency between a Federal or Postal position and the medical condition can be viewed in a proper light and context, with greater clarity.  But to rely upon common sense — both in one’s self, and in someone else — is a dangerous assumption:  one which proves the old adage about making a donkey out of you and me.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Importance of Knowing “the Law”

The old dictum that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse” for violating the law, applies just as well in a Federal Disability Retirement application — unless, of course, the entity which fails to recognize the substance of the law, its applicability, and its extended content and consequences happens to be the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

Let me expand somewhat.  

In order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is entitled to the benefits.  Such proof of “preponderance of the evidence” must be in compliance with the applicable statutes, regulations, legal criteria, case-law (as handed down by the Merit Systems Protection Board decisions, as well as by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals).  However, when the entity which constitutes itself as the intermediate arbiter of all Federal Disability Retirement applications (it is merely “intermediate”, as opposed to “final”, because there is the review process by the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) itself fails to apply the applicable law, there exists an inherent problem.  

OPM is designated to decide cases based upon the applicable law.  Yet, in its denials, it will often apply criteria which has absolutely no basis in “the law”.  

All the more reason why, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important for the Federal or Postal worker seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, to know and understand the law — its substance, applicability, and consequential reverberations upon the multiple aspects of issues involved in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: A Federal Issue

For many legal issues which are encountered by most people, an attorney from the state within which he or she resides is necessary and proper.  This is because the laws of each state are different, and requires the expertise of an attorney who is licensed to practice law within that particular jurisdiction.

However, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, not a state issue.  As such, as an attorney who is licensed from one state, that attorney is able and allowed to represent Federal and Postal workers from all across the United States.  

Being “able to and allowed”, of course, is a separate issue from whether a particular attorney is competent, knowledgeable, and experienced enough to perform such work — but those are questions and issues which should be reviewed, determined and inquired into, by each Federal and Postal worker who is seeking an attorney who purports to be an “expert” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement law.  

Such a basis for determination of an attorney’s competency in any area of law should be based upon multiple criteria, including:  Questions asked and answered during an initial consultation; review of any articles written on the subject; information gathered on the attorney’s website — especially the substantive content of any claims made, or any discussion concerning the subject of Federal Disability Retirement law — and a general sense of responsiveness to an initial query.  

Because preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “Federal” issue and not a state issue, it is likely that the Federal or Postal worker will never personally meet the attorney in a Federal Disability Retirement case, and instead, all communication and contact will be by telephone, email, fax, overnight delivery, etc.  This would be a natural occurrence — just as you will never actually see anyone from the Office of Personnel Management or from the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Remember, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, and not a state one, and therefore the attorney who is licensed in a particular state can effectively represent anyone, anywhere, both in the United States, and in other countries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney