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

USPS and Federal Disability Claims: Medical Conditions which Predate Federal or Postal Employment

Often, there is a concern about medical conditions which one suffers from, which “predate” employment in the Federal Sector, or with the U.S. Postal Service.  Such conditions are often identified as “preexisting medical conditions” — meaning, thereby, that they exist prior to an event.

In the context of OWCP (Federal Worker’s Compensation), under the aegis of the Department of Labor, such an issue normally involves the assertion and allegation (by the Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) that a Medical Condition-X already existed prior to Event-Y — the latter normally constituting the “on-the-job” accident or occurrence, or an occupational disease, etc.  Because causation — the “what caused the injury” issue — is important in OWCP/DOL cases, the concern of preexisting conditions is normally a point of contention between the Federal worker and the Federal Government/Department of Labor.

However, in OPM Disability Retirement cases, because causation is not an “issue” of concern (the “how” or “where” it happened is not a relevant legal criteria of proof), it rarely becomes a point of conflict between the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal or Postal employee.

It can become of interest, however, for the Office of Personnel Management, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, if a Federal or Postal worker has been hired and working in a particular job, with a specific medical condition for many years, successfully, but then files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The reason it may become of some interest, however, is not as to the “causation” issue (of the “how” or “where” it happened), but rather, to the question:  Why is it that the Federal or Postal employee who has had a Medical Condition-X all of these years can now claim not to be able to perform Essential Elements Y & Z now?

That is the point where a medical condition existing prior to one’s Federal or Postal employment may be of some interest to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is, however, easily addressed; it just needs to be discussed in the right way.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: On the Other Hand

On the other hand, there is no such thing as a “lost cause” case.  To assert such a conclusion would be to presumptively admit defeat.  In Federal Disability Retirement cases, there is always a good chance of prevailing, whether or not a mistake was made; whether or not a doctor annotated, on a particular day in a moment of hope, that the patient showed “hopeful improvement”.  Yes, it is the job of the Office of Personnel Management to cling onto such peripheral statements, and to magnify such statements such that they appear to encompass the essence of the medical condition.

It is always with some amusement that I hear an agency Human Resources person state something to the effect of:  “Well, you know, Mr. McGill, this is not an adversarial process.  We and the Office of Personnel Management are merely here to determine the eligibility of the Federal worker, and to make sure that he or she fits the criteria.”

Not an adversarial process?  Is the Office of Personnel Management “there” to help you?  Is that why, in their template denial letters, they latch onto the most peripheral of issues and emphasize those points which allegedly present a problem, and ignore the rest of the medical evidence?  Any Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS would be wise to see the entire Federal Disability Retirement process as one of an “adversarial process”.  If you don’t, you proceed at your own peril.  On the other hand…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire