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

 

Disability Retirement from OPM: All problems suspended

We all seek those moments, don’t we?  A period of respite, that time of suspended ecstasy where all of life’s problems are suspended, if only for a temporary span in order to regain our equilibrium, retake the focus lost and remake the moments wasted.  Isn’t that why people become obsessed with silly arguments on the Internet, in Facebook confrontations and twitter feeds, because it provides for a temporary assertion of power, the sense of winning, of defeating and devastating another, if only for a brief moment in this timeless continuum of problems to be encountered, embraced and finally solved?

In a perfect universe, all problems suspended would be tantamount to a conceived heaven where one need not worry about the daily problems of living a life – the human condition – that confronts everyone all the world over.

All problems suspended – every financial difficulty, relational complexities, consequences intended or otherwise resulting from neglect, negligence or simply thoughtless actions; for all and every one of them to be relegated to a heavenly sequestration like purgatory without judgment.  But that life could be discovered within such a state of joyous reprieve; we would all be dancing and praying to the gods that gave us such a present.

In reality, that is what going to the movies for a couple of hours of distraction, playing a video game, going out with friends, or spending a weekend reading and taking the dogs out for a long walk – these are activities engaged in where all problems become suspended, if only for a brief stint of relief from the daily struggles we all have to confront and “deal” with.

Unfortunately, there is one problem that can almost never be suspended – a medical condition.  The medical condition pervades and remains no matter how hard we try; and though we may be successful in “forgetting” for a brief moment, the problem is never suspended, only delayed in “remembering”.  For people who are in chronic pain, one cannot even forget for a brief moment.  Instead, whether actively in thought or lulled through a sleepless night, the medical condition is always there, never suspended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents an even greater set of problems – of not being able to be accommodated and beginning to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job duties – it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Delaying does not suspend the problem, but may only add to it; neglecting will not solve the problem, and may only magnify it; and while temporarily “forgetting” by engaging in another activity may distract from it, the brief nature of such thoughtlessness will only roar back with a greater sense of urgency, especially when dealing with the bureaucratic morass of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the agency that makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Goldilocks Principle

Most of us are familiar with the fairytale; but in modernity, the principle extrapolated has been extended thus: the natural pendulum of occurrences must fall within a certain set of margins, as opposed to reaching the outer limits of extremes.  And, indeed, most things settle into a comfortable compromise of corollary constancy; it is precisely because of the anomaly of extremes that we take special note of the exceptions which develop and manifest.  And that is always the continuing hope of most individuals — for a reaching of compromise, and static settling into a middle ground, etc.

But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the Goldilocks Principle will often fail to apply.  Increasing pressure is brought to bear (no pun intended) upon the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who shows signs of vulnerability; perhaps an initial verbal warning, then a written admonishment; then, the placement of a PIP within the constant environment of hostility; restrictions upon leave usage, and finally, a proposal to remove.

Medical conditions require priority of purpose and attending to the medical condition itself.  Actions by agencies and the U.S. Postal Service often serve to exacerbate the medical condition.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option which should be considered earlier, than later.

In the end, of course, the Goldilocks Principle is somewhat relatively determined by where those margins or goalposts are placed; for, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the realization that the middle ground of comfort is far from the fences of the extreme, depends upon where the Federal or Postal employee is standing, in relation to the medical condition, the harassment received, and the empathy shown (or more precisely stated, the lack thereof) by the agency and the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Law: The Fatigue of Profundity & Requirement of Repetition

Profundity is overvalued.  With the advent of the internet and information technology, the widespread dissemination of seemingly esoteric array of knowledge and know-how (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two), everyone is vying for the heard voice, and the break-out from the herd.  One becomes easily fatigued by seemingly deep insights, or “new” data and facts upon otherwise mundane concerns.

Repetition is considered as a trait of boredom; but the longer one lives, the more one recognizes that there is truly little new under the sun, and the apparent newness of X is merely a regurgitation of the old Y of yore.   But repetition does have its own uniqueness of value, and inherent strength of significance.  For, often, a person who turns the same corner as thousands, and tens of thousands before, may be encountering the next block for the first time, and what those before him or her did has little to no significance to the epistemologically privileged experience for that singularity of uniqueness.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the knowledge that many, many Federal and Postal employees before were able to file for, and get approved, Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so long as one is under either FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the comfort of which one may partake rests in the fact that one is not alone; yet, it is not purely a “repetition” of sameness but a genus of similarity; for, as each medical condition and every circumstance reveals a uniqueness which must be dealt with individually, so each Federal Disability Retirement case must be handled with care.

At the same time, however, it is of value to recognize that repetition of relevant laws, statutes and regulations, cited in the ordinary course of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, is necessary for success in obtaining the benefit.

From the standpoint of OPM, the fatigue of profundity comes in failing to view a particular case with “new eyes”; from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the first time, it is the inability to recognize the requirement of repetition which often results in an ineffectual formulation of one’s case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employees Disability Retirement Systems: The Quarantined Mind

From early childhood, the necessity of imposing constraints and conformity produces the positive effect of a well-ordered society.  But corollary and unforeseen consequences often occur, as in the quashing of creativity and mindsets which step outside of the proverbial “box”.

The problem with people talking about thinking “outside of the box” is that such a thought process itself constitutes nothing more than mundane conventional wisdom.  Those who have considered thoughts beyond the artifice of social concordance have already done that which is widely preached, but little known.  Then, along comes a calamity or crisis, necessitating a change of lifestyle and a different manner of approaching the linear and customary manner of encountering life.  The other adage comes to mind:  necessity is the mother of invention.

Medical conditions tend to do that to people.  Suddenly, things which were taken for granted are no longer offered:  health, daily existence without pain; the capacity to formulate clarity of thought without rumination and an impending sense of doom.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who require a second chance at life’s anomaly; it allows for a base annuity in order to secure one’s future, while at the same time allowing for accrual of retirement years so that, at age 62, when the disability retirement is recalculated as regular retirement, the number of years one has been on disability retirement counts towards the total number of years of Federal Service, for recalculation purposes.

It allows for the Federal or Postal employee to seek out a private-sector job, and earn income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, on top of the disability annuity itself.  It thus allows and encourages the Federal and Postal worker to start a new career, to engage another vocation, and consider options beyond the original mindset of one’s career in the federal sector.

In the end, it is often our early childhood lessons which quarantined the pliant mind that leads to fear of the unknown because of changed circumstances.  To break out of the quarantined mind, sometimes takes a blessing in disguise; but then, such a statement is nothing more than another conventional saying, originating from the far recesses of another quarantined mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Self-predication

Some people are uncomfortable in doing it; others relish the repetitive self-reference, enjoying the first-person attribution and the incessant pronouncement of the personal pronoun, the centrality of dramatic characterization every time the “I” is inserted; throughout, everyone recognizes that the identification of the “I” can never be fully expunged despite a heightened level of modesty or humility.

There is an artfulness to speaking about one’s self while at the same time making it appear as an objectification of the referential focus.  Talking about oneself; constantly inserting the self-attribution throughout a narrative; dominating every element of a conversation with self referential accolades; these can all be overwhelming, leaving aside the issue of being irritating.  But in some circumstances, such self attribution cannot be avoided.  There are times when we must talk about ourselves, but the manner of how it is done can be the difference between repetitive boredom and referential relevance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 requirement to prepare, formulate and file one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A is something which must accompany every Federal Disability Retirement application. That is where one tells one’s “story” about the medical condition, the impact upon the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and upon other and personal aspects of living.  Of course, self-reference and attribution of the personal pronoun must be used; but it is also a time and place where a prevailing sense of objectivity should be garnered, and where peripheral irrelevancies should be strictly limited and contained.

Concise brevity should guide one; reference to outside sources and medical evidence should be encapsulated; the story of centrality should be about the impact upon the personal “I”; and yet, throughout, the truth of the narrative should come out such that self-predication does not constitute self-promotion with an ulterior motive, but rather, that the universe of living beings has for a brief moment in time, allowed the spotlight of significance upon a singular entity who has dedicated him/herself to the mission of an agency, but where unforeseen circumstances of life beyond one’s control has necessitated the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire