Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Focus, or Lack Thereof…

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, it is important in the beginning stages of the process to have a clear, charted course in creating the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the type of positional duties required by the Federal or Postal job which one is slotted in.  

Lack of clarity leads to meandering; meandering results in the potential danger of entering into territories which can have a negative and detrimental impact; such resulting negative endings at any stage of the process only extends the time by forcing the applicant to appeal the case to the next stage, and having to correct and explain the mis-steps which resulted from the original lack of clarity and focus.  Thus, a single mistake at the beginning of the process can have a compounding effect upon the entire application process, and that is why it is important to start off with clarity, focus, and a purposeful plan.  

In the study of Philosophy, the subject of Metaphysics almost always encompasses the concept of “teleology” — the idea that there is a purposeful end based upon various logical arguments, such as cause-and-effect, the argument from design, etc.  In analogous form, it is important to have a teleological approach to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  

As with the design argument in metaphysics, there are certain “guideposts” which are important to use — i.e., what the doctors state in their reports; the parameters of one’s position description; the type of job which one has (sedentary or out in the field), etc.  Within those boundaries, one should remain.  Wandering in thought leads to areas of unintended harm.  Stay within the boundaries of the questions posed, and one has a safer haven away from trespassing into areas uncharted, unknown, and undesired.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: MSPB & Prehearing

When a Federal Disability Retirement case has been denied by the Office of Personnel Management at the Initial Stage of the application process, and then again at the Reconsideration Stage of the administrative process, then it must be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  At that stage, the applicant (with the help of his or her attorney) must meet some crucial dates.  

While the Administrative process of having a Hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board is fairly straightforward, once the Prehearing Statements are filed, it is important to participate in the Prehearing Conference with the Administrative Judge.  At the Prehearing Conference, it is important to define and limit the issues which will have to be proven at the Hearing of the case.  Issues such as accommodations and even the extent of the medical conditions which impact one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, can be clearly defined.  The individual (but more likely the attorney — because at this level, it is helpful to have the guidance of an attorney) should be very familiar with entirety of the Agency file (a copy of which OPM is required to provide after an appeal is filed with the MSPB).  This way, during the conversation with the Administrative Judge, one can say:  “Yes, Your Honor, that is already proven by document at Tab ____ of the Agency file, and need not be re-proven at the Hearing of the case.”  As with everything in life, preparation, preparation, preparation…


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Exaggerated Focus

Often, in preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the distractions of collateral issues can be heightened to a level of exaggerated focus, such that it formulates and creates a perception which is beyond the proper perspective which it should be accorded.

Thus, for instance, the issue of whether or not a Supervisor’s support in a Federal Disability Retirement application is important, and to what extent. The issue of whether the Agency can undermine or subvert the Federal Disability Retirement application, etc. — these can be mere distractions which, if allowed to expand in an exaggerated vacuum, can derail a Federal Disability Retirement application unnecessarily.

On the other hand, certain issues and obstacles can indeed be exaggerated, and still maintain a perspective of “reality” — such as the support and importance of one’s treating doctor.

It is important to make the conceptual distinction between the core essentials which make up a Federal Disability Retirement application, and those which are secondary, and further, those which are peripheral to the process.

The ultimate goal is to formulate an approach, prepare an effective presentation to the Office of Personnel Management, and not get distracted from the multiple obstacles and seeming-obstacles which can divert one’s attention, and maintain a reasoned perspective throughout.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire