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

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: King for a day

There are, then, those highs and lows which everyone experiences; of days when one has successfully maneuvered through the pitfalls of the day, and where troubles, problems and difficulties have been either overcome or avoided — both of which amounts to the same thing in most instances.  To be King for a Day — is it a mere feeling that obfuscates the reality of one’s situation, or a reality based upon a metaphor hanging on a cliff of a proverb?

The world for the most part leaves the rest of us the crumbs off of the tables of the wealthy and powerful; the sense that we have any real control over our own destinies is tested when something goes wrong, and we try and correct it.  The rest of the time — of being King for a Day — is to just make us feel like we have any such control on any given day.

Take the Federal or Postal employee who struggles with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — some days, when the medical condition subsides or it is merely one of those “good” days, it may feel that destiny is within the palm of your hand and that the day’s brightness allows for a future with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.

But then the inevitable “setback” occurs, and the cycle of the “bad day” comes along.  Then, one day the Federal Agency, with its co-conspirators of supervisors, managers and some coworkers, or the Postal Service with the same cabal of backstabbers, begins to initiate adverse actions with steady and incremental deliberation — of leave restrictions; unreasonable and baseless denials for extended leave or FMLA; letters of “warnings” and even placement on a PIP; and then one asks, Whatever happened to that feeling of being King for a Day?

Life is full of struggles and difficulties; we rarely are able to get a full handle on the future course of unanticipated troubles, and that is why preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is so important to get started early and well on the right track.

Being King for a Day is never the solution to the lengthy process of life’s misgivings; for, in the end, it is the Court Jester who hears all and counsels well, just like the lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  If only King Lear had listened to the Fool — what disasters he would have avoided!

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire