Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Deprogramming a Preconditioned Approach

The preconditioned attitude of the general public is that, if X has a medical condition, then such medical condition, by the very nature of the condition itself, will either entitle one to benefits, or not.  Such an approach is what one is conditioned to expect — that by the very nature of the medical condition itself, means that it will either lead to, or not lead to, a specified result.  This viewpoint and approach is based upon a definitional standard, where the very essence of what it means to suffer from X already predetermines whether one is eligible and entitled to benefit Y.

Social Security assumes such an approach.  To some extent, so does OWCP, because the Department of Labor is willing to pay a certain amount of compensation based upon a predetermined calculus of a percentage rating, for loss of limb, loss of use, loss of functional capacity, etc.

This is why Federal and Postal employees who first contemplate preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, will attempt to tie the fact of having a medical condition with the question, “Does this qualify me for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?”  But that is the wrong paradigm to use in asking the question.  For, eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not based upon a definitional ascription of a medical condition; rather, it is that “third element” — the connection between X and Y, X representing the medical condition and Y standing for the positional duties which the Federal or Postal employee must engage.

In many respects, Federal Disability Retirement answers the philosophical question which David Hume asked:  Is there a necessary connection between cause and effect?  For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The Gatekeeper

Garbage in, garbage out; leave the door wide open, and the flies come in; “we don’t live in a barn”; and other similar quips, quotes and quotidian truths abound to guide us throughout the day.  In Medieval times, the Gatekeeper held a prominent position of authority and safekeeping; trust was of paramount importance, and the potential for bribery to undermine loyalty and fealty to the inhabitants of the Court or Castle meant that treatment of the assigned individual demanded respect as well as adequate renumeration.

With the advent of privacy and the insular family unit, where community was replaced with walls of silence and solitude, the position of the gatekeeper was abandoned and relegated to the relics of antiquity.  Yet, while the public position has become extinct, the conceptual construct remains a necessity of choice.  Few consider the relevance, significance and importance the Gatekeeper, and so we allow for technology, any and all forms of television shows, images, opinions unfettered and logical (and illogical) consignments to enter and exit, leaving aside the mere tincture of bad taste to flow freely through our doors.

Who is the Gatekeeper in this age of unconfined information, where Orwell’s fears have been confirmed, and even more so; and where judgement, good taste and sheer hypocrisy of life matters not because “anything goes” and the only prohibition is to express one’s self honestly, lest the psyche and ego of one’s neighbor be offended and the thought police from the campus next door comes knocking on the proverbial wall in the middle of the night?  For, when the Gatekeeper was fired those many eons ago, we forgot that a locked door relied merely upon the person entering or exiting, and responsibility shared is no more than perils disbursed amongst the many, including those who fear not or carelessly sputter through life’s travails.

Now, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, what relevance does the concept of a Medieval Gatekeeper have in this day of modernity?  Much.  And beyond, of greater relevance than you might think.  Garbage in, garbage out.

Leave the door wide open, and a denial might be guaranteed by OPM.  “We don’t live in a vacuum.”  And another:  Since the applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement claim has the burden of proof, such that a “preponderance of the evidence” standard must be met, who will be the determinant of what facts, relevant information and significant documentation is to be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

In the end, the applicant, or his/her attorney of choice, is/are the Gatekeepers of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and like the Medieval Gatekeeper of yore, it is well to treat that position with respect, lest any undermined fealty results in the doors left wide and open for the haunting ghosts of yesteryear to enter and defile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Disabling Conditions: Suicidal Ideations

It is perhaps the final vestige of societal taboo; for, at what point the human animal realized that self-destruction became an option is open for debate.  In the Animal Kingdom, it is rare to find species openly seeking to end life; the struggle to survive and the Darwinian inherency for self-preservation and survival remains as vibrant as ever.

Being diagnosed with “suicidal ideation” is normally associated with psychiatric conditions of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety, where the acceptable level of stress-tolerance exceeds the capacity to withstand.  Each individual is a unique creature; in this cookie-cutting mold of society where people get lost in the importance of position, fame, accolades and a false sense of admiration, it becomes commonplace to question one’s sense of worth and value.

Psychiatry has never been a perfect science; some even question the validity of its approach, as it has now become overwhelmingly a pharmacological event, with some semblance of therapeutic intervention thrown in as an afterthought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or even CSRS Offset, the existence of suicidal ideations (or otherwise simply known as “having suicidal thoughts”) is often lost in the compendium of diagnosed psychiatric conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where a significant event has intervened which has resulted in traumatic reverberations in one’s life; Anxiety (or more officially identified as Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Major Depression; Bipolar Disorder, with spectrum symptoms of manic phases and depressive states; as well as schizophrenia and paranoia.

For relevance to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the existence of suicidal ideations is often one more indicia of the seriousness of the diagnosed psychiatric conditions, but should never be determinative in whether one’s psychiatric condition is “serious enough” in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, there are many, many Federal and Postal employees who file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, who suffer from Major Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and other forms of psychiatric conditions, without ever suffering from suicidal ideations, and yet are fully qualified for, and become entitled to, Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Further, as Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the algorithm of showing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the impeding aspect of suicidal ideations may be negligible.  Rather, from a medical standpoint, it is one more factor of concern and consternation within a long list of diagnoses and symptoms which cumulatively form the basis for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Life Choices

We all have to make them; and though we may alternatively want to curl up into a fetal position and wish the blunt world to stop bothering us, the decisions we make, and take responsibility for, reflect the state of maturity which binds us to age, experience and level of moral maturity.  It is, to a great extent, a superficial and shallow connotation and reference point; for, as the inevitability of choices to be made result from living in circumstances of our own making, so to imply that there is anything “substantive” in speaking about them undermines the very relevance of implication itself.

To live is to be confronted with daily choices; only the dead remain silent and require not the paths to pick.  Thus do mundane and pithy sayings originate.  Life is full of choices; the choices we make in life determine the future course of events yet indeterminate, but somewhat foreseen and predictable. Often, we avoid them not because of consequences untold, but for knowing the folly of our decisions.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition foretells of impending signs which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service have, or will, impose and initiate, the time to begin preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is “now”.  Yes, the Federal and Postal employee has up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to meet the Statute of Limitations for filing an OPM Disability Retirement; but as it often takes many, many months to prepare, submit and get an approval from OPM, so the decisions we make today will have future consequences untold but foreseen if choices are not embraced in a timely manner.

Life presents many choices, alternatives, and lists of items like entrees on a menu; but in the end, the choice made means that when the plate of food arrives, a check for payment will follow soon afterwards, and it is the expectation of the price to be satisfied which should prompt and motivate any decisions of delay for the Federal or Postal Worker who intends on procrastinating in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Alliteration of Life

Cathartic calamities caused creatively cannot cooperatively contain characteristic contents clearly coordinated contumaciously.  Sometimes, the insistence upon form can result in the nonsensical loss of clarity in substance; life often reflects the absurdities we establish by convention and societal imposition, and we pay the price for it.

Life is like being a letter in a series of alliterative words; we are helpless in being attached, but cannot dissociate ourselves, separate one’s self, or otherwise excise the offending aspect.  We are forever wedded like the proverbial two peas in a pod, with an incessant but futile search for a seam to burst out.  The problem, too, is that it may all sound proper and profound; but beneath the surface of consonant melodies and mellifluous motions of letters harkening back with pleasantries of sound, sight and solace, the reality of it is that the emperor with no clothes needs to be called out, lest the closeted secrets remain dormant.

Medical conditions tend to make of life an alliteration of sorts; squeezed between the implanted word in front and crushed by the one behind, we are left without choices in being a pawn in the cycle of life’s fate.  Like the word that sounds melodious as it rolls off the tongue of the creator, we keep trying to fit in despite the absurdity of the substance and content.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a metaphor of life is well-known.  Despite being stripped of dignity and design, the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition is treated as half-human, half-worth and half-baked.  They are relegated to the corner office, the basement of windowless reserves, and raked over the proverbial coals to perform menial tasks meant to humiliate and defeat.  But it all “sounds nice” — the courageous attempts by the agency to accommodate; the superficial empathy shown by supervisors and managers; it is all meant to soothe.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often seen as just another daunting task, an obstacle placed in front of the already-stretched limits of the Federal or Postal employee; but then, what choices are there?

Like the alliterative words caught between others just because of the consonant attached, the Federal or Postal worker with a medical condition represents the alliteration of life, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely another reflection in the pond of life, provided productively as previous payment portending possible potentialities progressively purchased.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Uncharacteristic Behavior

It is the clash between an expectation and the actualization of an encounter, which determines one’s perspective of self-fulfillment of a belief, or a resulting dismay from failure of verifying the basis of a paradigm.  Characteristic behavior is thus that type of human encounter which meets with, or exceeds, one’s predetermined paradigm of what one has already believed to be so; to act out of that previously considered belief system, by definition makes it fall outside of the realm of such expectation.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker, the bureaucratic complexity of the entire administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing 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, is normally not a surprise, and meets with or even exceeds, the expectation of an already-formed paradigm of what constitutes the “characteristic behavior” of the system as a whole.

It is the anomaly of the century when efficiency, helpfulness and pleasantries prevail throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, where one hears with surprise and shock that it was “uncharacteristic”.  Sadly, that tells us something.  While somewhat unfortunate, we must always remember that the road of every bureaucratic process is paved with personalities of every type.  We tend to lump the entirety of an administrative process into a single cup and cauldron of judgment, but the reality is that there are multiple categories, just as there are different types of people throughout the universe, distinctly compartmentalized into:  helpful; friendly; efficient; nasty; backstabber; fair; unfair; loyal; unpredictable; just to name a few.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM can be a stressful one, if only because it is based upon an obvious stressor to begin with:  a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform one’s Federal or Postal job.  But it is not the bureaucratic process itself which adds or detracts from the inherent complexities of the process, but the behavior — characteristic or not — of those who must help along the way or hinder the necessary transition of the Federal or Postal employee, from one of active Federal or Postal employee to that of disability annuitant.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Life We Perceive

The state of having an epistemological privilege in the first-person singular, means that we occupy a unique position of knowledge, cognition, perception and viewpoint.  Concurrently, however, we must recognize and acknowledge that others have a similarly extraordinary vantage point, and that no matter how hard we may try, we will never truly understand the depth and complexity of the “others” who surround us, whom we encounter, and who pass by our field of vision in the greater context of life’s coincidences and happenstance meetings.

That we may never be able to fully understand another human being is not a sin; that we fail to care to at any given moment, is merely a fault; but that we callously disregard despite indicators of greater suffering and turmoil so evident that the trembling whispers of human frailty touch upon tears of sorrow, shows a misuse of that unique position of epistemological privilege.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Postal or Federal job, the impact is such that one must often consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and thus to end early one’s chosen career in the Federal sector.

One would expect, despite the unique position of epistemological privilege which everyone occupies, that some semblance of empathy or caring could, or should, be expected.  Instead, the Federal or Postal employee in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often encounters greater resistance and bureaucratic turmoil than statistically experienced in other similar administrative endeavors; and can this be attributed to mere mathematical calculus of acceptable differentials?

It is doubtful, because it is precisely in the recognition that perversity of intent is also found uniquely in the human animal, and even in cases of suffering and trauma, when medical conditions clearly present to the life we perceive a state of grief greater than simple sympathy, but beyond pain, suffering and turmoil of body and mind; even then, the complexities of jealousy, envy, spite and cruelty, overwhelms the soul who knows not the inner depths of depravity within the human makeup.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Preemptive Actions

Knowledge can be a dangerous commodity; partial, or little knowledge, can be all the more damaging, precisely because actions can result based upon incomplete information and slices of factually curtailed composites.

The Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has previously pointed out one of the methodological deficiencies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in its review and determination of Federal Disability Retirement cases:  of focusing upon that which is not included in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as opposed to reviewing the information of what has been received.

Such a distinction may be a subtle one, and a difference which can be easily overlooked, but it reveals much more than mere word-play.  For, what it manifests is an application of a criteria based upon an erroneous assumption, and one which continues to be applied to this day, despite case-law which admonishes OPM to the contrary.

Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a 2007 Federal Court of Appeals case, points out the error of OPM’s ways in Federal Disability Retirement cases, where insistence upon “objective” medical evidence continues to dominate, despite the lack of such requirement to the contrary.  Such an issue is especially relevant, of course, in cases where psychiatric medical conditions prevail, and when OPM insists upon the lack of such “objective” medical evidence where none can be obtained, it leads to Federal and Postal employees to react desperately in a preemptively unreasonable frenzy of actions.

Not knowing the law is one thing; knowing, but deliberately ignoring it, is quite another.  But the price Federal and Postal employees pay for when a bureaucracy engages in practices which clearly defy the clear mandate of legal requirement, results in preemptive actions which ultimately lead to another day in Court, to argue that which one thought was previously already established.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Options

Often, in life, we believe that others walk around with esoteric knowledge unavailable and unreleased; it is considered from the viewpoint of what is, in philosophy, identified as an “epistemological privilege” — that as others have private thoughts which are inaccessible to us, so there must be a vast array of knowledge similarly situated.

Experience teaches us to become suspicious of others, as somehow the inner workings of power and wealth tend to bypass most of us, and the list of uninvited guests to cocktail parties reserved exclusively for the select few parallel a privileged club of partisan divides.  But the truism of life’s encounters also unleashes another candid tautology:  most things are quite self-evident, and Ockham’s razor is the general principle of prevailing determinism.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are puzzled, dismayed, confused and confined by a lack of awareness concerning one’s options when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, information gathering should always be the first step in the process.

Perhaps conundrums will still arise, or confusion may develop resulting from a compounding aggregate of “too much” information “out there”.  Further investigation may be warranted; but in the end, most Federal and Postal employees realize that the options are limited, and the choices relatively uncomplicated.

Federal Disability Retirement remains a preferred option for many, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, over OWCP-based claims (because Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, ultimately); beyond staying with the job (because it will normally turn out that doing nothing will only make the situation worse, in most instances); or expecting an accommodation or reassignment (not likely to happen, as agencies and the U.S. Postal Service rarely look out for the best interests of the Federal or Postal worker first).

In the end, options depend upon knowledge; for, as the corner ice cream shop of yesteryear had but two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, so the modern-day chain sensation may tout 50 or more; but we tend to always come back to the basics, where we find that multiplicity of additives does not make for real alternatives in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire