Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: A Directionless Travelogue

Traveling without knowing where one is, is perhaps the foundation of being “lost”; to compound such a problematic situation would be to also not even know where one is going.  The choices provided in this modern age reveals that information does not constitute wisdom or intelligent choice; for, if the converse were true, as society now possesses a vast vault of information, we would consider ourselves at the height of intellectual acuity.  Have you ever looked through various travelogues?  Brochures, commercial proposals, travel agents — the more one reads, the more confusing it gets.  

As with everything and anything in life, preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management first, and foremost, requires a sense of direction.  But where does one obtain such a sense?  Certainly not from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — as they are the agency which will scrutinize and review a Federal Disability Retirement application, to obtain information from them would be like asking the proverbial fox how best to guard a henhouse.  Yes, sometimes studying one’s “enemy” is beneficial, but in this case, a regurgitation of the law, as interpreted by OPM, will not provide a sense of direction.  

The key in a Federal Disability Retirement case is to first accept and acknowledge that the Federal or Postal employee has come to a point in his or her life where some action is needed.  Once that is established, the next step is to search for the travelogue which will be most effective in getting the Federal or Postal employee from the present location, to the destination of a successful outcome.

Any other travelogue is merely an attempt to sell a dream; and while dreams are nice to have, they are best enjoyed within the security of a good night’s sleep, which comes from knowing where one is, where one needs to go, and how to get there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Long Road

The bureaucratic process identified as “Federal Disability Retirement” with the Office of Personnel Management is indeed a long, and often frustrating, endeavor to undertake.  

From the long wait at the initial stages of preparation and formulation; to the waiting wasteland once it gets to the Office of Personnel Management — including first the period of waiting merely to have it assigned to a case worker, then the long period of uncertainty while it has been assigned but pending an actual review by the OPM Caseworker; then, of course, if it is approved, the lengthy period of receiving interim (partial) pay before it gets “finalized” and calculated — this, all on the assumption that the Office of Personnel Management will perform the monetary calculations of backpay, interim pay and final pay in a correct, indisputable manner; and further, if it gets denied at the First Stage of the process, then the further period of waiting at the Reconsideration Stage of the process; and further, if it gets denied at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, then an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

A recent case — indeed, just decided a couple of days ago — where the client went through the First Stage, the Reconsideration Stage, then a Hearing at the Merit Systems Protection Board, all without an attorney, and came to the undersigned attorney to file a Petition for Full Review at the Merit Systems Protection Board where, fortunately, there were enough legal mis-steps on the part of the Administrative Judge that the collective “we” were able to get it reversed and obtain an approval for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management — all told, took about 2 and a half years from the start of the process to the final decision.  By any standard, that is a very, very long time.  

Caution:  It is not recommended that an individual wait until after an MSPB decision to obtain the services of an attorney.  The wait for a Full Review by the MSPB 3-member Board alone took about 10 months, and moreover, it is very difficult to reverse the decision of a Merit Systems Protection Board’s decision.  It can be done (and has been done), but it is obviously a better idea to win at the MSPB Hearing level, and not try and reverse an AJ’s decision based upon an “error of law“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire