FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Communication Skills

The ability to communicate involves a complex process:  the capacity to identify and understand what needs to be communicated and for what purpose; retrieval of information and tools of communication from one’s storehouse and warehouse of knowledge; the proper choices to be made in gathering not only the substance of thoughts to be conveyed, but the sequence in which to purvey; editing and last minute self-censorship, as well as its corollary, embellishment of thought, in order to effectively delineate the verbal or written response; and all in an instant of a neurocognitive response.

Mishaps occur; wrong choices of words and combinations of conceptual constructs often become verbalized; and while retractions, apologies and declarations of regret can somewhat ameliorate such blunders, there is often the suspicion that what was stated was and continues to be the true intention and thoughts of the individual who spoke or conveyed them.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the potential consequences of conveying the wrong thought, information or conceptual construct can result in a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  That is why it is often necessary to hire an attorney experienced in identifying the proper methodology of information to be conveyed and delineated.

Real life consequences can result from a bureaucratic process such as Federal Disability Retirement.  Unlike family gatherings where mere words are spoken, an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits cannot be repaired with a simple statement of apology; for, that which leaves the mouth or the written pen, is often the sword which slays the beast.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmation, Communication & Support

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been thoughtfully prepared, formulated and filed with the Office of Personnel Management, it is a long engagement in something similar to trench warfare, where the long wait for the decision-making process must begin, endure, and come to fruition.  

In days prior to public access to the internet, Federal and Postal employees had very little, if any, access to the public domain of communicating to other Federal or Postal employees to get a sense of the successes or failures of others in the same or similar endeavors.  Access to other people’s experiences on public web domains, blog posts and other means of internet communication has allowed for interaction and communication within a wider community of Federal and Postal employees, in contrast to the pre-computer days (and yes, I am old enough to remember those days, when college term papers were written on an electric typewriter and space had to be calculated at the bottom of each page to allow for footnotes, as opposed to the ease of present-day cut-and-paste and automatic spacing by the computer program) when Federal and Postal employees were essentially isolated and unable to have access, let alone communicate, with others to attain a sense of affirmation by the experiences of others.  

Having that sense of isolation is one of those greater difficulties during the waiting wasteland period of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Moreover, especially in times of greater stagnation — summer months of people’s vacations; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. — the sense of isolation is exponentially magnified.  Reach out on the web and read about other people’s experiences in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  While each case is unique and different, one may gain a sense of affirmation by learning about the experiential factors of other Federal and Postal employees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Speaking with the Doctor

Communication is the key to a successful outcome:  such a trite truism is certainly applicable in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS.  The primary focus when a Federal or Postal employee has a medical condition which is impacting his or her ability to perform all of the essential elements of his or her job, is to take care of the medical condition — i.e., to have the necessary treatments, to undergo the proper prescriptive treatment modalities, including surgery, medication regimens, pain management treatments, psychotherapeutic intervention, etc.

Beyond such treatment modalities, however, there may come a point in the life of a Federal or Postal employee when it is becoming apparent that the medical condition is simply “incompatible” with the useful and efficient retention in the Federal or Postal Service.  Such a determination is best made by the Federal or Postal employee, if possible, as opposed to having the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service suddenly and unceremoniously make such a determination — in the form of a proposed removal based upon one’s failure to maintain a regular work schedule; or because of taking “excessive leave“; or putting a Federal or Postal employee upon a Performance Improvement Plan.  Such a determination may best be made by the Federal or Postal employee by communicating one’s concerns to the treating doctor, and asking some incisive questions.  Another trite truism:  The only stupid question is the one not asked.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Flexibility of Language

Language is inherently a flexible tool; it is meant to communicate, and while precision in communication is the defining purpose in the use of the tool, often the essence of language must nevertheless be flexible enough to embrace other, correlative concepts. To limit the tool of language often will lead to undermining the very purpose of the use of such language.  

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the use of language in preparing, formulating and describing the interaction between the medical conditions and how it impacts one’s job duties, must allow for some level of flexibility.  For example, if certain chronic symptomatologies result in a mis-diagnosis of a medical condition, should a later (revised) diagnosis be allowed to be argued to the Office of Personnel Management after it has been filed?  

The answer to the question is contained in how the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A is formulated.  If one merely lists the diagnosed medical conditions without describing the symptoms, then the language used has restricted the flexibility of post-filing inclusion.  On the other hand, if one combines the various medical diagnoses, but also includes a descriptive discussion of the symptoms, then the answer is likely, “yes”.  The use of language should be one of precision; how one utilizes the tools of language, however, should remain flexible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Communication

As in all areas of law, a truism which may be applicable to a particular kind of practice of law applies both generally, as well as specifically to the process spoken of.  That is the nature of what constitutes a universal truth.  In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, the governmental agency which makes the decision in a case (the Office of Personnel Management), will often communicate directly with the applicant regardless of whether the applicant is or is not represented by an Attorney.

Indeed, OPM will often go so far as to completely ignore the attorney, thereby failing to send a copy of the decision letter, or to request additional documents.  All such communication is directly to the applicant/client first and primarily, without regard to the representing attorney, in many cases.  With that in mind, it is very important that the applicant communicate with the attorney.  Further, because the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal Agency which oversees thousands of cases, files will often sit dormant on some desk, or letters and decisions will be sent out without checking on updated addresses, etc.

Because of this, it is important that a total effort in communication be engaged in, which means:  communicating with one’s attorney on any correspondence or contact with the Office of Personnel Management.  A Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS must be a “total effort”; it is ultimately the responsibility of the applicant, in the eyes of OPM, to respond properly.  The attorney in a Federal Disability Retirement case may have the technical knowledge on how best to approach a case; it is the applicant who must still continue to be engaged in the process, in order for the entirety of the process of be workable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire