OPM Disability Retirement: The Three Little Pigs

We are all familiar with the fable of the anthropomorphic three little pigs and the materials used in building their respective houses.  The point of the story itself, however, concerns not the elements used, but the craftsmanship employed, and the effort expended, which reveals the underlying values and provides for fertile fodder in teaching the importance of hard work, careful application and sufficient preparatory labor in securing one’s future.

It wasn’t as if there was any justifying rationale for the first two pigs to have built such insufficient shelters; the moral lessons to be drawn can include:  laziness; lack of orientation for the future; insufficient imaginations; a desire for momentary pleasures as opposed to delayed gratification for future gains; the importance of care and craftsmanship; or, to leave it as just a good story.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lessons gleaned from the fable of the three little pigs can be replete with guiding principles:  building the foundation through the proverbial block-by-block methodology; care in the crafting of the linguistic bridge between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions impacting one’s health; deliberation and agonizingly detailed effort expended to formulate one’s Statement of Disability in SF 3112A; compilation of a sufficient legal basis and argumentation in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, etc.

For, the house that the third pig built withstood the multiple onslaught of  attempted subversion not because the adversary failed to expend sufficient effort, but because one’s own work proved worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

Observing competence in action often results in the disarming effect that all endeavors are easy and effortless, and that the price to be paid, the admission fee for fame, is merely based upon luck, whom you are associated with, or what school you attended.  And while it may be true that meritocracies are fading into the oblivion and sunset of historical anachronisms, and the new and acceptable approach to societal fairness is to implement the distribution of wealth via Piketty’s proposed paradigm in his compendium work, Capital in the Twenty First-Century; nevertheless, there are some things which one must still prepare for, and formulate a road-map for a successful outcome.

GPS devices tell us what to do, where to turn, how many miles the journey will take; administrative and bureaucratic facets of life still lack any such electronic directional voices.  For Federal and Postal employees who must consider the reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the reality of preparation must be faced and confronted.  Preparation must involve: obtaining effective medical reports (how does one go about doing that?); what are the legal parameters which increase the chances of a First-Stage successful filing (is this based upon the law or some other factors?); what are the procedural steps which must be adhered to (is there a sequence to be followed, or can one approach the process through multiple avenues and tentacles simultaneously?).

The fact that one pays a single admission fee to watch a symphony or ballet does not mean that players perform based upon the singularity of the fee; that would be an absurdity. Preparation constitutes multiple actions behind the curtains, far in advance of the final performance displayed for the seated audience. It is up to the Federal and Postal employee to go backstage before the performance begins, and to unravel the hidden devices, the invisible threads, and the wizard behind the proverbial curtain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Those Important First Steps

It is often the period of initial preparation of a process which is important in setting a solid foundation for the insurmountable security and solidity of a case. That truism is arrived at through retrospective reflection; but when one is frantically attempting to reach the end-goal, the frenzy of trying to get there is the very problem which derails a case.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds that a medical condition impacts and prevents one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and further, that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is beginning to voice “grumblings” about one’s performance, to include excessive use of SL or LWOP; or, worse, one finds that a PIP has been issued, and one is thus subjected to the microscopic assessment of one’s work, including the number of times you use the restroom — panic sets in.

But quickly compiling a volume of medical records and hastily submitting a Federal Disability Retirement packet through one’s Human Resources office is the wrong approach.  For, ultimately, it is not one’s own agency which has anything to do with a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, it is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a completely separate agency, which renders a decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why preparing the initial steps in compiling a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application is crucial; it will determine the later consequences of success or failure.  Thus the age-old adage:  Penny wise but pound foolish; or more aptly, get your ducks in a row early.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preparing for the Process

Every endeavor or activity requires preparation — if merely a thought, but more than likely, the gathering of proper materials, a logistical and strategic plan of action, etc.  There is nothing more frustrating than to begin a project, only to find that one lacks the proper materials and tools, and must delay any further action because of such lack.

Similarly, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important for the Federal or Postal employee to understand that “having a medical condition” is not enough to endeavor to begin the administrative process (some would instead insert the term, “nightmare” for the word “process”).

While the suffering of the chronic or debilitating medical condition may “feel” like it should be enough, filing for a bureaucratic benefit requires proof which meets a set standard of evidentiary documentation.  In other words, one must establish a “nexus”, or a connection, between the medical condition which one suffers from, and the job which one is positioned for, and moreover, one must always keep in mind that this is a “medical retirement“, and as such, it must be established that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job from a medical standpoint.

It is indeed the preparatory phase of the journey into Federal Disability Retirement which will provide the foundation for ultimate success in the endeavor.

Just as you don’t want to build a house without first having the appropriate construction materials; so you don’t want to go down the path of Federal Disability Retirement without having the requisite medical and legal tools in hand.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Blindly Forging Forward

The success of every endeavor encompasses a wide and vast array of preparation not seen, rarely apparent, and never obvious.  It is the time of engagement “behind the scenes” which then, upon the revelation on public display, makes it appear as if it is accomplished with ease and effortlessness.  But the hours of preparation, the extent of effort expended, and the research and study employed — all coalesce to bring about the appearance of ease.

So it is with every activity; it is no different in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under the FERS or CSRS Government Employee Retirement programs, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  To blindly forge forward in preparing and submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is to court disaster; it takes time, preparation, thoughtful deliberation, and careful compilation of the evidence and proof needed to present a persuasive case.

Never let the rumors of someone else’s success disrobe one’s natural instinct to be on guard; you never know what effort such stories entailed, or how true, or the full narrative picture; and such rumors should be left behind on the trash heap of rumor mills, where many a Federal or Postal employee discovered that success results not in following what someone else said, but rather, is attained through accepting the advice of those who truly know.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Audience

Knowing one’s audience is important in determining the content and manner of a performance, a submission, or a presentation.  Such knowledge allows one to tailor the level of sophistication and informational complexity in order to maximize the effectiveness of that which is being presented.  Certain assumptions can come into play in assessing the audience:  the level of intellectual sophistication; content-appropriate substantive determinations; certain preemptive issues and whether a given element needs to be addressed before it is brought up.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often instructive that the Federal or Postal employee will formulate and put together a Federal Disability Retirement packet as if one’s own agency will be the deciding arbiter — and therefore an explanation of certain actions of the agency will be preemptively rebutted when no such explanatory delineation is necessary.

Yes, while it is true that if one has not been separated from Federal Service, or has been separated but not for more than thirty one (31) days, that the Federal Disability Retirement packet must be processed through the Agency Human Resources Department; and, yes, the agency itself does include its input through the completion of certain forms and insertion of additional information; nevertheless, the Federal Disability Retirement packet is decided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and not by the agency for whom one works.

This minor distinction is important, for it will determine at the outset the perspective, tone and tenor of the Federal Disability Retirement application.  Knowing that the chip on one’s shoulder should be set aside because the audience is no longer the neighborhood bully, will go a long way in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Always Prepare for the Eventuality

The “cut and dry”, “slam-dunk”, “no possibility of denial” case rarely exists.  In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the approaching attitude of humility, caution and scrupulous care for detail should always dominate, and any attitude that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application should be treated as a “given” will often backfire.  

Such an attitude, however, should be distinguished from one of confidence.  

If one has properly prepared one’s case, with scrutiny of detail, meticulous compilation of medical evidence, technical application of legal citations and attention to creating the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s job, then the Federal or Postal employee should be confident that the Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, will be approved, whether at the Initial Stage of the administrative process, at the Reconsideration Stage of the process (both at the Office of Personnel Management), or at the “legal” forums — the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Petition for Full Review, or the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

What is always important throughout the process — whether with an attitude of confidence, humility, or even arrogance — is to prepare the foundation for each stage, with an eye towards the next stage.

Thus, careful preparation — of thoughtful and concise legal citations and arguments — are not necessarily for the “present” stage, but always for the future.  For, everything that one does in life should always contain an ingredient of preparation for the future, and for a future eventuality; preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is no different.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: OPM & the Legal Argument

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, as with all venues of applications, it is important to recognize who the “audience” is, and to appropriately tailor the submission to the targeted audience.  However, when one engages in an administrative process — which involves various levels and stages comprised of multiple administrative and governmental procedures — it is important to always look beyond the initial audience targeted, and prepare for any subsequently receiving entities.

Thus, because Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process which involves not only multiple levels of personnel at the agency level (i.e., the Office of Personnel Management for the Initial Stage of the determination process and, if denied at the initial level, then the Reconsideration Stage of the process), possessing varying levels of sophistication with respect to recognizing the applicability of legal citations, arguments, precedents, etc., but further, it involves multiple layers of legal arenas (i.e., Administrative Judges at the Merit Systems Protection Board, both at the appeal/hearing stage, as well as potentially for a Petition for Full Review; then, beyond, to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, where one will be before a Judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals) — because of the potential involvement of many such venues, it is important to prepare the initial stage of the application with a view towards addressing the later stages of the process.  

While everyone believes that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is a “sure thing,” the wise man prepares for every eventuality, and when it comes to having someone at the U.S.Office of Personnel Management review a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is best to consider the possible eventuality of an initial denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire