Federal Employee Disability Information: Lip Service to Losses

It is admitted under the cover of gaining, and never standing alone as a mark of proud achievement.  To lose is to be forgotten; and while we give lip service in various ways — as in, “Oh, we learned so many valuable lessons from our losses”, or “Behind every success story is a failure of tenfold that allowed the person to learn and grow”, or ever the clincher: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game” — such losses always end up in the ash heaps of history’s forgotten events, while the “winners” move on into the next phase of life’s ongoing narrative.

Yet, we continue to perpetuate the myth that life’s lessons are best gained by the failures and disappointments that we encounter, and that is what “giving lip service” ultimately means: the insincerity of words in contrast to one’s belief as beheld close to one’s heart.  That is why it becomes increasingly difficult for this generation, as opposed to and in contrast with previous generations, to handle the stresses of daily failures and unmet expectations.

We cannot strip away the reality of the world throughout one’s upbringing and childhood, constantly telling every child that everyone is doing a “great job” and have “special talents” at every turn and hiccup of life’s turmoils, then expect them to be able to handle the daily and overwhelming stresses of life’s experiences that must by necessity include setbacks and the bumping into the harshness of stark cruelty of the world, then expect a placid, calm and positive view of experiential stability.

The harshness of reality is that, indeed, this is a hard life, and no matter how much technology may promise the easing pain and modernity the hope for a utopian society, the frailty of the human condition cannot be avoided.  That is the reality-check that a medical condition imposes — that we are not mere lesser gods among beasts of burden, but in fact have just as many burdens and are subject to the unexpected vicissitudes of life’s happenstances.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to realize that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application may not meet the expectations of those who give lip service to the idea itself — i.e., that yes, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will “support” you in your application; that the Human Resource Office will do everything in their power to “accommodate” you; that your Supervisor or Manager is “sympathetic” to your situation, etc.

They may speak the words, but in their “heart of hearts” is that notion that filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is on the side of “losses” and not of categories empowered by “wins”, and therefore you must be careful in who you confide with when preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM.

Always remember, however, that consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law will guarantee that “lip service” will not be mere words, but a careful guidance and strategizing of that which is in your best interests, and with full confidentiality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: Departures

How one leaves is often important — not just subjectively, but encompassing consequences and reverberations unanticipated.  Consider the ultimate departure — of leaving a Will or not.  One might counter that, Well, what difference does it make; I won’t be there to witness what happens after I am gone; and, in any event, who cares if they fight over what little possessions I leave.  “I won’t be there, anyway.”  But your memories will; the memory of who you were and the aftertaste of a legacy left behind.

Then, there are the mundane departures — of the daily goodbyes to go to work; of leaving work to come home; of a trip on trains, planes and cars; or just a trip to the local store while that loyal dog awaits your arrival back home.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing to file 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, the question of how a “departure” is characterized in the meantime may have some not-so-insignificant impact upon a Federal Disability Retirement application down the proverbial road.

Resignation may be necessary — say, in order to access one’s TSP in order to survive the lengthy administrative process of awaiting a decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; or perhaps simply wanting a “clean break” before, during or after filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Or, the departure may take the form of a termination or an administrative separation initiated by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, in which case one may argue the Bruner Presumption in favor of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

These are all important and relevant considerations in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, where departures —like one’s Last Will and Testament — may have some relevance in the fight which ensues in the aftermath of one’s absence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Application: The tools we have for use

The foundation is always “all-important”; but there are other tools at one’s disposal, and the question is:  Do we know and recognize what those tools are, and if not, how can we use them out of ignorance?

How does SSDI intersect with FERS Disability retirement – not the issue of offsetting the concurrent payments after approval of each (that is merely a monetary calculation that has nothing to do with getting a FERS Disability Retirement application approved); rather, should an approval of an SSDI application have a legal impact upon a FERS Disability Retirement?  How about a denial – but one with a statement in the SSDI denial letter acknowledging that the FERS Disability Retirement applicant is unable to perform the duties of his current/former employment, but may be able to do “other employment”?

How should a mixed removal be utilized to its most effective manner?  If a person is removed partly for his or her medical inability to perform the essential functions of the job, but also because of AWOL issues or excessive LWOP usage, does it undermine the application and efficacy of a Bruner Presumption argument?

What should be done with a Department of Veterans Affairs rating?  Is it always persuasive, never determinative?  Even if persuasive, should it always be introduced, or is discretion the better part of valor – or, in the case of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the better part of value in using it as “proof” for a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Should medical documentation be indiscriminately submitted?

In other words, in a FERS Disability Retirement application, does the FERS Disability applicant have any rights as to dissemination of medical documentation, especially those portions which do not go to the substantive centrality of one’s claim in requesting a Federal Disability Retirement approval?  To what extent can the FERS Disability Retirement applicant and his/her attorney have the right to act as the “gatekeeper” in providing sensitive medical documentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Tools – we have them; but of what use, efficacy or relevance are they, if they are left in reserve without pragmatic utilization?  And, as to the “reserve” – should the FERS Disability Retirement applicant keep in tow any of the tools, or should they all be used in an aggregate, cumulative powerhouse of aggressive and forceful argumentation?

Tools – to have them is one thing; to use, another; but more than that, to know what to use, when, how, and to what applicable relevance; that is the power behind the inertness of that which can be enlivened by knowledge, information and discretionary utilization.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from 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 position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire