Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Achieving the Objective

We often hear of people striving to achieve “the good life”, or perhaps, sometimes it is characterized as the “easy life”; one of leisure, pleasure, lack of worries (financial or otherwise), and at least in evocative pictorial representations, surrounded by multiple beautiful people all with dentures which gleam with gaiety and unbounded mirth.

How one achieves such a state of ecstasy (by following directions provided), where it exists (some utopian tropical island which can only be reached via a private plane), when to begin (by calling a certain toll-free number), and what to do (respond to the advertisement within the specified time period offered), are somewhat murky, but belief in such an objective to be achieved keeps human hope alive.  Somehow, such predilections of a state of finality seem hollow in the face of reality; it is the latter with which we must contend on a daily basis; the former is merely a fantasy left for dreamers and fictional characters.

For Federal and Postal employees who face a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s chosen Federal or Postal vocation, there is little extra leisure time to engage in such phantasms of thought.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, takes a clear, analytical approach, and one which cannot be sidelined by daydreams of virtual realities in a hemisphere of utopian musings.  But, then, Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions and must contend with the agency’s hostile response to such matters, already understand the necessity of engaging reality versus the world of imagination.

While it is sometimes preferable to get lost in the parallel universe of ecstatic fantasies, it is always the harsh reality of this world which must be the ultimate objective of achievement.  Fantasies are left for those precious hours of sleep one can enjoy; the rest of the waking hours must be to tackle the reality of the real.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Runt of the Litter

It is interesting watching the behavior and interaction between the runt of a litter and the rest of the “healthy” puppies.  The runt is cast aside; the others, for no apparent reason other than because he is a runt, will focus upon the weakling and mercilessly attack him and take advantage of the vulnerabilities and weak spots.  For the runt’s part, it is a test of endurance and survival, and perhaps it is the very isolation and aggressiveness from others which tests the prospects for survival.

We humans like to think of ourselves as (to paraphrase Shakespeare), far above such animalistic behavior, and closer to the angels of heaven in our demeanor and virtues.  But in engaging the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is clear that we are not far from the “runt-behavior” and the target of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.

Loyalty and camaraderie prevails on the surface so long as everyone is healthy; once a medical condition is revealed, the behavior of the aggressors manifests to the forefront.  Agencies comprise a collective and organic whole in their behavior and treatment of employees who exhibit a medical condition requiring the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Once the medical condition becomes apparent, and begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the test of survival begins.  Empathy, a somewhat human quality, rarely prevails; and laws and rights must be invoked.

Think about it this way:  Do angels need laws to regulate their behavior?  Yet, human beings must have laws, and a vast abundance of them in order to ensure the protection of disabled individuals.  FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement is fortunately a compensatory system which provides some protection for Federal and Postal employees; and it is a system based upon laws — ones which are necessary to protect the runts of the world.

Far from being angels, we are closer than we think to the pack of dogs who wait patiently to see who the next runt is, and which one can be attacked.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Showtime

In old literary adage, one should always write in a manner which “shows” to the reader an event that is happening, a conflict unfolding, or a misery felt.  Entertainers never declare to one another, “It is Tell-time”.  Instead, we are all familiar with the singular phrase, “Showtime”.  For, one can “tell” a story, state facts, convey issues, etc., but the most effective tool in evoking empathy, sympathy and understanding from the reader, the recipient or the audience, is to “show” what is occurring.

Such conceptual efficacy also applies 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 interesting how a focal point of an endeavor often calls for utilization of tools outside of the arena of specialty demanded; thus, it is not so much knowing administrative law which is necessary to prepare an effective narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A, both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees) — rather, it is the ability to engage in effective narrative prose.

The common literary refrains of repetitiveness, of descriptive word-usage, of choosing adjectives which flow and yet accurately describe the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s Federal or Postal job — these are all important in compiling an effective narrative of one’s medical condition and how it impacts upon one’s ability to perform one’s job.

While the doctor may present your case in a distant, clinical manner, the applicant himself/herself must evoke some semblance of understanding from the Claims Representative at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Indeed, it is “Showtime”, but the showing must be accomplished in words, and the time to touch upon is the present moment, encapsulated in time and the narrative prose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Language and Reality

In most circumstances of life, the chasm and divide between language and the reality which such language is meant to reflect, is wide and irreconcilable.  The problem is often that language over-states and overpowers reality.

When it comes to a medical condition, however, it is often the case that the opposite is true:  language is inadequate to effectively, properly, or sufficiently describe the severity, pain, extent and scope of the medical condition being suffered.  Language is meant as a tool; a conveyance in order to communicate an X as reflected in the world of Y.

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 to close the expansive divide between the reality of one’s medical conditions and the words, ideas and concepts which are utilize in an attempt to communicate the experiential phenomena which one is undergoing.  Suffering; mental lapses; suicidal ideations; lethargy; chronic and diffuse pain; panic attacks; such conceptual paradigms must be sufficiently conveyed by the elasticity of language.

While sympathy and empathy are not required components to evoke in an Applicant’s Statement of Disability, it is a goal to strive for.  Yes, there is the legal criteria to attempt to meet in a Federal Disability Retirement application, and the objective assessment and evaluation of a Federal Disability Retirement application does not require that the Case Worker at OPM have any feelings of sympathy or empathy — but it often helps if the narrative form contains some emotive content of such evocation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Symptoms & Diagnoses

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is not that a formal diagnosis is unimportant; rather, it is that the diagnosis itself is merely a starting point and does not reveal the story which must be told in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

From a medical viewpoint, for treatment purposes and from the perspective of the treating doctor, identifying the source of the pain, entertaining the various treatment options, considering which treatment modalities will be most effective, etc., all play into identifying the proper source of the symptoms.  Thus, from a treatment perspective, identifying the medical condition by ascribing the proper diagnosis is of paramount importance.  A doctor often cannot begin the proper course of treatment unless and until formal identification is established. To that extent, it is also the beginning point for the treating doctor, in that once a source of pain or origin of symptoms is diagnosed, then various treatment modalities can be considered.  

For purposes of becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is also merely a starting point.  As the Office of Personnel Management often likes to point out, “The mere existence of a medical condition does not mean that a person is disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.”  While quoting OPM as the source of legal authority is normally unwise, nevertheless one must grant that this particular statement is true within its limited context, and must be kept in mind when preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Approaches & Decisions

With each case, a story must be told.  If the case gets denied, normally my approach is not so much that a “narrative” must be retold, but rather, I tend to view the Reconsideration Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement application process more as the “battle” to set the proper stage — to either win at the Reconsideration Stage, or to win at the Merit Systems Protection Board stage.  What is interesting is that, within the three stages of the process (excluding the appellate stages of the Full Board Review and the appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals), the need to tell a coherent, empathetic, sympathetic and compelling story of a dedicated and loyal Federal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that it impacts him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, comes “full circle”. 

I approach the “Reconsideration Stage” of the Federal Disability Retirement process under FERS & CSRS as the “center point” of battle, in many ways, precisely because it is the step just before taking it before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  It is the place to give the Office of Personnel Management a subtle warning:  This is your last chance before the destiny of the Disability Retirement Application is taken completely out of your hands and control, and placed into the hands of an Administrative Judge.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire