OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Boundaries

We set them for a reason: To prevent future conflicts; to establish clearly when trespasses occur; to allow for the maintenance of compartmentalization in order to preempt overlapping potential conflicts; to teach societal conventions in a safe, artificial context; to demarcate the lines of acceptable behavior, etc.

Boundaries are set in law, in conventions, in neighborhoods, communities, nations and continents. Remember when we learned in Geography Class about the various countries and their disputed boundaries?  Or of early lessons where we were told not to cross the street unless a school safety guard bade us forward?  And what of mental boundaries — of not answering the phone after a certain hour; of boundaries that prevent us from working ourselves to death; of not responding to emails after “work hours” (is there such an animal, anymore?), etc.

And those subtle boundaries we all seem to learn — of conventional behaviors acceptable in society, including invisible ones of “personal space”, of declarations in public both allowable and prohibited; and even of eye contact, how much is offensive, to what extent a “look” becomes a “stare”, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to cross the boundaries into considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Medical conditions themselves have no boundaries, know no boundaries and respect no boundaries.  It becomes all pervasive — crossing into one’s personal life, and disrupting one’s career and work life.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and consider re-establishing those important boundaries that keep in place the lines of sanity necessary for one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for FERS Employees: Incompatibility

The proof that must be shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, is that the Federal or Postal worker has a deficiency with respect to performance, conduct or attendance, or in the absence of any actual service deficiency, a showing that the medical condition is incompatible with either useful service or retention in the position held.

In recent months, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has been ignoring the part about the “incompatibility” provision, and instead has been unfairly focusing upon whether or not a supervisor has deemed an individual’s past performance as having shown any deficiencies in performance, attendance or conduct.

The system of “performance reviews” favors passing most employees through without any deficiencies, and the reason for this is that it is often too much of a headache to give an employee a “less than fully successful” rating, lest there be grievances filed and appeals noted, creating a greater workload for the supervising authorities.

But even when there are noted and substantiated deficiencies in one’s performance, conduct or attendance, OPM will often dismiss such deficiencies as not being supported by the medical documentation, anyway, and so the basis for a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is often a compendium of circular arguments posited by OPM without any adherence to the law or acknowledgment of the facts.

More cases appear to be denied by OPM in recent months; ignoring the law and asserting unfounded reasons for such denials, and so it is important to fight against the trend that seems to be asserted by OPM: Ignoring well-established precedents in law and ignoring the facts by selectively extrapolating what OPM wants to focus upon.

If you have been denied, or want to put forth the best First-Stage OPM Disability Retirement application possible, contact an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement Benefits: Forever and a Day

The concept itself is a conundrum; it is to emphasize the extension beyond eternity when eternity itself cannot be extended by self-definition.  The “add-on” of the extra day provokes the idea that it goes just a little further than that which we can comprehend; and yet, we can barely, if at all, comprehend the concept of “forever” itself.

For certain ideas, can we “feel” concepts better than we can “understand” them?  That, in and of itself, of course, is a puzzling concept; for, words, ideas and concepts are posited to intellectually comprehend as opposed to applying an emotive conceptualization of it.  To “feel” that you understand a word or a concept is quite different from comprehending it intellectually.  Yet, doesn’t the idea of “pain” fit into that category?

A person who experiences a great deal of pain may not be able to understand it, and yet he or she “feels” it, and in the very existential experiencing of the phenomena, comprehends it better than the person who merely reads about it but never experiences it.  Furthermore, the person who “understands” pain has a greater comprehension of the phrase, “forever and a day” — for the two are similar in experiences; the one is a medical condition that can barely be described; the other, a concept of existence that is similar to unendurable pain.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the feeling that life has become “forever and a day” is a familiar one, precisely because of the unendurable stresses inherent in trying to balance work, home, the medical condition and the growing stresses of it all.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS is a step towards realizing that days do not need to become lost in weeks, weeks into months and months into years, where the pain or other medical condition, physical or psychiatric, must by necessity be an unendurable conflagration of existence.

FERS Disability Retirement is a means to an end — the end being, having the time and energy to focus upon one’s health; the means, to retire medically from a situation that has become untenable; all, in order to recognize that “forever and a day” begins with a day that can be differentiated from the “forever” that never seems to end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The identity of choice

In the end, do we?  That is — do we have a choice when it comes to our identity?  Of course, in this day and age where word-play has become completely malleable, and where Truth and Falsity rarely matter except when tested against the exigencies of the objective universe (i.e., as when crossing a street and someone says, “Be careful, a bus is coming”, and you suddenly realize that the truth or falsity of such a statement can actually have real-life consequences), the question becomes: How does one define one’s use of the word, “identity”?  Is it based upon the aggregation of objective and subjective statements, beliefs, opinions and perspectives?

In other words, are we merely the compendium of cumulative voices based upon: Our birth certificate; the driver’s license in our wallets; the memories retained by our parents, grandparents and relatives; how our friends view us; what our spouses believe us to be; what the neighborhood dogs recalls from sniffing at our feet — the cumulative aggregation of all of such factors?  Is who we are — our “identity” — different from who we believe we are?  If everyone believes X to be such-and-such but X believes himself to be a secret agent working for a mysterious foreign entity, what (or who) determines the reality of our identity?  Or, is “identity” based upon the collective perspective of a community that “knows” that individual?  Can we “choose’ our identity, and if so, completely or only partially?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue to work in one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often a concomitant “identity crisis” that accompanies the medical condition.  No longer are you the stellar worker for the Federal Agency; no longer are you the reliable provider who slogs through the daily toil as a Postal employee; instead, your identity is one of having a medical condition that limits, prevents, subverts or otherwise alters the way in which you live.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement becomes an alternative that must be chosen, and that “choice” may alter who you are and what others may think about you.  But in the end, you do have a choice: The essence of who you are remains always within; the identity of choice is not altered merely because you file for a benefit that must be pursued because of a medical condition that was incurred through no fault of your own; and anyone who thinks otherwise never knew you to begin with.  For, in the end, the identity of choice was and remains always within the purview and power within each of us; we just didn’t know it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Keep Confidence

There can be a duality of meaning, or perhaps even a tripartite of understanding; for, to “keep confidence” can mean the protective blanket of not sharing information with others and maintaining a “confidentiality” of data; or, it can mean that one maintains a level of confidence — a surety of belief in a successful endeavor.  Or, perhaps even a third meaning which involves both: Maintaining confidentiality while secure in the belief of the endeavor involved, which is to work towards the goals agreed upon and progressing towards that goal, all the while maintaining the confidentiality that is explicitly and implicitly retained.

That is, in a nutshell, what an attorney-client relationship should be and continue to remain.  Thus, from the moment of an initial telephone consultation, the confidence that is kept should be twofold: Security of privacy so that the discussion can be forthright and without reservation; and, if the case is to go forward, the confidence in its eventual success.  Both components are essential for the successful outcome of an endeavor that may, at least initially, have some characteristics of trepidation and uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the issue of confidentiality is exponentially magnified because of multiple elements that work against the Federal or Postal employee: An agency’s Human Resource Department that is known to “share” sensitive information; a decidedly weighted bias in favor of “management” or those in superior positions; medical issues that should be divulged only to those in strictly “must know” positions; and an extremely sensitive decision on the part of the Federal or Postal employee on matters of health, employment and one’s future.

Containment of confidences is important; keeping confidence in both senses becomes vital; and one thing that the potential client can be assured of: Anything spoken to or shared with this attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will always be maintained in order to “keep confidence”, in whatever manner of meaning the phrase may imply or express.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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