Civil Service Disability Retirement: The value of properly preparing

Each and every stage of a Federal Disability Retirement process is important to view in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  You cannot take any stage of the process in a vacuum; for example, answering SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in and of itself forces one to consider stages beyond the Initial Stage of the process.

Questions to ask:  Are you bound by your answers without the possibility of further amendments to the narrative delineation you submit?  Can changes, amendments, additions be made even after a CSA/Case number is assigned by Boyers, Pennsylvania and sent on its way to Washington, D.C. for an initial assessment and determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  What if, in the meantime, a “new diagnosis” is provided, one which has not been included in the original Statement of Disability?

Should the language used in describing one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job be elastic enough to allow for greater content at a later date, or should it be concise, precise and without room for maneuver or wiggle?  To what extent will prioritizing of diagnosed descriptions be used, either for or against, one’s Federal Disability Retirement, and are there consequences in submitting a non-sequential order of non-prioritized conditions, whether in terms of a spectrum from severity of pain or relevance based upon conditions recognized to be “serious” as opposed to secondary, more exacerbated-based symptoms that are considered corollaries more than central conditions?

To view the world from a perspective of bifurcated and compartmentalized episodes, where each circumstance of life has no impact or connection to any other, results from the insularity of lives we lead.  But reality forces upon us the realization (note the close connection of the two words – reality and realization) that our own mental insularity does not impose a compelling argumentation upon the objective world; instead, we continue to delude ourselves into thinking one way, while the universe goes on and exists with impervious fortitude until the two contradict and ultimately clash.

For Federal employees and U.S. Post workers who try and defy the universe by ignoring the reality of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, and further, by attempting to sidestep the methodology of analytical determinations made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the onus is on you:  take care that you consider preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application carefully and with full view as to the value of knowledge and information, lest it come back to haunt you with a denial because you did not foresee the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Preparing properly for each stage

We often hear (and perhaps secretly scoff at?) the modern verbiage of a “Holistic” approach, where the missing consonant makes all the difference – as in the non-word, “Whole-istic”.  It is the approach often ignored and replaced by its cousin – of looking at each stage of every unit in and of itself without taking into account the entirety of the process of an administrative procedure.

For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, that is entirely and wholly a wrong approach.  No unit or stage is an island, entire of itself; every stage of the process is a piece of the whole, and we should never doubt for whom the bells of legal limitations toll; it tolls loudly for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – to misquote and paraphrase John Donne.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who is considering preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the thought of having it denied at the Initial Stage of the process rarely – if ever – enters one’s mind.

Why?  A tentative answer must always include the following: A person who suffers from a medical condition, and feels the chronic, intractable pain, or the turmoil of psychiatric trauma with loss of mental acuity and cognitive dysfunctions, cannot fathom a bureaucracy denying that which would seem self-evident to the preparer of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

There would be, of course, other explanations just as viable and valid, and dependent upon each person’s individual circumstances.

A simpler explanation can also be posited, which would more closely follow the rule of Ockham’s Razor —  that in the rush to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, anything but a focus upon the “First Stage” of the process is simply too complicated, and cannot be envisioned by an applicant who is mired in the complexities of just “living” – of trying to still work; of dealing with the medical conditions; of trying to gather all of the medical and other evidence required in putting forth an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Is this short-sighted?  Perhaps – but it is what is called “reality”.

It is only the Federal Disability Retirement lawyer – one who has “dealt” with hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of Federal Disability Retirement, who can preemptively prepare for stages beyond the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process.

In the end, preparing properly for each stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process means that you should lay the groundwork for the possibility of beyond – not much different than planning for tomorrow, for a year from now, or of taking into account the possibility that the entirety of the process includes multiple stages, and that is precisely the point:  Federal Disability Retirement is made up of multiple potential stages, and the proper preparation of each should always include a view which encompasses the next, and the one after that, and even perhaps the last of the multiple stages.

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

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire