Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The fatigue of hiding

That’s the rub, isn’t it — that we spend so much energy trying to conceal it, that by the time the truth comes out, we don’t even care, anymore, and are often glad for the revelation and the blessing of not having to mask it any longer?  Whatever the “it” is that we attempt to conceal, hide, ignore of otherwise fail to reveal, the fatigue of hiding it, the constant commerce engaged in bartering for more time, avoiding a direct encounter or otherwise trying desperately to veil the truth, leaves us exhausted and spent.

Is it, on the other hand, like a John Le Carre novel, where the secret that everyone is attempting to protect is already known by all powers, but the constant struggle to maintain its confidentiality is more for appearance’s sake, and not because of the vital information underlying the apparent need to conceal?

The fatigue of hiding is indeed the exhausting effort being expended for what is otherwise known, or more importantly, wasted upon the known when the value of concealing is far surpassed by the toil engaged.  Medical conditions tend to do that — whether in trying to conceal it from ourselves by downplaying and minimizing the pain and loss of flexion, motion, movement or other numbness of feeling involved, or by attempting to hide it from others, such as employers, family or even friends who show some modicum of concern.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are trying desperately to cling on to their jobs in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal service, the fatigue of hiding can be overwhelming.  The factual state of affairs often defeats the continuing attempt to minimize and hide: the extent of LWOP having been used; FMLA already exhausted, and it isn’t even a new quarter; the piles of work being left unattended; and those furtive glances that are no longer established through suspicions of whispers and gossip, but clear rumblings of a Federal Agency that is moving to reprimand, warn, place on a PIP or propose removal based upon non-attendance or excessive use of Sick Leave; these are all clear indicators that the fatigue of hiding can no longer be further delayed.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee believes that the future still holds some hope for remaining at the Federal or Postal job, is an important first step in acknowledging that the fatigue of hiding has come to a critical juncture that necessitates a step beyond hiding it — it is the time of reckoning where the effort wasted upon concealment needs now to be turned into a positive step towards securing one’s future by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, so that the fatigue of hiding can be turned back into that productive person of greater vitality you once were, and of whom everyone else once knew.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Sacrifice

What does it mean to sacrifice?  Is it a concept learned, or an act embraced during a moment of trial?  If not learned, can it occur when two strangers meet, or do the circumstances, upbringing, genetic material inherited, etc., all make the difference?  And of “learning” — can it be by osmosis, classroom lectures, or purely by observing and watching others engage in the act of sacrifice?  What compels a person to sacrifice one’s own life, well-being, wealth, the shirt on one’s back, or the last dollar in one’s pocket, and does it count at all if it is done for one’s own self-aggrandizement?

Say a person sacrificed a limb in order to save another’s life, but remained anonymous except for the inquiring reporter who wrote a piece delineating the admirable qualities of that person, etc.  We would all likely read such a story with interest and read it and share it with out children, friends, family, etc., and talk about good character displayed and the fine example shown.

What if that same sacrificing person was overheard to have said, “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have done it.”  Would that change the calculus of our thoughts?  Would we think less of the person for having second thoughts?  Or, would we suspend our disbelief and say, “Oh, he’s just saying that because living without a limb must be traumatic, but he doesn’t really mean that.”?

What if, in addition to the sacrificing individual making such a statement, it turns out that the sacrificial act was just an accident and was not deliberately intended — would that further downgrade our admiration for the person?  What are the qualities that must all come together in order for an act of sacrifice to be admired and shown as a paradigm of exemplary behavior?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 the Federal or Postal job, the intersecting issues between enduring the pain and difficulties of a medical condition, with the requirements of performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, come to the fore when reflecting upon the conceptual paradigm of “sacrifice”.

At what point does sacrifice turn into foolhardiness?  Is it when the pain and suffering can no longer be endured and others, including the Agency or the Postal Service itself, begins initiating the process of removal or placing you on a Performance Improvement Plan?

While we may never know precisely the distinction and difference between sacrifice and self-destructive behavior — what people mistakenly obscure between “bravery” and “bravado” — what should always be kept in mind is the unmistakable fact that one’s health should be a primary concern, and that “sacrifice” should be reserved for a worthy cause.

Thus, when the intersecting ideas of “sacrifice”, “work” and “health” clash as irreconcilable differences, a divorce must occur between the three at some point, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may be the best option left before throwing away the chance of an admirable act of sacrifice is lost to an unworthy cause at the price of one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Attorney: Beliefs beyond boundaries

There are beliefs that are presumed to be true, if not merely conventional.  Superstitious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with daily activities and being productive, are acceptable; believing in the existence of aliens on other planets, for instance, or even that some have visited this planet, will not make a difference in the conduct of one’s life; on the other hand, if the same person believes that the alien is invisible and shadowing him wherever he goes, it might begin to impede ordinary and acceptable behavior.

There are “flat earth” associations, and one may cling religiously to the belief that the earth is flat and not round or oval, and argue vociferously that when you walk and see the horizon, there is no indication other than that the earth is flat; and such a belief would likely remain harmless and largely irrelevant.

Then, of course, there are beliefs beyond boundaries of acceptable and normative accountability, like embracing a belief in a date certain that the world will end, where such a belief results in preparation for the coming doom, spending all available resources in building and reinforcing a bunker constructed in one’s backyard, quitting one’s job in order to prepare for the inevitability of the end.  Or, of a belief that all women on Thursdays who wear blue are germ-carriers, because when Jason was five years old there was a woman who wore blue on a particular Thursday who stopped, patted him on the head and said, “Nice boy”, and on that very day, by that woman who wore blue, he became deathly ill and ended up in the hospital for two months teetering on death’s doorstep.

Is that an “unreasonable” belief to have?  Can one not make the argument that there is a “rational” basis for such a belief, and it is within the reasonable boundaries of acceptability?  Would you call such a person “crazy”?  And, so long as he goes to work each day, is productive, doesn’t harm anyone – and no woman on Thursday enters his cubicle wearing blue, he never runs out screaming, “Don’t let her touch me!” – no one would be the wiser for holding such a belief.

And of the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to take the necessary steps to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because he or she believes that taking “advantage” of such a benefit means that he or she is no longer “worthy” – is that a belief beyond boundaries of rationality?

Yet, that is often what pauses the Federal or Postal employee from preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the mistaken belief that is beyond the proper boundaries that there is something inherently “wrong” with the Federal or Postal employee when you file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, when in fact all you are doing is to finally recognize that health, life and one’s well-being are more important than killing yourself over a job that has always accorded the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Joy and trials

It is the defining of life itself; of the spectrum across a wide range of peaks, valleys, proverbial mountaintops and chasms of tumults like a groan beneath the terrain of the earth.  We attempt to avoid the latter and quantitatively expand the former, thinking that if we fill our experiences with joy, the trials will be lessened or the impact less eventful.

There are gauges of summer, the plateau of fall; we sense the discontent of winter and the exhilaration of spring; and like the subtle pull of the orbs afar that impact the tides and moons of horses galloping in the night, the shudder of sensations unfelt and the future yet untold make anxious of us all.

Joy is the experience of human beings; trials, the objective world impinging upon the subjectivity of our daily refrain.  Can we even have one without the other?

We posit fictional hypotheticals that probably never were; of Rousseau’s “State of Nature” where savages roamed in scant loincloths without a care in the world; and of paradise lost like Milton’s foreboding of a utopia now crumbling into the dystopian paragon of untruths and Orwell’s misinformation where totalitarianism becomes the choice of self-immolation.

As Being cannot mean anything without its opposite, Nothingness, so is it not the trials of life that magnify and make relevant the joy felt on any given day?  Can one truly exist without the other?

And yet we attempt to minimize and diminish the latter in thinking that we deserve the former.  But as the inane philosopher now long forgotten once stated with annoyance and greater impertinence, “It is what it is”.  Whatever that means.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are experiencing the “trials” period of one’s life because of a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the attempt to jump over and across the great divide so that one can get back to the “joy” part of life’s offerings by trying to “work with” the Federal agency or Postal service, or to “seek an accommodation” with one’s Federal department or Postal facility, there is another proverbial adage that comes to mind: “Banging one’s head up against the wall.”

It is often the case, unfortunately, that in order to get from the “trials” to the “joy” part of life, the Federal or Postal employee will have to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee wants to or not.

For, in the end, the truth of the matter is, the “trials” part of life is something you have little or no control over – such as a medical condition; it is only the “joy” part of the deal that you can assert some dominance over: by taking the affirmative steps to file an OPM Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The best we can do

We enter into a race; we finish in the bottom third.  We take a course for advancement of learning; we barely pass the final exam.  We often ask ourselves throughout the montage of life’s challenges:  Is that the best we can do?  Sometimes, the answer is a quiet but simple, “Yes”; at other points, perhaps it is a time for reassessment and revamping of the approach, the methodology, and even the key ingredients of who we are.

Self-congratulatory utterances and inane emptiness of self-esteeming servitude has often been described as the enemy of modernity.  The best we can do is always achieved if, after every project completed or half-heartedly attempted, the punctuations that follow are repetitively predictable:  “Good job!”; “Attaboy!”; “Fabulous”; and other such interjections of enthusiastic expressions.  But that misses the point – both for the spectator who cheers on, and the participant who must endure the consequences of such emptiness devoid of fortitude.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition which has worsened, become exacerbated, or otherwise has reach a point where it prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, must often contend with the “concern” of performance reviews and ratings which have remained stellar throughout one’s Federal or Postal career.

That is often a misleading and inconsequential concern.  Here is why:  the system itself consists of a duality of misleading indicators – from the “agency’s” viewpoint, it has been set up so that the least amount of acrimony and confrontation is “best” for everyone, because camaraderie and passing everyone through with flying marks is encourage for the cohesion of the greater unit; and from the Federal employee’s viewpoint, he or she has silently attempted to endure the pain, suffering and debilitating conditions without complaining, for fear that he or she would be “thought less of” by coworkers, supervisors, managers and the rest of the cauldron of the agency and department.

But when the Federal or Postal employee comes to that critical juncture where the medical condition, the positional duties, and the tolerance level for pain and suffering all coalesce to a point of terminal considerations (i.e., resigning, filing for Federal Disability Retirement, or both), then all of that hard work in the quietude of silent suffering seems to haunt us.  That is why the foundation of a case – a narrative report of excellence that addresses and rebuts each point of potential concern – is crucial as the linchpin of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

For, in the end, sometimes the best we can do has been an overreach that comes back to pinch us; and though a rarity in the age of modernity where everyone gets a prize for coming in last, for the Federal or Postal worker who is intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the best we can do with what we are left with, in the residue of timeless anguish.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire