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 Disability Retirement: As life passes by

It seems to come and go imperceptibly; we barely notice; then, one day, we wake up and life has passed by; the past is now an elongated prism through which we judge the remainder of our lives; the present is but the despair we feel because of wasted time allowed to blur beyond into a vestige of forgotten winds; and the future remains as the uncertainty we quivered about before we grew up.

As life passes by, we try and justify; for, language is the means by which we can validate ourselves.  Now, more than ever, it is the gymnast in linguistic contortions that seems to get the most attention, gain the greatest advantage and squeeze out the momentous timelessness.  Look at Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media forums; objectively, it is merely a blank screen where the one-dimensional universe of words and grammatical outbursts are annotated; yet, that is how the self-esteem of the greater society determines worth, relevance and significance.

All the while, however, there are real people with genuine problems, feelings quashed, personalities unnoticed and greatness tethered, that sit in corners of the world awaiting for recognition of singular episodes of kindness and accomplishments.  We can focus too much on ourselves; attend to updating Facebook too often; engage the limited characters of Twitter and worry unceasingly around circles of our own self-importance, and all the while, as life passes by, we remain ensconced in the limited subjectivity of the universe within our own minds.

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 danger is that you can continue struggling as life passes by, and not attend to your medical conditions in the very “doing” of daily activities as life passes by, worrying about tomorrow and the next day as life “passes by”, and wasting the time left as the elongated past disappears into the lost memories, like those graveyards that litter the countryside forgotten and overgrown with ivy and sagebrush that obscures the memories of the dead and dying.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must get beyond the impact of the medical condition upon the ability and capacity to extend one’s Federal career, it is nevertheless an important component in now allowing important moments – like properly attending to one’s health – as life passes by.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Those rare, insightful moments

Must it always reach the level of an epiphany, or may it be as a passing point of fluctuating comprehension?

Every now and then, it is like the proverbial entrance into a clearing amidst the darkness of a looming forest; of a light that shines into a chasm heretofore undiscovered; and in that flash of understanding, it is important to grasp it, to tackle the concept, to concretize and declare, lest it slip silently away like the silken tail of a snake slithering into the tall grass.  Or of a dream in the midst of a fitful sleep that reveals what the subconscious desires to tell but just so in a gentle twist, lest the naked truth in the full light of day may be too blunt for the sensibilities of an unvarnished purity wanting but for the fiction of a nightmare too horrifying to encounter in real life.

Is the fool in Shakespeare any less witless than the King who divides his empire among vampires who drain the life of a vibrant ego?  Do the words of the court jester that cuts like a knife through the clouded judgment lost in the garments of wealth and power, transcend the loss of comprehension by those who would see the Emperor’s clothes despite the insight of a child who sees the nakedness of truth?  Do we attribute to animals the identical accolades despite their lack of coherent utterances, when they emit sounds of alarm, engage reflexes of caution and take flight ahead of perceivable approaches to dangers hidden beyond?

Most of life is repetitive boredom, sprinkled with the dust of angels golden and shining as they fly above us in the invisible universe of heavenly orbs, and we rarely notice them but for the slight touch of their comforting robes as the wings disturb the calm air or a mischievous poke on that parting of hairs or the baldness unseen but from a singular perspective from atop; and it is in those rare, insightful moments that life becomes worth living because we clearly, unequivocally and with unmitigated resolve understand, comprehend and care.

Then, the world and its artificial constructs rush right back in to fill the void of monotony, and we carry on with the projects of life that detract and distract, forgetting again the beauty of that which we saw for a brief slice of time.  Thus, the numerous stories of those who briefly crossed the demarcation into the netherworld of death and beyond, but were brought back to “life” by medical specialists who wanted to do “good”, when even that perspective is, at best, questionable.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing 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, it is often the medical condition itself that compels one to have a moment of epiphany.  Perhaps that rare, insightful moment comes about when the pain becomes unbearable, or when the cognitive faculties become askew and mental clarity sees beyond into the netherworld of the future and its gloomy horizon.

Whatever the circumstances that monotony of chronic medical conditions forces, the realization that the Federal or Postal employee must by necessity prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is one which cannot be avoided, any more than the angel who playfully shaves one side of our face in the twilight of dawn and leaves us wondering about those rare, insightful moments of life’s mysteries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: At What Cost?

The introduction of the “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA) by the French (who else?) is a quantitative approach in determining whether to go forward with a given project.  There are other approaches, of course, but the popularity of such a utilitarian paradigm is especially attractive to Americans, precisely because it allegedly places a determinable value upon the project, endeavor or issue in question.

But not everything in life is quantifiable in monetary terms; and while the CBA approach can take into account complex factors and assign methodologies of evaluating such that otherwise unquantifiable terms can be converted into numbers, the question still comes down to a simple issue of self-reflection:  Is it worth it?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have 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 positional duties, a cost-benefit analysis is often taken with a singularly stark question:  Can I survive on the annuity proposed by statutory authority?

But this often ignores a parallel query, just as stark and similarly singular: What other choice is there?  If the medical condition arose as a matter of a work-related incident, certainly the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset should file for OWCP/DOL benefits; but even then, Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, and there will likely come a time when it is still necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The unquantifiable factors in any CBA are those more personal, intangible issues which we rarely desire to face:  What will happen if I ignore the present course of settings?  If I continue to work with my medical condition and somehow reach retirement age, what kind of shape will I be in to enjoy my “golden years”?  Will the agency tolerate my reduced productivity, and what will their next move be?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is never an easy decision, and should not be taken without a thorough and self-reflective analysis; but it is often an approach tantamount to negative-theology which will bring out the true answers to a dilemma — of what will result if one does NOT do X, as opposed to a quantification of values — and provide the necessary framework for a future reference of positive closure to a human condition which always seems, at the time and moment of suffering, to be a calamity beyond mere dollars and cents, and for which the famous Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill noted, that actions are right “in proportion as they tend to promote happiness.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Another similar article previously published: Federal Disability Retirement pros and cons