Disability Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Lost Causes

It is that famous line from the 1939 movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” which is evoked by the phrase, “Lost Causes” — of the near-defeated Senator Smith who reminds his father’s old friend that once upon a time, even he had believed that such were the only ones worth fighting for.

It is an idealistic movie; perhaps, even naive.  Was it because of the time in which it was made?  Would — could — such a film be produced in this day and age?  Could there really have been such an individual with unfettered idealism in this era where cynicism and tribal warfare abounds with unlimited and unrestricted savagery?  Do we even have a conscience, anymore, which is required to fight for those “lost causes” that need an advocacy unblemished by the dirt of pessimism?

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, perhaps the medical condition itself has resulted in a perspective that one’s own career, and even life itself, has become one of those “lost causes”.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not the “end all” of a solution to a lost cause, but it does provide a glimmer of hope so that the Federal or Postal employee can re-focus his or her attention upon regaining one’s health.  But there is a sticking point — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A denial from OPM can make it appear as if our Federal Disability Retirement application has become another one of those “lost causes”.

Consult with an experienced FERS attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law to see whether or not what you perceive as a “lost cause” is worthy of a cause to fight for, and don’t give up so easily; for, in the end, what Senator Jefferson Smith said is what keeps that flame of hope alive — that the only causes worth fighting for are those “lost causes” that everyone else had abandoned.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Proof and Knowledge

The two go hand in hand.  That, in and of itself — of “going hand in hand” — is a peculiar metaphor; for, like couples holding hands while taking a walk in the proverbial park, do hands necessarily have to be held in order for comity to be established?  Can a person, for example, have proof without knowledge or, conversely, knowledge without proof?

If a bloodied knife is picked up beside a dead body, can a person declare, “I have proof!”  Yes, but proof of what?  Perhaps that the dead person died from a knife wound; or that the owner of the weapon has etched his or her initials upon the handle of the implements, etc.  But as to “whodunit” — the weapon itself may now be the crucial piece of evidence.  But what of “knowledge”?

Again, it would be different if the same person, taking the identical hypothetical, declared: “I know who did it — that person there!”  [As the accusing individual points to a shrouded man standing afar in the crowd, hat tilted to shadow his face, hunched in an oversized raincoat and furtively attempting to disappear into the crowd].

So one now has “knowledge”, and perhaps even “proof” (i.e., fingerprints on the knife; eyewitnesses who identify the man in the raincoat as the guilty party; video of the act itself, caught by a British CCTV camera that was recording in the middle of nowhere — by the way, how in the world do the British get away with so many surveillance cameras?).

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees who are considering preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, remember that Proof and Knowledge must, indeed, go “hand in hand” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Proof is not just one’s medical condition; it must include a showing of a verifiable deficiency and a nexus to one’s job elements; and knowledge is not just “knowing” that one is disabled — it must include meeting all of the multiple criteria of the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, you may already have the “proof”, but you should consult an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to gather the “knowledge” necessary to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Goals of abstract purity

Idealism allows for the plethora of such concepts; cynicism born of age and experience quells the exuberance of such vaunted beginnings.

When we were young — no, not the opening lines of a Christopher Robin poem where the hunt for a clove of honey is the day’s goal, but an observation about life’s folly — we harbored principles and moral codes that required strict purity: Success without compromise; life that is perfectly lived; avoidance of mistakes that our parents made; beautiful kids who will exhibit their inherent creativity at every turn, without a wail or disobedient scream of tantrum; and even if such goals of abstract purity never come to fruition, at least there is Instagram in the modern era where we can pretend to have achieved such paradise of ends considered.

Youth pretends to such abstractions; reality tends to soil such purity; and goals formulated at the beginning of life require constant moderation and adaptation to the experience of reality that is encountered throughout.  Such goals of abstract purity are best left in the Ivory Towers of Academia, or in the forgotten memories of childhood dreams.  For, it is reality and the objective world which must be contended with, and not the conceptual paradigms that make up the dreams and fantasies of our former selves.  In the end, grownups don’t have time to waste upon the goals of abstract purity because life is too challenging and reality too stark.

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 position, the Goals of Abstract Purity should be replaced with the Ends of Realistic Objectivity: Of continuing with the Postal Service or Federal Agency only to the extent that one’s health will allow, and to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS.

And what of those former Goals of Abstract Purity?  You should place them upon the heap of memories that allowed for youthful folly, and realize that one’s health is the ultimate goal of purity — and it is no longer a mere abstraction, but a reality that must be faced.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, initiation and submission of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The waiting room

We have all experienced the psychology of the cursed “waiting room” — that place which is assigned as the “intermediate” lull, like purgatory for the virtuous-to-be, where they think that by making you believe that you have now been chosen to wait in a separately sequestered area, your patience will become refreshed and you will allow for another lengthy wait.  The psychologists have it all figured out, don’t they?

First, you are left to wait with the “rest of them”; then, your name is called, and you leave those who have been waiting just as long, or some even longer, with a smug smile, thinking to yourself, “Whew, finally!”  But that sense of relief is short-lived, for it becomes clear that the room you have been lead into is merely another surreal suspension of reality’s cruel viciousness — for, this is merely an intermediate form of torture: The Waiting Room, where the real wait begins.

Somehow, the psychologists have figured out through studies conducted that patients, clients, potential customers, etc., will tolerate quite a bit of waiting so long as there is an “interlude” between waiting periods.  So, say you are at first forced into a queue with a group of others — the studies have revealed that 20 – 30 minutes is the maximum before agitation begins to manifest itself, unless you are “selected” and sequestered into a separate queue where your tolerance for a further waiting period can begin anew.

Of course, in reality, nothing has changed — it is simply that your waiting has been transferred from one area to another.  Can this occur multiple times?

Apparently, the studies have shown that, yes, so long as the logistics of the waiting period have been altered — as in, say, after 20 minutes for the 2nd waiting queue, a nurse walks in, looks at you and places a folder into the filing basket attached to the door.  Somehow, that momentary interruption focuses the waiting individual that your time is approaching, that we have not forgotten about you, and you will soon be seen.

The psychology of intermediate contacts increases one’s hope for the end of the waiting period, despite the fact that the same waiting period continues — it is just that the hour’s wait is broken up into segments of three 20 minute slices, and that, according to all of the psychological studies, makes all the difference.

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, one of the frustrating aspects of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, is the long and arduous wait that must be anticipated before a decision is made.

Expect the worst; hope for the best.  There are multiple stages to the process — of the Initial Stage; of the Reconsideration Stage; of an Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board; and even of a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB.

Thus, if you took all of the multiple stages, the “wait time” is tantamount to the slicing up of that very “wait time”, and the best way to give yourself the benefit of a higher percentage of success is to make sure that you increase your chances of getting it approved at the Initial Stage by consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest you remain fuming in the Waiting Room where everyone else taps his or her foot while the collective blood pressures continue to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Confessions & public domains

Why is it that confessions and public domains represent a relief of sorts, an expiation of self-contained guilt and a sense of “righting” a wrong?  In Catholicism, confession holds a prominent place in the liturgy of that which constitutes a faithful observant; in crime novels, the taunting serial criminal is said to subconsciously “want” to confess to the crime, and leave multiple fingerprints at the scene of each devastating incident in an effort to provide a trail of enough clues to ultimately lead to his or her arrest, thus in effect “confessing” to each of the acts of psychologically diabolical intrigues; and for the ordinary person, there is added stress to the body when one refuses to confess to the public domains of one’s life, those “inner” thoughts that are somehow anathema to the acceptance of behavior in the “outer” universe of public discourse.

That conflict between one’s “true” identity as encompassed by the insular universe of one’s private thoughts and the appearance of one’s character in the public domain — what some would call the hypocritical tug-and-pull of reality-versus-appearance, or of what others would admit is comprised by the true essence of man as opposed to the public face that hides the inner soul.

Whatever the origin, truth or appearance of the matter, what we often discover is that there is, indeed, a certain sense of relief in making a confession within the public domain — whether that is satisfied by talking confidentially to a close friend (which is somewhat of an anomaly in and of itself — of merely confiding with another and creating a conspiracy of two instead of one), making a public pronouncement; “confessing” to one’s spouse; going to a group therapy session and admitting to things in front of that collection of individuals; and other similar acts that somehow expiate the inner turmoil of one’s soul.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and actually filing it with the Agency or the Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat akin to making a “confession” in the public domain.

Part of the greater stresses of continuing on in this mode of secrecy — of trying to “mask” the medical condition from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility for fear of retaliation or harassment — is actually relieved by the “confession” of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and it is in the “public domain” of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or better known by its acronym, OPM, that one finally begins the long and arduous trek of regaining one’s health, by tapping into that traditional method of confessions & the public domains of life’s priestly expiation of the inner sanctum of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire