OPM Medical Disability Retirement: The stain of knowledge

Both remain with us; and like innocence which, once tarnished, refuses to be whitewashed, they cast a looming shadow of irreversibility upon the fragile tissue of one’s psyche.  Stains endure; knowledge persists; and once the two combine, the stain of knowledge never relinquishes its hold, whether ugly, radiant, gnawing or insidious; neutrality is rarely a chosen point upon the spectrum of unraveled ignorance.

You can ignore knowledge, and yet it surfaces from deep within one’s consciousness and reveals itself in dreams, nightmares, moments of openness and times of clarity.  You can also ignore a stain, but others take furtive glances, smile to themselves and shake their heads behind your back.  And that stain — like the indelible inkblot which smears and spreads — continues to haunt and follow no matter the number of attempts to outrun it.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the stain of knowledge is that realization that one cannot continue in the career of one’s choice, and it is the realization itself that then prompts one to consider the alternatives faced: To stay, which is becoming increasingly impossible; to resign and simply walk away, which is never an intelligent option; or, to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, knowledge comes in bits and pieces; at others, in a rush of overwhelming force; but when the stain of knowledge remains like the gnawing feeling that forebodes of anxious anticipation, it is time to consider options that previously may have seemed like an inkblot upon an otherwise stellar career, and consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement with OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Devising Escape Routes

What a person spends his or her time doing away from work, reveals much as to how one’s work will be accomplished.  If one attempts immediately to build protective walls around the core of a project in an effort to stave off potential marauders, as opposed to focusing upon the substantive essence of the idea itself, then perhaps the vulnerability of the project itself will begin to manifest.

Our own fears often overwhelm; but healthy fear can be a positive use of an evolutionary tool meant to apprise and alert.  It is only when it becomes an impediment and obstacle for progress and advancement that our own self-immolative actions begin to impact our capacity to grow.  There is a delicate balance between healthy fear and that which lends itself to self-destruction.  Proper evaluation and analysis of a circumstance or situation is required in order to establish the former; for the latter, a groundless allowance without facts or evaluative input.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the question often becomes, At what point do I begin to consider escape routes?  Do I need to devise them, or are the mechanisms already in place?

Escape routes are devised in response to dangers present; and often it will appear as if the manifestation of a medical condition will bring out the worst in others.  Isn’t that an anomaly in and of itself — that one’s own deterioration of health will impact the behavior of others, in a derogatory manner?  But that is precisely what a “stress test” is for, is it not?  It is never in the best of circumstances that reveals the true nature of a thing; rather, it is under adverse conditions which unravel the artificial appendages with which we camouflage.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is somewhat like an “escape route”, in that it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to exit from the adversity of circumstances, and plan for one’s future.  One need not “devise” it, to the extent that it is “already there” — a benefit for all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

For the Federal or Postal employee considering such a route, the priorities of life should always prevail:  Focus upon one’s health in an effort to remain (for those who are beset with a medical condition which is “work-related”, filing for Federal Workers’ Compensation benefits may be the first option to consider); then, if it becomes clear that one’s medical condition is impacting the ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and that the medical condition will last a minimum of 1 year (and it should be emphasized that one does not need to wait for a year in order to determine this aspect; rather, it is merely a medical prognosis that the medical condition will likely last at least 12 months or more that is required), consideration should be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

In the end, it is not a matter of devising escape routes, but rather of recognizing the limits of human endurance, evaluating one’s place within the context of growing adversity, then acting upon those exit points available and allowable — then to make a proper decision for one’s self, and for one’s family and future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: Avoidance

It begins with a subtle turning away, perhaps; reduction of contact, lessening of coincidental interactions, etc.  The fact is, in an office environment, or out in the proverbial “field” of employment, if a coworker or supervisor wants to get a hold of you, they normally can, and with aggressive intent, quite quickly.  But suddenly and in a spiral trajectory of avoidance, people begin to shun and shove aside.

It’s not like the medical condition is contagious, or will by some mysterious process of osmosis spread like a viral wildfire merely by standing next to you; but that is how it is perceived and attributed.  When a medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, whether the person is a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, the palpable sense of ostracizing begins immediately.

Loss of productivity; being placed on a PIP; developing a reputation for being on the wrong side of an agency’s favor; these are all of the ills which portend; and the greater the degree of avoidance by fellow workers, the increasing pressure of evidence to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement.  Federal Disability Retirement is a process which can take many months, and is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The inevitable is written in the rosters of future events; avoidance merely delays that which will come about, anyway; and procrastination exponentially compounds the cumulative problems aggregated by neglect.  Thus does avoidance work to wound, and rarely to enhance, the fragile future of the Federal or Postal employee in securing one’s financial stability, by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire