Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Keep Confidence

There can be a duality of meaning, or perhaps even a tripartite of understanding; for, to “keep confidence” can mean the protective blanket of not sharing information with others and maintaining a “confidentiality” of data; or, it can mean that one maintains a level of confidence — a surety of belief in a successful endeavor.  Or, perhaps even a third meaning which involves both: Maintaining confidentiality while secure in the belief of the endeavor involved, which is to work towards the goals agreed upon and progressing towards that goal, all the while maintaining the confidentiality that is explicitly and implicitly retained.

That is, in a nutshell, what an attorney-client relationship should be and continue to remain.  Thus, from the moment of an initial telephone consultation, the confidence that is kept should be twofold: Security of privacy so that the discussion can be forthright and without reservation; and, if the case is to go forward, the confidence in its eventual success.  Both components are essential for the successful outcome of an endeavor that may, at least initially, have some characteristics of trepidation and uncertainty.

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 issue of confidentiality is exponentially magnified because of multiple elements that work against the Federal or Postal employee: An agency’s Human Resource Department that is known to “share” sensitive information; a decidedly weighted bias in favor of “management” or those in superior positions; medical issues that should be divulged only to those in strictly “must know” positions; and an extremely sensitive decision on the part of the Federal or Postal employee on matters of health, employment and one’s future.

Containment of confidences is important; keeping confidence in both senses becomes vital; and one thing that the potential client can be assured of: Anything spoken to or shared with this attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will always be maintained in order to “keep confidence”, in whatever manner of meaning the phrase may imply or express.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: What to do

Does anyone really know what to do?  From the very beginning, we are brought into this world without having been asked, and never with any instructions entitled, “Life instructions in ‘how to’”.  Instead, we are thrown into the ravages of this impervious universe.  We are lucky if we have some kind parents; otherwise, as with most of us, they are as clueless as we are, and sometimes even more so.

What do we do with the rest of our lives?  How do we determine if the course we have chosen is worthwhile?  When do we determine if the choices presented are the ones that will forever be offered, or will others come along after we have long committed to the limited ones we face?  Who tells us if what we are doing is “right”, and does the concept of “right” or “wrong” even matter, anymore”?

When problems arise, who do we turn to?  Do we turn to the priesthood that has been forever discredited, to the shamans who drive in expensive cars, or the Wall Street wolves who live in mansions afforded upon the backs of ordinary people?  And since parents are now told that honesty about their own lives are important in feeding the ingredients of success for their children, do we count on them to give us the same clueless directions that we can expect of ourselves?

Who knows anything, anymore, in any expectantly significant or relevant way, other than the puffery we encounter in our daily lives?  And when medical conditions interrupt and intervene – who tells us what path to take; where we go with the career choices given; and what about the legal issues that arise when it concerns a Federal or Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?  What to do – isn’t that the question we always have to ask ourselves?  And how do we know if the choices we make are the right ones, the wrong ones, or perhaps just “the best under the given circumstances”?

It is important to know; relevant to apply the correct criteria; significant for understanding the issues that need resolution; knowing what to do, how to do it and when to begin.  Medical issues that arise make for hard questions that need relevant answers.  And when the medical issues themselves impede, interrupt and intervene in negatively impactful ways, they exacerbate the capacity and ability to arrive at the proper judgments, and make it that much harder to decide.

Maybe there is no “right” answer, but only some minimal instructions and restrictive directions.  Whatever the case may be, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to gain some initial insight and directions on what to do, and that may require seeking a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law.

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