OPM Medical Retirement: The Process of Decision-making

Have you ever wondered how decisions are made?  What is the process, and who determines whether or not the methodology engaged is the “right” one or the “wrong” one?  What data is analyzed?  How is the evaluative input assessed, and to what extent does “missing” information impact the process?

On a spectrum of decision-making, there is on the lower side of an imaginary graph the “process” of choosing a flavor of ice cream.  Most would agree that it is based upon a purely subjective, appetitive basis, where the foundation of the process of decision-making (if you can even call it that on such a rudimentary level) is based upon one’s taste for a particular flavor, and whether or not one has a present desire for the intended food.

Can other factors come into play?  Of course – for example, say you just read an informative article that all flavors in category X contain a carcinogenic compound, however slight in volume, that over time may cause harm, whereas all other flavors (“Category Y”) are exempted and are considered “safe”.

Now, how much of that data enters into the decision-making process of choosing the ice cream flavor?  For, in order for such information to enter into the equation, one must first engage in the prior decision-making process upon the article itself – i.e., is it factual or does it contain unfounded opinions?  How “scientific” is the evidence?  Does the author have a conflict of interest – i.e., is he being paid for writing the article, and by whom?  Perhaps the author works for the industry that produces all Flavors Y and wants to advance a competitive edge over all Flavors X by harming or destroying, or placing seeds of doubt into the minds of customers who might consider those other flavors?

Placing weight and credibility upon the article itself must first involve a process of decision-making; then, even after such a judgment on the information received, how much of it will impact upon the decision-making process of choosing a flavor of ice cream?  One might conclude, for example, that the article on carcinogenic ingredients is pure bosh and disregard it – but even in that instance, if you chose the category of Flavors Y, can you ever be sure that you discarded it completely, or perhaps in your subconscious mind you attached your allegiance out of fear and caution?  How will you ever know?

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, the process of decision-making in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application can be a complex and complicated one.

One’s future is involved; one’s investment in a career; the health concerns, the deteriorating capacity to continue in one’s chosen line of work, and the increasing difficulty of hiding the medical condition – all, and so much more, must be considered before initiating the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

With all of this in mind, of the jumble of information and the complexity of the process itself, the best and first step is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, in order to gain a balanced perspective, receive all of the necessary information, and to begin to gather the foundational data necessary in order to ultimately make the “right” decision in the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Of the Black Widow

The subtlety of its attractiveness is often overlooked because of its mythology of potent venomousness, where it is said that its sting is more than 15 times the deadliness of a mere prairie rattlesnake, which — at least we can attribute an anthropomorphic characteristic of favorability — warns one with its loud systems resulting from its namesake.

It is often invisible, as its black and unassuming appearance allows for quiet traversing along the undersides of human existence; and the signature red or orange marking, often reflecting an hourglass on the ventral abdomen tells the frightening narrative of the limited time remaining once smitten.

Perhaps, while sitting outside enjoying the warmth of a mid afternoon pause, you reach half-asleep beneath the slats of the lawn chair, and it awaits; or the enthusiastically rapacious urban gardener who wants to feel the richness of the soil in the thawed gallows of springtime brightness, working by reaching with ungloved hands through a thicket of branches and deadwood, unintentionally grabs a bevy of clumpish organic material, and instead disturbs the habitat of this beauty of deadliness.

The mythology surrounding the Black Widow spider increases exponentially with greater study; from its sexual cannibalism to its neurotoxic potency, the innate fear towards spiders in general is magnified when encountering this particular one of is own species.  Yet, by metaphor or mere anthropomorphic analogy, we encounter similar and parallel behavior within our own species — of venom so toxic, and of seemingly innocuous engagements that barely warn, but where wariness should prevail over our lack of judgment and insight.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and where the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the confrontation with an agency’s Black Widow can be shocking, daunting and ultimately fatal.

And they can — of the human kind — lurk anywhere and everywhere; from sudden eruptions of coworkers and Supervisors whom you thought were harmless, to Human Resource personnel who spew secrets of stinging, venomous sprays which can destroy the privacy and personal information of countless victims; they, like the spider of infamous beauty, can reveal greater enmity than the prairie rattlesnake.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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, is often the only antidote available; but like the signature mark of the hourglass glowing in revelatory horror only after it is too late, filing for Federal & Postal Disability Retirement should be considered way before reaching into territories where unknown responses and reactions may prove too deadly or too costly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: The Ballerina’s Pirouette

It is an awkward word to pronounce, and even more difficult to perform; but a full turn of the body on one’s toe or the ball of one’s foot, multiplied at dizzying speed while the world remains still or aghast with onlookers of disbelief, is but a day’s work for the stage performer.

Practice makes perfect, and the time, energy, pain and history of falls and mistakes preceding a single performance before an audience anticipating unsteady bouts of dizzying falls, where simple tasks of walking or standing are the only points of contextual reference and understanding, it is indeed an amazing feat of grace, balance, determination and pinnacle of human perfection.  It is a showcase of physical coordination:  the capacity to find the center of gravity upon a singular digit of extremity, and to twirl without falling from grace.

Human tragedies are like metaphors of such acts; for, as the world remains still, one’s own universe spins in a twist of timeless moment ensconced without empathy or consideration by others.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the circumstance itself is likened to the act of a ballerina’s pirouette:  one’s own world is a twirl in time, while the greater objective universe remains impassive, dispassionate, unconcerned and mere observers of an inner sanctuary gone mad but from all appearances remaining the same.

It is difficult to convey in a persuasive or convincing manner such conceptual anomalies as “pain”, “depression”, “cognitive dysfunction”, “radiating pain“, “despondency”; words are not experiences, but they are the vehicle of transference for comprehension, understanding and relational convergence.  Watching the act of a pirouette is not the same as experiencing it; but finding the right words to describe it can come as close as possible for the necessary intersection of understanding.

For the Federal or Postal worker who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the ability to perform a pirouette is not a requirement, and it is not even mandatory that one can properly pronounce the word without a twisted tongue.

What is required, however, is to be able to convey effectively the spinning universe as experienced by one’s medical condition, such that the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can come as close to the experiential context of one’s deteriorating human condition as possible by a formulated convergence of concepts communicated via the greatest singular tool of Mankind:  the written word.

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: That Spare Tire

We rarely think about it; and it is somewhere “back there”, in the event of, in case, if it happens, as a contingency, as an insurance policy, for the rare occasion of a potential mishap.  But with the modern ingenuity of reinforced rubber with a manufacturing process of innerliner calendering, one rarely even sees a car on the side of the road with a lone figure attempting to locate the spare tire, with the car unevenly perched upon a device secured in a dimensionally precarious manner, to change that flat tire.

But it does happen, and even with all of the advances in technology which resists direct punctures and roadside hazards pounding away at the four (or more) elements which keep the vehicle running, the flat tire and the need for a spare requires the safety net to ensure that secure sense of a peaceful mind.

Like life insurance, fire and catastrophic umbrella policies, the spare tire will always remain, no matter any future inventions or guarantees of outdated necessity.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are part of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Federal Disability Retirement is precisely that spare tire which provides a semblance of security if and when the need arises.

Most Federal and Postal employees continue their careers to the end, until the time of retirement, or a transference of talents and abilities to the private sector for more lucrative venues; but for that small percentage of Federal or Postal employees who find that, during the course of one’s career, a medical condition has interrupted one’s goals and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, then preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a necessary contingency to trigger.

Suddenly, the benefit looms larger than ever, is more important than previously recognized, and becomes lauded as the lifesaver of the moment.  That is precisely what we do with the spare tire — we do not even think about it, nor are aware of its precise whereabouts (except that it is under the vehicle, in the trunk, or somewhere “back there”), but travel about with the peace of mind that, in the rare hypothetical event of “if”, it is there to be accessed, so that once the change is made, we are again well on our way down the road of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire