OPM Medical Retirement Attorney: The Cauldron of One’s Past

The oversized iron pot hangs over the open fire, and the gurgling of ingredients steams and burps the lid in predictable sequences of rhythmic timing; the aroma is an admixture of sweet and mysterious combinations of one knows-not-what; perhaps of bones, marrow and herbs, here a whiff of something which touches upon the dark recesses of one’s memory, and there a hint of harboring horrors, reminding us of past deeds and loathsome reminiscences.

The figure who stands hunched over the source of pervading uprisings, is covered in a dark shawl; a bony hand gripping the large wooden ladle, mixing, turning, crouching over to sniff and taste; and from the chasm of the figure’s hollow mouth, toothless and echoing a chamber of snorting chafes, the sigh of satisfaction emits, as the cauldron of one’s past is ready to be served.  And so the story goes.

Who among us would want the fullness of one’s past and history of deeds to be revealed?  What pot would hold the full taste of one’s misdeeds, private concerns and actions engaged?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the process itself sometimes feels like one is forced to partake of a witch’s brew — who will be in the mix?  What private information will have to be revealed?  When will the pot of information be ready?  Who will mix the ingredients?  The mysteries contained within the mixture of the witch’s brew is indeed terrifying.  Every process which is unknown and, moreover, unknowable, is one fraught with concerns and trepidation of purpose.

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is like the witch’s cauldron — it must bring to the fore one’s current circumstances (the medical condition), the impact upon the future (finances, future job prospects, etc.), and potentially the confrontation with one’s past (agencies love to do that).

The key is to understand the complexities of the administrative process, and to maneuver through the bureaucracy of the witch’s brew.  In doing that, one must always be cognizant of the cauldron of one’s past, and keep out of the reach and grasp of those bony fingers which reach out to encircle one’s throat, lest you become an ingredient in the admixture of the skeletons found at the bottom of the pot.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Plantar Fasciitis, Rotator Cuff, Extremity Injuries, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often the case that Federal and Postal workers (and the general population) tend to “pigeonhole” medical conditions, injuries and disabilities.  Certain medical conditions are considered “causally related” to certain types of jobs, and this type of relational categorization is often true in Worker’s Compensation claims, or other benefits sought in other areas of law. 

Thus, Plantar Fasciitis is often closely associated with Postal Workers who must remain on their feet throughout the day; Rotator Cuff injuries are often associated with the repetitive physical use of upper extremities; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Cervical, Lumbar & Thoracic pain, degenerative disc disease, etc., are all categorized and pigeonholed into physical types of jobs.  Yet, chronic pain of one’s extremities, joints, musculature, etc. can often severely impact more sedentary types of jobs, precisely because of the high distractability of such chronicity of pain.  Additionally, one often overlooks the excessive amount of repetitive “micro-movements” one engages in while on a computer — of the thousands of dexterous manipulations of the fingers and the concomitant engagement of the shoulder muscles, etc., in the very act of typing on a keyboard. 

Pigeonholing a medical condition to a specific type of job is a dangerous endeavor of dismissing a viable Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS and CSRS.  Careful thought and consideration should be given for each medical condition, especially when attempting to ignore the impediment it is causing in performing the essential elements of one’s job does not make the pain go away.  “Out of sight” does not mean “out of mind”, especially when dealing with pain and the underlying medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Psychiatric v. Physical Disabilities

People continually inquire as to the difference between Psychiatric v. Physical disabilities, as to whether one is more amenable to an approval over the other.  Psychiatric conditions can include a wide range of variables — from Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Agoraphobia, ADD/ADHD, and multiple other diagnoses.  Physical medical conditions, also, include a wide spectrum of disorders — Cervical, Thoracic or Lumbar conditions; various cardiac conditions; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Shoulder Impingement Syndrome; Plantar Fasciitis; Migraine headaches; Lupus; Chemical Sensitivity issues; allergies; COPD; and multiple other conditions.  Is there a difference between these (and the listed conditions are by no means meant to be exhaustive, but merely illustrative of the wide range of medical conditions)?  The answer is, ultimately, No. 

The foundational essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether involving Psychiatric disabilities or Physical disabilities, is the impact upon one’s ability to continue to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job.  Further, recent case law holds that OPM cannot make a distinction between “objective” medical evidence as opposed to “subjective” medical evidence, and so the old distinction between “psychological” medical conditions as distinguished from “physical” medical conditions can no longer be seriously upheld.  Ultimately, and fortunately, there is no difference between psychiatric disabilities and physical disabilities when trying to get approved for a Federal Disability Retirement case under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire