OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Influences

The fear that failure experienced in one path & process will impact and influence another process is one that is often of concern.

When a Federal or Postal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there are often concurrent and parallel paths which are undertaken — whether it is concurrently filing for OWCP (Worker’s Comp) benefits; SSDI (which is a requirement under FERS, anyway); a third-party personal injury claim; application for unemployment benefits, etc.  And then, of course, there are EEOC Complaints which may be filed; collateral lawsuits, and other administrative and judicial processes which may be entered into in parallel fashion.

Do any of these other processes impact or influence a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS?

Fortunately, Agencies are like uncoordinated hands appended to multiple personnel with different brains and different neurological centers; rarely do they communicate with each other.

Even assuming, however, that some sort of communication does occur, because the applicable laws and criteria which govern each independent administrative process is different from each other, it is rare that a denial in one administrative process will adversely impact a Federal Disability Retirement application for a Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS.  Imagine that — Federal agencies not coordinating with each other.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Clarity over Question

While a compromise position on certain issues in Federal Disability Retirement for FERS & CSRS may be the best that one may hope for, obviously, clarity over question is the better course to have.  Thus, for instance, in a removal action, where a Federal or Postal employee is being removed for his or her “excessive absences,” it is best to have the proposed removal and the decision of removal to reference one or more medical conditions, or at least some acknowledgment by the Agency, that would explicate — implicitly or otherwise — that the underlying basis for the “excessive absences” were as a result of the medical condition.  There are cases which clearly state that where excessive absences are referenced by medical conditions, the Bruner Presumption would apply in a Federal Disability Retirement case. 

Now, in those cases where the removal action merely removes a Federal or Postal employee for “excessive absences”, there are other methods which may win over an Administrative Judge to apply the Bruner Presumption.  Such “other methods” may include emails or correspondence, at or near the time of the removal action, which appears to put the Agency on notice about specific medical conditions, including attachments of doctor’s reports, medical notations, etc.  Such concurrent documentation can convince an Administrative Judge that, indeed, the question as to whether the “excessive absences” were as a result of a medical condition, and whether the Agency was aware of such an underlying basis, is clarified by documents which provide a proper context within the reasonable time-frame of the issuance of the proposal to remove and the decision to remove.  It is always better, of course, to have clarity over a question, but sometimes the question can be clarified with additional and concurrent documentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire