Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Stupid Mistakes

Of course, one can argue that all mistakes, by their very definition, are “stupid”; but, of course, that would then make the entire concept differentiating between “mistakes” and “stupid mistakes” disappear, as the distinction between the bifurcated differences becomes one and the same.

It is a difficult concept to define; yet, we know when we or others have made them.  When we make them, we slap our forehead and say, “Duh!”  When another person makes one, we try to put a gentle cover over it — if we care at all for the person; if it was made by a child; when we know that the other person is “sensitive” to criticism, etc. — and try and say things like, “Oh, it’s okay, anyone could have made that mistake”.  On the other hand, when it is made by someone whom we dislike, is arrogant or condescending (or all three), we get the joy of “rubbing it in” and say offhand things like, “Boy, not even stupid ol’ me would have made a mistake like that!”

“Stupid” mistakes are distinct from “common” errors; the former is made without thought, while the latter is often made with thought, but without knowing the inherent consequences contained.

For Federal employees and U.S Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and where the medical condition may require the Federal or Postal employee to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, one wants to — if at all possible — avoid not only the “common” mistakes, but the “stupid” ones, as well.  Mistakes happen; we all make them; but the one mistake that cannot be corrected once a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the one where “blinders” are placed upon OPM once OPM sees something.

It is thus important to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the “common” mistake turns out to be a “stupid” mistake that cannot be corrected.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: “The End”

Those two words are often appended upon the last word, the final thought, the grammatical period marking the denouement of a narrative; sometimes, an ellipsis leaving the reader to ponder a missing word, concept or continuation of an event.

Why it is not stamped in bold print at the end of a biography or a non-fiction narrative; or even a short story, an essay or a philosophical treatise; perhaps, as a factual account presupposes a reflection of correspondence between truth and reality, it is only in the literary world of make-believe that we must apprise the audience of the terminal nature of virtual reality — that, like Pavlov’s dogs in responsive salivation for experimental purposes, we become conditioned to a realization that a blank page following the grammatical finality of a period is simply insufficient to constitute an obstructive wall separating fantasy from reality.

Or, does convention merely mark the climax of the unreal, where the breathless pursuit of becoming lost in an imagined universe leaves us panting for more, only to be pulled ruthlessly back from the lost quietus of our penchant for more?

But that reality gave us a final warning, an appended duality of words in order to forewarn of the terminus of trials, travails and tempestuous tantrums of tactile tandems; then, like the eyes which scout a few pages hence, where we nervously flip forward in disbelief as we approach the thinning culmination of paper remaining, we would know when to cease trying, how much more effort to expend, and the time of fruition left as an afterthought, like windowed houses empty in a neighborhood abandoned by loss of industrial flight and more importantly, of hope left remote in the hearts of soulless men.

Reality never gives us that warning, of course; and so we are forced to trudge onward in spite of that lack.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the approach of 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 worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often one encompassing an attitude that, like the novel’s culmination, the act of filing is somehow tantamount to “the end”.  It is not.

Instead, it is merely a pause, an extension, a comma and a prosaic interlude, and nothing more.  The narrative of the human soul does not so cleanly enter the blank pages of demise; rather, life goes on, and like the thoughts which pursue the sentence marked by a period of finality, the beauty of it all remains with us like the residue of golden dust left sprinkled upon the twilight of life, trailing behind by an angel’s wings fluttering noiselessly upon the dawn of a hopeful tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: Those Rare Moments of Clarity

They come under unexpected circumstances, in inconvenient durations, and by the twilight of moon when sleep is required but the sought-after lull of morning sunrise interrupts despite the caverns of echoing remembrances of memories once savored, but like wisps of willows floating effortlessly down valleys of dreamy cascades, we reach out to them in the middle of the night, only to grasp at the emptiness in darkness surround.

Poetry was once upon the lips of strangers, as the Elizabethan Era represented the golden age of linguistic fervor; but like all such resurgences of purported renaissance, the period lasted but for a moment in history, as epochs of fallen dinosaurs became fodder for oil slicks and Disney movies.

It is often in the very contrast of opposites that clarity comes to the fore; and thus does the mundane and the boredom of constancy do a disservice, by maintaining a semblance of normalcy and unfettered favor.  When does that moment arrive?  Often, it is in the midst of pain that we see through the hypocrisy of that solemn friendship; and in the endurance of suffering, the truth behind the facade of relational contentment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who finally come to a realization that the “mission of the agency” is not quite as important as one’s own health and well-being, it is often almost too late, but never quite so.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, due to a medical condition — whether physical, psychiatric, or a mixed emotional combination of both — which prevents them from doing so.

The problem is one of self-flagellation; of thinking that to file for Federal Disability Retirement is to somehow have let others down, become a turncoat, or have failed in the eyes of “them”, as their expectations have not been met and the crestfallen expressions demean and devalue the efforts expended thus far.

Clarity comes in small caches of catatonic canopies of cornered consciousness; when it does come, one must grab it and never let go.  Society always tries to bamboozle; but when the Federal or Postal employee faces the stark choice between the greater organism of harm, or the lesser evil in favor of one’s health and future security, that rare moment of clarity must be decided upon within a wink of time, before the door of perceptual horizons slams shut again, and you are left forever in that darkness of ignorance where shrieking gnomes are tortured by day and flesh-eating gargoyles creep about through the night.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Making the Legal Argument

Legal arguments are merely a subset of ordinary ones; as variations of the facetious quip goes, if the facts are not on the lawyer’s side, then he will argue the law; if the law is not, he will argue the facts; if neither, then he will attempt to confound and obfuscate both.

By sequence of logical argumentation, it is self-evident that “facts” must be the first order of presentation; then, persuasive discussions concerning those facts, forming and molding a given perspective (for there is surely a distinction to be made between that which “is” and that which “is seen” by a particular individual, bringing in the subjective component of interpretation and conveyance of information); and only after the facts have bespoken should persuasive efforts follow; and then, the legal argument to be made.

Thereafter, the question of how aggressive a legal argument; of pounding like a hammer, or the subtle tap of the constant but insistent drumbeat, guiding the listener with a roadmap as to why a decision should be made pursuant to persuasive force, or threats of further legal action.

For the Federal and Postal worker who is trying to have a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, the art of persuasion, the effective use of legal argumentation, and the delineation of factual roadmaps must be coordinated with the utmost of care.  Administrative processes are often replete with frustrating procedures to follow, and it is a dangerous endeavor to allow for one’s frustration to erupt when dealing with a bureaucracy which is rarely responsive, and normally unaffected by the most dire of circumstances.

Thus, in sequence of logical argumentation: The facts as portrayed in as objective a manner as possible; the interpretation of the facts, such that the subjective perspective is insightfully applied, but without the overuse of the “I’ or “me”; argumentation; then, and only then, the applicability of the law.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who meet the minimum eligibility requirements of time in Federal Service, age and a level of medical evidence which must be carefully and thoughtfully presented.

As such, for the Federal or Postal worker who intends on filing for the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the art of factual and legal argumentation must be presented with persuasive force, often like the slow dripping of an unconstrained faucet, as opposed to the break of a dam.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Social Security Factor on the FERS Disability Retirement Claim

For the FERS employee, whether as a Federal, non-Postal employee, or as a Postal worker, who intends to file for Federal Disability Retirements benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the administrative process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) is a bureaucratic involvement and, by some accounts from Human Resource Offices of various Federal agencies, there is the view that the Federal Retirement application cannot be process by OPM unless and until SSDI is also filed.  This is not true.

While SSDI must be filed, and a receipt of such filing shown to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the purpose of such filing from the standpoint of OPM is not to compare or evaluate the enhanced eligibility status of a FERS disability retirement applicant by seeing whether or not the Social Security Administration will approve or disapprove one’s claim (that would be too logical, inasmuch as there is a higher legal standard of essentially “total disability” under SSDI, and so an approval by Social Security Disability standards should then automatically invite approval by OPM) — although, under Trevan v. OPM, there is certainly a basis to invite such a legal analysis.

No; the only reason why OPM wants to see a receipt of an SSDI filing, is merely for purposes of cross-checking whether or not a monetary offset should be applied if both SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement annuities are concurrently paid.  And, even then, it is often the case that the 100% offset in the concurrent receipt of payments from an OPM Disability annuity and SSDI in the first year, and the subsequent years of 60% offset of payments, will not be applied, and OPM will come back years later demanding the refund of the overpayments resulting from the failure of OPM applying the offset.

Most Federal employees and Postal workers who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will continue to either work to a limited extent, or at least remain on the rolls of their Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service during the long waiting time during the process of filing for Federal Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and, as such, there will be an automatic denial from the Social Security Administration because of income considerations for the year in question, etc.

The simplest solution to Human Resource Offices demanding and insisting that SSDI must be filed for before an OPM Disability Retirement application is processed and forwarded to Boyers, PA, is to file online, get a receipt, and be done with it. Then, if OPM requests that the applicant file again at a later date to determine if a denial from SSDI was truly based upon one’s disability (or lack thereof), or because of income considerations, then that can be done with greater effort after one has received a Medical Disability approval from OPM.

This is a world of bureaucracies, and the rules, however lacking of a rational foundation, needs to be adhered to and complied with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Wait Processing Time

What is the time it takes to process an OPM Disability Retirement application?

Most of it depends upon the delays naturally encountered throughout the process itself: the length of time doctors take in compiling the medical information requested; preparation and formulation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement forms, including the Statement of Disability; how long the agency Human Resource Office takes (is it through a local H.R. Office, or through a centralized district human resource office; for Postal employees, everything it submitted through the H.R. Shared Services office in Greesnboro, North Carolina); whether it is submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA (if the Federal or Postal employee is separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, then it must be submitted directly to OPM; if less than 31 days, then through one’s Human Resource’s Office).

Then, once a case number is assigned to one’s Federal Disability Retirement application (called a CSA Number, a 7-digit number with an additional 0 as an irrelevant appendage, sometimes making it into an 8-digit number; for FERS employees, it begins with the number 8; for CSRS employees, it begins with the number 4), the entire application is sent down to Washington, D.C. Care should be given that the initial application be sent to the Boyers, Pennsylvania address, and not to Washington, D.C. — as this additional bureaucratic step of first processing the application in Boyers, PA is a required administrative procedure.

Then, the true waiting period begins. As to the original question, How long does it take to get an OPM Disability Retirement application decided? There is a formula to follow: First, take the number of months it took to get notification that the packet was forwarded to the next step from your Human Resource Office (again, for Postal workers, that would be from the H.R. Shared Services Office in Greensboro, N.C.); multiply it by the number of weeks it took to obtain a CSA Number from Boyers, PA; then, take that number, add the additional time it will take to sit in the “unassigned” pile of Federal Disability Retirement cases at OPM in Washington, D.C.; then, when it is finally assigned, multiply by an exponential factor of 10, and you may get a realistic wait time to meet one’s expectations of a quick, efficient and streamlined bureaucratic process (facetiously stated).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Physical and Mental Conditions in Federal OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Ahead of the Proverbial Curve

Trends are often characterized by the actions of a few.  Whether in cultural expectancies via movie moguls, fashion designers, technology innovators and convention-busters, the known so-called leaders who stay ahead of the proverbial “curve” which maintains the continuum of linear stability in a given society, often dictate the direction of an otherwise directionless future.

The ivory tower of academia is another such bastion of proclivities where, if observed carefully, can infer a discernment for future waves to come. The views of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and economists (to name just a few “ists” within the self-vaunted world of esoteric penumbras; note, however, how the “philosopher” is not termed the “philosophist” — why is that? Perhaps because there was a desired disassociation with sophistry?) preview a trend of forthcoming conundrums impacting a society.

In the pragmatic world in which most of the rest of society inhabits, however, the dualism pronounced (and in many sectors of philosophy, denounced) concerning the bifurcated universe of the cognitive as opposed to the physical, continues to be debated. Dennett, consciousness, Nagel, Scruton, and the continuing debate over whether human consciousness can be reduced through the scientific language-game of mere biological processes, rages on in the ivory towers of conceptual constructs.

In the real world, this debate is reducible to the pragmatic question of whether psychiatric conditions are “as acceptable” as physical manifestations of traumatic conditions. For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of whether it is “more difficult” to win a Federal Medical Retirement claim from OPM is one which overwhelmingly can be answered in a positive, pro-worker manner: today, fortunately, there is little distinction to be made between psychiatric health problems and physical health problems.

Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, suicidal ideations, nervous breakdowns, etc. — all are viable bases upon which to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, on a par with physical conditions of chronic pain, cervical and lumbar dysfunctions, shoulder impingement syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, etc.  Descartes’ dualism cannot be found in the world of OPM and in the filing for a Federal Medical claim of disability.

The proverbial curve of societal trends is often determined by those at “the top”; but in the case of acceptance of psychiatric conditions in comparative analysis to physical conditions in the filing for Federal Disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the trend of acceptance on a par for both was established long ago, probably as a result of the reality of either and both conditions, and the realization by the bureaucracy that however you term the condition, the importance of a Medical Disability Retirement claim finds its essence on the impact of one’s ability or inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire