Federal Disability Retirement: The Runt of the Litter

It is interesting watching the behavior and interaction between the runt of a litter and the rest of the “healthy” puppies.  The runt is cast aside; the others, for no apparent reason other than because he is a runt, will focus upon the weakling and mercilessly attack him and take advantage of the vulnerabilities and weak spots.  For the runt’s part, it is a test of endurance and survival, and perhaps it is the very isolation and aggressiveness from others which tests the prospects for survival.

We humans like to think of ourselves as (to paraphrase Shakespeare), far above such animalistic behavior, and closer to the angels of heaven in our demeanor and virtues.  But in engaging the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is clear that we are not far from the “runt-behavior” and the target of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.

Loyalty and camaraderie prevails on the surface so long as everyone is healthy; once a medical condition is revealed, the behavior of the aggressors manifests to the forefront.  Agencies comprise a collective and organic whole in their behavior and treatment of employees who exhibit a medical condition requiring the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Once the medical condition becomes apparent, and begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the test of survival begins.  Empathy, a somewhat human quality, rarely prevails; and laws and rights must be invoked.

Think about it this way:  Do angels need laws to regulate their behavior?  Yet, human beings must have laws, and a vast abundance of them in order to ensure the protection of disabled individuals.  FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement is fortunately a compensatory system which provides some protection for Federal and Postal employees; and it is a system based upon laws — ones which are necessary to protect the runts of the world.

Far from being angels, we are closer than we think to the pack of dogs who wait patiently to see who the next runt is, and which one can be attacked.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Use of Collateral Sources

Context is important.  Identifying the relevance of importance, however, is discretionary, and requires some insight into the impact which a differentiated distinction might require.

Allow for some expansive explanation:  In attempting to obtain OWCP/DOL benefits, one may want to argue against the validity of a medical evaluation — i.e., by attacking the claimed “independence” of the medical evaluation (argument:  the doctor is being compensated by the Department of Labor; 25% of his practice is devoted to such evaluations, and out of that, 95% of his evaluations are found to be in favor of the Department of Labor, etc.).  But the fact that one may want to attack the relevance and validity of an  independent medical examination within the context of the Office of Worker’s Compensation, does not mean that when one files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, that one should necessarily and unequivocally discard the received report from OWCP.

There may well be statements contained in such a report which may be useful in arguing to OPM that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application should be approved.  Can one argue positively that it is an “independent” medical examination?  Absolutely.  In fact, the contrary argument should be made:  that because the doctor was selected by another government agency (Department of Labor), it is all the more so that the medical opinions of the particular doctor are relevant and of significant impact.  One must be careful, of course, in using such collateral sources for support of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, but so long as the proper context is identified and understood, one should always consider the use of such “other” sources of support — but never to replace the primary importance of one’s treating doctor.  Context, properly understood, can result in substantive argumentation of relevant and significant import.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Initial Federal or USPS Disability Process

Many people get confused when they first consult with an attorney about USPS or Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, before consulting with an attorney, an individual who is faced with a medical condition which (1) is beginning to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position and (2) will likely last at least a year — such an individual should first take the time to research various websites to “get the facts” about Federal Disability Retirement. 

I have had many individuals tell me that they didn’t even know that such a benefit existed; that when they were separated from their U.S. Government gency, the Postal worker or Federal employee was never informed that he or she could file for Federal Disability Retirement.  Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse; if you don’t file for disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS with the Office of Personnel Management within one (1) year of being separated from service with the Federal Government, you will have lost your right to file — forever. 

Furthermore, it is dangerous to “take comfort” in the fact that the Department of Labor/The Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs deemed you to be 100% disabled.  That “100%” disabled status may last a lifetime, or it may last only so long as your particular OWCP caseworker is working on your case.  The next caseworker may take it upon him or herself and decide that, Well, no, perhaps you are not 100% disabled, and perhaps sending you to a “Second Opinion” doctor (who, it just so happens, is receiving about 95% of his or her income expounding such “second opinions”) will result in a medical finding that you miraculously “recovered” and are able to go back to work.  Benefits cut off.  You waited a year or more after being separated from Federal Service to find this out, without having filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  You are then, unfortunately, “out of luck”.  Make sure that you file in a timely manner; make sure that you do not take comfort in being on OWCP rolls.  Don’t forget —  Postal or Federal Disability Retirement is an annuity that you can rely upon as a “base income” for your financial security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire