OPM Medical Disability under FERS: Memory

There have been many recent works of fiction involving the issue of memory — The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa; The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro); Tell Me an Ending (Jo Harkin); just to name three right off the bat.  Why has it become a recurring theme?

Is Google the culprit — that memory is no longer a skill cultivated; where conversations are suddenly terminated because someone has whipped out their Smartphone and looked up the name of the movie, the meaning of a word, or the line from a book of poetry?  Is rote learning even needed?  Does anyone memorize a poem, a line from a novel, or even a stanza from a rhyme?  Has an angst developed, an anxiety left unexpressed, an educational concern subtly evolved?

If we can Google anything, is there ever a need to memorize?  If we fail to cultivate the tools of memory, will we make more of the same mistakes than ever before?  Wasn’t it some philosopher who said that history will forever repeat itself because short memories spawn the ignorance needed to forget the horrors of war?  Didn’t WWII follow upon a generation who had forgotten that the “War to end all wars” — WWI — was fought to achieve an eternal period of peace?

And Vietnam was forgotten, followed soon thereafter with Afghanistan — and how the media attempted to capture a scene depicting some helicopter evacuating masses of civilians from the top of a building — that imagery of a former time, a forgotten memory, a repetition of history.  But did anyone remember?  Was there any resurfacing of memories?

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, “memory” is precisely what the U.S Office of Personnel Management wants you to forget:  That there is case-law which applies; that the law and statutory authorities require application and compliance; that eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must follow the regulations overseeing OPM’s decisions, etc.

The U.S Office of Personnel Management often needs some “reminders” of what constitutes legally-sufficient evidence for an approval; and while OPM’s memory may often fade, it is the job of a competent attorney to “remind” them, to shake their forgetfulness and to emphasize that past case-laws still apply in the current state of society’s amnesia, and thus, you should contact a competent and effective attorney to make sure that OPM “remembers” what the law is.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: That Insular World

We can walk around without anyone knowing about the thoughts being thought; perhaps a grin may betray an inkling, or a sly smile triggering a suspicion; but isn’t that the beauty of the insular world?  We can escape into it; lock the doors; think our thoughts in the privacy of that insular world.  And of pain?

Wittgenstein asserted that there can be no private language game of One — i.e., of one person creating a language where only that person can speak, think, talk in that private language game, etc.  This is because language, by definition, is a vehicle and conveyance of communication, and if it only exists in that insular world of One, then it is not a language, but mere gibberish.

Again, what of pain?  Is pain similar to a private language game of One?  Certainly, others experience it — or so we are told.  But if someone says, “I am in pain” to a person who has never experienced pain, how can the second person understand what the first person is attempting to convey?  Say that the second person has in fact experienced pain — how do we know that what the second person has experienced is the same as what the first person is experiencing?

Pain, by definition, is subjective, but often with objective evidence correlating to the experience of pain.  But like the private language game of One, it is an experience which is possessed by only the person undergoing that phenomenon of feeling it.

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, be aware — beware — that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often argue that your pain is merely subjective, and has no objective basis to prevent you from performing your job.

It is doubtful that the OPM Medical Specialist is making the same argument as Wittgenstein was, but nevertheless, to counter the absurdity of OPM’s arguments, you may want to contact a Federal Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and hire someone who is familiar with the laws, regulations and legal case-laws which can counter that insular world of OPM’s vacuous arguments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Managing Stress

Stress is the outside world impacting without guardrails the inner world of a person’s life, resulting in ravages upon the health and well-being of even the healthiest of individuals.  We can never completely be free of it; for, as every living organism is defined by movement and alacrity of purpose, so the forces of the objective universe are there to interfere and impede.  The most that we can do is “manage” stress.

Management of stress, however, will ultimately fail, inasmuch as stress over time, in incremental steps and microcosmic, subtle degradations that take its toll over time, will ultimately prevail.  How we manage it; to what extend we are able to withstand it; and to what base-line we begin this life of tolerating its consequences — these all play a role depending upon the uniqueness of each individual.  In the beginning, in youth and ignorance, we shrug it off and believe ourselves to be invincible; but as time and age begins to take its toll, we whimper at its incredible impact.  Health — whether mental or physical — is the wall that begins to crumble, whether by pock-marks of slow destruction or large chasms of gaping holes.

For Federal employees or 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, and where stress has over time eaten away at the guardrails of invincibility, you may want to contact an Federal Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before proceeding with a FERS Disability Retirement application.

Stress Management having failed, the next step is to consider extricating one’s self from the destructive forces of stress itself, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may be the best next course of action to accomplish that which everyone fails at: Managing Stress.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Fear of Tomorrow

There is, of course, the other statement — of replacing the preposition “of” with “for” — which alters the essence of meaning at its core, and not just in some ancillary manner.  The fear of tomorrow pits our relationship of a being in the present to an uncertainty of a time beyond; whereas, the fear “for” tomorrow magnifies the present in the context of recognized circumstances and current issues that must be analyzed as against a future possibility.

Perhaps the distinction in the prepositional modifier is too subtle to make a difference.  Yet, the first sense of the statement — the fear of tomorrow — places one with an angst as an object-to-object antagonism, much like a person’s fear of spiders or creepy-crawlies, where there is no cure for such a response.  The other form — of a fear for tomorrow — allows for rational discourse and a “talking about” not only tomorrow, but of the fear itself, their underlying reasons and the potential solutions to objectives not yet met.

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 fear of tomorrow must by necessity be replaced with a fear for tomorrow, and that is when the next step can be taken: Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Do not let the fear of tomorrow stop you from asserting your employment rights and eligibility for a benefit that is offered; instead, determine the underlying basis of the fear for tomorrow and begin to take the necessary steps to assert your legal rights by consulting with an Attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The need to belong

Is there?

The brashness of youth in the misplaced arena of self-confidence when one first encounters the reality of the world after being sequestered in schools, from High School to College, but yet to be tested by the reality of the surrounding world; and so the young person says thoughtlessly: “I don’t need anyone; I will go it alone.”  And so the story goes: and like Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, of little boy blue’s father who never had time to belong because he was always too busy; but then, we feel most comfortable in situations of familiarity, though we may deny it.

The need to belong is not a peculiarly human need; it is shared by most other species, although there appear to be exceptions within the subset of every species, where the loner presents with contentment, and even an antagonism towards the collective community.

Is it fear that compels the desire, or an innate sense of wanting to belong (a more positive characteristic than fear)?  Can the need be quashed and dismissed, set aside and disregarded as mere convention to be ignored and diminished?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is it the loss of community that often makes one pause — i.e., the need to belong?

Certainly, the camaraderie and being “part of the team” — though one may scoff at the very idea — allowed for one’s identity to thrive within the community of Federal or Postal workers; and identity-tied-to-career and work is an important component in belonging to anything, for everyone.  Yet, the medical condition itself is the very element that separated and excluded in the first place; the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service is the “community” that begins to shun, to exclude, to make an outcast of the Federal or Postal employee, and that is almost an inevitability that must be faced.

At some point, that “community” called the Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins to lose its patience, and begins to restrict the use of Sick Leave or LWOP; or, when the FMLA runs out, a “demand” to return to work, to maintain a regular work schedule, etc., is imposed.

Unfortunately, the “need to belong” has to be a two-way street: The desire to belong on the part of the Federal or Postal worker, and the comity of interests shown by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  When one or the other begins to wane or vanish altogether, it is time to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits and to look for other communities in which to satisfy the need to belong.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Keeping

Keeps; keeping; kept; the endurance of retention reflects the vitality of human obstinacy.  To retain, to own, to possess; in the present tense, present simple passive, present perfect passive, past perfect passive, present modal, past modal, and a dozen other forms of grammatical conundrums.  It is the action of owning, maintaining or  possessing; often, with implications of forceful protectiveness despite demands of rightful ownership by third parties.  “He kept it!”  “He keeps coming back!”  It is the persistence, the refusal to abandon and the resistance against another’s claim, whether rightful, justified or otherwise questionable.

Then, there are forms which imply honor and integrity:  “Keeping the trust”; “Keeping the flame aglow”; “She kept her word”.  The boys “kept their promise”; He kept up appearances.  In all grammatical forms, whether of a passive nature or active tense, there is always throughout a sense of an activity of the will.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” is not merely a passive inactivity, but an affirmative movement and stratagem focused upon advancing beyond a social inertia that encompasses tentacles of thought, consideration, judgment and planning.

It is a simple word, used without much thought, never pausing in a conversation to see whether others gathered will be impressed by the perfection of such a choice – that unique word which describes an image so poignant that to have inserted it nonchalantly in a sentence without the help of a Smartphone in Googling it before uttering the inserted grandness connoting linguistic excellence is next to leaving one breathless and in disbelief.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who understand the simple concept of “to keep”, whether in the present tense, present simple passive, past perfect passive or the multitudinous other grammatical forms, there are caveats to maintain when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, not the least of which are:  Keep your cool; have your files kept and maintained; keep persisting; recognize the importance of keeping a balanced and coherent narrative; keep the faith; insist upon keeping informed; and never keep allowing for injustice to prevail.

In keeping with tradition, always remember that preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a complex administrative process which must be kept in mind, and that the formulation and filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires keeping a patient, sane and insistent attitude, much like keeping a promise made despite those who have not kept their word.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

 

 

 

Even more resources:
The Federal Disability Retirement Process
The FERS Disability Retirement website
Federal Disability Retirement Fees

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Plan of Attack

Every battle requires a “plan of attack”, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is no less an “adversarial” process than a lawsuit filed with the local county court.

One may embellish and deny by describing the process as “nothing more” than an “administrative” procedure, where the deciding agency is merely reviewing the components for “eligibility requirements” and conformance to entitlement regulations, but one needs only to be denied a OPM Disability Retirement application to realize that it is a legal process just like any other.

That is why, when a Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Level of the process, the usual response is tantamount to that of an opponent who lacked a plan of attack and quickly disburses in a retreat of panic.

Denials should be expected, and not necessarily because of a lack on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant, but because the “enemy” will counterattack and “win” some “battles”.  The army which never considers a setback is one which advances with such arrogance that the hubris of pride defeats without the enemy ever needing to lift a finger.

For those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who filed for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and who thought that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application was an unconquerable force of inevitability, the good news is that there is another day yet to come for a new battle, and even another beyond that, where a singular defeat means merely a chance to regroup for another day’s skirmish in order to win the ultimate prize:  the war itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Law Blog: The Trifecta

The bet must be precise.   Thus, it needs to be based upon extensive research, a knowledge of each of the elements, the circumstances surrounding the process; the quality of the expected environment; whether intersecting conditions will interrupt or influence; what other unforeseen confluence of intercessions may develop.  The finishers must be predicted in sequential order.  The trifecta is therefore a management of time, knowledge, expertise and sprinkled with a bit of luck extracted from the cauldron of a witch’s brew.

Federal Disability Retirement is somewhat akin to the trifecta.  Extensive research, a knowledge of the elements to be proposed, and a delineation based upon the compilation of another trifecta — the medical evidence; the statement of disability; and the legal argumentation — must be brought together into a confluence of coordinated and comprehensive consolidation of cogency.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, however, should not be based upon a spurious bet.  And, unlike the trifecta, a semblance of certainty should enter into the equation, such that the sequence of delineated data should compel the OPM reviewer to declare unequivocally and with unconcerned eloquence, “Of course!’ — and grant an immediate approval of the Federal OPM Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire