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

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

 

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 Federal 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