OPM Medical Retirement: Ideas come in bunches

Like wildflowers, there is something about ideas that have a tendency towards coming in bunches.  And, like wildflowers and ideas, we have a further notion that misfortune, likewise, comes in droves and groupings.

Is that a Law of Nature, or merely an observation that has no logical foundation or factual basis?  Didn’t that neighbor down the street get hit by a car, and at the same time — within a week of such a tragic event — lose his wife and 3 kids?  Wasn’t it Uncle Billy who stepped on a nail, and with a few days had his house burglarized and his dog shot in the process?  And surely we recall that movie star who drank himself silly one night and then mistook a shadow for a stranger when it turned out to be his girlfriend’s best friend who shot him in the arm and then took her own life?

These we all recall; and like Hume’s dictum that causality is nothing more than mere combinations of repetitive occurrences, we fail to recognize the silent workings of events unfolding which quietly and subtly fester in the unknown universe of our own ignorance; and yet, when they come to the fore, we relate one to the other.  But ideas are different; they do, indeed, come in bunches, perhaps because the creative energy lagging behind suddenly realizes that potentiality can be actualized when for all those years they remained as stagnant molecules lost in a world of microscopic insignificance.

So, that being said, here are a bunch of ideas: For Federal and Postal workers who believe that the medical condition suffered cannot be accommodated, why not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  What if you weren’t even aware of such a benefit?  What if the benefit is not widely circulated, never trumpeted and rarely announced?

You have 1 year from the date of separation from service to file, and as it takes a significant amount of time to properly prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, if might be a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — lest the ideas that come in bunches turn out to be bad luck that arrive in groupings; for, in that case, it is certainly time to consider that one’s destiny depends entirely upon actions taken, and not upon ignoring the signs of misfortune that do, indeed, come in bunches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Deprogramming a Preconditioned Approach

The preconditioned attitude of the general public is that, if X has a medical condition, then such medical condition, by the very nature of the condition itself, will either entitle one to benefits, or not.  Such an approach is what one is conditioned to expect — that by the very nature of the medical condition itself, means that it will either lead to, or not lead to, a specified result.  This viewpoint and approach is based upon a definitional standard, where the very essence of what it means to suffer from X already predetermines whether one is eligible and entitled to benefit Y.

Social Security assumes such an approach.  To some extent, so does OWCP, because the Department of Labor is willing to pay a certain amount of compensation based upon a predetermined calculus of a percentage rating, for loss of limb, loss of use, loss of functional capacity, etc.

This is why Federal and Postal employees who first contemplate preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, will attempt to tie the fact of having a medical condition with the question, “Does this qualify me for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?”  But that is the wrong paradigm to use in asking the question.  For, eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not based upon a definitional ascription of a medical condition; rather, it is that “third element” — the connection between X and Y, X representing the medical condition and Y standing for the positional duties which the Federal or Postal employee must engage.

In many respects, Federal Disability Retirement answers the philosophical question which David Hume asked:  Is there a necessary connection between cause and effect?  For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Proper Paradigm

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all operate, in all segments of our lives, from a certain “paradigm” (reference Thomas Kuhn, Structures of Scientific Revolutions) or “world-view”. When it comes to Federal Disability Retirements, the majority of Federal and Postal workers who comes to me have a pre-formed, generally negative attitude about the chances of getting it. This is because they have heard too many horror stories; or they have had horrendous experiences with OWCP filings, or EEOC complaints, or other experiences which they then relate to how the disability retirement process must be.

Yet, all Federal and Postal employees must understand that the process of Federal Disability Retirement has many, many inherent advantages which make it different from other processes. For instance, the Merit System Protection Board has often observed, with respect to disability retirement, that it is distinguishable from other processes, because it is not — strictly speaking — an adversarial process between an agency and an employee; rather, the MSPB sees it simply as a single issue — that of an employee’s entitlement to disability retirement.

Further, the role of the Office of Personnel Management, while seemingly one of making things overly difficult for the individual, in reality has a very difficult time in ultimately justifying a denial. Why? Because they do not have a right to have a doctor of their own to examine the applicant/patient (note the difference with OWCP, where you can be sent to second, third, and sometimes fourth medical opinions by doctors chosen by DOL and paid by DOL). Thus, it is almost as if OPM must disprove a case filed by an applicant. Finally, it is difficult to attack a treating doctor of an applicant, unless there is something seriously wrong with the credentials or competence of the treating doctor. All in all, disability retirement for Federal and Postal Workers is a fair process — one which is a valuable benefit for the Federal and Postal Employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire