OPM Disability Retirement: The Three Little Pigs

We are all familiar with the fable of the anthropomorphic three little pigs and the materials used in building their respective houses.  The point of the story itself, however, concerns not the elements used, but the craftsmanship employed, and the effort expended, which reveals the underlying values and provides for fertile fodder in teaching the importance of hard work, careful application and sufficient preparatory labor in securing one’s future.

It wasn’t as if there was any justifying rationale for the first two pigs to have built such insufficient shelters; the moral lessons to be drawn can include:  laziness; lack of orientation for the future; insufficient imaginations; a desire for momentary pleasures as opposed to delayed gratification for future gains; the importance of care and craftsmanship; or, to leave it as just a good story.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lessons gleaned from the fable of the three little pigs can be replete with guiding principles:  building the foundation through the proverbial block-by-block methodology; care in the crafting of the linguistic bridge between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions impacting one’s health; deliberation and agonizingly detailed effort expended to formulate one’s Statement of Disability in SF 3112A; compilation of a sufficient legal basis and argumentation in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, etc.

For, the house that the third pig built withstood the multiple onslaught of  attempted subversion not because the adversary failed to expend sufficient effort, but because one’s own work proved worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Preparation

Observing competence in action often results in the disarming effect that all endeavors are easy and effortless, and that the price to be paid, the admission fee for fame, is merely based upon luck, whom you are associated with, or what school you attended.  And while it may be true that meritocracies are fading into the oblivion and sunset of historical anachronisms, and the new and acceptable approach to societal fairness is to implement the distribution of wealth via Piketty’s proposed paradigm in his compendium work, Capital in the Twenty First-Century; nevertheless, there are some things which one must still prepare for, and formulate a road-map for a successful outcome.

GPS devices tell us what to do, where to turn, how many miles the journey will take; administrative and bureaucratic facets of life still lack any such electronic directional voices.  For Federal and Postal employees who must consider the reality of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the reality of preparation must be faced and confronted.  Preparation must involve: obtaining effective medical reports (how does one go about doing that?); what are the legal parameters which increase the chances of a First-Stage successful filing (is this based upon the law or some other factors?); what are the procedural steps which must be adhered to (is there a sequence to be followed, or can one approach the process through multiple avenues and tentacles simultaneously?).

The fact that one pays a single admission fee to watch a symphony or ballet does not mean that players perform based upon the singularity of the fee; that would be an absurdity. Preparation constitutes multiple actions behind the curtains, far in advance of the final performance displayed for the seated audience. It is up to the Federal and Postal employee to go backstage before the performance begins, and to unravel the hidden devices, the invisible threads, and the wizard behind the proverbial curtain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Those Important First Steps

It is often the period of initial preparation of a process which is important in setting a solid foundation for the insurmountable security and solidity of a case. That truism is arrived at through retrospective reflection; but when one is frantically attempting to reach the end-goal, the frenzy of trying to get there is the very problem which derails a case.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds that a medical condition impacts and prevents one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and further, that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is beginning to voice “grumblings” about one’s performance, to include excessive use of SL or LWOP; or, worse, one finds that a PIP has been issued, and one is thus subjected to the microscopic assessment of one’s work, including the number of times you use the restroom — panic sets in.

But quickly compiling a volume of medical records and hastily submitting a Federal Disability Retirement packet through one’s Human Resources office is the wrong approach.  For, ultimately, it is not one’s own agency which has anything to do with a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, it is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a completely separate agency, which renders a decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why preparing the initial steps in compiling a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application is crucial; it will determine the later consequences of success or failure.  Thus the age-old adage:  Penny wise but pound foolish; or more aptly, get your ducks in a row early.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Preparatory Steps

Every excellent endeavor requires preparation, whether in purchasing the proper ingredients, of establishing and entering into a proper mental state of mind, or perhaps in performing preliminary stretching exercises to enhance muscular flexibility and loosening for rigorous physical activity.

Lack of preparation is not a necessary prerequisite for success, but it may well be a sufficient basis of failure.  In logic, the conceptual distinction between that which is “necessary”, as opposed to what is “sufficient”, is an important bifurcation of causal implications.  That which is sufficient, may not be necessary; and that which is necessary, may not alone be sufficient in reaching result X; but the combination of sufficiency and necessity will cause X to be achieved.

Thus, adequate preparation alone may be necessary for the best possible outcome, but it may not be sufficient; and, conversely, the utmost of preparation may be sufficient to accomplish a task, but it may not have been necessary all along.

In preparing to formulate and compile a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is always a good idea to engage in the fullest preparatory tasks before filing for the benefits.  Not every act of preparation may be sufficient, but most are necessary; and while even the necessary tasks may not constitute sufficiency, it is the compendium of aggregated causal linkage which will ultimately ensure the greatest potentiality for success in the endeavor.

Logic aside, one will never be harmed by the extent of preparation.

Preparation for obtaining the best possible medical report; preparation for formulating an effective statement of disability; preparation in establishing the causal connection between the former and the latter; all of these are necessary for a compelling Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application, and in most cases, will establish a sufficiency which meets the legal criteria for eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, for the Federal and Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Blindly Forging Forward

The success of every endeavor encompasses a wide and vast array of preparation not seen, rarely apparent, and never obvious.  It is the time of engagement “behind the scenes” which then, upon the revelation on public display, makes it appear as if it is accomplished with ease and effortlessness.  But the hours of preparation, the extent of effort expended, and the research and study employed — all coalesce to bring about the appearance of ease.

So it is with every activity; it is no different in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under the FERS or CSRS Government Employee Retirement programs, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  To blindly forge forward in preparing and submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is to court disaster; it takes time, preparation, thoughtful deliberation, and careful compilation of the evidence and proof needed to present a persuasive case.

Never let the rumors of someone else’s success disrobe one’s natural instinct to be on guard; you never know what effort such stories entailed, or how true, or the full narrative picture; and such rumors should be left behind on the trash heap of rumor mills, where many a Federal or Postal employee discovered that success results not in following what someone else said, but rather, is attained through accepting the advice of those who truly know.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Beginning Points

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the familiar refrain from Federal and Postal Employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, in attempting to tackle the multifaceted complexities of a Federal Disability Retirement application, is the crucial starting point of the process:  Where do I begin?

The beginning point of any process is important precisely because it determines the tone, tenor, and ultimate outcome of the Federal Disability Retirement application.  A review of a Federal Disability Retirement application, when it has been denied by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, can often be backtracked to a beginning point in discovering an originating source of error.  On the other hand, sometimes (and more often than one would think) the so-called “error” is simply in having the bad luck of having one’s case assigned to certain OPM case workers who are less than thorough in his or her review and analysis.

In any case, it is important in putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application that one recognizes, at the very outset, those issues which are within the purview and control of one’s universe, and those portions of the Federal Disability Retirement application which are not.  Focus first and foremost upon those areas where one has either total control, or some guiding influence, and work for excellence within those parameters.

The rest is left up to fate — or, at the very least, to a good lawyer and sound legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Pre-Conditional Preparatory Steps

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether a Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, there are steps to be taken — not only at each “stage” of the administrative process, but moreover, in the weeks and months prior to the actual formulation, compilation and submission of the Standard Forms, documentary support, writing of the Applicant’s Statement, etc.

As a “process”, one may bifurcate the necessary steps into the following:  the pre-conditional stage; the preparatory stage; the time of formulation & actualization; finally, the submission of the disability retirement packet.

In the “pre-conditional” time period, one should focus upon the single most important aspect of a Federal Disability Retirement case — that of garnering, concretizing and establishing the necessary physician-patient relationship, such that there is a clear understanding of what is required of the physician; what the physician expects of the patient; and, wherever and whenever possible, a continuing mutual respect and understanding between the doctor and the patient-applicant.

This is why the Merit Systems Protection Board has explicitly, through case after case, opined upon the preference for “treating” doctors of longstanding tenure.  For, in such a relationship of long-term doctor-patient relationships, a greater ability to assess and evaluate the capabilities and limitations of the patient’s physical, emotional and psychological capacities can best be achieved.

In every “rule”, of course, there are exceptions, and sometimes more “distant” methods of evaluations can be obtained — through OWCP doctors, referee opinions, independent examinations (indeed, one can make the argument that because it is “independent”, therefore it carries greater weight), functional capacity evaluations, etc.

For the most part, however, the cultivation of an excellent physician-patient relationship will be the key to a successful Federal Disability Retirement claim, and as such, the pre-conditional stage to the entire process should be focused upon establishing that solid foundation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Chance of Winning

To characterize the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in terms of the percentage chances of “winning” is a natural occurrence.  While not strictly or metaphorically similar to a sports event, or a duel or challenge between two opponents, nevertheless, to obtain an approval is considered a “win” and to be denied throughout the entire administrative process is considered a “loss”.

Thus, attorneys also view their careers in such terms — of placing each case either in the “win” column, or its only polar opposite, the “loss” column.  This is a competitive society; one in which most things are characterized in such a way, and to bemoan the reality of viewing it that way would be a waste of energy, time and focus.

To win, then, is the ultimate goal (obviously), and therefore one must attempt to quantitatively increase one’s chances that the Federal or Postal employee will “win” a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Yet, the approach and methodology of too many Federal and Postal employees who prepare, formulate and compile his or her Federal Disability Retirement application, reflects the very opposite approach.  To “win”, as in every other competitive arena of life, requires preparation, planning and purposeful strategies.

For a Federal Disability Retirement application, it requires proper and effective medical documentation; a narrative stated in “connecting the dots“; and a readiness to reply to the legal challenges which are likely to be forthcoming.  If the Federal or Postal employee is going to characterize a Federal Disability Retirement application in terms of being a competitive activity, then it needs to be approached as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire