Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Assumptions and Presumptions

At what point does a house of cards collapse, when based upon assumptions and presumptions?  The words are used interchangeably; the slight conceptual distinctions may be of irrelevant import to justify differentiation.  One can perhaps quibble that assumptions point more toward the conclusory stage of an argument, whereas presumptions often involve the prefatory issues in a logical sequence of argumentation.

Both engage suppositions not based upon “facts”; and, of course, there is the problematic issue of what constitutes facts, as opposed to mere assertions of events and opinions derived from such facts and events; with the further compounding and confounding task of sifting through what was witnessed, what was thought to have been observed, when, who, the intersection between memory, event, and sequence of occurrences, etc.

Presumably (here we go using the very word which we are writing about, which is rather presumptuous to begin with), Bishop Berkeley would have allowed for either and both to be used in order to maneuver through the world without bumping into chairs and tables which, for him, were mere perceptual constructs in the subjective universe of “ideas” in the heads of individuals.  And Hume, for all of his logical deconstructionism concerning the lack of a “necessary connection” between cause and effect, would assume that, in the commonplace physical world we occupy, presumptions are necessary in order to begin the chain of sequential events. Waking up and walking down the stairs to get a cup of coffee, one need not wait for the necessary connection between thought and act in order to begin the day.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, proceeding through the administrative morass of one’s agency and ultimately into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, based upon the dual deterrents of assumptions and presumptions, can be a harrowing experience.  It is not the factual basis which defeats a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with OPM; rather, it is always the baseless presumptions and assumptions which kill the successful outcome.

Medical facts must be established; narrative facts about the impact upon one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job can be asserted; but it is always the connective presumptions and unintended assumptions which complicate and confuse. Always remember that a narrative based purely upon presumptions and assumptions cannot possibly exist without the concrete adhesives of some foundational facts; like a house of cards, it waits merely for the gods of chance to blow a puff of unforeseen breath to topple the structure that was built without an adequate foundation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Substantive Interlude

An interlude is meant to provide an intervening period of change in order for the transition from one part of an event (e.g., a play or a musical piece, etc.) to another will occur without confusion.  It is likened to a grammatical comma or a semicolon.  But if the interlude itself cannot be distinguishable from the events from which, and to which, the transition occurs, then such an interlude has failed to accomplish the intended purpose for its very own existence.

In short, the minor event should never overshadow the primary themes of a presentation, but merely allow for a respite and period of transitional reflection.

In writing, while the technical methodology of “stream of consciousness”, recognized in writings by such notable figures as Faulkner and Joyce, one often gets the sense that such writers never experienced the need for an interlude, but always forged ahead with a never-ending focus of exploding words and conceptual intersections of thoughts and phrases.

This may well work in fiction; in technical legal writing, however, such an approach only confuses and confounds.

For those attempting to prepare, formulate or file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand the concept of an interlude, and to make it meaningful, in order to ensure that the core concepts which one is attempting to convey will have its intended impact.

Linguistic interludes are meant to allow for the reader to have a pause, a breath of reflection; streams of consciousness of jumping from one issue to the next, often referred to as the “shotgun approach”, is rarely an effective form of writing.  And, in the end, we want the recipient of the Federal Disability Retirement application to review and understand; to comprehend and appreciate; and ultimately to agree.

In order to do that, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must be able to distinguish the world of ideas, from the greater universe of confused thoughtlessness, and that is where the substantive interlude comes into play.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: How We Go about Preparing a Case

The end product of a case — how it reads; the coordination of the facts, statements, allegations, and citation of law, etc. — reflects the process in which one has undertaken in order to arrive at that endpoint.  

Some cases present themselves like a compilation of bumps and potholes; others, as if a roadmap was never consulted and the wide expanse of the universe became a meandering and directionless compass.  Maps and compasses serve a purpose; they provide the traveler with a focused direction and purpose, and a sense that there is a straight line between two points — where to start, and where to go.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to have a sense of direction — a purposive roadmap in which the preparer of the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits knows, understands, and implements a plan to reach the stated goal:  an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Yet, even the best of such preparers can never guarantee the successful outcome sought.  

What the “best of them” can do, however, is to take the terrain of the road, put forth a plan for the best route, then guide the “traveler” in the most efficient and effective manner possible.  One must work with the facts, and even if the facts are not always favorable, to give the best chance by avoiding dangerous pitfalls, and to present the safest route to the destination, all of which will provide the greatest opportunity for success.

How one gets from point A to destination B is the key to a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Problem of the Incremental Loss of Time

This short adage has probably been told in the past, but it is nevertheless instructive and applicable:  In a local courthouse, there is a sign on the desk of the clerk which receives and processes pleadings from lawyers and lay litigants, and it states:  “The fact that you have waited until the last minute does not constitute a dire emergency for me”  Now, from the viewpoint of the attorney or lay person who is proceeding pro se, such a preemptive assertion may seem rather cold-hearted; but from the perspective of the clerk, who has seen many such pleas for mercy because of an imminent deadline, it is merely a warning of intolerance.

Time can pass away in incremental aggregates which become days, months; and suddenly, the calendric year has slipped away. This often happens for the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Time becomes delayed in incremental bits of precious bundles, and before you know it, one’s agency has lost any accrued good will or patience, and finances become increasingly more difficult to manage.   Illnesses and medical conditions have a way of suspending time and making such a constraining conceptual construct an irrelevancy; for, if time can be divided in the gauging of events, celebrations, occurrences bifurcated by differentiating responsibilities — i.e., work; chores; weekends; obligations; appointments, etc. — the great equalizer is a medical condition, precisely because whether it is the chronic pain, or a psychiatric condition which impacts one’s focus, concentration, mood, etc., then time becomes a single continuum indistinguishable because everything is concentrated upon overcoming the medical condition.  All that one can do in such a quandary, is to attempt to delay various responsibilities through incremental procrastination.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important not to allow for the problem of incremental loss of time to impede the ability to effectively and properly prepare and file a Federal Disability Retirement case.  Now is the time to inquire, prepare, and begin to plan; for “now” constitutes the stop-gap to the loss of time.

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

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmative Proof

It is a single agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and specifically the Disability, Reconsideration and Appeals Division — which makes the determination on all Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applications.

It is not the agency (although the agency can provide some nominal assistance on some peripheral issues); it is not the U.S. Postal Service; it is not the Human Resources Department of the agency (the personnel of whom will often claim that they have processed “thousands” of such submissions and never had one rejected); and it is certainly not the H.R. Shared Services office of the U.S. Postal Service in Greensboro, N.C. — these are not the Federal or Postal entities which make a determination upon a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS, it is the affirmative duty of the applicant — the Federal worker employed by a Federal agency; or the U.S. Postal Worker — who must prepare the case, formulate the content of the proof and arguments to be used; and ultimately file the case, either through the agency if the Federal or Postal employee is still employed or any separation from Federal or Postal Service has been less than thirty one (31) days; or, if the Federal or Postal worker has been separated from Federal Service for more than thirty one (31) days, then to file it directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and to do so within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

The proof to submit must be affirmative — meaning, thereby, that it addresses each of the legal criteria necessary to be found “eligible” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  You cannot rely upon the agency, third parties or other entities to do this; it must be done by the particular “you”, or if the referential point is reversed, by the “I”, as in the Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Contemplative Action

Contemplation for the sake of “in and of itself” can be activity without purpose or end, and can lead to inertia; for the living of modern life inherently has demands of actions — of “making” a living, of “producing” results, and “accomplishing” set goals and purposeful ends.  But contemplation for the sake of an end is in and of itself a useful activity.  

Part of the “preparation” of the oft-used phrase (used repeatedly in these blogs), “In preparing, formulating and filing…” is the very act of contemplation — of formulating a plan of action for the securing of one’s future.  For, the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing, as some future event, a Federal Disability Retirement application either under FERS or CSRS, with the Office of Personnel Management, must contemplate the emotional, financial, and future impact of such an action, and there is indeed much to contemplate in the very pre-preparatory stage of the administrative action.  

Can one endure the long wait of the administrative process?  Does one have a supportive medical community to provide the documentary support necessary to be successful?  Will one’s family, friends, etc., understand and empathize?  What will be the reaction of those who will be informed — family, coworkers, supervisors, doctors, etc.?  

I often state that the “Holidays” should not be a time to iron out differences within the family, but instead should be a time of “coming together” and enjoying the time and life away from the daily comedies of the modern life style; that such “ironing out” should be done during those other periods of the year.  But such respites as the “Holidays” can and should be used to contemplate and formulate a plan of action for the future; and in the quietude of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it may be time to huddle around a contemplative time of gathering, in order to secure a brighter future.  

Remember, preparation is the key to success, and wise and good counsel should always be a part of that preparation.  In dealing with the Office of Personnel Management in preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is often a good idea to have a contemplative phase, and to rely upon good advice and counsel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire