Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Then, forgotten

To die is forgivable; to be forgotten, not so much.  Perhaps that is why the 15-minute rule of one’s fame is so important to most people; that, to be “appreciated” in a life-long struggle just to remain relevant makes fools of us all, and the basis upon which con-men and scams continue to effectively play their course.

It is, of course, the “then” that matters – that prelude to the state of being forgotten, that defines what a person’s life was, remains, and will continue to be in the future amongst and amidst the remainder of a family, friends and acquaintances left behind.  For, the long and wide expanse before the “then” constitutes a life lived, the experiences encountered and the salacious intertwinements amassed; in short, it is what a person is remembered by which the definition of a life well lived and the cumulative amalgamation of challenges met.  Then, after all is said and done, the person is forgotten.  Oh, for a time, not entirely, perhaps.

In the painful memories left behind with family; of a legacy foretold and secured; but then, even those relatives, friends and loved ones slowly fade away into the eternal trash bin of history’s unnamed tombs, and then, forgotten.

Why else do people wave and try to get noticed when television cameras are rolling?  Or try and get that footnote published in the Guinness Book of Records?  Is the innate fear of becoming forgotten so powerful as to make fools of old men and not merely excusable because of youth yet unfettered?  Is it so important to be secured in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, in some footnote or esoteric reference that history will record, will annotate an accomplishment, an event or some memorable deed that we did; and, even if that were to happen, would not the same result occur – then, forgotten?

History is full of forgotten men and women – even those who have been recorded in the annals of relevant history.  How many battles and wars where young men just beginning the journey upon a life filled with potentiality and the first kiss of love, cuts short a future yet unlived, and instead becomes buried in the timeless echoes of a graveyard unrecognized?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who fear the dictum of “Then, forgotten”, either with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal facility, or just among the colleagues once worked with, the plain fact is that too much focus upon the “forgotten” part of the equation undermines the precursor prior to the “then” part.  There is always life after a career, and greater experiences beyond the work one has done.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should not be based upon any fear or unwillingness to “let go”; instead, it should be based upon a recognition that health and getting better is, and should always be, a priority that overrides the fear of one’s own fragile mortality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The things we leave for repair

What we attend to immediately; that which we procrastinate, and set aside; and, finally, the things we allow to falter, to deteriorate in a progressive decline of disrepair — slowly eroding, perceptibly corroding, a sight for sore eyes, as the proverbial adage goes.  And what if it is ourselves?

Of course, the cosmetic and physical fitness industry have cornered the market and turned selfishness into a virtue, and self-love into a cottage industry; something akin to, “If you don’t love yourself, how can you love others?” (or some such parallel inanity of vacuous nonsense as that); or even a better one:  Persuade the populace to eat more sugars and processed food, then blame them for nationwide obesity while simultaneously hooking everyone on the technological steroids of smartphones, computers and the acceptability of being couch potatoes; make sports into a spectator sport, video gaming into a money-generating interest, and all the while, open the floodgates of information dissemination and tell everyone how intelligent they are, or could be, because you need not memorize any facts or have the capacity to engage in critical thinking; no, you can always Google it if you need to know, and oh, by the way, a handful of individuals, unnamed, will control the bias of information on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter from which your feeds of knowledge derive.

Slowly, incrementally, rust forms on the edges of that which we leave for repair, with the admonition that we’ll “get around to it“, that priorities overshadow for the time present; and when we have more “free time”, we will attend to it.  If we counted up all of the seconds, minutes and hours promised by a new invention or a technological innovation, the aggregate would surpass the number of hours in a single day, and we should all possess the wealth of unlimited time.  But rust in the glint of morning sunshine reflects a glow of beauty nestled in the quietude of timelessness; of those things we leave for repair, it is that growing beauty which reflects our diminishing selves.

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 all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the concept of leaving thing aside — important things — is well known and knowingly engaged.  For the work accomplished reveals the extent of self-denial; the “mission” of the agency, the volume of letters, parcels and packages to be processed at the expense of one’s own deteriorating health; the need to sacrifice for the good of the whole, at the expense of one’s own health.

In the end, for the Federal and Postal worker who comes to a point where preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the things that were left for repair are those which needed most that neglected attention; for it is the “I” disregarded, the “me” left behind despite the self-identification of a named generation, and the hollow and gaunt eyes looking back from the mirror of time, where we keep “doing for others” when the one we forgot about in the collection and vast array of the things we left for repair, calls in a desperate cry for the tools left rusting in the untouched toolbox of an undetermined future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Non-nexus

Meeting an adequacy test may constitute sufficiency for some purposes, but not for others.  Thus, it may be enough in completing an FMLA form to have a diagnosis, along with answers to other questions on WH-380-E.  But mere identification of a medical condition via a diagnosis, along with a description of symptomatologies will not be enough to meet the sufficiency test in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

People often assume that having a medical condition in and of itself sufficiently explains the severity of one’s condition, and any implied “blank spaces” can be filled in by the mere existence of such a medical condition.  But Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, filed through, reviewed by, and approved or disapproved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the medical condition itself prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

As such, the identification and description of a medical condition fails to comply with the adequacy standards in proving eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  One must establish, through the conduit of a medical professional, the “nexus” or “connection” between one’s identified medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

The weight of the proof is upon the Federal or Postal applicant.

The foundation of such evidence begins with the identified medical condition, but in and of itself, it is a non-nexus — until it is squarely placed in the context of one’s official position and the duties required by one’s duties.  Thus, the non-nexus become the nexus-point when combined with the identification and description of one’s positional duties.

It is this realization of the step-by-step sequence of proof which constitutes adequacy and sufficiency of evidence, and one of which the Federal or Postal applicant for OPM Disability Retirement benefits must be aware.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Independence of Each Program

The disparate nature of each Federal program, with little to no intersecting coordination amongst them (with the exception of SSDI and FERS Disability Retirement benefits in the coordination of payments upon approval of each) betrays the unplanned, thoughtless creation of each program, as well as a sense that each agency wants to maintain its feudal control and assertion of independent power.

That perhaps explains, in part, why each program ignores the extent of persuasive authority the approval of another program should logically have, upon an approval and acceptance by the “other” program.  Does it make sense that being granted “unemployability” status under the Department of Veterans Affairs ascription of percentage disability ratings would only have a nominal impact upon a FERS Disability Retirement application?  Or that an SSDI approval would have, at best, a persuasive effect upon a FERS Disability Retirement?

It is somewhat more understandable that a case accepted by OWCP/Department of Labor would have minimal impact upon a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement application, precisely because the former is set up as a program of rehabilitation in an effort to return the Federal or Postal employee back to his or her job.

The only true “coordination” of benefits occurs between SSDI and FERS — and that, only if both are approved, and payments are received concurrently; but even then, there are often overpayment problems, lack of the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing, etc.

Thus Coordination and intersection between departments, agencies and various programs rarely occurs.  Agencies tend to want to remain independent.

Such lack of coordination, however, does not mean that the FERS or CSRS Federal or Postal employee should not force a legal argument upon OPM when a significant finding is made by another agency or program.  For, in the end, it may not be the U.S. Office of Personnel Management which listens, but an administrative judge at the MSPB, or a 3-judge panel on the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals; in which case, a precedent will have been set, for all to (hopefully) follow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Proof

This is a proof-based process.  It is not merely a matter of completing some forms and meeting procedural guidelines in order to obtain a benefit; rather, it is an administrative process in which evidence and documentary support from third parties must be obtained in order to meet the legal criteria imposed by statute, regulation, and ever-evolving case-laws as handed down by the Administrative Judges of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

There are administrative processes which are “entitlements”, such as certain economic assistance programs, Social Security, Medicare, etc., where one has paid into a system, and upon reaching a certain age, or meeting income-qualification criteria, etc., such procedural guidelines are merely shown, met, and approved.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, it is not merely a matter of meeting procedural criteria (although that, too, is required), but moreover, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible, by submission of substantial and adequate documentation that one cannot perform, because of a medical condition, one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

Proof is the lynchpin by which the standard of winning a Federal Disability Retirement case is won or lost.  Proof is a “must”.  As such, never consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as merely a matter of filling out paperwork; one must prove one’s case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire