Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Sacrifice

What does it mean to sacrifice?  Is it a concept learned, or an act embraced during a moment of trial?  If not learned, can it occur when two strangers meet, or do the circumstances, upbringing, genetic material inherited, etc., all make the difference?  And of “learning” — can it be by osmosis, classroom lectures, or purely by observing and watching others engage in the act of sacrifice?  What compels a person to sacrifice one’s own life, well-being, wealth, the shirt on one’s back, or the last dollar in one’s pocket, and does it count at all if it is done for one’s own self-aggrandizement?

Say a person sacrificed a limb in order to save another’s life, but remained anonymous except for the inquiring reporter who wrote a piece delineating the admirable qualities of that person, etc.  We would all likely read such a story with interest and read it and share it with out children, friends, family, etc., and talk about good character displayed and the fine example shown.

What if that same sacrificing person was overheard to have said, “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have done it.”  Would that change the calculus of our thoughts?  Would we think less of the person for having second thoughts?  Or, would we suspend our disbelief and say, “Oh, he’s just saying that because living without a limb must be traumatic, but he doesn’t really mean that.”?

What if, in addition to the sacrificing individual making such a statement, it turns out that the sacrificial act was just an accident and was not deliberately intended — would that further downgrade our admiration for the person?  What are the qualities that must all come together in order for an act of sacrifice to be admired and shown as a paradigm of exemplary behavior?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the intersecting issues between enduring the pain and difficulties of a medical condition, with the requirements of performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, come to the fore when reflecting upon the conceptual paradigm of “sacrifice”.

At what point does sacrifice turn into foolhardiness?  Is it when the pain and suffering can no longer be endured and others, including the Agency or the Postal Service itself, begins initiating the process of removal or placing you on a Performance Improvement Plan?

While we may never know precisely the distinction and difference between sacrifice and self-destructive behavior — what people mistakenly obscure between “bravery” and “bravado” — what should always be kept in mind is the unmistakable fact that one’s health should be a primary concern, and that “sacrifice” should be reserved for a worthy cause.

Thus, when the intersecting ideas of “sacrifice”, “work” and “health” clash as irreconcilable differences, a divorce must occur between the three at some point, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may be the best option left before throwing away the chance of an admirable act of sacrifice is lost to an unworthy cause at the price of one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Attorney Representation OPM Disability Retirement: The pleasurable distraction

When does a distraction itself become a distraction, such that the pleasure beheld becomes instead a burden and no longer is a pleasurable distraction?  It is like the tangents that become the mainstay of a life; suddenly, the peripheral matters become the central conditions, and those fences that once preserved the clear boundaries have fallen into disrepair, and instead there seems to be no end to the bifurcations needed in life’s inherent complexities.

Thus, was once a hobby a pleasurable distraction, now merely a nuisance that is left in the junk heap in the corner of the garage?  Or an activity of physical exercise that one exuberantly tackled, now a necessity because of failing health, and increasingly intolerable because of the time it takes, the stresses of needing to attend to other, more “meaningful” projects, and so we exchange prior declarations of glee for that of old-age grumbling.

Playing with the kids; throwing the ball with the dog; watching a movie together with that “special other”; these were once pleasurable distractions, now jumbled into the stresses of life as if they are just “things to do” on the daily lists of activities, as opposed to that which is “looked forward to” in order to escape the centrality of problematic living.

We have lost, in modernity, the capacity to enjoy; oh, yes, we make statements about how “happy” we are, and put on a brave face or a phony smile; but the reality is that “happiness” has lost its core meaning precisely because we are all expected to be so.  And thus has the pleasurable distraction been cast away on the trash heap of history’s many experiments, one more to be counted on the negative side of the proverbial ledger.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have experienced a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, always remember that the pleasurable distraction was once the central focus of why we do what we do; and when that pleasurable distraction becomes transformed into a nuisance because the core basis upon which we engage the world – our work, our career, our means of making a living – becomes such a burden that we must abandon all such pleasurable distractions, then it is probably time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, when those pleasurable distractions become impeded by the unpleasant deterioration of a medical condition, the entire basis of the structure of why we continue on becomes questioned, thereby requiring a reformulation of the structures of unscientific evolutions – i.e., what it means to be “happy”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Adaptable Criterion

If a criterion is advanced at the outset, one expects that the details of its applicability will result in a fair outcome so long as the requisite subsets are adhered to.  The problem is one of generalizations, however, and the linguistic malleability of hermeneutic interpretation, and in the end, the honesty of the individual.

There may have been a time when the sin nature of man was contained, and Pandora’s box was sealed, or at least somewhat secured; but once relativism creeped into the general populace, the game of restraint was lost forever.  Once, when man was left to individualistic devices, and information concerning the world was considered esoteric and reserved for the ivory towers of science and theological hoods of mystery shorn by Jesuit Orders of secrecy and cavernous enclaves of furtive whispers echoing down dark chambers in secluded corners, the application and usage of criteria demanded knowledge beyond the commonplace. Now, with Google and other search engines, everyone knows everything, or nothing at all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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 “trick” is to review the legal criteria, amass the information in a manner which fits the applicability for eligibility, then to “make the case” for an approval.

Is it a science?  Or, more precisely, are the regulatory subsets “open to interpretation”?  And more to the point:  Do the Administrative Specialists at OPM adhere to the “letter of the law”, or is hermeneutics less than an honest methodology these days?  Where human nature is concerned, one need not stray too far from the general knowledge of the masses.

If one has lived long enough, you know that you should always walk through the busy streets of a city with one hand on your back pocket, protecting your wallet.  Pickpockets are everywhere, and in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the Federal and Postal worker should always be cognizant of the fact that the adaptable criterion is not the fault of the agency or the promulgators of legal standards, but merely reflects the fact that Pandora’s box was left open long ago, and the serpents of horror and dishonesty were left to roam the earth like never before.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Law: The Fatigue of Profundity & Requirement of Repetition

Profundity is overvalued.  With the advent of the internet and information technology, the widespread dissemination of seemingly esoteric array of knowledge and know-how (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two), everyone is vying for the heard voice, and the break-out from the herd.  One becomes easily fatigued by seemingly deep insights, or “new” data and facts upon otherwise mundane concerns.

Repetition is considered as a trait of boredom; but the longer one lives, the more one recognizes that there is truly little new under the sun, and the apparent newness of X is merely a regurgitation of the old Y of yore.   But repetition does have its own uniqueness of value, and inherent strength of significance.  For, often, a person who turns the same corner as thousands, and tens of thousands before, may be encountering the next block for the first time, and what those before him or her did has little to no significance to the epistemologically privileged experience for that singularity of uniqueness.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the knowledge that many, many Federal and Postal employees before were able to file for, and get approved, Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so long as one is under either FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the comfort of which one may partake rests in the fact that one is not alone; yet, it is not purely a “repetition” of sameness but a genus of similarity; for, as each medical condition and every circumstance reveals a uniqueness which must be dealt with individually, so each Federal Disability Retirement case must be handled with care.

At the same time, however, it is of value to recognize that repetition of relevant laws, statutes and regulations, cited in the ordinary course of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, is necessary for success in obtaining the benefit.

From the standpoint of OPM, the fatigue of profundity comes in failing to view a particular case with “new eyes”; from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for the first time, it is the inability to recognize the requirement of repetition which often results in an ineffectual formulation of one’s case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire