Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Watchmaker

Artisans are scarce in existence, these days.  With the constant drone for the economic push for profits, and the incessant pressures of everyday expenses, the village watchmaker, the goldsmith who personally fashions the engagement rings for the couple whom he saw just a moment ago playing outside his shop window as two children lost in the world of make-believe; that is a world we once read about, perhaps in a Dickens novel, of characters out of an era long lost and forgotten.

But the remnants of the characteristics evidencing quality and craftsmanship must survive, lest perfection be lost as a goal and exactitude no longer an achievement worth applauding.  Of course, there will always be cheap replicas; of digital watches manufactured en masse in factories where labor is inexpensive and the worth of human creativity barely given a moment’s glance.  That is why, when one comes upon a true craftsman, observing the care and skill being put into creating a product of worth is indeed something to behold.

And so it is in every endeavor.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must find, of necessity, that filing for Federal Disability Retirement can no longer be put off, it is well to heed the warnings of those predecessors who have experienced the nightmarish administrative procedures required in attaining the benefit.  While it need not take an artisan to put together an effective case, the approach one embraces should include the characteristics of that unique watchmaker:  care in the details; slowly building from a solid foundation; bringing together all of the variegated “parts”, including the medical documentation, legal arguments, effective factual statements, etc.

The Federal and Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, needs to look at the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as not only the presentation of the case, but the lasting impact of the finished product.  For, in the end, the true artisan creates not only a timepiece, but a timeless piece of work which should last well into a bright future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Sources and Information

George Orwell’s classic work, 1984, depicts a society in which the gradual, systematic reduction of words, and therefore the availability of the use of words, is deliberately restricted and expunged from the universe of vocabulary.  Such reduction is performed through the issuance of the official dictionary, which comprises the totality of acceptability of language in his fictionalized society.

As words and the compendium of words comprise conceptual thought; as conceptual thought form to create ideas in a universe of human consciousness; and as rebellion is acted upon through the prefatory coordination of thought, so the stamping out of rebellious-driven words is the first step towards total control of man.

Orwell’s approach is interesting, but not the only way in which to control the populace.  The inverse approach is also as effective, if not more so: inundation of information can also paralyze a population from effective action.  In the real society of our age, the vast expanse of information has become the problem, not the lack thereof.

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 to distinguish between information which is third or fourth hand (as in, “I was told that…” or, “A friend of mine said…”), and information which is accurate and of a reliable nature.  Further, each case is different and unique, and stories about what X did, or the fact that Y was told that a Federal or Postal Worker got Z, should ultimately be discounted.

Vast information in and of itself is worthless unless it is guided by truth, objectivity, and relevance.  Be aware of the unfettered information “out there”, for the source of information is just as important as the accuracy of such information.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal and Postal employee must always be cautious of the source of any and all information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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

Simplicity is both a process and a goal; it is that which defines ease of action, minimization of effort, and beauty in its foundational form.  Simplicity implies quietude of form, and reduction to substance and essence.

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 always best, most effective, and of the optimal benefit, to approach the formulation with a focus upon simplicity of formulation.

One can become embroiled in the morass of the procedural and administration complexities.  As information is declared to be “power”, and as there is an infinite and exponential explosion of information these days, so one proceeds in life on the assumption that the more information one acquires, the more powerful the outcome.  Such logical absurdity, however, overlooks the tool of discretion — for “information” in and of itself is a neutral, valueless commodity; the selective plucking and application of such information is what becomes powerful.  But how can one select the proper information before one has gained a knowledge of a subject?  That is the conundrum.

Ultimately, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the Federal or Postal employee is wise to stick to three basic principles:  Focus upon the medical condition; focus upon the essential elements of the positional description; make sure that the nexus between the former two is established without contradiction.

The rest of the complexities of the process should be left to those who are more knowledgeable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Quantifying Quality & Qualitative Quantity

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 to make discretionary decisions concerning multiple aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application — including the volume, extent, nature, and quality of the medical documentation to be submitted.

Because it is the Applicant (the Federal or Postal employee who is submitting the application) who has the “burden of proof” — that burden which states that by a preponderance of the evidence, one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is more likely to be so than not so — it is therefore up to the Applicant to make determinations as to the quality and quantity of the medical documentation and any other relevant attachments.

Qualitative sufficiency is often a difficult measure to determine; quantitative significance is equally difficult — as in, how much is enough? On the one hand, to submit a thousand pages of medical notes, reports, etc., would probably be “too much”.  But a case which only includes 5 pages of medical reports and notes, while seemingly “too little”, can be more than sufficient if the quality of the records and reports is indisputable and irrefutable in determining that a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Ultimately, the discretionary decision will come down to a matter of experience — for it is based upon prior experience that one can make better decisions for the future.  To that extent, to be inrepresented in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits is obviously a disadvantage, because an unexperienced Applicant is merely entering into the arena of Federal Disability Retirement law based upon a “hit or miss” history of inexperience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Reliability of Information

In this information age (or, as the linear sequence of “ages” go, some have already identified it as the “post-information age”), the necessity of distinguishing between information, relevant information, and reliably relevant information is an important capacity to embrace.

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 to be able to identify the distinguishing factors between the three.  The problem is that the three categories are often encapsulated in concentric circles of information, such that they are indistinguishable.

A fourth category which often muddies the waters is the insertion of motives.  How often does it happen where one makes contact with an agency, and the person on the other end seems pleasant, sounds competent, and joyfully informs you that it is “being worked on” and will be completed within the next day or so?  Weeks go by, and when a follow-up call is initiated, one is told by a less enthusiastic voice, and one which may be unpleasant and unhelpful, that No, the file hasn’t even been received, and we don’t know who you spoke to, but what that “other” person said is not true.  The “motive” of the “other” person was likely merely to get rid of the caller.  The fact that the voice was pleasant and competent-seeming turned out to be an undermining factor as to the reliability of the information.

This is an age when anyone can be anyone else; where a declaration on a website or on a social network page can constitute the substance of a person’s identity, without the person have accomplished anything “real”.  The problem with such radical bifurcation between “information”, “relevant information”, and “reliably relevant information”, however, is that there are real-world consequences for those who seek out and utilize such information.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make such a tripartite distinction, and to proceed to prepare a case based upon a reliable information source, a relevant basis of information, and information which can bring about an effective end.  This takes discernment — a commodity which is greatly lacking these days.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Quality & Quantity of Medical Report

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often asked as to the quantitative sufficiency of the medical documentation to be submitted.

Qualitative sufficiency for Federal Disability Retirement applications, at least on a generic level, is an easy one to answer — the substance of the medical documentation must meet the legal standard of proof.  If the Office of Personnel Management or the Merit Systems Protection Board approves the Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, then obviously both the quality and quantity of medical documentation met the standard of proof.  

But an answer based upon “after the fact” circumstances is rarely useful; the generic answer of, “Submit medical evidence such that it meets the legal burden of proof, of Preponderance of the Evidence”, might be well and good, but what does that mean?  

Ultimately, the reason why such questions as to sufficiency of medical documentary submission cannot be answered in a generic manner, is that each particular case is unique, and any imposition of a general rule is dangerous because, the moment the general rule is followed and violated (with a denial from the Office of Personnel Management), then the rule becomes obsolete and irrelevant.  

The quality of the medical documentation to be submitted must ultimately show to OPM that each of the legal criteria are met, and that there is a nexus between one’s medical conditions and the type of work that one performs.  

Quantity of medical documentation is ultimately determined by the quality of the medical narrative.  While generic in scope, the general approach is that one should submit only the extent of medical documentation sufficient to prove one’s case; and in each particular case, what that proof must consist of, is unique, particularized, and ultimately personalized to the individual Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire