OPM Disability Retirement: The Details Determine the Path of Success

One is often asked concerning the steps to be taken in order to formulate a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, all such Federal Disability Retirement applications will ultimately be reviewed and critically analyzed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, to be determined as to whether such an application meets the legal standards for eligibility and entitlement under the statutes, regulations and case-laws governing Federal Disability Retirement.

As with all things in life, the path which one undertakes in an endeavor of this nature — the logistical “steps” that must be completed — will depend largely upon the particular facts of each case.  Yes, the general outline is somewhat identical for each; and, yes, the character and kind of evidence to be compiled may be similar.  But it is the uniqueness of the particular set of facts, for each Federal Disability Retirement application, which determines the type, extent and quality of a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.

Thus, to take an extreme example:  A Letter Carrier for the U.S. Postal Service who suffers a horrendous accident and becomes paralyzed, will not need much more than the emergency room and hospitalization records, and perhaps — and this is a “big” perhaps — a short (couple of sentences) statement from a doctor.

On the other hand, an IT Specialist working for a Federal agency who suffers extreme stress, will require a comprehensive medical report which details specific reasons as to the impact upon the positional requirements of his or her job.

As with almost everything in this complex compilation of sensory perceptions we identify as “life”, the details of a particular endeavor and encounter with a Federal Agency will determine the pathway to success; details matter, and 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 precisely the details which determine which devil will rear its ugly head, and how to avoid such devilish encounters.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Always Returning to the Basics

It is always important to return to basics when considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Just as we are all well-aware of the concepts of a “return to nature”, or going “back to our roots” — such fashionable sayings remind us of the need and the necessity of embracing the foundational virtues which make up any endeavor or activity — so it is with a return to basics in a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Whether it concerns the issue of the medical condition itself; the issue of accommodations; whether “light duty” or “modified duties” have been offered; whether there are EEOC issues, work harassment, Performance Improvement Plans initiated; whether one is being presented with a Proposed Removal based upon factors other than one’s physical or psychiatric inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job — all such issues must draw a line directly to the basic component of:  How does it impact the performing of the essential elements of my job?  Thus is the nexus created; thus does one go back to the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

While such an approach may not return us back to nature, it will provide a framework for a successful OPM Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Keeping it Simple

Simplicity merely covers the complexity behind the beauty of the uncomplicated.  Indeed, one only has to look upon an Apple product, or a modern automobile, to recognize the underlying complexities which went into the production of such simplicity.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often a desire to respond to an OPM denial by attempting to understanding the apparent ‘complexity’ of the denial.  By ‘apparent’ is meant the following:  Most, if not all, of OPM’s denials are regurgitated templates from thousands of previous denials, and quotations of alleged legalese notwithstanding, the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement case do not change just because the language used attempts to complicate matters.

In the end, driving a technologically advanced automobile still requires hands on the steering wheel, and a foot on the gas pedal and the brake (hopefully, not both at the same time).  All the rest are simply “whistles and horns” to make it appear worth the price tag.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: When It Is the Right Time

Most people know; and still others, know that the “right” time has already passed, and is long overdue.  Doctors have already shaken their heads in disbelief, disgust or with regretful expressions of facial futility; family members have begun to whisper behind backs; friends have stopped asking to include you for events which may require physical exertion or extensive conversations which require focus, concentration or cognitive stamina.

Federal and Postal employees all across the United States, and overseas where Civilian workers are stationed, put in long and dedicated hours to accomplish the mission of agencies.  The general public at large has been allowed to critically eye the Federal or Postal worker because they are being paid through high taxes, etc.  But Federal Disability Retirement is not a “handout”; it is merely an employment benefit which allows for disabled workers to go out and remain productive in the private sector, by being allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays — and thereby continue to pay back into the system through paying of taxes, and essentially keeping it a “self-paying” system.  

No amount of shame or embarrassment should accompany the decision to file for Federal Disability benefits.  It is simply an acknowledgement which has already been realized by friends, family, and often one’s own treating doctor:  the right time has come because you have already “fought the good fight“, and it is time to move on to the next phase of life, and allow for the recuperative period of life take its course.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Periodic Clarifications

Periodically, despite multiple prior blogs addressing certain issues, it becomes clear that confusions continue to abound, and a clarification is in order.

In many ways, such necessity for periodic clarifications only emphasizes the inherent complexities in Federal Disability Retirement law, despite the foundational simplicity of what needs to be proven.

Indeed, while the substantive law requires the primary basis of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the nexus between one’s official positional duties, and the medical conditions which prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; nevertheless, there are numerous procedural issues and hurdles which must concurrently be met in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Thus, for instance:  the Federal or Postal employee must file an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service — not 1 year from the date of being placed on LWOP, or from the “date of injury”, etc.

Further, SSDI must be filed by FERS employees, but of course Social Security will not even consider a filing for purposes of evaluating eligibility until a person has stopped working — nevertheless, for FERS Disability Retirement purposes, all that is necessary is a receipt showing that one has filed for Social Security Disability benefits.

And one more:  never wait for one’s agency to act in a Disability Retirement case; such waiting merely constitutes an act of futility, and one which almost always results with an adverse effect upon the Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Substance and the Spaces in Between

The philosophical conundrum involving the ability to distinguish between dreams and reality, rests upon a fundamental confusion on the part of the thinker:  one would not be able to discuss the concept of dreams, unless there is first a presumption about reality.

The fact that we can discuss whether or not X is a dream, is precisely because there is already a pretext of a reality.  Similarly, in almost every other area of conceptual discussions:  appearance versus reality; essence versus the peripheral; and multiple other instances.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to stick to the “substance” of one’s claim, lest the verbiage and the spaces in between detract and confuse the Case Worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Issues which lead one away from the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement application, such as anger at a supervisor; a rant against the agency; undue focus upon the hostile environment created by the agency; all of these can seem as real as the reality of a dream; but however real a dream may appear, one awakens, and the reality of the real world suddenly forces itself upon us.

In a narrative telling of one’s disability and its impact upon one’s life, it is not the “spaces in between” which tell the story; it is the story itself.  Thus, all roads should lead back to the essence of one’s narrative:  the medical condition, and how that condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Simplicity of Presentation

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to maintain and manage the entire process in as simplified a form as possible, in presenting one’s case to each segment of the process — i.e., to the doctors who will be supporting one’s case; in the formulation and articulation of one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability; in the compilation of the supporting medical documentation; in the entirety of the presentation submitted to the Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, while the process itself may involve multiple complexities because of the bureaucratic morass from which it originates, it is nevertheless the job of the Federal or Postal worker who is preparing and formulating the Federal Disability Retirement packet to keep it within manageable and understandable, coherent and comprehensible limits.  

The art of simplifying the complex is the key to a successful outcome.  By “simplification”, however, does not mean that one should exclude or otherwise deliberately leave out complex aspects of a medical disability retirement case; rather, it means that it is the job of the Federal or Postal employee, or his or her attorney and legal representative, to articulate, convey, and delineate such complexity into an understandable format.  

As the true artist makes his artwork appear simple in its very beauty, so the Federal or Postal employee must present his or her case before the Office of Personnel Management, and potentially before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board, in a format which evinces a response of, “Of course!”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire