Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Angle

Angles are formed by two rays sharing a common endpoint; or, alternatively, it is defined by an attempt to achieve an end through indirect or artful means.  Both definitions tend to share a common thread — of not being “straight” with the intended goal.

In the 1954 classic musical, White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, there is a scene where Crosby notes that “everyone has an angle” — referring to the manner in which they were invited to review the duo sister act of the two eligible ladies in the movie.  While Crosby’s character in the movie had no problem with people having their personal angles in attempting to achieve an end, the rest of the world generally sees it quite differently.

It is precisely because there is a suspicion that hidden motives, unspoken intentions, and deliberately obfuscated reasons are veiled behind the overt actions of individuals, that people tend to be wary of others.  Newspaper stories abound with con artists; junk mail folders are replete with offers of bank transfers and “deals” to be made; and “free gifts” are rarely without strings attached.  It is because of suspicions of magnified proportions permeating our society, that the level of empathy parallels the societal degree of suspicion.

It is against such a backdrop that Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s capabilities to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that one must contend with the high sensitivity of societal suspiciousness.

With stories of fraud and abuse concerning Social Security Disability benefits; and with a stagnant economy and shrinking public sector funds, Federal and Postal workers under FERS or CSRS who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must battle against the backdrop of daily societal interludes.

It is indeed unfortunate, but people now view everyone else from the vortex of one’s angle; and however steep the angle might be, may determine how skewed one’s vision is; but for the Federal and Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is ultimately the facts which are on the side of the applicant, which will prove the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Responding to Stupidity

Sometimes, one’s initial reaction in a situation — professional setting, social discourse, event gathering, etc. — requires a momentary pause; and it is precisely that couple of seconds of gathering one’s thoughts which saves one from further putting fuel upon a potential fire.

Perhaps you have every right to have responded with a drip of sarcasm; or others would have approved of the lashing back; and still others would say that the response was appropriate and deservedly given.  But the greater question should always be:  how effective was the response; did it evoke the necessary end; and for whose benefit was the aggressive retort given — for the benefit of truth, or for one’s own satisfaction?

In a professional context, of course, it is probably never appropriate to respond in an unprofessional way, if merely by definition alone.  Similarly, in a FERS or CSRS Federal Disability Retirement context, when one receives a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there are statements made — whether one pertaining to mis-application or mis-statement of the law; or perhaps a wrong reference to a medical report; or even more egregious, a selective use of a statement from a medical report or record taken out of context — which can deservedly provoke a response involving sarcasm, a deluge of epithets, or worse, a barrage of ad hominem attacks — and in each case, it would be neither appropriately given, nor proper in a professional sense.

Fortunately, paper presentations and paper responses have the advantage of time over social discourse and person-to-person contact.

Holding one’s breath and counting 3 seconds, or 10, or perhaps an eternity, is an effective way of avoiding catastrophe.  Writing a diatribe of what one wants to say, then trashing it, is also acceptable.  On the other hand, beware of that “send” button; and, moreover, never push that “send to all” button.

That would indeed be unprofessional.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Proper Balance

The Office of Personnel Management has sent out a number of denials in recent weeks, and the undersigned attorney has had multiple opportunities to review many of the cases which have been submitted at the Initial Stage of the process, by Federal and Postal workers who are or were unrepresented by an attorney.  

The spectrum of the quality of the applications vary; some have obviously engaged in some research, and attempted to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application by following some guidelines which have been put forth.  But in most cases, there is still the problem of an “imbalance” — of not reaching the correct median between the subjective and the objective; of an inability to stay away from the workplace issues, of harassment, of complaints about the Agency, etc.  

Remember that this is first and foremost a medical disability retirement application, and the operative term which should always be focused upon and emphasized is the “medical” aspect of the formulation.  While there is ultimately no formulaic Federal Disability Retirement packet (precisely because the particular medical condition which is unique to each individual resists any such attempt to package a Federal Disability Retirement application in a generic sort of way), nevertheless, there are certain key points which should be addressed and emphasized, while other “non-key points” should be avoided.  

Put in a different way, in proving that a medical condition prevents a Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, one must include multiple “essential elements” in meeting the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Don’t Overstate the Case

It is important to have an objective tone in one’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  This is inherently difficult, of course, if one is representing one’s self in such an application, because naturally the subject is the very person one is attempting to be objective about —  one’s very own self.  Because of this difficulty, it is often important to have legal representation, in order to attain that level of objectivity where the voice which speaks concerning the subjective pain, medical conditions, and impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of the job, is portrayed in an ‘objectified’ manner, tone and tenor.  Further, the problem with an overemphasis on emotionalism in any Statement of Disability is that, while it may evoke sympathy, it often overstates the case.  Overstating a case occurs when the subjective description collides with the ‘objective’ medical documentation which it is meant to support — not to undermine — the case as described by the applicant for Federal or Postal Disability retirement benefits.  Remember that, from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, the applicant who has prepared the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS has an underlying motive beyond filing for a benefit — that of being the recipient of the benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire