OPM Medical Retirement: The Value of Consistency

Consistency establishes validity; validation results in enhancement of credibility; and credibility prevails over minor errors and unintended oversights.  In analyzing a narrative, or engaging in a comparative analysis of two or more documents, it is the factual and historical consistency which allows for a conclusion of validated credibility. When a pattern of inconsistencies arise, suspicions of intentional misdirection beyond mere minor error, begins to tinge.

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 under FERS or CSRS, or even CSRS Offset, the question of sequential order of documentary preparation is important. Such relevance on this matter can be gleaned if the preparation is looked at retrospectively — not from the beginning of the process, but rather, from the perspective of OPM and how they review and determine cases.

With that perspective in mind, it is important to prepare and formulate one’s Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the appreciated value of consistency, and as consistency of statements, purpose, coordination of documentary support and delineated narrative of one’s disability and its impact upon one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties is recognized, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will be formulated with deliberative efficacy, and where retrospection through introspection will result in increasing the prospective chances of success.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Attorney: Playgrounds and the Collective Institution of Fair Play

We learn it early on; the unstated rules, the lines which may not be crossed, and to be weary of those whose reputation precedes them for the blatant disregard of both.  How they are learned; what they are; whether explicitly stated or impliedly conveyed; few, if any, have a memory where the Head Mistress of the Universe of Playgrounds sat us all down and said, “Now young ladies and gentlemen, here are the 10 rules of fair play.”  Regardless, we all somehow came to recognized and apply them.

Wittgenstein provides some valuable insight into the way we learn the language games involved in game-playing; much of it is through sheer doing, an ad hoc manner of practical reasoning and applied rationality.  And then, of course, we become adults (yes, at least most of us do; some, left behind on the playgrounds of life, remain as infantile cherubim, clueless and naive to the cynical ways of the world); and it always seems as if the same ones who violated the rules of the playground are the ones who flaunt the normative constraints of the greater universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are formulating a strategy for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one falls under the general aegis of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often must be confronted as to the Supervisor, Manager, or even a fellow coworker who is pining for a confrontation and direct disregard of the collective institutional enforcement of what everyone else knows as “fair play”.

This, despite the fact that there are multiple Federal laws governing treatment of individuals with known medical disabilities.  But the Federal “system” of retaining workers with medical conditions and disabilities, and the perfunctory requirement of accommodations and the search to provide adequate accommodations, undermines any compelling force to restrain the playground bully.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits, filed either through one’s own agency if one is still on the rolls of the agency; or if separated, but less than 31 days since the official date of separation, in either case must be filed through the Human Resource Department of one’s own agency, or through H.R. Shared Services for Postal Workers (located in Greensboro, North Carolina); or, if separated for more than 31 days, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

In the end, things rarely change much, if at all.  Those collective institutional enforcement mechanisms learned on the playground — tattling to the playground monitor or to one’s teacher; talking to one’s parents, etc. — end up with a snicker and a sneer.

Yes, society has become well aware of bullies and mean people, but they have been around longer than the oldest profession in the world, and the collective institution of fair play and the playgrounds upon which they played out, will continue to witness backstabbing and surreptitious violations, transferred universally to the places where adults play, and where the most vulnerable in need of the greatest protection, still must do things the old fashioned way:  reliance on sheer luck, or to seek the best legal advice possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Life’s Scarring

It builds through repetition of wounding, or because it is deep, jagged, or otherwise unable to repair through normal processes of cellular regeneration.  It remains a mark of a person; over time, fading through exposure to sunlight, disappearance of discoloration, and the slow erasure of the damage done through the healing process of the linear course of a lifetime, may allow for one to forget.

Traumas, medical conditions and chronic maladies takes time to heal, and time is the commodity which society relishes, values, and measures by the worth of productivity.  It is that segment of immeasurable continuity which determines the markings of a lifetime’s work; like prehistoric epochs which we name in order to neatly fit in the existence of dinosaurs and their disappearance through volcanic and meteoric catastrophes, we bifurcate the unconquerable continuum with significations of memorable moments in time.

Medical conditions and their disruptions to lives require time for healing; and whether it is the impact of psychiatric conditions upon one’s psyche and soul, or the physical manifestation of a chronic illness or injury, that commodity of value in the world of economics remains unsympathetically beyond the reach of most.

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 acquisition of time becomes ever more important and critical as one awaits the winding morass of a Federal Disability Retirement application through the bureaucratic maze of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Bureaucracies grind forward as if time is nonexistent; but all the while, life must continue to flow, as rivers unfettered by dams and natural obstacles, the course of life cannot be interrupted by mere tragedies of fate.  The problem is, of course, that the rest of the Federal bureaucracy — agencies, coworkers, supervisors, managers, etc. — does not have the patience to wait upon Federal and Postal employees during a daunting administrative process in which it is already known that, if successful, the Federal or Postal employee will be leaving the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

So, what is the reaction during this administrative process?  Sometimes, it results in an administrative separation; more often than not, to simply allow the Federal or Postal employee to remain on LWOP and remain forgotten, lost in the maze of time immemorial.

In the end, it is life’s scarring which remains; how one has been treated; whether the burns of fate scorched upon flesh or memory were deliberate or through an uncaring indifference. No matter; as life’s scarring is like an organic monument of one’s test of endurance, so the manner in which one approaches the wound will determine the character of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Expanding the Significance of Individual Federal Employee Disability Cases

Lawyers daily engage in it; courts are sometimes receptive to it; the public is rarely approving of it.  Expanding the literal language of a statute by reading meaning into words, phrases and conceptual paradigms not otherwise manifested or obvious in the words enacted, is a language game which some call intellectual brilliance, while others deem to be disingenuous or otherwise dishonest, to be blunt about it.  The “it”, of course, is the compendium of the expanded impact and relevance of consequences resulting from statutory language, some intended, others unintended.

Does it all result from the poor crafting of a statute?  Sometimes.  Is it expected in all statutory construction?  Mostly.  Can constriction, as the antithesis and corollary of an expanded interpretation, ever come about?  Rarely.  It is in the very nature and intuitive construct of a legal statute and inherent principle that expansion of that principle to include avenues and influences not otherwise originally intended is to be expected.  That is the very nature of a law.

Sometimes, legislators knowingly write a statute with intended wiggle-room precisely for the lawyers and judges to wrangle over.  What the general public fails to understand, however, is that each individual can be a singular guardian of the principle of expansion, in each case, with purposive intent and influences beyond, like tentacles on an octopus of fate and fleeting fairytales of justice.

Like the guardian standing at an entranceway, who hears a strange noise or movement emanating from beyond the periphery of his granted authority; how far should he venture?  To what extent should he be curious?  What parameters should preclude his investigation?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the subtle reverberations and almost imperceptible ripples from each case can never be underestimated.  The character of a case can only be properly compared by taking quantum leaps to cases from years ago; but clearly the benefits derived from prior cases, and precedents set from prior expansions of legal principles, cannot be denied.

The general thought is that individual cases represent merely a single raindrop in the expansive oceans of legal turbulence; but it is the individual case which can influence the compendium of legal principles through the unique argumentation of a previously unthought issue, brought in a light untold; viewed at an angle unstated.

Federal Disability Retirement is a parcel of law in a patchwork of quilts still being sewn; and each Federal or Postal employee who seeks to enter into the universe of laws, legal criteria and evidentiary significance, unintentionally walks into a cauldron of Federal Disability Retirement authorities which engulf and encapsulate statutes, regulations, case-laws and underlying legal principles.

How one uses them; to what extent one responds to the Standard Forms, which includes SF 3107 (for FERS) and SF 2801 (for CSRS and CSRS-Offset); and SF 3112 (for all three, FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset); which evidentiary compendium is utilized; and the extent of legal argumentation and tools assuaged; all make a difference in expanding the significance of an individual case upon the greater universe of the feudal castle originally surrounded by a moat for protection, but where the guardian lowers the drawbridge and enters into territories hitherto uninhabited.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Rocking Chair and the Never-Ending Story

The myth about retirement has long receded; once upon a time, there was an idea, a concept, an ethereal potentiality, of reaching a point of quietude where reflection, dispensing of wisdom, and calm gardening and tending to the passing of time would be the status of choice; but modern life has wreaked havoc upon such a notion.

It was perhaps engendered by the character, Mose Harper (the sidekick of John Wayne) in John Ford’s, “The Searchers”, who only wanted a “rocking chair” at the end of his troubles.  But the never-ending story in these times of modernity, is that one must always claw and fight for maintaining the high standard of living which we enjoy and have become content with.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must take an early form of retirement — a Federal Disability Retirement — because of his or her ongoing medical conditions, where the medical conditions no longer allow for the continuation in one’s job because they prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of the job, the battle to first prove a Federal Disability Retirement application, then to retain and maintain it, throughout all of the complexities of the bureaucratic and administrative process, is a daily chore and toil.

First, there is the right to get it approved; then, there may be periodic Medical Questionnaires which are issued and which mandate a response; then, if Social Security Disability is approved, the offset between FERS Disability benefits and SSDI must be calculated; then, if you become employed and lose the SSDI benefit because of income, the FERS Disability annuity must be recalculated; then, at age 62, recalculation because the Federal Disability Retirement annuity effectively ends, based upon the total number of years of service, including the time one is on Federal Disability Retirement; and then the need to maintain income sources because of the reduction; and so the never-ending story continues.

Indeed, it is not from the rocking chair which the retiree tells a story, like Mose Harper must have done in his old age; rather, the modern retiree from the Federal sector, whether as a former employee of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, must tell his or her never-ending story to an empty chair with rhythmic movements to and fro absent an occupant, as the old man remains away, trying to figure out the further complexities of this age of modernity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire