Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Excessive Reliance

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 never a good idea to proceed with excessive reliance (or any at all, for that matter) upon expected or presumed actions on the part of one’s Agency.

The preponderance of the evidence in proving a Federal Disability Retirement application is always upon the Federal or Postal worker, and one should affirmatively and pro-actively proceed without regard to what the Agency will do, says it will do, or might do during the process.

Yes, the Agency has its portion to complete; yes, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does review the entirety of the Disability Retirement packet, including the standard forms which the agency must complete, along with other personnel information that is forwarded to OPM.

But the crux and essence of a Federal Disability Retirement applications always remains the medical information gathered and submitted, along with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in conjunction with the asserted nexus constructed between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s job.

Any other approach is merely to run a fool’s errand for a fiefdom from which one is attempting to flee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Misinformation Center

When a government agency provides wrong information, should one be surprised?  Reliance upon a source of information is always a problematic issue; further, there is always a presumption that information issued by the original source should on its face be reliable.

Information obtain from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on issues of retirement, disability retirement, collateral issues of survivor’s benefits, etc., should by its very nature be reliable because that is precisely the very agency which mandates the regulations and handles all matters concerning Federal retirement, disability or otherwise.  But more and more, phone calls to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have resulted in misinformation being provided.

There is, of course, always the possibility that the caller misinterpreted what was stated over the telephone; but when such occurrences become regular encounters, one begins to wonder if such a simplistic explanation can adequately satisfy the curious mind.  Unfortunately, there may be a better explanation:  in an agency which is overworked and understaffed, replies to inquiries may come from unreliable sources who are either inadequately trained, lack the necessary information, or simply are discourteous enough to give any answer thought of to get rid of the caller.

Ultimately, the best answer one may rely upon is that which may be subject to accountability — the written word.  For, if information provided in written format on a website — whether on the official agency website, or on an attorney’s website — is relied upon, such reliance cannot later be retracted or dismissed with, “I never said that”, when it shows plainly as the day is bright that the organization or entity is the responsible agent for the information provided.  In the end, a source of information must always be verified based upon multiple elements:  Reliability of the agent; motivation for the information; longevity of accuracy; reputation for having expertise in an area; and multiple other checks and balances.

Making a phone call is a dangerous venture to begin with; for, the voice on the other end is merely that — a faceless voice with no accountability — and the source of information may be coming from a parallel universe of the absurd, called the “Misinformation Center“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Misinformation

The problem with a society which provides unlimited information is that the traditional controls and mechanisms known for verification and validation of accuracy become diluted or altogether abandoned.  Plagiarism has become a pervasive problem; as vastness of information exponentially explodes, so the chances of being identified for unauthorized copying becomes infinitely lesser, while those who “play the odds” increase in boldness and in sheer volume.

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 a procedural requirement that — sometime during the process of filing with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — the Federal or Postal employee must show that he or she has filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with the Social Security Administration.  But it is the “when” which have become enveloped within a convoluted complexity of misinformation.

Various Human Resource Offices are insisting (in error) that SSDI must be filed before an application to OPM can be submitted.  Such misinformation may preclude a Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement to meet the 1-year Statute of Limitations in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (after separation from Federal Service), or for other Federal or Postal employees who are still employed, if only because the process of SSDI can be an equally, if not more so, of a daunting administrative process as filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Further, in attempting to file online for SSDI, there is the question as to whether one is still employed, and if so, SSDI will not allow the online applicant to proceed any further, precisely because such an applicant would be immediately disqualified, anyway.

The fact and correct information is as follows:  At some point in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee needs to file for SSDI, and show OPM proof of such filing.  From OPM’s perspective, upon an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application, they need to make sure that the Federal or Postal Retirement annuitant is or is not eligible for SSDI, for offset-provisions of benefits between SSDI and FERS.  Thus, it is ultimately merely a payment/compensation issue.  Filing for SSDI is not in reality a prerequisite for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but merely a check upon a coordination of payment benefits if both are approved.

In this vast universe of information, one must expect a correlative dissemination of misinformation; like the black hole in the greater universe of thriving galaxies and dying planetary systems, one can be sucked into the void of ignorance and suffer irreparable consequences as a result.  That is why Captain Kirk needed to be periodically beamed up — if only to make sure that the molecular reconstitution was properly performed in order to continue on in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Someone Told Me

The rumor-mill continues to thrive, is alive and well; and so long as human beings remain social animals who enjoy the congregation of a mixture of many in formulating a group to gather, interact, receive tidbits and convey barbs of subtle and not-so-subtle criticisms, information, and conveyance belts of commentaries, the mill which produces a vast array of misinformation will remain intact and full of life.

It is important before one initiates or engages in any process of life, however, to distinguish between information which is useful; that which is accurate; and that which is superfluous and perhaps misleading. The statement which begins with, “Someone told me that…” or “I heard that X is…” removes the responsibility of the information by ascribing it to a third party unknown.  But such ascription is ultimately irrelevant, precisely because the information itself, and the need to determine its accuracy, significance or harm, is what is at issue.

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 indeed important to ascertain the accuracy of information — as to the required timeframes for administrative filings; for the substance of the information to be submitted; the required and necessary forms which must be completed; how each stage is to be responded to, etc.  Whatever the source of the information, it is ultimately the essence of the information itself which is important, and the source of such information is secondary.

Remember — as Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, both for Federal and Postal employees, is an administrative process initiated out of necessity — it is important to satisfy that need by going to a source from which that spring of satisfaction originated.  For, it is in the origin that one meets the essence of a thing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Verification Process

The process for verifying information is a procedural matter which is applied with a systematic methodology.  Verification is essentially a comparative analysis — comparing what is said in one sector of information, with claims made in another.  Consistency of information and claims is therefore what is crucial.  This general overview is applicable in nearly all areas — of law, of marketing, of scholarly endeavors, etc.  

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 maintain a consistency of claims and assertions.  Thus, there should be a logical and sequential order in the approach of putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.  What is so surprising is how many Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will prepare and submit an Applicant’s Statement of Disability independent of a written medical report from one’s treating doctor.  

Assumptions and presumptions should be avoided at all costs (yes, and the cost of assuming or presuming can be high, indeed, with the consequence of a denial from OPM).  Of course, consistency and verification of information is applicable not only in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — the same methodology of verification should be applied as to claims by those who represent Federal and Postal employees.  

There is a lot of information “out there”, but whether and to what extent such information is accurate, useable, or even relevant, is a question to be asked and answered by the Federal or Postal employee preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

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

OPM Disability Retirement: Disparate Information in a Disability Retirement Application

The difference between success and an almost-successful endeavor is normally not based upon the information available, but rather, the effective use of the available information.  Just as most “secrets” are neither hidden nor unknown, but rather depend upon who knows it, how it is used, and when it is acquired; similarly, the availability of information disseminated throughout our lives — via the internet, through publications, through media outlets, etc. — is generally not the basis for success.  Disparate information compiled in a bulk bound conglomeration is normally not an effective way of presenting something.

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 go beyond mere compiling of information and data in presenting one’s case to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Remember that Federal Disability Retirement is not an entitlement; rather, it is a benefit which is available upon proving one’s case.  Proof of a case depends upon multiple factors: indeed, the Office of Personnel Management will often state the following in denying a Federal Disability Retirement application:  “The mere fact that you have a medical condition does not mean that you are eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.”

The existence of a medical condition is a necessary requirement; facts supporting one’s case can be persuasive; the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement and the eligibility criteria should be cited; the nexus between one’s Federal and Postal position and the medical condition should be established; then, beyond each of the disparate informational islands, a coordination of the information is necessary. For that, an approach which involves a paradigm of how one should win a case is important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Understanding & Application

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 both “understand” the administrative process — the compendium of the entirety of the process and procedures itself, including the relevant statutory and case-law criteria which is relied upon, the methodological approach of the Office of Personnel Management, etc. — as well as have the ability to apply such knowledge in an effective manner.  The former constitutes the preparation:  i.e., the study of one’s enemy is necessary in the ultimate prevailing of an endeavor.  The latter — the application of such obtained and accrued knowledge — is the initiation of the former.

The distinction between the two, and the effective use of both, is important in reaching a successful conclusion to the whole point of the process.  Understanding of a subject, person, group, entity, or Federal Agency, is important in the initial, preparatory stages of the administrative process, and as there is much information “out there”, one ultimately has little excuse in not taking the time to reading, self-informing, and compiling the available facts and informative advice provided.  The chasm between understanding and “application”, however, is one which differentiates between knowledge and wisdom; and it is the latter which one is attempting to achieve.  Once the information is compiled, the key is to apply it in an effective, impacting manner.

The difference is likened to the person who has read upon on how to fly an airplane (i.e., the language game may be memorized), but would you ever step onto a plane being flown by a pilot who has never flown previously, but who assures you that he has studied all available resources?

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

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Internet Information

Previous articles and blogs have written quite extensively about the distinction and conceptual differentiation between information and knowledge, and the fact that exponential quantification of the former (information) does not necessarily result in a qualitative increase in the latter (knowledge).  

A similar argument can be made for the “reputation” of an individual.  It has been pointed out on many occasions to this writer that various readers have read many “positive” things on various websites which discuss Federal and Postal Disability Retirement issues.  While such complimentary statements are certainly better and more welcomed than negative ones, nevertheless, one must recognize the age-old principle that where good things may be stated, the very opposite can also occur.  

Reputation is built over time; not everyone can be pleased for all of time; and information which is hastily posted on the internet may or may not be the full story, leaving aside whether or not it is based upon facts or knowledge.  

The plethora of blog writers, websites which merely promote one’s self and reputation — all must be evaluated and analyzed within a greater context of a span of time.  Many writers seem to think that quantity is the key to success — that by repetitively reiterating “key words and terms”, that the internet traffic will increase, and since most people don’t take the time to read, evaluate and discern in a careful manner, such an approach provides for moderate success, if “success” means reaching the greatest number of people.  But preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS must necessarily contain the element of care, meticulous preparation, and thoughtful formulation for the future.  

When an attorney is considered for representation, the choice should be made based upon multiple factors:  knowledge, experience, reputation and accessibility being some of the chief elements to be considered.  Quantity of information is good; quality of information is better; and in the greater context of all such information concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, careful consideration of all of the relevant factors must be taken.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire