Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Keep Confidence

There can be a duality of meaning, or perhaps even a tripartite of understanding; for, to “keep confidence” can mean the protective blanket of not sharing information with others and maintaining a “confidentiality” of data; or, it can mean that one maintains a level of confidence — a surety of belief in a successful endeavor.  Or, perhaps even a third meaning which involves both: Maintaining confidentiality while secure in the belief of the endeavor involved, which is to work towards the goals agreed upon and progressing towards that goal, all the while maintaining the confidentiality that is explicitly and implicitly retained.

That is, in a nutshell, what an attorney-client relationship should be and continue to remain.  Thus, from the moment of an initial telephone consultation, the confidence that is kept should be twofold: Security of privacy so that the discussion can be forthright and without reservation; and, if the case is to go forward, the confidence in its eventual success.  Both components are essential for the successful outcome of an endeavor that may, at least initially, have some characteristics of trepidation and uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the issue of confidentiality is exponentially magnified because of multiple elements that work against the Federal or Postal employee: An agency’s Human Resource Department that is known to “share” sensitive information; a decidedly weighted bias in favor of “management” or those in superior positions; medical issues that should be divulged only to those in strictly “must know” positions; and an extremely sensitive decision on the part of the Federal or Postal employee on matters of health, employment and one’s future.

Containment of confidences is important; keeping confidence in both senses becomes vital; and one thing that the potential client can be assured of: Anything spoken to or shared with this attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will always be maintained in order to “keep confidence”, in whatever manner of meaning the phrase may imply or express.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s enjoyment

Are we ever taught that?  If the answer is in the negative, then from whence did we learn, attain or otherwise receive the tools to engage in the purity of sensation such that we could embrace it?  Did we become such through osmosis; from imprints; from learned behavior encompassing a lifetime of observations reinforced by wisdom’s refrain upon the blank chalkboard of our consciousness?  How does one “enjoy” life, anymore than learning to ride a bicycle, drive a car or care for a cute puppy (the last in the list, of course, need not be learned, but only be taken in by the natural affinity one has upon seeing the eyes of warmth, intelligence and fierce loyalty displayed, and is an exception and one of life’s conundrums to be accepted without questioning)?

There are many who walk about, who have absolutely no clue as to how one can, should or would have any enjoyment at all; and thus the total immersion in one’s work, or projects begun and always left unfinished – for, to complete them would mean that something ended, and that would force one into a reflection about the meaning, value and relevance of one’s activities, would it not?

One often hears the familiar refrain:  “I don’t know how to enjoy life; to me, unless I am busy with work, chores, updating my Facebook page, texting friends or jogging, I can’t be happy.”  Productivity is the measure of success; time set aside for vacations – despite still doing email, texting, messaging or other forms of “connectivity” as advertised to be the horror of all horrors if loss of it were to ever occur – is a concept that questions the very meaning of life’s enjoyment.  For, if one pauses for a moment to reflect:  Is the treadmill one is on merely for purposes of getting off for a moment, then to get right back on in order to find, again, a time to get off for another period of repose?

If so, how is that any different from Camus’ essay on the absurdity of life’s perspective as seen through the eyes of a French Existentialist, and specifically, of the Myth of Sisyphus and the condemnation by the gods to roll the boulder up the hill, only to watch it tumble down, then to engage in the eternal monotony of pushing it back up, only to observe its descent?

Life’s enjoyment, and the promise for tomorrow, was always meant to be more than that – of a daily sense of joy, a widespread sensation of contentment, and an ease of burden when once we were innocent children playing with but a ready laughter to give.  It is the truth that haunts, and especially the proverbial quip about the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.  With the persistent onslaught of stimuli unable to be resisted, we allow for the daily bombardment to deplete the little energy we have in reserve.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition not only intervenes in the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, but further, depletes, diminishes and – ultimately — destroys even the potentiality to enjoy life and all of its complex presentations, the option to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be considered.

Yes, it is a long and arduous bureaucratic process.  No, going through the process will not enhance, for the short term, life’s enjoyment.  But in the end, necessary changes are called for – nay, compelled by – medical conditions that interrupt life’s enjoyment, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to enhance that potential for the future enjoyment of life’s joys, while perhaps foregoing the short-term stubble of inconvenient interludes of angst-driven necessities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Civil Service Disability Retirement: The value of properly preparing

Each and every stage of a Federal Disability Retirement process is important to view in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  You cannot take any stage of the process in a vacuum; for example, answering SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in and of itself forces one to consider stages beyond the Initial Stage of the process.

Questions to ask:  Are you bound by your answers without the possibility of further amendments to the narrative delineation you submit?  Can changes, amendments, additions be made even after a CSA/Case number is assigned by Boyers, Pennsylvania and sent on its way to Washington, D.C. for an initial assessment and determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  What if, in the meantime, a “new diagnosis” is provided, one which has not been included in the original Statement of Disability?

Should the language used in describing one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job be elastic enough to allow for greater content at a later date, or should it be concise, precise and without room for maneuver or wiggle?  To what extent will prioritizing of diagnosed descriptions be used, either for or against, one’s Federal Disability Retirement, and are there consequences in submitting a non-sequential order of non-prioritized conditions, whether in terms of a spectrum from severity of pain or relevance based upon conditions recognized to be “serious” as opposed to secondary, more exacerbated-based symptoms that are considered corollaries more than central conditions?

To view the world from a perspective of bifurcated and compartmentalized episodes, where each circumstance of life has no impact or connection to any other, results from the insularity of lives we lead.  But reality forces upon us the realization (note the close connection of the two words – reality and realization) that our own mental insularity does not impose a compelling argumentation upon the objective world; instead, we continue to delude ourselves into thinking one way, while the universe goes on and exists with impervious fortitude until the two contradict and ultimately clash.

For Federal employees and U.S. Post workers who try and defy the universe by ignoring the reality of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, and further, by attempting to sidestep the methodology of analytical determinations made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the onus is on you:  take care that you consider preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application carefully and with full view as to the value of knowledge and information, lest it come back to haunt you with a denial because you did not foresee the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The mish-mash approach

Do you have a linear, sequential methodology?  Is the legal argumentation systematically constructed?  Or, is the mish-mash approach consigned – of a hodgepodge of thousands of hands at needlepoint in creating a colorful quilt for the Fall Festival of creative designs?

Is the Bruner Presumption invoked as an afterthought, and the Bracey-argument concerning accommodations defined in an obfuscated manner, such that the argument reveals more about what you do not know and understand, than of a pin-point accuracy as to the sharpening and attacking of the issues preemptively recognized?  Have, indeed, the knives been sharpened for the battle ahead, or have you revealed the dullness of the edges such that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will likely scoff with disdain and deny the case at the First Stage of this process?

There is a substantive distinction to be made between making an argument in a non-systematic way, as in a proverbial “shot-gun” approach or of throwing what substance you believe will stick and subsequently splattering it against the wall in hopes of increasing a statistically deficient implementation of the process; that, as opposed to a streamlined, methodological approach of sequentially addressing each issue in a preemptive, categorical manner, as well as recognizing what not to touch at this initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, and in realizing what should be addressed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, basing one’s approach upon a “hope and a prayer” that things will turn out well, is probably not the most effective nor efficient engagement of behavior.

First, the initial process and stage itself is a bureaucratically lengthy procedure, such that if the Federal Disability Retirement applicant does not enhance the chances of success at the First Stage, time is “lost” in that a denial will simply quantify by exponential multiplication the time taken at the Second, Reconsideration Stage; and further, another catastrophic delay if an appeal is needed to be taken to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

In the end, the mish-mash approach is what most of us do in life, and often is the very reason why we ended up where we are.  But in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it may well be time to abandon the mish-mash approach, and consider consulting with a Federal Disability Retirement lawyer who specializes in a different approach – one reflecting a systematic, methodological and sequentially logical engagement, refined through many years of experience and encounters with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire