CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Conceptual Constraints

Within the world of biology, the distinction between an unicellular eukaryote and a prokaryote is one defined by the absence of a distinct, membrane-bound nucleus.  The latter is thus without a homunculus, constrained by a parameter and protected as the central seat of control.  One would assume that, because of this, the former would be easier to genetically manipulate, while the former would be more difficult.

Similarly, while widespread dissemination of responsibility and delegation of authority may have the positive effect of getting much work done, the corollary negative impact may also become uncontrollably representative of an organization:  loss of qualitative control.

Upon reading a denial letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one may begin to suspect that you are dealing with a prokaryote-type of entity:  for anything may be said, and what may be stated may not even remotely be the law of the case.

Being unconstrained by a membrane may have its advantages for survival; being unconcerned by the constraints of language will have its definite impact upon a Federal or Postal employee attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: confusion for the Federal or Postal Worker, or worse, surrender and retreat.  But there are ways to counter such an untethered approach — but one which must use all of the legal tools available to the Federal or Postal applicant.

The key is to build a membrane and change the prokaryote into an eukaryote.  In order to do this, however, one must know the law, apply the law, and force the law upon the organism — thereby effectuating the genetic modification.  Thus does science, logic and law coalesce into a unified, rational whole.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Importance of Knowing “the Law”

The old dictum that “ignorance of the law is not an excuse” for violating the law, applies just as well in a Federal Disability Retirement application — unless, of course, the entity which fails to recognize the substance of the law, its applicability, and its extended content and consequences happens to be the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

Let me expand somewhat.  

In order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is entitled to the benefits.  Such proof of “preponderance of the evidence” must be in compliance with the applicable statutes, regulations, legal criteria, case-law (as handed down by the Merit Systems Protection Board decisions, as well as by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals).  However, when the entity which constitutes itself as the intermediate arbiter of all Federal Disability Retirement applications (it is merely “intermediate”, as opposed to “final”, because there is the review process by the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) itself fails to apply the applicable law, there exists an inherent problem.  

OPM is designated to decide cases based upon the applicable law.  Yet, in its denials, it will often apply criteria which has absolutely no basis in “the law”.  

All the more reason why, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important for the Federal or Postal worker seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, to know and understand the law — its substance, applicability, and consequential reverberations upon the multiple aspects of issues involved in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Providing Information

In every area of law, in most facets of life, and certainly in the administrative procedures of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits either under FERS or CSRS with the Office of Personnel Management, one must determine the extent, scope and substance of the information which will be provided to the requesting entity.  

Most of the time, the extent of information is pre-determined by the requirements which must be satisfied.  Similarly, the scope of the information to be submitted must meet certain criteria, but additionally, it will depend upon the question asked.  More importantly, the substance of the information one needs to provide, will be determined by the question asked, the criteria to be addressed, and the statutory and regulatory guidelines which must be met — in the case of Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, that which would meet the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence.”  

In venturing and maneuvering through the administrative process of applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, however, there will be times when either the Agency or the Office of Personnel Management may request “additional” information, indicating that they are not satisfied with what has been submitted.  

An appraisal of what information is being asked; whether the question is properly formulated as posed, or whether it can be reformulated and still satisfied; and the harm or good in responding fully or partially to the request — these are all determinations which are best guided by the advice and counsel of an attorney who understands the laws governing the legal criteria in Federal Disability Retirement cases.  

Not every question deserves a full answer.  Sometimes, the question itself must be re-formulated and answered in the re-formulated format.  Agencies are not gods; they are not omnipotent, and certainly not omniscient.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: A Federal Issue

For many legal issues which are encountered by most people, an attorney from the state within which he or she resides is necessary and proper.  This is because the laws of each state are different, and requires the expertise of an attorney who is licensed to practice law within that particular jurisdiction.

However, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, not a state issue.  As such, as an attorney who is licensed from one state, that attorney is able and allowed to represent Federal and Postal workers from all across the United States.  

Being “able to and allowed”, of course, is a separate issue from whether a particular attorney is competent, knowledgeable, and experienced enough to perform such work — but those are questions and issues which should be reviewed, determined and inquired into, by each Federal and Postal worker who is seeking an attorney who purports to be an “expert” in the area of Federal Disability Retirement law.  

Such a basis for determination of an attorney’s competency in any area of law should be based upon multiple criteria, including:  Questions asked and answered during an initial consultation; review of any articles written on the subject; information gathered on the attorney’s website — especially the substantive content of any claims made, or any discussion concerning the subject of Federal Disability Retirement law — and a general sense of responsiveness to an initial query.  

Because preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “Federal” issue and not a state issue, it is likely that the Federal or Postal worker will never personally meet the attorney in a Federal Disability Retirement case, and instead, all communication and contact will be by telephone, email, fax, overnight delivery, etc.  This would be a natural occurrence — just as you will never actually see anyone from the Office of Personnel Management or from the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Remember, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management is a Federal issue, and not a state one, and therefore the attorney who is licensed in a particular state can effectively represent anyone, anywhere, both in the United States, and in other countries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

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

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Informational Perspectives

As a general maxim, it is true that not all information is equal; that the qualitative reliance of a given source of information, based upon consistency, accuracy, credibility, etc., should be viewed over the course of sufficient time; and that quantity and volume of information are often an inaccurate guide to determining the usefulness of such information.  

George Orwell’s novel, 1984 is considered a “classic” not only because of the excellence in writing style, but because the content and depiction of future events (now past in terms of events having occurred, predicted to occur, or passed occurrence or relevance because the historicity of such events has surpassed expectations of occurrence) have become a common banality of reality.  One point which Orwell was profoundly correct about, but in an inverse way, encapsulates information:  Orwell predicted that by reducing words and language, there would be the natural consequence of a reduction in conceptual possibilities, minimizing ideas, and more importantly, dangerous or revolutionary ideas.  Instead, the opposite has occurred:  by exponentially expanding information, and disseminating voluminous irrelevancies, there has been a parallel reduction of knowledge.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is much information “out there”.  Such volume of information, however, does not necessarily result in concurrence of knowledge.  

Information often contains a catch:  a perspective and a motive.  Is the information merely provided in order to persuade you to pay for services?  How was the information obtained — is it merely a regurgitation from information provided by someone else?  Has it been “cleverly borrowed” from someone else’s website?  There is nothing wrong with providing information with a secondary purpose of providing a service which is related to the information; how that information is provided, however, and whether such information is accurate, reliable and consistent, may make all the difference in the world.  

In pursuing eligibility for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, be careful in accessing information on the issues; not all information is equal; and it is ultimately knowledge, not information, which one is attempting to obtain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Learning from Experience

The problems inherent in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are multi-fold and multi-tiered.  Even today, after years and years of practicing in this particular area of law, there is rarely a day which goes by that I haven’t learned something new — whether a slight wrinkle in opm disability law; whether in a nuance of a description of a particular medical condition; or in simply how a doctor has described a specific condition and its particular and unique impact upon a patient.  Experience comes from making mistakes; mistakes can be human, technical, or a combination of both.

Unfortunately, for the Federal or Postal worker who is filing, or contemplating filing, for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the process itself is essentially a “one-time” endeavor.  Yes, a person can theoretically file, then refile at a later time (side-stepping the issue of res judicata, which can, in most instances, be gotten around); but for the most part, a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is doing it once, and only once.

As such, it is NOT the time to obtain “experience” — i.e., there is little room for “learning” from “mistakes”.

There is “good experience” and “bad experience”, but both are experiences nonetheless.  In filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, however, it is the former which needs to be experienced, and not the latter, and in such a filing process, there is indeed a difference between the two.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire