Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Options

The telephone-recorded options are the most irritating of all, of course — for, if you hit the wrong one, or fail to remember the correct numeral identified after being offered an endless litany of alternatives, none of which quite fit what you are looking for, then you have to wait until a further option is offered to go back to the general directory in order to once again choose the option offered.

Have such recordings become more irritating as time has passed, or is it that we have become so numb to so many such encounters that we have lost patience with that metallic voice that has replaced the human one?  What is it about a recording that gets us so incensed?

Objectively, isn’t it all the same — we never “meet” the “person” anyway, whether it is a recording or a “real person” on the other end of the line: both are mere voices, but why is the automated recording so much more irritating than a live person?  Is it because we know the futility of landing a sarcastic response to the recording, as opposed to slamming our frustrations upon an individual who possesses feelings, and whose day we can potentially ruin by shouting, yelling, demeaning and spewing forth destructive epithets to and against?

In life generally, we all have them — options.  Sometimes, we are confronted with too many, and thus are left with a confounding sense of confusion.  At other times, the options are “there” somewhere, but we just don’t know them because we are too blind to the ones hidden or too stubborn to concede our ignorance.  In those instances, it is best to consult with someone who can present the options hidden, those unstated, or otherwise unknown.

In some circumstances, of course, the options available may be severely limited — as in a Federal or Postal employee suffering 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 employee’s essential job functions.  In such situations, the limited options must be considered in light of the priorities one assigns to the values one accords: How important is one’s health?  Is the deterioration of one’s health as exacerbated by the job one is remaining in important enough to continue with?  If so, perhaps disability retirement is not the “right” option.

Stay and remain; resign, walk away or get terminated and do nothing; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The three options presented must be considered in light of one’s health, the effects upon it if one remains, and whether the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will continue to tolerate one’s excessive absences, inability to perform many of the essential functions of one’s job, etc.

When, after the options are considered, the Federal or Postal employee decides to move forward in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, then it is time to consider further options as well, such as whether one wants to represent one’s self in the process, like the old adage of that person who has a fool for a client — of representing one’s self.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: As life passes by

It seems to come and go imperceptibly; we barely notice; then, one day, we wake up and life has passed by; the past is now an elongated prism through which we judge the remainder of our lives; the present is but the despair we feel because of wasted time allowed to blur beyond into a vestige of forgotten winds; and the future remains as the uncertainty we quivered about before we grew up.

As life passes by, we try and justify; for, language is the means by which we can validate ourselves.  Now, more than ever, it is the gymnast in linguistic contortions that seems to get the most attention, gain the greatest advantage and squeeze out the momentous timelessness.  Look at Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media forums; objectively, it is merely a blank screen where the one-dimensional universe of words and grammatical outbursts are annotated; yet, that is how the self-esteem of the greater society determines worth, relevance and significance.

All the while, however, there are real people with genuine problems, feelings quashed, personalities unnoticed and greatness tethered, that sit in corners of the world awaiting for recognition of singular episodes of kindness and accomplishments.  We can focus too much on ourselves; attend to updating Facebook too often; engage the limited characters of Twitter and worry unceasingly around circles of our own self-importance, and all the while, as life passes by, we remain ensconced in the limited subjectivity of the universe within our own minds.

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 danger is that you can continue struggling as life passes by, and not attend to your medical conditions in the very “doing” of daily activities as life passes by, worrying about tomorrow and the next day as life “passes by”, and wasting the time left as the elongated past disappears into the lost memories, like those graveyards that litter the countryside forgotten and overgrown with ivy and sagebrush that obscures the memories of the dead and dying.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must get beyond the impact of the medical condition upon the ability and capacity to extend one’s Federal career, it is nevertheless an important component in now allowing important moments – like properly attending to one’s health – as life passes by.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Medical conditions and the “to-do” list

We often approach everything in life in a repetitive, systematic manner; of a routine which engenders habituation of comfort, and of identity harkening to obsession of similitude.  It is said of Kant that his neighbors set and corrected their watches and clocks according to the regularity of his walks, as his life maintained a predictability of precision so reliable that error could only be ascribed to a mechanical defect, and never to his human constancy.

It is as if there is an internal “checklist” in order to attain a progression of human development, and in an effort to achieve that advancement, both of thought and of physical growth, we must be assured of completion and fulfillment.  But medical conditions are never like that; we cannot “do something about it” and expect to “check it off” of our “to-do” list, only to move on to the next item on the itinerary.  A pastor once quipped, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  True enough; although, there could have been an addendum:  “And where there are problems, you can always find impure motives.”

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the problem is one of duality of purpose:  For the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the approach of attempting to “check off” the medical condition as another item on a “to-do” list is always rebutted by the stark reality of the medical condition itself; and from the Federal agency’s perspective (or the Postal Service’s), the thought-process of “when will it go away” simply avoids the issue, and fails to address the problem of the conflict which arises.

Thus, the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement is there for the Federal or Postal employee, precisely to allow for those circumstances in which (A) the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to be able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, (B) the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months — not that one must wait for 12 months, but rather, that the prognosis by a doctor or medical provider is willing to state that the medical condition will, within reasonable medical probability, last for that long, and (C) accommodation of the medical condition is not possible, and reassignment to a position at the same pay or grade will not ameliorate the situation.

In the end, medical conditions defy the human attempt to treat it as merely another obstacle to overcome, or an irritant to set aside.  It is a condition of human existence which represents a trial for a linear life we attempt to manage, when in fact a change of course is often the remedy, and not the repetition of comfort found in the thoughtless quietude of habit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Wake-up Call

It can be requested pursuant to a prior arrangement or, with today’s technology, prewired on one’s own electronic device.  Time was when there existed an employed switchboard operator sitting in front of a pock-marked surface deftly inserting plugs of a dozen or more connections simultaneously, like an octopus whose coordinated extremities swirl about under and over with cross-purposed entanglements, pulling and inserting, with headphones half dangling, calmly stating, “This is your wakeup call.  Have a good morning!”

Then, of course, there is the other, more unwelcome meaning, of a negative connotation concerning an event or occurrence which portends of that which one may have always known, but only now realizes because of the impending doom.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it may be the chronicity of the medical condition; or, the increasing outside pressures continuing to pile on, of leave-usage restrictions, suspension letters, placing you on a PIP, or the ultimate proposal of removal.

Whatever the proverbial wake-up call, it is time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.   The call itself is merely the beginning of the process; there is the entirety and complexity to undergo, including the gathering of the compendium of medical documentation, the formulation of one’s Statement of Disability and the coordinating of all of the elements of the case, and then the submission and waiting.

The bureaucratic and administrative components of the process can sometimes appear to be archaic and somewhat anachronistic; but like the switchboard operator of yesteryear, the necessity of the service is never in doubt; it is merely the apparatus of change which remains relevant, and properly, and effectively preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a mandate of action compelled by the wakeup call entitled “Life and the inevitability of change“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: The Pigsty

The term implies a negative connotation; of a messy, untidy area,  as well as denoting an unsanitary condition; but beyond the association, an undeserved reputation that the inhabitant lives by choice in such a state of disarray and uncleanliness.  But pigs by nature do not choose to live where feces and food mix; rather, the forced confinement within minimized living quarters results in the undeserved reputation.

That is often how Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers feel when they are in the middle of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — like being in the midst of a pigsty.

Tidiness is not the normative process; stuff happens, and the euphemism of human waste seems to hit a proverbial fan.  The medical condition itself seems to force the unpleasantness; agencies respond by placing greater and more onerous demands and constraints upon the Federal or Postal employee; and the admixture of that which should be left separately, becomes commingled and the professionalism once prided upon is swept out the door.

Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is not considered the “rising star”, and performance reviews of superlative heights are no longer a given; Supervisors and coworkers walk by with cold shoulders, and empathy and understanding are human emotions forgotten and shunned.  All throughout, the Federal or Postal employee must deal with the medical condition itself, and then some.

Filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits is always a stressful time, and one where an ordered and orderly state of affairs is temporarily suspended.  But when once the sought-after condition is achieved, and the prioritized focus upon attending to one’s medical conditions can be attained, time allows for the past to fade away into a desultory dream of distant calling, where the pigsty of past lives is replaced with a pastured plateau of new beginnings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire