OPM Disability Retirement: Responding to a Denial

More than ever, OPM is denying Federal Disability Retirement applications.  Whether by deliberate design, tightening of legal criteria, imposition of an informal quota system or “just because”, it is clear that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has instituted a campaign of denying Federal Disability Retirement benefits to applicants seeking it.

Is there a basis in the law?  Are all denials justified?  Have they become more focused upon certain aspects of the legal criteria while ignoring others?  Is there a “typical” denial letter?

Some denials retain little to no justification; others appear to provide some rational basis; still others counter with detailed reasonings as to the legal basis for the denial.  The spectrum of the legal basis varies; and then, of course, there are approvals that seem to pass through with nary an objection.  Each case is unique because of the inherent circumstances surrounding the basic foundation of the health or medical condition and its relationship to the Federal or Postal worker’s specific job elements.

FERS Disability Retirement is unique and different from Social Security Disability benefits because the standard of eligibility is distinctively and identifiably unique: Social Security, generally speaking, requires a showing of “total disability”, whereas FERS Disability Retirement merely mandates a much lesser proof of being”unable to perform” one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job functions.

In the end, whether OPM has instituted a policy showing greater arbitrariness in its last Federal Disability Retirement determinations — or not — there is “The Law” which continues to guide and define. Consult with an experienced Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before frantically trying to respond to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement Application.  For, after the First Denial and the need to go to the Reconsideration Stage of the process, it is all a matter of the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Nonsense confiscates meaning

It obviates and nullifies it; often, it will make impotent that which once maintained vibrancy and efficacy.  That is where Orwell misconstrued the power of nonsense; for, in his classic novel, 1984, the scene which discussed the production of the newest edition of allowable Newspeak words and the reduction and elimination of certain concepts — he failed to realize that it is the greater dissemination and wide volume of words which undermines meaning, and not the other way around.

By exponentially adding — by quantitative overload — to language, we undermine the precision of language and thereby create a chaos of nonsense; and the result is that nonsense confiscates meaning.  Have you ever come across a person who takes a paragraph to convey the meaning of a single word?

By contrast, when you meet an individual who so succinctly states an idea and, with the sword of a sharp sentence, can slash a page to within a tidbit of profundity, you realize the benefit of brilliance over the darkness of ignorance.  Succinctness, precision, concise conceptual bundles — they are all important in conveying proper meaning; and “meaningfulness” is what persuades, while nonsense confounds and makes a conundrum of that which should be a vehicle of clarity.

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 Applicant’s Statement of DisabilitySF 3112A — is the vehicle by which “meaning” is delivered.

Do not get sidetracked with the nonsense of too much explanation; and an overly abundant profusion of nonsense may in fact harm one’s case.  A balance between the short “bullet-point” approach and a meandering diatribe against one’s agency needs to be pinpointed.  Do not let nonsense confiscate meaning, thereby undermining the ultimate goal of a Federal Disability Retirement application: To obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Only for a season

Is our existence influenced by the seasons that alter, or are we so alienated from nature’s rhythms that we no longer follow the evolutionary trails that other species obey?

Seasons change for a reason; whether our anthropomorphically-imposed reasons or the dictates that consider the rhythms of a universe in constant flux — whatever the foundational purpose and teleological basis explained, the order of the universe allows for consistency such that life can comfortably thrive.

Some things last only for a season, then wither, die — or seemingly so, as leaves turn crisp with the cold winds of Fall, then drop and twirl with the streams of divine breath to disintegrate into the dust of this earth.  Winter covers the soil beneath in a sleeping slumber of hibernating snores, only to begin to see the first greens of Spring, then of the unrelenting tides of Summer’s haze.  Yes, it is only for a season, and then the changes occur.

We can become lulled into thinking that eternity is the exception for our lives; that the artifice we build, of tall towers and endless miles of concrete roadways reflect the immortality of our own existence, but then the next season comes along, and we are reminded that — no, it is only for a season.  Health is like that as well; and while sickness and medical conditions may last only for a season, there are others that must endure beyond, and beyond that.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition lasts for more than only a season, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Nature’s Season determines for us the rhythm of an impervious universe; and while we may believe that a medical condition is only for a season, the Laws of Nature dictate and decide, and it is up to us to take advantage of the time left, if only for a season, and prioritize our lives, and never take for granted the health that we may yet enjoy, if only for a season.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Trials of error

Normally, of course, the common usage of the terms involve the combination with a conjunctive — of trial and error, implicating a process whereby the latter term triggers the former (i.e., the “error” forces us to engage another round of trials, which then may lead to further errors resulting in further trials, etc.) into a potentially lengthy repetition of attempts, each with the advancement through possession of greater knowledge gained from the errors identified and witnessed.

The concept as it stands, however, implies something further:  of the experience of each error and the process within such error and what the error may implicate.

Human beings have an expansive capacity to “move on” quickly beyond errors made, and perhaps that ability of adaptability is an evolutionary advantage for a species that makes a fair number of errors that, in other contexts and within other species, would spell the extinction of the species itself.

Errors compounded go beyond the experience of the trial itself; sometimes, errors lead to other errors, and thus the “trials and errors” in their aggregate allow for greater knowledge and adaptability depending upon the nature of each error and of many trials.  But it is the trial of the error that often needs to be paused, and allowed to ponder upon, before going on to the next trial, lest the lesson from any one error has not been sufficiently learned before a further trial is engaged.

Sometimes, of course, the trial of an error, if not sufficiently comprehended and reflected upon, is the very reason why further errors of judgment follow, precisely because not enough time has been spent upon the nature of the error itself.

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, it is important to recognize the trial of an error — for, with a Federal Agency or the Postal Service, one is encountering a behemoth of intransigence when attempting to garner any sympathy or loyalty.

Medical conditions themselves are “trials” enough, and when a Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins the process of punishing the Federal or Postal employee for taking too much SL or LWOP, or even invoking FMLA rights, the “error” is not so much the trial of patience, but rather, in thinking that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service was ever on your side to begin with.

While a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a strictly “adversarial” process, one must always consider whose “interests” are being looked after in each trial encountered:  the interests of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, or of one’s own?

The trial of error often begins with a mistaken identification of a more fundamental error on the part of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, and for the Federal or Postal worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the first step in preventing the greater trials of multiple errors is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: The yearning for yesterday

On the spectrum of life, as one advances forward, it is the residue left behind that begins to look so much the better; and in old age, the long expanse of the clouds of memories trailing behind becomes refined with time and faded recollectionsYesterday keeps looking better and better in proportion to the difficulties faced with the present and anticipated for the future; and the yearning for yesterday is that delicious taste for that which remains resplendent with the memories of nostalgia but may never quite match the reality of that which was left behind.

Memories are funny animals; they are selective, and in our subconscious we tend to erase and extinguish the harsh realities that accompanied the sweetness of childhood joys.  Of that summer day when the winds were warm with the breath of gods and the cackle of laughter filled the air as the ocean waves lapped lazily upon the toes of innocent feet, did the disruption of tiredness or the grumpiness of fatigue remain forgotten as memories became ensconced with jaded perspectives?

The turmoil of today makes yesterday appear as the reflective light of perfection – like the dying star that emits light for us to witness, when in fact death had already occurred billions of years ago.

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 position or Postal craft (or of a position as a supervisor, manager, etc.), it is that yesterday when the medical condition was yet unknown and the innocence of a future still to be anticipated becomes yearned for.

Federal Disability Retirement is not a “total” solution, by any stretch of the imagination; yet, it does allow for the discontinuation of a feature in one’s life that has remained to create havoc and turmoil – of the mismatch between one’s medical condition and the type of job one is engaged in.  For, is not much of yearning for yesterday exactly that – a sense that there was a continuum of hope and anticipation for a future bright and exciting, and the daily toil of knowing that one can no longer be the same by remaining in the job that has become inconsistent with medical conditions endured and suffered – which is the basis of human tragedy and sadness.

The yearning for yesterday becomes unnaturally magnified the more today is a toil and tomorrow is a basis for angst and sadness; and it is when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes this, and begins to take steps for securing a future with anticipation of tomorrow’s hope, that then filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes a no-brainer.

The yearning for yesterday needs to be replaced with an anticipation for tomorrow’s hopes and dreams, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Employee Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the first steps toward an anticipated tomorrow that can still be brighter than today, and still better than yesterday, as if the yearning for it fades into memories once undecided.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Stress tolerance

More and more, the psychology of human endurance is being studied, evaluated, assessed and judged upon; but in the end, the complexity of the psyche may never be fully known, and even of that knowledge which we think we know, we may be completely in error about.

We perform “stress tests” upon metal beams and overpass bridges in order to determine their viability and structural integrity; and through various engineering tools, we are able to determine whether or not a certain limit of tonnage or pressurized capability to withstand extreme changes in temperature can be “tolerated” before serious damage is done, or modifications, reinforcement or complete replacement becomes necessary.

Why are we unable to gauge the capacity of the human psyche, as well?  What is it about the complexity and endurance levels of the human mind that refuses to provide an objective capability of acceptable levels of stress?  Is it because it will always be individualized, restricted by childhood, adulthood and other hooded experiences that refuse to explain the levels of tolerance otherwise able to be discerned in a beam of wood or a concrete structure?  What does it mean, anyway, to have a “high” stress tolerance level, as opposed to a “low” or “medium” one?  Is it like possessing a gemstone that you carry around in your pocket?  And does it depend upon the “kind” of stress being experienced, or can it all be lumped into one?

Money and debt problems; traumas imparted by the behavior of others; family and marriage difficulties; workplace hostilities and adversarial and contentious encounters; do these all constitute different “kinds” of stresses, and do different people react to them and “deal” with them in variegated ways?  Does it matter whether or not the source of the stress emanates from an outside origin that does not “personally” involve you – such as the danger-based stresses experienced by police officers and firefighters that encompass saving others or deescalating “situations”, but at the end of the day, does not pervade beyond the clock that ticks down to end one’s shiftwork?

And medical conditions – how much of an impact does the physical have with the psyche, and to what extent is the interaction likened to a vicious cycle, where a physical ailment influences the capacity of the psyche to tolerate stresses, and where the mental or emotional stress triggers a person’s physical condition?

Science and medicine have never been perfect disciplines, and it is doubtful if we will ever fully comprehend the complete picture of the impact of stresses in our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and have come to a point where that medical condition no longer allows the Federal or postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the question often asked is whether or not “stress” is a viable element or basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application.

That query is a complex one, and can only be answered within the context of a medical diagnosis, the prevailing law, and the options left in the complicated process of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is essential to enhance a successful outcome.

Like so many questions of any level of complexity, “stress” is a complicated issue that cannot easily be addressed without a thorough evaluation by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirements: The predetermined, “Let’s discuss it”

You can often tell from the eyes and the mannerism whether the opening prelude is meaningful, or predetermined to merely manipulate to an intended end.  The opening interlude which allows for the conduit of engagement:  “Let’s discuss it”; does it next encapsulate an ear which listens, or pauses which allow for conveyance of communication – or merely a diatribe of invective meant to dissuade and demean?

It is a rare character, indeed, that states and means in a coalescence of sincerity; instead, the danger signs should be evident at the outset:  The end has already been predetermined; your words are merely allowed to provide a setting of appearance, or to give you the rope in order to coil it and hang yourself.

Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing (or does that metaphor even apply, today?); there is rarely a cast of shadows without the darkness elongated, and it is indeed a rarity to find sincerity in an insincere world.  Discussion requires a prefatory contingency of openness to logical argumentation (or even emotional appeal), persuasion, dissuasive comportments, and a sense of listening.

Is there a fine line between that, and a preset paradigm of an already-established course?  Take the following hypothetical:  Some figure of authority – the “boss”, or a manager, supervisor, etc. – grants a forum for a “discussion” of the “issue” (whatever they may be), but during such an exchange it becomes readily apparent that the counterpart shows no signs of actual interest – the fidgeting, the proverbial “looking at the watch”, the furtive eyes, the yawn; all together, showing a complete disinterestedness in the process.

But something during the discussion sparks, and an unintended consequence (to paraphrase the well-worn American Lore from Adam Smith and the economic entrails of systematic chaos) suddenly rears its beautiful head; eyes sparkle; the head and chin tilt slightly back, and intelligence (which heretofore was merely a dark abyss of eternal vacuity) gleams in the eyes of the “boss”; “Now, that is an interesting proposal…” comes the refrain.

In such a scenario, was the fact that predetermination of outcome altered during the course of the foray, changed the entire episode into one which embraced a sincerity of motives?  Or, is it merely that the counterpart changed his or her mind, and “openness” to such an exchange was a farcical prelude to an otherwise meaningless exchange?  Does the mere fact of allowing for a discussion – an opportunity to voice one’s concerns or to “vent” through a diatribe of invectives – establish a sincerity of allowances, even if the original intent was otherwise left unstated?

Which brings us to the point of this exchange – for, in a 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, the thing that many Federal and Postal employees fail to realize, is that there is contained within the bureaucratic system of the administrative process, a procedure which essential does constitute a “Let’s discuss it” trigger.

For, that is precisely why there are multiple stages of the administrative process – of the “Initial Stage” in filing a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement application; then, if rejected and denied at the First Stage, a second “opportunity” of a “Let’s discuss it”, represented by a “Reconsideration Stage”, where additional medical documentation and legal argumentation can be empowered; and, then again, a “Third Stage”, where the Federal or Postal employee may disagree with OPM’s determination, and file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  Additionally, there is even a Fourth Stage – of a Petition to a panel of MSPB Judges for a legal review of the process.

Such an Administrative Procedure reveals and establishes an aversion to what most people experience, in that there is a process of listening, appealing and persuading in a Federal Disability Retirement application – something which is rarely found in the world at large, where the refrain, “Let’s discuss it”, is normally anything more than a prelude to a predetermined course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire