FERS Disability Retirement: Social Media Information

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it has often been reiterated and emphasized by this writer that one should prepare each and every case as if it will inevitably take all of the stages of the administrative process in order to obtain an approval from OPM.

What counter-evidence is used, to what extent, how it is used, and whether it is used, is anyone’s guess.  It is certainly unquestionably the case that OPM workers at each stage of the process are overworked; nevertheless — whether at the initial stage of review, the Second, or “Reconsideration” Stage; or the OPM Case Worker who represents the U.S. Office of Personnel Management before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board; or perhaps even beyond, to the 3-member full board of the MSPB; and even before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; regardless of which entity or bureaucratic phase, one should assume that all tools and evidentiary avenues will be utilized and investigated, and rightly so.

One such piece of evidence which should be reviewed by the applicant is the information that the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits places on any “social media” page — Facebook, a website page, etc.  For, if one is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and claiming a specific type of medical condition, what one says on Facebook — whether true, untrue, or exaggerated, may well come back to haunt you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Experience & Secrets

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are no “secrets” to the pathway of success (“success” being narrowly defined as receiving an approval from the Office of Personnel Management); rather, there is only the experience of knowing the law, applying the law, stating the facts, creating the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties which one occupies with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and understanding the few but important issues which can defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application.

The latter portion, of course, is just as important as the former issues — of knowing the negative consequences of entering certain arenas of issues, despite every temptation to do so. Thus, as have been more thoroughly discussed in previous articles and blogs, focusing upon collateral work-place issues of harassment, discrimination, subsequent EEOC complaints, etc.; of characterization of one’s medical conditions which comes perilously close to being described as “situational”; and some questions concerning accommodations, and especially at the first two stages of the administrative process, where the Office of Personnel Management will often fail to understand the legal distinction between temporary modified duties, and what constitutes a legally viable accommodation — all of these are able to be dealt with through experience and application of that experience.

Very few “secrets” are truly that; rather, the secret to a successful outcome turns out to be rather mundane:  experience, tempered by careful preparation, formulation, and timely filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmation, Communication & Support

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been thoughtfully prepared, formulated and filed with the Office of Personnel Management, it is a long engagement in something similar to trench warfare, where the long wait for the decision-making process must begin, endure, and come to fruition.  

In days prior to public access to the internet, Federal and Postal employees had very little, if any, access to the public domain of communicating to other Federal or Postal employees to get a sense of the successes or failures of others in the same or similar endeavors.  Access to other people’s experiences on public web domains, blog posts and other means of internet communication has allowed for interaction and communication within a wider community of Federal and Postal employees, in contrast to the pre-computer days (and yes, I am old enough to remember those days, when college term papers were written on an electric typewriter and space had to be calculated at the bottom of each page to allow for footnotes, as opposed to the ease of present-day cut-and-paste and automatic spacing by the computer program) when Federal and Postal employees were essentially isolated and unable to have access, let alone communicate, with others to attain a sense of affirmation by the experiences of others.  

Having that sense of isolation is one of those greater difficulties during the waiting wasteland period of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Moreover, especially in times of greater stagnation — summer months of people’s vacations; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. — the sense of isolation is exponentially magnified.  Reach out on the web and read about other people’s experiences in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  While each case is unique and different, one may gain a sense of affirmation by learning about the experiential factors of other Federal and Postal employees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire