OPM FERS Disability Retirement: Coordination of Elements

There is no question about it: It is a complex process.

Administratively, it must be passed through multiple levels of agency review in order to get a completed packet — the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B); Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D); effectively answering the Applicant’s Statement of Disability such that it provides the proper nexus between each of the questions on SF 3112A — for, although it may not be so obvious, the questions must both be answered separately as well as viewed in the totality of each as being a component fitting in with each other, in order to answer it to completion.

Then, there is the coordination of internal and external elements, and the intersecting impact within and without — of a medical report effectively prepared and consistent with the history of treatment modalities; of a nexus persuasively argued establishing the connective impact between the medical condition and the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job elements; and the interconnectedness of essential elements to the physical or cognitive inability to perform one or more of the essential elements, etc.

Throughout the process — whether for a denial and a rebuttal response at the Reconsideration Stage, or at the initial preparation stage in the First Stage; or, even of an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the coordination of elements is important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law in order to more effectively establish the coordination of elements.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The shaken confidence

Tree limbs can be shaken; hands can shake, evidencing some agreement or initial salutation of a wordless sort, or even accompanied by some utterances; and the earth can shake as the subterranean tectonic shifts invisible and otherwise unnoticed, which then can result in tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The shaken confidence can take many forms; and the forms themselves cannot so easily be identified.  It presumes, first of all, that there was “confidence” to begin with, lest that which is shaken could not possibly have occurred unless it preexisted the loss of it.  Yet, too often, the evidence of its very existence is merely the lack of any contrary characteristic — i.e., a negation that fails to manifest existence and thus cannot actually be proven.  Of a person who walks about without any noticeable trace of lack — do we say of him or her, “He has confidence’?  Or is it just the one who has an overabundance of it, who struts around like a proud peacock or a rooster who takes no guff of whom we attribute “overconfidence’?

In normal discourse we just assume that, unless there are indications to the contrary, everyone who stands and walks amidst and among us possess some level of “confidence” or, in more particularized form, of “self-confidence”.  What are the events or issues that “shake” it, and what can an attribution of such an event mean?  Perhaps it is triggered by some tragic source — a trauma of a very personal nature, of death or an accident, perhaps; or can it be by mere utterance of words, of a berating boss or an insensitive spouse?  Or, how about a realization that one’s presumed immortality is simply not so?

None of us believe in immortality — at least, not in the sense that we will live forever walking about this earth.  Yet, until an event “reminds” us of our mortality, we take it for granted that life goes on as the day before, and the day before that; and so the concept of immortality resides by avoidance or ignorance, until something “reminds” us that, indeed, mortality is the nature of life, and flesh is by each instance and in incremental subtlety progressively deteriorating within the microscopic cells of slow degeneration.  And of a medical condition — can it be the source of the shaken confidence?

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 shaken confidence resulting from the progressively deteriorating medical condition is just as real as the earth that trembles and groans from tectonic shifts that moves and crumbles the structural integrity of high engineering feats.

Federal Disability Retirement is often not a choice made in confidence, but from a lack thereof; for, a medical condition cannot be viewed within a vacuum of a mere diagnosis that can be surgically extracted; rather, a medical condition is a sequence of aggregated tragedies — of the medical condition itself; the symptoms which result; the impact upon one’s personal and professional life; of the effect upon family and friends; of the triggers upon one’s psyche as well as the physical pain and mental anguish experienced.

In short, the shaken confidence of the one who used to walk about the earth as if you owned it, and 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, is simply the first step in regaining that “shaken confidence” that was once a day before in a time now long forgotten presumed to have always been there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Price of Admission

Private entities charge more; exclusive arenas tend to be out of reach; and it is, ultimately and as in all economic realities, determined by an admixture of supply (how many are allowed) and demand (how desirous is the goal of entrance and acceptance).  For every admittance, there is a price to pay.  Often, it is not merely the affirmative transfer of money or goods, but rather, the negative aspect of what one must “give up” in order to attain the end.  It often involves a comparative analysis, an economic evaluation of gain versus loss, and in the end, the emptiness of the latter being overtaken by the value of the former.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to awaken an awareness that one’s career may be coming to the twilight of that lengthy, successful run, it is often that “price of admission” which makes one hesitate.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must file 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, the question is double-sided:  the price one “has been” paying to remain as a Federal or Postal employee, as opposed to the loss of employment status, or becoming an “ex-member” of that exclusive club.

Change always portends a trauma of sorts; the medical condition and the revelation of vulnerability, mortality and progressive debilitation was in and of itself crisis of identity; but when it becomes clear that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and that further changes to one’s career and livelihood must by necessity occur, then the avalanche of reality’s namesake begins to dawn.

The price of admission for one’s health, ultimately, is priceless; and that is the reality which one must face when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Incremental Destruction

It is the slow, destructive force of incrementalism which presents the greater danger in life.  Most people can respond to a full-blown crisis; those are events where the human chemistry of adrenaline flow and reactive thoughtlessness results in heroic acts as told in epic narratives.  But what of the slow and deliberate acts of daily sniping?  How well do we respond, and in civil discourse where physical challenge to such cowardly encounters is no longer acceptable, what does one do?

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who must contend daily with supervisors, co-workers, managers, etc., in the deliberative incrementalism of destructive criticism, heightened hostility, and the slow churning of pressure by the drip-drip method of administrative sanctions, actions and reprimands, the cost of remaining in an atmosphere of toxicity is high, indeed.

When the medical condition begins to impact the capacity and ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service engages in a fairly routine manner of acting — of ostracizing, impeding and obstructing.

One would think that, with all of the laws and public awareness concerning disability discrimination, that society — and especially the Federal sector — would be sensitive in the treatment of Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition; but, alas, civilization rarely progresses in response to genteel laws reflecting intellectual advancement; rather, they remain within the constraints of the origin of one’s species (hint:  the reference is to the Darwinian paradigm of evolutionary determinism).

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best choice remaining for Federal or Postal workers who must contend with the incrementalism of sure destruction.  For, in the end, one must always reflect upon the priority of values — of health, continuation in a toxic environment, and whether it is worth it in the end.

It may be years before the adverse effects surface, or mere months; but that is the legend of the age-old torture methods which are most effective; the ones who administer the pain have all the time in the world; it is the victim who must live with the consequences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Quality of Input

We often forget that the quality, validity and accuracy of conclusions produced by computers will depend upon the input of information provided.  Thus, predictability of future weather forecasts are contingent upon present information selected, and the computational analysis resulting in the future paradigm is founded upon current constructs, analyzed through the cumulative data previously provided, with a dash of witch’s brew and a genuflection of hope.  In other words, the trash produced results from the trash collected; a rather self-evident tautology of sorts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the issue of what information to provide, the amount of documentation, the precise wording selected, and the cumulative historical and current data introduced, will determine the statistical ratio of increased chance of success versus the possibility of an initial denial.

Receiving a denial from OPM is a down heartening experience, to put it mildly.  Expectations are that the subjective pain or psychiatric stresses which one experiences, will immediately be recognized and become translated into a societal benefit through a monetary annuity, especially as Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered for all FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset employees in the Federal system, and upon proof and sufficient information and documentation provided, one becomes eligible for the benefit.

The difference between preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, on the one hand, and computational analysis of information in other sectors of information processing, on the other, is that an intermediate human factor is present.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated for sufficiency by someone at OPM, and it is this very human element which remains the “X factor” in all Federal OPM Disability Retirement applications.  What can be done about it?  It is simply a reality which must be taken into account, processed and accounted for.  While bureaucratic and ultimately a rather depersonalized process, it is nevertheless an administrative system which must be faced.

It is as old as the ageless adage of yore, attributed to Isaac Newton:  What goes up must come down; or, what information is provided, is the basis of conclusions reached, and it is the quality of information in culling together a Federal Disability Retirement application which is paramount in achieving success.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Devaluation of the Federal Employee with Disabilities

Countries engage it deliberately with its currencies; economic circumstances force it based upon fluctuating market volatility; and the basic principles in capitalism of supply and demand will often expect it.

Currencies are never stable indexes despite the best attempts by countries to manage and control their economies; the fact is, in this interconnected world of global economic entanglement, devaluation of worth can occur overnight, just after the soft breathing of nightfall overtakes, but before the dawn of first light when the halls of stock markets in faraway colonnades lined in symmetrical facades open their doors for the business of commodity markets.

Fortunes can be made, and lost, overnight; but the devaluation of that which implicates worth, can just as easily fall upon the human soul.  Medical conditions tend to do that.  We exchange, trade, value and appraise based upon a commodity’s supply, demand, desire and greed of want; but when it comes to human beings, though we deny such callous approaches, the encounter with such baseness still prevails.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, facing devaluation is nothing out of the ordinary when a medical condition hits.  Once the Federal or Postal worker suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the avenue of choices becomes starkly clear:  One can try to hang on; one can walk away with nothing to show for those many years of dedicated and loyal service; or one can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

It is the last of the tripartite alternatives which is the best option, and one which can secure a future for the Federal or Postal employee.  For, ultimately, the whole point of devaluation in paradigms of economic theory, is to stabilize the currency for future years; it is the experience of short-term suffering to attain long-term calm.  Economics is merely a microcosmic reflection of a macro-global perspective, and application of parallel principles are relevant to situations which might otherwise appear foreign.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service engage in devaluation, just as governments do, when the worth of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is seen in terms of productivity for the moment, and not for the long-term benefit gained for the future.

We live in a world of short selling trades; everything is seen for the immediacy of gain; but fortunately for the Federal or Postal worker who must contend with the attitude and approach of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in viewing the devaluation of the worker based upon productivity, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is one which is available, attractive, and allowable for those who are eligible to prepare, formulate and file for the benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire