OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Stress in the Federal Workplace

Stress is a natural and inherent part of everyday and ordinary life.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, one needs to always consider its form, content, extent and significance of inclusion in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

As a primary diagnosis, such an inclusion can be considered as merely “situational“, precisely because stress is a factor seen in workplace contexts across the board. As a secondary manifestation of another primary diagnoses, the danger of having the condition relegated to being a situational condition immediately disappears.

Whether the conceptual construct is used as a noun or as a working verb may appear to be merely a linguistically elastic play — a Wittgensteinian language game of sorts — but it is precisely what must be engaged in for a successful preparation and formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a paper presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, encompassing a wide spectrum of descriptions, arguments and factual/legal analysis; and such is the nature of a language game, where the conversion of nouns into working verbs may be the difference between success or failure in a Federal OPM Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Shrinking Attention Span

Social commentators have noted the prevalence of the decline of genuine empathy, often linked to a greater entanglement with the virtual world, as created by television, movies, media, the internet, and the exponential use of social media.  When emotions are spent and expended upon a lifeless screen of images and words, with limited encounters with actual human interaction, one wonders about the inevitable march of human evolution towards a world of emotionless drones and androids.

Science fiction is no longer a genre about the future; the future is now.  As part of the defining phenomena of our times is the shrinking capacity for holding one’s attention; for, as we become attuned and disciplined to view the entire lifespan of an individual or event within a 2-hour period — as that constitutes the estimated time of a film or play — so the capacity of a person to endure the patience to listen to, attend to, or otherwise sustain one’s attention for the true lifespan of an individual becomes correspondingly diminished.

Society no longer has the ability to focus, concentrate, or have sympathy for, conditions and events which last a real lifetime.  This presents a growing problem in our society, and one which is reflected in daily life.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s employment arena in the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the sustained reaction from one’s coworkers, supervisors and managers is a telling tale of increasing impatience with anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive”, as defined by a society of working drones.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which provides an outlet away from the compassionless environment of a workforce which, once not too long ago, viewed themselves with greater empathy by embracing disabled workers and with great fanfare declared programs of accommodations and patience.  But somewhere along the way, the virtual world caught up with the reality of human nature; we are what we seek to become.

Federal Disability Retirement is an avenue of relief for the Federal or Postal Worker who requires an attention span greater than the time needed to view a movie; it is there for one’s lifetime, to attend to the realities of a world otherwise distracted by the glow of an electronic screen while one’s neighbor suffers real human needs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Story Genre

There is quite obviously a human need to relate the narrative; of one’s community events, tragedies and triumphs; from the days of cave paintings to rote retelling of the group’s identity and character of historical form and content, the telling of one’s story is, and remains, a vital part or any community.

Technology has now replaced the gathering of the group around the community center with emails, tweeting, mediums of blogs; of electronic tablets and voice conveyers; but regardless of form, that sense of need in the “telling” and “listening” remains. The methodology of the “telling”, however, has changed in form and content over the years, as technology has greatly undermined the genre of the human narrative with distractions and diversions beyond the story-form. Our focus and attention, quite frankly, is not what it used to be.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, part of the preparatory phase of the process is to compile the “telling” of one’s narrative. How effective; how succinct and of manner of logical sequence; how coherent and persuasive; all depend upon the form and content of the genre of the human narrative. Factual foundations aside, it is the penultimate culmination of the telling of one’s story which will form the substantive basis of the administrative process.

It is not only a necessary part of the process of preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application; it is merely the continuation of satisfying that innate human need — of the “telling” of one’s story.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Writing an Effective Federal Disability Retirement Application

According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the identification of context-appropriate language games is instructive in this linguistic-focused society.  With the explosion of information through the internet, via twitter, Facebook, texting and email, the changing and malleable nature of language is quickly evolving into a populace of blurred lines, where the virtual world and the substantive, Aristotelian world no longer possess clear bifurcations.  However language changes; whatever the form of communication; the need to convey clarity of thought will still and always exist.

It is one thing to experience life; it is another to tell about it.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to be able to “tell about it”.

Yes, the primary satisfaction of the legal criteria necessarily requires the substantive experience of the medical condition; but there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “living it”, “telling it”, and “proving it.”  It is presumed that the Federal or Postal employee who is preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits already satisfies the first of the three; it is the second, and especially the third, which presents a problem.

Don’t think that just because you “should qualify” because of the nature, extent and severity of one’s medical condition, that such experiential phenomena justifies the proving of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Ask OPM about it; if you can even get a response back.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unique Story

This is a world which requires conformity and uniformity; eccentricity is a leisure which few can afford, and as the world operates on a factory-like assembly line, where productivity is the measure of one’s worth, so the uniqueness of a story gets lost in the fading echoes of a scream one hears in a solitary cave, where the sound of one’s cry reverberates deep into the chasm of darkness and the silent quiescence of water dripping upon a moss-covered granite surface.  That is why the poignancy of Chekhov’s story about an old man’s grief and his need to tell his story of the death of his son, resonates with us.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to strike the proper and delicate balance between recognizing the “uniqueness” of one’s case, and the pragmatic acknowledgement of the bureaucratic need of the Federal Agency (both one’s own as well as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) to have a conformity of one’s story.

Yes, some history and background can be told in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (although one must be careful in avoiding the pitfalls of ‘situational disability‘ and other issues); yes, one can provide some additional details of one’s ‘story’; but, ultimately, the issue which must be addressed is the legal one:  the essence of the case remains the same throughout.  Throughout, always prepare the Federal Disability Retirement case to conform to the law.

One’s story is unique; the uniqueness must be conformed to a standard of legal proof in order to meet the requirements of Federal Disability Retirement law; once told and conformed, you can still go out and relate your story to those who have a willing ear.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: More than a Story

Re-reading Anton Chekhov’s famous short story, “Grief”, is instructive in multiple ways — the effective use of limited dialogue; creating of word-pictures which set the tone of the story; the metaphorical use of language; and the answer to the question, What makes a particular aggregation of words effective in their linear combination?  It is a very short narration of events, even for a “short story”.  Yet, as a classic piece of literature, it stands alone in its powerful evocation of the plight of man:  the need to relate human suffering, in its proper manner, in a particular way — so as to relieve the sufferer from the very essence of his turmoil.  To whom it is told, of course, is not important; how it is stated, is the point of the story.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both the “to whom” and “how” are equally important, and that is the difference and distinction from fictional prose.  The audience in a Federal Disability Retirement application must always be kept in mind — a Federal Government bureaucrat, who has seen many Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Like the passengers to whom Iona Potapov attempted to relate his story, the Claims Specialist at OPM will have a calloused view of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — not necessarily because of an inability to empathize, but because any singular Federal Disability Retirement application will be merely one of thousands to view, and after time, the conglomeration of words simply spill over one into another.  As such, “how” the narrative portion of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is told, becomes all-important.  The type of prose, of course, is far different than Chekhov’s fictional account of the suffering of a man; but the metaphorical use of language should be invoked where applicable, all the while understanding that being concise and conservative in choosing the right words is the most effective way of communicating.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Showtime

In old literary adage, one should always write in a manner which “shows” to the reader an event that is happening, a conflict unfolding, or a misery felt.  Entertainers never declare to one another, “It is Tell-time”.  Instead, we are all familiar with the singular phrase, “Showtime”.  For, one can “tell” a story, state facts, convey issues, etc., but the most effective tool in evoking empathy, sympathy and understanding from the reader, the recipient or the audience, is to “show” what is occurring.

Such conceptual efficacy also applies in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  It is interesting how a focal point of an endeavor often calls for utilization of tools outside of the arena of specialty demanded; thus, it is not so much knowing administrative law which is necessary to prepare an effective narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A, both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees) — rather, it is the ability to engage in effective narrative prose.

The common literary refrains of repetitiveness, of descriptive word-usage, of choosing adjectives which flow and yet accurately describe the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s Federal or Postal job — these are all important in compiling an effective narrative of one’s medical condition and how it impacts upon one’s ability to perform one’s job.

While the doctor may present your case in a distant, clinical manner, the applicant himself/herself must evoke some semblance of understanding from the Claims Representative at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Indeed, it is “Showtime”, but the showing must be accomplished in words, and the time to touch upon is the present moment, encapsulated in time and the narrative prose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Effective Narrative

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to compile an effective narrative on Standard Form 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  

The narrative presentation, in response to specific questions which are posed on SF 3112A, should encompass a wide range of writing tools:  clear identification of the diagnosed medical conditions; concise description of the symptoms which manifest themselves; an understandable delineation of the type, nature and essential elements required in one’s position with the Federal government or the Postal Service; and a connective narration of the impact of one’s medical conditions upon the performance of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  

All of those writing tools which one learned in grammar school — and hopefully perfected over the years — should be utilized in the process of formulating the narrative.  By “narrative” is meant the story of one’s medical conditions and its impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  

The narrative form should be clear, concise, comprehensible, and minimalist to the extent that the range of irrelevant tangents should be limited, but the story should be compelling enough to contain the details to captivate the OPM Representative who is reviewing the case.  Moreover, it should be a short story as opposed to a novel; one should not have to tell about the pain, but rather, allow the story to reveal the physical and emotional devastation of the medical condition, its impact upon one’s job, and upon other aspects of one’s life.  Further, it should answer the questions posed, but go beyond the questions, and answer the essential foundation without argumentation:  Why one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Burden of Proof

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS, one is often asked (and should also ask of one’s self) the following question:  What does it take to be eligible?  What proof proves my case?  How much proof must I submit (quantity) and is the proof I submit sufficient (quality)?  All of these questions fall under a generic rubric in law, termed as “burden of proof“. 

Every legal process — and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is no different — applies a legal standard:  a set of criteria in determining whether or not a Federal or Postal Worker is eligible for — qualifies for — Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. 

In applying a statutory set of criteria, there is the general application of what constitutes, or meets the needs of, the evidence, documents, and proof that is submitted for review.  The overriding standard that is supposed to be applied for determining the process, is a standard of law called, “Preponderance of the evidence.”  It is a relatively low standard used in civil law — where, if the proof submitted shows that it is more likely so than not so, then one has met “by a preponderance of the evidence” that a Federal or Postal employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits. 

Does this standard apply at the administrative level — at the Office of Personnel Management?  The answer is “Yes”, but not necessarily consciously.  One only effectively argues that the standard of proof has been met when one encounters a Judge — at the Merit Systems Protection Board.  But, nevertheless, OPM is supposed to follow “the law” and the burden of proof, and it is simply one more argument that one can, and should, make to the Office of Personnel Management when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire