Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: A Federal Issue

Most legal issues require representation by an attorney licensed in the state where the legal matter arises. Thus, divorce proceedings; accidents and torts of various kinds where the injury occurs; contracts where they are formulated and agreed upon; negligence actions where the act occurred, etc.

But for such administrative proceedings such as the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the state from which the attorney received his or her legal license becomes irrelevant precisely because the practicing of Federal Disability Retirement law crosses all state lines, and does not involve any issues which are unique to a particular state at all, but rather is entirely a “Federal” issue involving Federal statutes, regulations, administrative agencies, etc.

Further, while many individuals may still express a “comfort” zone of desiring to “see” the attorney by visiting him or her in an office, such a personalized encounter may simply be an impracticality. Agencies span the entire country, and indeed, Federal workers are stationed throughout the globe in Europe, Asia, the Philippines, etc., and representation for such Federal issues as filing for, and obtaining, Federal and USPS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is best done by an attorney who is experienced in the administrative process of law entailing all aspects of OPM Federal Disability Retirement law.

Fortunately, with modern technology, including email, fax, phone, express delivery, etc., close contact with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is merely a “push-button” away. In an impractical universe, it is best to use the services of practical technology.

Federal Disability Retirement is a Federal issue, not a state one, and this should always be kept in mind when seeking representation in the matter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Local Lawyers and Federal Issues

Federal and Postal employees are particularly susceptible to harassment and hostile work environments, for two primary reasons:  First, agencies (as reflected in terms of organic microcosms of collective individuals forming an organized unit, but represented by individual men and women) tend to view themselves as little fiefdoms, circled and protected by a moat of Federal Laws rarely understood by laymen, and further empowered by secrecy and the pervasive presence of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, and Second, through a maze and web of complex Federal Statutes, Executive Orders and internal regulations, with layers upon layers of bureaucratic anomalies, an entity which remains shrouded with an obtuse, obscure administration of procedures barely comprehensible by those who run the agency.

The third reason, of course, is that despite Federal Agencies popping up throughout every city in every state, local lawyers have failed to make it their business to become knowledgeable about Federal issues, Federal laws, and their impact upon the local population.

This is especially true of Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Fortunately, however, Federal issues are not limited to the state, county or city in which a legal issue arises; therefore, as an attorney who practices OPM Disability Retirement, representation can occur from one state in assisting the Federal or Postal employee from any other state — including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Europe, Japan, etc.  Federal issues know no boundaries; that can be a negative thing in terms of state sovereignty; but in terms of being represented for a Federal Disability Retirement case, it has the advantage of being competently handled by those who know the system.

As deteriorating work environments often lead to an increase in medical issues, so the Federal or Postal employee must often fall back upon leaving the system by filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Being susceptible to a power-centered entity often has that sort of result:  of greater medical problems; an exponential explosion of discontent; an increase in the need for rehabilitative care.

Fortunately for the Federal and Postal employee, there is the added employment benefit of Federal Disability Retirement.  Tap into that which exists for one’s advantage; the benefit is there for a reason — not the least of which is because of the stressful environment created by the behemoth called, the Federal Agency.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Pragmatism

The practice of the philosophical school of “Pragmatism” is what many Americans associate themselves with — precisely because America was, and continues to be (as of late, anyway), a country which invents, manufactures, creates, etc., and prides itself on its technological “forward-thinking” ways.

Pragmatism is a uniquely American philosophical approach — one in which William James (an American) had an influence upon, where the methodology of determining truth consisted in the combination of the correspondence theory of truth and what he considered a “coherence” theory of truth, where not only did a given statement need to have a correspondence with the physical world, but moreover, the entirety of the statement had to “cohere” with other statements asserted.  Pragmatism is an “applied” approach.

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 always important to remember the “nuts and bolts” of putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.  In other words, one must take a very “pragmatic” approach to the entire administrative process.

From dealing with doctors who may be skeptical about his or her ability to relate a medical condition to one’s positional duties in the Federal government or in the Postal Service; to making sure that the Human Resources department assists in processing the Federal disability retirement application; to writing an effective and compelling Applicant’s Statement of Disability — these are all considerations where the subject of the application — the very person who is suffering from the medical condition — must set aside the anxieties, frustrations and fears, and set about to pragmatically put together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

As “pragmatism” finds its roots in the Greek word pragma, from which we get the words “practical” and “practice”, so it is important to consult with those who have the experience in the very practice of Federal Disability Retirement law.  Indeed, coherence and correspondence are two traits which the Office of Personnel Management looks for in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  William James would have been a good lawyer for Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The MSPB & the Window of Opportunity

At the Merit Systems Protection Board, there are multiple critical points of opportunity in which to convince, persuade and otherwise have a discussion with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reverse their earlier denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Remember, however, that this is the arena and playground of lawyers.  While an applicant who has meandered through the intricate administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, can certainly survive the administrative procedures as circumscribed by the Merit Systems Protection Board, it is a good idea to have legal representation– obviously, from the very beginning; if not, then to represent one’s interests in rebutting an initial denial at the Reconsideration Stage; if not (again), then to have proper representation before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

Whether at a Preliminary Conference to discuss the forthcoming issues, or at a Prehearing Conference — or, in preparing and filing a Prehearing Statement as ordered by the Administrative Judge at the MSPB — opportunities arise for the Federal or Postal worker to submit additional medical evidence which can potentially persuade OPM’s representative to reverse the two previous decisions of denial.  Such opportunities must be carefully embraced.  Yet, often, a Federal or Postal employee who is unrepresented at the MSPB is unaware of the opportunities which arise, at which points, in what circumstances, and the Administrative Judge is bound by duty and position to remain neutral.  Then, of course, there is the Hearing at the MSPB, in the event that OPM does not reverse.  Whatever the circumstances of the Federal or Postal employee who is or will be filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, an advocate to represent the Federal or Postal employee’s interests is paramount. Don’t “go it alone”; for, to do so will often only lengthen the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The MSPB

The Merit Systems Protection Board is the arena, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, where the issues are taken out of the control of the Office of Personnel Management for an independent review of a Federal or Postal employee’s disability application to obtain the benefit.  In a Federal Disability Retirement application, the Office of Personnel Management is given an opportunity (twice — at the initial stage of the process, then at the Reconsideration Stage) to make the “right” decision (in my view, “right” being an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, at least for my clients).  

If that decision is a denial, at both levels, then the applicant has the right and opportunity to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  At that level, by a preponderance of the evidence, the Federal or Postal employee must prove that he or she meets the criteria, under the law, to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Some de minimus extent of discovery is engaged in; a Prehearing Statement defining the issues and identifying the proposed list of witnesses must be prepared; and, finally, a Hearing is set.  It is the forum in which someone other than OPM will have a fresh opportunity to review the case, and this is a good thing.  Otherwise, only the fox would be guarding the hen house, and under that scenario, there would be very few hens left alive, if any.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: First Steps

With almost everything in life, it is that metaphorical “first step” which is the most difficult in the process of beginning, enduring, and accomplishing anything.  This is no different in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  The task at the outset can appear daunting:  the multiple forms; the ability to formulate the necessary connection between one’s medical conditions and the job which one performs; having the Agency fill out their portion; having the doctor formulate, in a precise and meaningful manner, the narrative report which will meet the legal criteria for successful eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is as challenging as the first step for a child; as intimidating as the first step in any life changing event.  To ease the process, it is often a good idea to do some preliminary research, including speaking with an Attorney who specializes in the process of preparing, filing and fighting for Federal and Postal Disability Retirement benefits.  As with everything in life, proper preparation is the key to success, and it is no different for a Federal or Postal Worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Learning from Experience

The problems inherent in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are multi-fold and multi-tiered.  Even today, after years and years of practicing in this particular area of law, there is rarely a day which goes by that I haven’t learned something new — whether a slight wrinkle in opm disability law; whether in a nuance of a description of a particular medical condition; or in simply how a doctor has described a specific condition and its particular and unique impact upon a patient.  Experience comes from making mistakes; mistakes can be human, technical, or a combination of both.

Unfortunately, for the Federal or Postal worker who is filing, or contemplating filing, for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the process itself is essentially a “one-time” endeavor.  Yes, a person can theoretically file, then refile at a later time (side-stepping the issue of res judicata, which can, in most instances, be gotten around); but for the most part, a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is doing it once, and only once.

As such, it is NOT the time to obtain “experience” — i.e., there is little room for “learning” from “mistakes”.

There is “good experience” and “bad experience”, but both are experiences nonetheless.  In filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, however, it is the former which needs to be experienced, and not the latter, and in such a filing process, there is indeed a difference between the two.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire