CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Muddle of a Myopic Focus

Focusing upon a singular aspect of an issue, and failing to comprehend its limited import and relevance within the greater context, is a pitfall which many fall into.  It is tantamount to having a myopic condition — where one’s nearsightedness prevents one from having the capacity to focus upon anything beyond those within one’s easy reach.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed through one’s agency (if one is still a Federal or Postal employee, or if separated, such separation has not occurred more than 31 days) and ultimately forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (or, if separated from one’s agency for more than 31 days, directly to the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA), whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to approach the preparation, formulation and filing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application with a larger view than to discuss issues of limited relevance.

For example, when a Federal or Postal employee is embroiled in an adversarial and contentious process with one’s own agency, or a supervisor, it is often reflected in the Federal Disability Retirement application via a tirade of specific descriptions concerning harassment, workplace hostility, etc.  While such descriptions may be relevant for purposes of an  EEOC claim, it has very little significance for one’s Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Keep the essence of a case at the forefront:  Medical issues; impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

All myopic conditions need correction; properly prescribed glasses to keep one’s focus may be a necessary expense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Different Approaches

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 different approaches which one can take within the limited universe of available time which each Federal and Postal Worker possesses.

One approach is to fight every wording and each action which the agency undertakes or engages in.  A different approach is to ensure that the core and central foundation of one’s case is effective and — whether explicitly or implicitly — answers any of the collateral issues which may be brought up by the agency.

Thus, for example, if a medical narrative report effectively addresses all of the essential questions concerning a Federal Disability Retirement application, then whatever the agency attempts to argue or infer in an argument, concerning accommodations, light duty, or even adverse actions which have previously been imposed, will all become essentially irrelevant and immaterial, precisely because this is fundamentally a medical issue, and not an issue concerning who did what or tried what.

Much of what is within the purview and control of the Federal or Postal employee putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application is lost when the focus is unduly placed upon trying to correct, attack, or explain what the agency is doing.

By creating an excellent firewall of that which is within one’s own control,  the Federal Disability Retirement application that is prepared, formulated and filed by the Federal or Postal employee effectively answers anything and everything which the Agency may attempt to insert with a subversive motive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: These Economic Times

Do outside influences other than “the law” impact upon benefits applied for?  Depending upon what particular perspective one has, the human animal can be characterized as either extremely simple, or supremely complex.  In comparison to other animals, one needs to only look at the vast civilization of architectural magnificence, artistic beauty, and acts of compassion and empathy, to arrive at the latter conclusion.  But human nature often overrules the complex beauty of such accomplishments, leaving one with the unmistakeable conclusion of the former.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one must proceed and assume such an application based upon the legal criteria as applied, and expect a fair and impartial review based upon the statutory implementation of such rules and regulations.

But in these economic times…   Does the Federal Government want to limit the number of applicants approved (the unspoken “quota” argument)?  Is there an underlying motive other than medical reasons, as to why the Federal or Postal employee is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (OPM’s suspicions)?  Do “unofficial policies from on high” ever apply?

Such questions and concerns are often asked, but ultimately they are irrelevancies.  For, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, one must move forward regardless, and put together the best case possible, based upon the evidence one has.

Any other approach, or becoming unduly concerned with collateral issues, will only detract and distract from the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Focus, or Lack Thereof…

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, it is important in the beginning stages of the process to have a clear, charted course in creating the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the type of positional duties required by the Federal or Postal job which one is slotted in.  

Lack of clarity leads to meandering; meandering results in the potential danger of entering into territories which can have a negative and detrimental impact; such resulting negative endings at any stage of the process only extends the time by forcing the applicant to appeal the case to the next stage, and having to correct and explain the mis-steps which resulted from the original lack of clarity and focus.  Thus, a single mistake at the beginning of the process can have a compounding effect upon the entire application process, and that is why it is important to start off with clarity, focus, and a purposeful plan.  

In the study of Philosophy, the subject of Metaphysics almost always encompasses the concept of “teleology” — the idea that there is a purposeful end based upon various logical arguments, such as cause-and-effect, the argument from design, etc.  In analogous form, it is important to have a teleological approach to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  

As with the design argument in metaphysics, there are certain “guideposts” which are important to use — i.e., what the doctors state in their reports; the parameters of one’s position description; the type of job which one has (sedentary or out in the field), etc.  Within those boundaries, one should remain.  Wandering in thought leads to areas of unintended harm.  Stay within the boundaries of the questions posed, and one has a safer haven away from trespassing into areas uncharted, unknown, and undesired.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Responsibility of the Applicant

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the importance of adequately conveying persuasive information to the Claims Representative at the Office of Personnel Management must be a primary goal of the Federal or Postal employee.  

Rarely does a doctor, without guidance and some “prodding”, execute an administrative duty such as preparing a medical narrative report for a patient, in a sufficiently excellent manner.  The work product of a doctor is normally defined by patient care, clinical examination, and prescribing an effective course of treatment.  It is up to the patient or his/her Federal Disability Attorney to remind the doctor as to “why” it is important to provide a medical narrative report in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Often, it is merely that the doctor does not understand the necessity of preparing a narrative report; or, as confusing as the entire administrative process of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is to the Federal or Postal employee, it is exponentially more confusing to the doctor, who is normally not part of the Federal workforce (unless he or she happens to be a doctor for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or is part of the Veterans Health Care System).  

It is ultimately the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee to convey persuasive evidence and argumentation to the Office of Personnel Management, in order to meet that burden of proof, of showing that by a preponderance of the evidence the Federal or Postal employee has proven that he or she is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. While medical records, treatment notes, office notes, etc., can often be persuasive on their own, the applicant must be able to formulate a statement and refer to “the law” in order to convince the OPM Representative that his or her case meets that burden of proof.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Specialization, Focus & the Attorney

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal or Postal employee will often retain the services of an attorney precisely for the focus which must be placed upon the compilation of the entire packet. It is, moreover, a field requiring specialization, and one which necessitates knowledge of the particular rules, regulations, and procedural processes which must be understood, maneuvered through, and ultimately complied with.

The reason why local attorneys are rarely found in assisting for the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, is that there are not that many attorneys in the general population of attorneys who have specialized in the field of representing Federal or Postal employees in Federal Disability Retirement law.

This is a Federal issue, not a state issue. Most issues of law require a local attorney who is licensed to practice law in the particular state in which the issue arises. For Federal issues — and Federal Disability Retirement constitutes a Federal issue — what is required is a licensed attorney (from which state is irrelevant) who has the specialized knowledge and focus in order to effectively represent the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under the laws governing such benefits.

A general practitioner of law will rarely be sufficient; a local attorney who has never encountered the maze of bureaucratic procedural requirements may, with research and diligence, become competent in understanding the rules and statutes governing Federal Disability Retirement, but for purposes of properly preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to have a singular focus upon the specialized field, in order to be immediately effective and be able to have the applied knowledge to attain the outcome-successful end in mind.

Focus, specialization and the attorney — it is a tripartite combination which the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS which should be carefully considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Resisting the Urge to Panic

The process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is merely the first step in the long road to proving one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

“Merely” and “first step”, of course, are conceptual triggers which have an expanded context for those who have been engaged in the informational infinity of articles, blogs, postings, etc., which are voluminous in quantity, and often questionable in qualitative reliability.  Putting together all of the medical documentation; formulating the nexus between the medical documentation and one’s position description; securing the support of one’s treating doctor; being persuasive and adequately descriptive in one’s applicant’s statement of disability — all of these are necessary steps before the actual filing of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Then, there is the long waiting process.  Thereafter, with the potential for a denial at the First Stage of the process, and a subsequent denial — at the Reconsideration Stage of the process — then preparing for an Administrative Hearing before a Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board:  throughout it all, the urge to panic must be resisted.  

During the long and arduous waiting periods between a denial and the response to be submitted (or even sometimes between an approval and the beginning of interim pay; or between the receipt of interim pay and the finalization of one’s case), there is the looming financial pressure from not having sufficient income during such periods.  Those Federal and Postal workers who have prepared well and have the financial resources to endure the long period of non-pay status are fortunate.  Combining the difficulties of having a serious medical condition with the pressure of finances, the urge to panic is almost unavoidable.  

Ultimately, however, panic will not resolve the issue; the focus must be singularly placed upon attempting to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is entitled and eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and whatever one’s circumstances, the future rests upon one’s ability to focus upon that goal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire