Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Verification Process

The process for verifying information is a procedural matter which is applied with a systematic methodology.  Verification is essentially a comparative analysis — comparing what is said in one sector of information, with claims made in another.  Consistency of information and claims is therefore what is crucial.  This general overview is applicable in nearly all areas — of law, of marketing, of scholarly endeavors, etc.  

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 maintain a consistency of claims and assertions.  Thus, there should be a logical and sequential order in the approach of putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.  What is so surprising is how many Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will prepare and submit an Applicant’s Statement of Disability independent of a written medical report from one’s treating doctor.  

Assumptions and presumptions should be avoided at all costs (yes, and the cost of assuming or presuming can be high, indeed, with the consequence of a denial from OPM).  Of course, consistency and verification of information is applicable not only in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — the same methodology of verification should be applied as to claims by those who represent Federal and Postal employees.  

There is a lot of information “out there”, but whether and to what extent such information is accurate, useable, or even relevant, is a question to be asked and answered by the Federal or Postal employee preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Shifting Paradigms

Inquiries concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether a Federal or Postal worker is eligible, the eligibility criteria which is applied; the process itself; questions concerning the lengthiness of the process; leave issues; agency actions pending or already initiated; these are all legitimate questions which should be asked and answered.  

In approaching Federal Disability Retirement issues, however, and inquiring about the potential benefits and resolution of issues, often the Federal or Postal employee begins with a paradigm of understanding, and it is often difficult for the inquiring Federal or Postal employee to “shift off” of the original paradigm in order to understand the paradigm which forms the basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Whether it is because the information previously gathered is about the Office of Worker’s Compensation, Department of Labor benefits; or whether it is the confusion of having to file, at some point in the process, for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits; or, as more often than not, the underlying reason is based upon mis-information gathered and received from other sources which are inherently unreliable, it often takes several different answers to the same question before a paradigm shift occurs.  

The best way to approach Federal Disability Retirement questions is to first engage in some initial research.  Get on various websites which discuss the issues.  Read some of the reader’s comments and input.  Compare the information with other information from multiple sources.  Then, begin to formulate and construct a “paradigm” of facts, and make the telephone call to the source which provides the most reliable information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Preparing the Case

As in everything in life, preparation is the key to a successful endeavor.  In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the affirmative burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  

By “affirmative” is simply meant that it is not the responsibility of the Agency, the Office of Personnel Management, or any other bureaucracy to obtain and submit the necessary evidence, documentation or forms to meet the burden.  While it is true that the Agency must complete certain forms, it is still the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement to request their completion.  

Further, by “burden of proof” is meant that there is a certain set of legal criteria that the Federal or Postal applicant must meet in order to become qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Unlike Social Security, where the Agency itself will contact the doctors, set up medical reviews and consultative examinations with appointed doctors in order to establish the extent of one’s medical conditions, etc., under the legal criteria set up by the Office of Personnel Management, it is entirely up to the Federal or Postal employee to gather, obtain and submit the evidence to meet the burden of proof.  

That places a significant responsibility upon the potential applicant, and in order to meet that burden, it is well to take the time to prepare each and every aspect of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and not just blindly leave a form with a doctor, or anyone else, hoping for the best.  To prepare means time; expending the time at the forefront will often save time in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Knowledge

It has often been noted that “knowledge is power”, which necessarily and logically implies, of course, that lack of knowledge leaves one with weakness.  Preparing a Federal Disability retirement application under FERS or CSRS requires a vast amount of knowledge.

After practicing in this area of law for over twenty (20) years (with my first 10 years involving not only Federal Disability Retirement law, but also including a heavy trial practice, appellate practice and employment law and general practice — with the last 10 years devoted exclusively to disability retirement law), the consistent and persistent need to keep updated on any changes; on case-law updates; on nuances of cases which I may have previously missed — one might think that the practice of law in a specialized field might get easier over the years.

I find that, to remain on top of the constant changes and shifts in the law is an ever-present, all-encompassing endeavor.  One cannot, and must not, put a “generic” case before a Merit Systems Protection Board Judge.  To do so becomes transparent and phony.  The same goes with submitting a generic application to the Office of Personnel Management.  There is no such thing — all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be tailored to fit the individual, and knowledge — and more importantly, greater knowledge — allows for such tailoring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire