FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: ICM versus ICBM

During the Cold War era, the latter acronym was familiar to most, as fears were magnified as to the intercontinental capacity of the U.S.S.R. (those who can still decipher this immediately reveals one’s age).  In those days, one did not need to know the Eastern European countries by name; they all fell under the satellite rubric of the “union” of those with “the Bear”.  ICBMs were counted and their capacity and efficacy were determined by the exponential powers of the number of “warheads” attached.

ICMs, on the other hand, are a fairly recent phenomenon. They show the extent, or the lack thereof, in what agencies and individuals with minor fiefdoms will perpetuate.  They can also be metaphorical antonyms of ICBMs, in that when one possesses an ICM, it can result in the prevention of an ICBM being launched across the barricades of time.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, because of a medical condition which is impacting one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to utilize one’s hoard of ICMs.

Agencies often have no need or, rather, they will often disregard the need, to engage in utilizing impulsivity control mechanisms, because they have the power to hire, fire, reprimand, reassign or otherwise penalize the serfs of this world. But for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important to apply the various impulsivity control mechanisms available, including resisting the urge to inform a supervisor until the proper time; the inclination to make derogatory references about the workplace in one’s Statement of Disability; and other impulses which may ultimately harm the goal of attainment sought: of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, granted through an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, in the end, the ICBMs remained in cold storage [sic], precisely because the greater instinct for humanity’s survival depended upon the evolutionary relevance of ICMs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer blog: Meeting the Legal Criteria

Lawyers often speak about “the law” as if it has the character of a science — of established principles which are objective, without the arbitrary influences of subjective interpretive devices or nuances. But even science itself fails any pure test of universal unalterability; one need only read Kuhn’s description of shifting paradigms in the history of science (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) to understand that objectivity is merely another word for pragmatism. For, that which “works” or is “effective” in the eyes of the greatest number of people, is what matters to most people. That is why success is an irreplaceable harbinger of general opinion.

In the Federal government, one would like to expect application of rules, regulations, etc., somewhat in an algorithmic form, where favoritism is lacking, and where everyone has a “clean shot” at everything.

Especially when it comes to a benefit such as Federal Disability Retirement, which impacts those who are most unfortunate — one beset with a medical condition such that one can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s job — an expectation that an objective criteria which can be met by pure factual presentation, legal magnification of relevant statutes and laws, and perhaps some modicum of argumentation for persuasion, is what should occur in a perfect world. But as the proverbial perfect world fails to materialize, we must do with what we are given; subjective interpretation, and selective analysis are merely human frailties and imperfections.

That is why legal argumentation and countering of subjectivism must be employed.

Federal Disability Retirement, whether for FERS or CSRS employees of the Federal government, must be fought for, and “won”; there is no mathematical algorithm of objective application; there is no parallel universe of perfection; there is only the human condition, which requires interpretation, knowledge, analysis, and argumentation which persuades and cajoles.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Dealing with Adversity

How does one deal with adversity?  When the adversary is a faceless entity, a bureaucracy which acts as a behemoth of epic proportions, one must take care in choosing the proper battle to engage.  For, ultimately, the victory or loss of a battle is often determined by logistical considerations — of where and when it is fought.

Further, it is important to identify who the “enemy” is against whom one wages a battle.  Is it a separate entity, or is the real enemy one’s self?  When an individual is suffering from a medical condition such that one is weakened, others will often begin to smell the scent of such weakness, and begin to prey upon the deteriorated stateit is “worth the while” to fight against the agency, the system, and the entirety of the Federal Bureaucracy.

It is well and good to say, “I’m not giving up” and to fight for one’s rights, but at what cost?  At the cost of one’s health?

More often than not, it is a smart strategic move to leave the battle s of being.  That is the law of the runt; it is the rule of the world.  For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a position where one’s medical conditions have deteriorated to a point where he/she can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to consider whether cene, and go into the quietude of the morning sun, in order to find the space of recuperative peace, in order to come back to battle another day.

Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is just such a safety hatch; and whether you are under FERS or CSRS, it is a consideration worth noting, and taking, in order to regain one’s strength, to come back for another day — next time, from atop the vantage point of a hill, instead of looking up from the valley of death and destruction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Power, Persuasion and the Legal Argument

FERS & CSRS Disability retirement is no different, in kind, than other areas of law which intersect with individuals and personalities.  As an area of administrative law, and specifically, where a government entity (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is involved, the Federal or Postal worker must encounter an agency which is large, powerful, and often immovable (sort of like Aristotle’s Primum movens, or the Prime Mover).  

The singular Federal or Postal worker may find the encounter with the Federal government to be a daunting, almost insurmountable task.  It is the classic meeting of two unequal forces; and, as such, there is always a question as to who will prevail.  

Fortunately, however, there are some mechanisms in place which allow for persuasive argumentation.  If a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Stage of the administrative process, then there is the Second, or Reconsideration Stage of the process, which places the disability retirement application in the hands of a different OPM case worker, in a different section.  If it gets rejected a second time, then it is taken entirely out of the hands of OPM, and will be placed before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Throughout the entire process, however, the Federal or Postal worker may feel lonely, small and irrelevant.  That is why the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement must engage in substantive and persuasive legal argumentation.  Persuasion is the key where power is unavailable.  It is OPM which has the power; it is the Federal or Postal Worker who has the persuasive tools, and must use them to his or her advantage as the law allows.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Overwhelming Resources of the Bureaucracy

The advantage which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has over the individual Federal or Postal disability applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement application is self-evident:  they control the timeframe of the decision; they are not subject to any repercussions or consequences for a decision contrary to law; they possess multiple templates in disapproving a Federal Disability Retirement application, and a single template upon approving a Federal Disability Retirement case, thereby making it administratively easy, simple, and without the necessity of expending much effort, either way.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating preparing, formulating or filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is a daunting task to go up against such a behemoth of a Federal administrative bureaucracy.

Indeed, one only needs to review a denial letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to comprehend the near-impossible obstacle which OPM can present:  in some denials, there is merely a brusque and short “discussion”, barely touching upon providing any rational reason for a denial; yet, in other denials, there are long and detailed templates — however erroneous or misplaced, and however lacking of any legal or factual basis — which purportedly “explains” the legal basis of the denial.  In either case, OPM has the “upper hand”, at least for that time and stage, because it is merely kicked-up to the next Stage in the process, and handed over to another OPM employee.

Against such an entity, it is important to be prepared with knowledge, legal tools, and the ability to cut through the administrative nonsense which passes for legal authority.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Sports Metaphors

The abundance of metaphors comparing life with sports has pervaded throughout in literature, opinion pieces, articles, etc.  We can relate to sports, because many have been active participants in their youth; continue to engage in it via playing in various adult leagues, or coaching their kids, or perhaps just passively enjoying watching various sports on television, etc.

As a metaphor, it is seen as a “life-lesson”.  It is supposed to teach all aspects of “building character” — of the value of hard work, proper preparation, ethical conduct and behavior, etc.  In pragmatic terms, when one actually plays a sport, it merely becomes a one-to-one adversarial encounter with an opponent, and sometimes teaches merely that the “playing field” is not always level, and the opponent does not always follow the same rules of the game as one is taught to do.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, a comparative metaphor to any sports would be to characterize the entire administrative process as one of the battle between David and Goliath.  The Office of Personnel Management has its own set of rules — of a criteria which is allegedly applied, but which often has limited rational basis; of a time frame within which they say they attempt to meet, but which is systematically ignored; of following rules and regulations as they interpret them, etc.

What would one say about a sport in which one side makes up the rules and then ignores them?  Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is like a professional football team (representing OPM) going against a high school chemistry class deciding to put together a team (the Federal or Postal employee).  The teams are unequal; the playing field is never level; and the outcome of the encounter must therefore be decided by careful preparation, a cohesively formulated plan, and a filing deliberation which results in a compelling total package.

Such is the metaphor with sports:  to prepare, formulate and file — in an effective manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire