Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Those Important First Steps

It is often the period of initial preparation of a process which is important in setting a solid foundation for the insurmountable security and solidity of a case. That truism is arrived at through retrospective reflection; but when one is frantically attempting to reach the end-goal, the frenzy of trying to get there is the very problem which derails a case.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds that a medical condition impacts and prevents one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and further, that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is beginning to voice “grumblings” about one’s performance, to include excessive use of SL or LWOP; or, worse, one finds that a PIP has been issued, and one is thus subjected to the microscopic assessment of one’s work, including the number of times you use the restroom — panic sets in.

But quickly compiling a volume of medical records and hastily submitting a Federal Disability Retirement packet through one’s Human Resources office is the wrong approach.  For, ultimately, it is not one’s own agency which has anything to do with a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, it is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a completely separate agency, which renders a decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why preparing the initial steps in compiling a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application is crucial; it will determine the later consequences of success or failure.  Thus the age-old adage:  Penny wise but pound foolish; or more aptly, get your ducks in a row early.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Time as a Valued Commodity

At what juncture in the course of human lives the linear progression of “time” on a continuum of history became of prominence, philosophers, psychologists and historians may differ.  Certainly, animals are aware of the general importance of seasons; daylight and nightfall mark bifurcations of being alerted for purposes of seeking refuge against predators, as daytime dangers are quite different from night stalkers.

The measurement of time became ensconced with the invention of the timepiece.  When utilization of the watch, clock, digital devices, etc., established the cutting up of the world into unit measurements, it became a commodity of value because of its limited supply, and the increasing demand for greater productivity within each measured unit.  It is this ascription of “value” which one must contend with, in all aspects of modernity, in the daily living of one’s life.

For Federal and Postal employees who are seeking a quick fix — of one’s medical conditions, as well as securing the opportunity to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — complex considerations must always be weighed in an effort to “save time and money”.

If an OPM Disability Retirement application is not properly put together at the outset, it will waste valuable time in the long run, precisely because one will have to contend with a denial and a Request for Reconsideration, as well as a potential appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application can never be a “sure thing”, because it depends so much upon the evidence one must gather, in order to prove one’s case by a preponderance of the evidence.  But the saving of time will be achieved by putting the best case possible in every Federal Disability Retirement application.

The commodity of time is a recognition of its value in modern life.  It is a feature of linear human progression which simply cannot be ignored.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Key Words and Phrases

In every writing endeavor, there arises over time an identification of the efficacy of certain key words and phrases.  The problem with such identification, however, is that the deliberate extrapolation and insertion of such “keys” will often lead to over usage, inapplicable repetition, and loss of effectiveness resulting from the very recognition of the centrality and importance of such words and phrases.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often a tendency to want to know what the “key” is to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement case.  It is like searching for the entrance to a secret passage:  we believe that if X is discovered, inserted into the proper keyhole, then the mysteries of that which we fail to understand will be opened.  But proper flow and substantive appropriateness of any medical terms must always be considered within a greater context.

Ultimately, it is not any particular word or phrase which leads one onto the path of success in a Federal Disability Retirement case; rather, it is the substantive conceptual underpinnings behind such words and phrases which matter.  Not the words themselves; nor the phrases which describe; rather, the meaning behind such words and phrases within the context of the entirety of one’s medical condition — that is the key to a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preparing for the Process

Every endeavor or activity requires preparation — if merely a thought, but more than likely, the gathering of proper materials, a logistical and strategic plan of action, etc.  There is nothing more frustrating than to begin a project, only to find that one lacks the proper materials and tools, and must delay any further action because of such lack.

Similarly, 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 for the Federal or Postal employee to understand that “having a medical condition” is not enough to endeavor to begin the administrative process (some would instead insert the term, “nightmare” for the word “process”).

While the suffering of the chronic or debilitating medical condition may “feel” like it should be enough, filing for a bureaucratic benefit requires proof which meets a set standard of evidentiary documentation.  In other words, one must establish a “nexus”, or a connection, between the medical condition which one suffers from, and the job which one is positioned for, and moreover, one must always keep in mind that this is a “medical retirement“, and as such, it must be established that one is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job from a medical standpoint.

It is indeed the preparatory phase of the journey into Federal Disability Retirement which will provide the foundation for ultimate success in the endeavor.

Just as you don’t want to build a house without first having the appropriate construction materials; so you don’t want to go down the path of Federal Disability Retirement without having the requisite medical and legal tools in hand.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Planning

A common consensus among those who contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is that it is an unplanned event, and one which required decisions which shortened the career goals of the Federal or Postal employee.  Such an unplanned event, however, should not be left for lack of planning of the event itself — of preparing, formulating and filing for the Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, a distinction should be made:  yes, the fact of the medical condition, and its unplanned impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, thereby cutting short the Federal or Postal career of the individual, is quite often something which is unexpected and beyond one’s control.

Once the realization that it is necessary to  file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM becomes apparent, however, one should not simply act in a manner which compounds the problems of lack of planning.  At that point, planning is essential to the entire endeavor:  the garnering of support from the medical community; the persuasive conversation which one must have with one’s treating medical provider; the decision of which medical conditions to include, how to state it, what to state; the preparation of the coordinated aspects of each of the strands of a Federal Disability Retirement application — these need to be planned for, in order to increase the chances of success at each stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process.

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