Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Assumptions and Presumptions

At what point does a house of cards collapse, when based upon assumptions and presumptions?  The words are used interchangeably; the slight conceptual distinctions may be of irrelevant import to justify differentiation.  One can perhaps quibble that assumptions point more toward the conclusory stage of an argument, whereas presumptions often involve the prefatory issues in a logical sequence of argumentation.

Both engage suppositions not based upon “facts”; and, of course, there is the problematic issue of what constitutes facts, as opposed to mere assertions of events and opinions derived from such facts and events; with the further compounding and confounding task of sifting through what was witnessed, what was thought to have been observed, when, who, the intersection between memory, event, and sequence of occurrences, etc.

Presumably (here we go using the very word which we are writing about, which is rather presumptuous to begin with), Bishop Berkeley would have allowed for either and both to be used in order to maneuver through the world without bumping into chairs and tables which, for him, were mere perceptual constructs in the subjective universe of “ideas” in the heads of individuals.  And Hume, for all of his logical deconstructionism concerning the lack of a “necessary connection” between cause and effect, would assume that, in the commonplace physical world we occupy, presumptions are necessary in order to begin the chain of sequential events. Waking up and walking down the stairs to get a cup of coffee, one need not wait for the necessary connection between thought and act in order to begin the day.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, proceeding through the administrative morass of one’s agency and ultimately into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, based upon the dual deterrents of assumptions and presumptions, can be a harrowing experience.  It is not the factual basis which defeats a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with OPM; rather, it is always the baseless presumptions and assumptions which kill the successful outcome.

Medical facts must be established; narrative facts about the impact upon one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job can be asserted; but it is always the connective presumptions and unintended assumptions which complicate and confuse. Always remember that a narrative based purely upon presumptions and assumptions cannot possibly exist without the concrete adhesives of some foundational facts; like a house of cards, it waits merely for the gods of chance to blow a puff of unforeseen breath to topple the structure that was built without an adequate foundation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: House of Cards

The proverbial metaphor referring to the House of Cards is well-known to most: it symbolizes the fragile nature of that which we so carefully construct and devise; the time, effort and sensitive touch needed, sometimes holding one’s breath lest a puff of passing turbulence should undo the work of uncommon concentration. But who among us applies the same levity of construction upon the actual foundation we build in real life?

It is clear that the fragile nature of careers, built upon years of relationships, garnering loyalties and cultivating awards, performance reviews, meaningless pats on the back, and encouragement meted out ever so sparsely. How little we require in payment for our unswerving loyalty and fealty to an uncaring entity, but for commendations constituted by cardboard casts?

For Federal and Postal employees, the House of Cards if often finally recognized when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job. Loyalties are suddenly and conveniently forgotten; past awards become irrelevancies brushed aside like memories shuffled in the mind of an amnesiac; and those glory days of quick smiles and congratulatory looks of adulation are replaced with grimaces and furtive looks accompanied by hushed whispers of sneering conspiracies; and so one is suddenly thrown under or overboard — another proverbial metaphor — the bus or the boat.

Federal isability Retirement is a benefit which is a “safety net” in the sense that it pushes back against the fickle ways of agencies and departments; it is a safeguard against the world of short-term memory banks held by faceless entities. Filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it allows for the Federal and Postal Worker to exit the Federal workforce with dignity, and a certain semblance of security, and thereby leaving behind the leaning House of Cards for residency by those more able to continue to hold up that which faces the inevitability of chaotic destruction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Refinements, Redux

A “refined sense of taste”; refineries which take crude oil and extract and leave out the waste; perfecting and polishing that which is roughly hewn.  What always needs to be focused upon, first and foremost, however, is the foundation which allows for such refinements, and to ensure that the “base” is solidly built, upon which such “refinements” can be made.

Thus, 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 put one’s energies into building the proper foundation at the outset — and, in practical terms, that means obtaining an excellent medical report.

Federal and Postal workers inquiring about Federal Disability Retirement benefits often get sidetracked with agency and employment issues which, while having some corollary or peripheral relation to one’s medical conditions and work-related concerns which may have prompted an adverse action, or even perhaps discriminatory behavior on the part of the agency; nevertheless, the focus must be upon the foundation, with all else being recognized as secondary matters to be dealt with separately.

Thus, the story of the three piggies:  remember that it was the one with the solid foundation which survived the attacks.  By analogy and metaphor:  The agency is the Big Bad Wolf; the Federal or Postal employee is the piggy; the house to be built is the Federal Disability Retirement packet.  For that, a solid foundation must be created; window dressings can come later.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Easter Paradigm

Paradigms which are based upon traditional, historical or religious foundations which have had their efficacy tested by time, have a clear advantage over untested social engineering experiments.

Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a paradigm of recognizing the worth of human productivity, by allowing for payment of an annuity because of a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of a particular job; yet, concurrently, allowing for productivity in working at another job, if desired, and if capable.

Thus, the normal reaction for the public at large is often, “Why should you get anything if you can work at some other job?”  The answer is the recognition of the Easter Paradigm:  death and resurrection are not mutually exclusive concepts; similarly, the fact that one is “disabled” does not mean that one cannot continue to contribute within the context of the workforce, but in a different kind of vocation.

The recuperative period of not being forced to work at a particular kind of job allows for the redemptive result of “rising” in another job.  Worth of a human being is recognized in allowing for a “second” chance.  The historical test of a model which has worked, the Easter Paradigm is one of hope and oriented with a view to the future — however long that may be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A Different Approach

Insanity is sometimes defined as the repetition of behavior despite evidence to the contrary.  But if that is the accepted definition of insanity, most individuals would qualify and fit into the description.  For, security of habitual repetitiveness is what often drives the individual, and the common adage of trying to “think outside of the proverbial box” is something which is not natural to man.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the repetition of OPM’s template, applied to hundreds, if not thousands, of denial letters to Federal and Postal employee applications for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, often requires a “different approach”.

Individuals who attempt to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity without legal representation engage in the process at a stark disadvantage:  they leave the third rail — the legal argumentation — with a void.  For, whether the original application itself, or a response to a denial and engagement at the Reconsideration Stage, or an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — being “inside” or “outside” the box, or taking a conventional approach as opposed to a “different” approach, the three rails of success must always include the medical documentation, the facts pertaining to one’s positional duties, and the legal basis for an approval.

Different approaches are fine; but regardless of which approach one takes, one must always have the foundational approach left intact, in order to build the (also proverbial) house on a solid footing, lest it fall and blow away as a house of cards.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Beyond the MSPB

With certain notable exceptions (e.g., documents which could not be obtained prior to or during the Hearing; an SSDI approval which was awarded after the close of the record, etc.), the Hearing which is set for the Merit Systems Protection Board (better known by its acronym, the “MSPB”) is the time and place to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a Federal or Postal employee is eligible to meet each of the legal criteria in a Federal Disability Retirement case.

MSPB Hearings for Federal Disability Retirement applications are performed telephonically; but beyond the time to submit all additional medical documentation and have any witnesses testify, it is the time to set the stage for a future Petition for Review (PFR) or an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Any legal issues concerning the eligibility criteria, accommodations, sufficiency of medical documentation, etc., needs to be argued at this stage of the process, in order to be able to make the argument later that the Administrative Judge committed “legally reversible” errors in his or her Initial Decision on the case.  As with anything well-built, a solid foundation must be prepared, and in the arena of legal battles, the introduction of clear legal precedent is what establishes the foundation for a future appeal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire