Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Precipices, Edges and Flat Earths

When the earth was believed to be flat, to venture out beyond the known and navigable waters was deemed to foolishly challenge an inevitable fate; and to reach the precipice and totter carelessly at the edge is to defy and challenge the gods of fate, as Macbeth does repeatedly throughout the Shakespearean play.

Fate itself is a concept which has lost its meaning; that which is no longer believed, is erased through lack of usage, soon departs unnoticed behind curtains of anonymity.  For most people in the world, lives are lived as unmarked gravestones without headlines, fanfare or public accolades; and that is how it should be.  Seeking out one’s 5 minutes of fame; propelling one’s face in front of a news camera; stepping conspicuously in the background where a camera is being shot and waving furiously to get noticed; somehow, loss in belief in fate has been replaced with an urgency to be noticed for the moment.

For the Federal and Postal employee who quietly suffers from a fate hidden, unknown, or yet to be known, reaching the precipice, feeling like a tottering child on the edge leading to a deep chasm, or venturing beyond the safety of known waters, is a daily occurrence when facing a medical condition which threatens one’s livelihood.  Living on the edge is more than mere metaphor of tempting fate; it is a sense that the world is in turmoil, is uncaring, and is a harsh residue of human complacency.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an avenue which allows for the Federal and Postal Worker to escape the daily sense of being in those situations of remote dangers, by allowing for a base annuity, securing one’s future, and giving an opportunity to remain productive in a private-sector vocation.  Most importantly, it allows for one to recuperate from the physical and mental ailments which lead us into unnavigable waters of dangerous precipices and jagged edges, for the safer paths of secure fates.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: When to file for an MSPB Hearing

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is what is generically known as falling under “Administrative Law“.  That is, Federal and Postal employees must undergo the administrative process of filing with a Federal Agency, the Office of Personnel Management, in an attempt to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible for, and therefore entitled to under the law, Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either the Federal Employee’s Retirement System (FERS), the Civil Service Retirement System (the “older” system, or CSRS), or its hybrid, the CSRS-Offset.  

If the Agency which makes the decision on eligibility denies a Federal or Postal employee’s application twice (both at the Initial application Stage of the process, then again at what is termed the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process), then the case can be appealed to an Administrative legal forum specifically set up to hear such cases (as well as many other types of cases involving Federal and Postal employees).  In order to file with the Merit Systems Protection Board (the “MSPB”), one must have received a “final denial” letter from the Office of Personnel Management — and, by “final”, is merely meant the “second denial” letter.  Thus, in order for the Merit System Protection Board to consider an appeal for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal or Postal employee must have been denied by the Office of Personnel Management on the first two tries — first, with the Initial Application, then for the Reconsideration of that application.  Only then may a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset file an appeal with the MSPB.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: MSPB & Prehearing

When a Federal Disability Retirement case has been denied by the Office of Personnel Management at the Initial Stage of the application process, and then again at the Reconsideration Stage of the administrative process, then it must be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  At that stage, the applicant (with the help of his or her attorney) must meet some crucial dates.  

While the Administrative process of having a Hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board is fairly straightforward, once the Prehearing Statements are filed, it is important to participate in the Prehearing Conference with the Administrative Judge.  At the Prehearing Conference, it is important to define and limit the issues which will have to be proven at the Hearing of the case.  Issues such as accommodations and even the extent of the medical conditions which impact one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, can be clearly defined.  The individual (but more likely the attorney — because at this level, it is helpful to have the guidance of an attorney) should be very familiar with entirety of the Agency file (a copy of which OPM is required to provide after an appeal is filed with the MSPB).  This way, during the conversation with the Administrative Judge, one can say:  “Yes, Your Honor, that is already proven by document at Tab ____ of the Agency file, and need not be re-proven at the Hearing of the case.”  As with everything in life, preparation, preparation, preparation…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire