Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Rise

It is attributed to objects and people; the sun does it in the morning and the moon at night; tides rise and fall; employment rates, statistical variables; the careers of people; and for this coming week, the anticipation of religious significance and theological arguments over the historical occurrence of a matter specifying an Easter Event.

As a noun, it is used to describe great historical events of a period: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire; the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, etc.  In entertainment circles, a variation of it is often applied, as in, “is X in or out?”, or “Is Y up or down?” Whether the bread rises sufficiently, or we miss witnessing the sun rise on any particular day, shows the vast array of elasticity in how we apply a particular concept in everyday usage.

Technically, of course, neither the sun nor the moon ever “rise”; rather, the rotational perspective from any given viewpoint provides an illusion of such a phenomena.  When it comes to describing the state of an object, such loose usage of language is harmless; but when applied to a person, one should remain vigilantly sensitive to such choice of descriptive language.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions, such that their careers “rise or fall”, or their individual and professional status and stature go “up or down”, the impact upon such lives matter beyond everyday and common application of language.  The rising fortunes and falling health of Federal and Postal employees should matter to those beyond family and friends.

The options?  Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is one option.  It is a benefit which is available to all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum number of years of service, but one which must be proven to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

And what of that event previously referred to for this coming week?  That is the one account where, by those who apply significance to the event, the second half of the description never came about: the rise occurred, but not the fall; or, another way to put it is that the rise conquered the fall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Those Moments of Enlightened Clarity

It occurs in momentary lapses of time, as if fate, the spirits and the ephemeral heavenly bodies are mocking us silently in childish teases of playful provocations.  They are brief segments of clarity, when all of the cylinders of life appear well-oiled, when the metaphorical pistons are firing simultaneously, and the fuel pump is injecting a sufficient amount of energy, and we feel on top of the world.

This is perhaps how man is supposed to live, is meant to exist, and is thought to represent the essence of his being.  But as Rousseau would quip, the ravages of society and civilization tends to weigh upon the natural state of man, and separate him from his true essence.

And so it often is with the daily fight with an agency.

It is interesting to study the entire history of the concept of “accommodations” in the field of disability law; for, what one finds is that entities, including Federal agencies, rarely attempt more than a show of appearance to accommodate an individual’s medical condition.  The unstoppable grind of a bureaucracy’s march forward will wear down the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.  Fighting through standard means of EEO actions, discrimination lawsuits, formal grievances and complaints may stay the progress for a time; but time itself is always on the side of the Leviathan known as the Federal agency.

Ultimately, the disadvantage is two-fold for the Federal and Postal employee suffering from a medical condition: the process itself, and the medical condition which continues to debilitate.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option which need not be considered the “nuclear” option, but rather an acknowledgment that agencies can rarely change itself to suit the individual, and instead, it is always the individual which must change to fit into the vast sea of an organizational morass.

As for those moments of clarity? They often come when an affirmative step forward is taken, as when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that there is more to life than fighting against an entity which cares little for the human frailty of a medical condition.

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