Misnomers and the OPM’s Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division

The problem with misnomers is not just the inaccuracy of designation which is either explicitly or implicitly conveyed, but the unintended consequences of the string of reactions and responses which can occur as a result thereof.  Sometimes, interpretive mistakes occur purely on a subjective basis; in which case it is not truly a case of a misnomer, but rather merely the misunderstanding by the recipient of the information.  Other times, a word or designation can be open to multiple meanings, where reasonable people can differ on the inferences to be made.

For Federal and Postal employees who have filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Service employee is under FERS or CSRS (such acronyms have specific, esoteric meanings only to Federal or Postal employees, and as such, cannot constitute an objective misnomer, but rather a potentially subjective one), the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process can result in the failure to recognize and properly respond to various misnomers throughout the process.

For example, when a Federal Disability Retirement case is assigned to an Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and one receives a letter informing the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant that X is further needed — the identification of the OPM Representative that he or she is from the “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals Division” is both confusing and a misnomer.

For, the recipient of the letter (and just to receive any correspondence from OPM other than an approval letter or a denial letter is an amazing fact in and of itself) can well infer from the designation that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application has already been denied without notification (i.e., because it is in the “Reconsideration & Appeals Division”). In fact, all cases fall under the aegis of “Disability, Reconsideration & Appeals” section of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Misnomers may be unintended. It is the recipient and the responder who must, unfortunately, live with the consequences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Consequence of Confusion

Often, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, there are “indicators” which are telltale signs as to whether or not something was done or not.  Federal and Postal workers who call in to inquire about the feasibility of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS are often vague about certain facts and issues, and understandably so, because things have never been explained properly, or as is more often the case, explained but with mistaken information.  For example:  Federal and Postal workers often confuse OWCP & Department of Labor issues, with issues concerning OPM Disability Retirement.  Such statements as:  “I already filed for Department of Labor disability benefits”, or “I filed a CA ___”, or “I’ve been separated for X number of months” (when in fact he or she has merely been on LWOP with the Agency).  

The problem with confusing the concepts between OWCP benefits and OPM Disability Retirement (and to make it even more confusing, to mix those two with SSDI issues) is that a person may be on OWCP or SSDI for over a year after being separated from Federal Service, and fail to file for OPM Disability Retirement — and forever be foreclosed from doing so because he or she never realized that you must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, independently and separately from OWCP or SSDI.  Read up and study the conceptual distinctions; for, there may be some long-term consequences from such confusions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: What Others Said

Often, during a consultation with a Federal or Postal employee, the issue comes up about what “X said” about “Y-issue”.  Information is plentiful, and especially in this age of the internet, the plethora of information, abundant in volume and scope, can seemingly provide the generic and universally appreciated mass of unidentifiable vacuity called, “Information“.

The problem is no longer the lack of information; rather, the problem is to be able to discern the difference between “useful information”, “relevant information,” “effective information,” and “peripheral information”.  In preparing, formulating, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make the distinctions.  However, in this world of unlimited sources of information, a person who first approaches a subject — especially a subject involving legal consequences such as Federal Disability Retirement law — may have a difficult time in distinguishing between the various “types” of information.  

Further, it is important to recognize the “source” of information — Who said it?  Where did it come from?  Is there statutory authority to back it up?  Is the source reliable?  These latter questions must also be asked, and the way to determine the credibility and reliability of information is often to take some time and cross-check information from various sources, and decipher as to whether a particular source provides a consistency of information which can be trusted.  When it comes to preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, where one’s future may depend upon the information gathered, the Federal or Postal employee would be wise to “check out the source” before proceeding forth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire