Context, Content and Vacuums in Federal Employee Disability Retirement Applications

Vacuums constitute space devoid of matter.  In the practical world, the mechanical tool used for removal of unwanted substances merely moves matter from one location to another; in theoretical physics, one encounters complex conceptual discussions which will often involve comparative analysis of partial vacuums in relation to pure vacuums.  Discussions involving vacuums, where a proper context is important in understanding the relational significance of subjects focused upon, and the incomprehensible vacuity of meaningless occurs when conceptual connections are lost because context and substance lose their connective importance.

In the context of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, too much focus and attention upon peripheral matters, outside of the context of medical conditions in their relationship to positional duties and essential elements of one’s Federal job, will often create a vacuum of significance.

Context is always important; but the extent of detail required, and necessity of issues to be discussed, and the quantitative value of documentation and evidence submitted, may well prove to attain an opposite effect from the one intended. Unintended consequences resulting from intended actions are to be expected in daily life; but where one has decided to pursue an administrative and bureaucratic process where submission of the evidence can be thoughtfully controlled, it is always important to coordinate the relationships between context, content and vacuums.  The descriptive context of an OPM Disability Retirement application; the substantive content of the evidence to be submitted; and the vacuum created by placing evidence in one part of the Federal Disability Retirement application but leaving it omitted from another, results in the intended whole of an effective Federal Disability Retirement packet.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, and because the agency which reviews, approves or denies a Federal Disability Retirement claim is different from the one which originates with the source (with the exception of the injured Federal Employee who actually works with OPM, which can of course happen and has happened), it is important to consider the connective relationship between context, content and vacuums created, both in practical life, in theoretical physics, as well as in the preparation, formulation and filing of a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Gaps & Chasms

For those following the blogs of the undersigned attorney, some may have noticed a slight gap between the last time one was posted, and the present one; one may attribute the gap of time to one of the proverbial “technical difficulties” which are beyond one’s control, leaving aside the issue of sanity.

The problem with a “gap” in time is that it has the insidious nature of eventually turning into a chasm; for, again, the slow, incremental nature of time allows us to overlook the slow progression, until you look at it from a distance.  One day turns into a week; a week, into a month; and so the incremental progression of a slight gap widens into a chasm of separability.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the difference between a “gap” and a “chasm” is often what the OPM Case Worker will often review and focus upon.  There is always an optimal time-sequence for every event.  Gaps between medical appointments; between the last diagnostic test; more subtle gaps of an inverse order — of how long one has been able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job despite a particular sort of injury or medical condition.

Gaps tend to become chasms when one is too busy “living life” and trying to attend to all of the responsibilities of a single day.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement, however, it is best to prioritize the issues confronting one’s life, and to attend to the issue of one’s medical condition as aggressively as possible.  For, in the end, the issue of one’s health tends to impact all other aspects of life, and the one gap which should not become a chasm, concerns the health of the individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Larger Process

There is, of course, the limited process of issues impacting a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS — of the actual paperwork; of obtaining and completing the forms which are required by the Office of Personnel Management, etc.

Then, there is the larger, more expansive issues which directly impact the Federal or Postal worker who is undergoing the multitude of life’s curve balls — the medical condition itself, along with enduring and attempting to overcome the symptoms; the reaction of the Agency to attendance problems, FMLA issues, PIP actions, potential (or actual) removal issues; OWCP issues which arise in the course of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; suspension and adverse actions by the Agency; potential termination of health benefits; whether such health benefits will be reinstated after a Federal Disability Retirement application has been approved; and all of the ancillary issues which come up in the course of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Then, there is the long wait in all phases of the application — in the preparatory stage; while in the hands of the Agency; then, even after it arrives at the Office of Personnel Management, there are multiple stages of waiting periods before a decision is finally made.

Can all of the questions concerning all of the multiple issues be answered and satisfactorily attended to?  Many of the questions, of course, are ancillary to a Federal Disability Retirement.  Not every question can be answered immediately; some must run its course and be allowed to resolve itself.

Throughout the more expansive process, the focus must be upon getting the Federal Disability Retirement application approved.  Otherwise, if the focus keeps getting sidetracked by the ancillary issues, the central issue will never be resolved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Medical & Legal Issues

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, sometimes there is an inevitable intersection between the Medical Issues involving the patient and doctor, and the Legal Issue embracing the Client-Lawyer-Doctor.  

Often, in terms of filing for FMLA protection, or taking too much sick leave, being placed on leave-restriction by the Agency, etc., or in the very question as to whether it will reflect negatively upon a Federal Disability Retirement application if one continues to work without taking any sick leave — these “mixed questions” will intersect between the medical and legal arenas.  

The conceptual distinction and bifurcation of the two issues is important to maintain.  First and foremost, one’s medical condition should always be considered as the primacy of concern.  Obtaining the proper medical care and taking care of one’s health and medical needs should be absolute and inviolate.  The secondary question of how it will reflect upon a Federal Disability Retirement application, inasmuch as it is a “paper presentation” to the Office of Personnel Management, should be an afterthought.  For, after all, the whole purpose of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is to take care of the primary consideration — that of one’s health and medical needs.  If one takes care of “first things first”, then the “second” things will naturally fall into place.  

Now, having said that, how an Agency attempts to characterize a Federal or Postal employee’s attempt to attend to one’s medical conditions can of course sometimes impact a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be responded to aggressively and in a timely manner.  But the substance of any such response, if it is based upon the medical condition, will always “correct” any such agency mis-statement.  

Integrity in a situation always prevails, and that is the whole purpose of having Federal Disability Retirement benefits and the laws which govern such benefits, in order for the Federal or Postal employee to attend to one’s medical conditions first, and then to “move on” in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Fairness

“Fairness” is a difficult concept to set aside, even when it is in the best interests of one to do so.  The underlying list of supporting reasons may be many — that the Agency engaged in acts X, Y & Z; that the Agency or named Supervisor did certain things, etc.

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, it is often not a good idea to focus upon issues of fairness.  In representing clients, my focus is upon proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a Federal or Postal employee is eligible and ultimately entitled to receiving Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Issues of agency actions; whether a Federal or Postal Worker was treated “fairly”; whether the National Reassessment Program is “fair”; all of these issues become peripheral, and sometimes harmful to the process of filing for and obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

To paraphrase an old adage, it is my job to keep that which is central to the issue, my center of attention, and to sweep aside the superfluous as just that —  distractions which should not be allowed to impede or otherwise impact the purpose of the entire process:  to get an approval from the Office of Personnel Management for one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal OPM Disability Retirement and “the Decision”

The decision to finally go forward and start the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS is often a hard one.  One needs to consider multiple factors, and the process of deciding to move forward in and of itself can be a complicated one.  Such factors as the medical condition itself and how progressively deteriorating it is; whether and for how long you can “mask” the medical condition; how perceptive your supervisor is; whether your supervisor and coworkers will continue to provide cover for you, and overlook some of the growing deficiencies; whether, even if you cannot do one or more of the essential elements of your job, whether the amount and type of work you are doing are significant enough for you to continue; whether you have a good rapport and relationship with your doctor; whether your doctor will be supportive and understanding; whether your agency will suddenly and without notice place you on a PIP or file a Notice of Proposed Removal; and a host of many other reasons and factors need to be considered.  For many of these questions, an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law under FERS & CSRS can be of help.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Return from Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a time of quiet reflection; of family, friends and faith; of taking a slice of quietude and having conversations, about the past, present; and somewhat about the future.  I realize that those who need legal assistance in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS have important and weighty issues on their minds — of medical conditions which will not go away; of financial obligations; of Supervisors who are unsympathetic; of Agencies which will not or cannot accommodate; of impending personal improvement plans; of upcoming projects or workloads which may not be completed; of uncooperative agencies and downright mean coworkers; and the stresses of thinking about filing for federal disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and the future and what it holds.  With Christmas and the “holidays” around the corner, it is often a time of greater stressors.  Remember that one avenue of relieving stress is to become informed.  Read up on what is out there, and ask questions.  The answers provided may be able to set aside some of the stressors.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire