Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Confusion & Disarray

A state of confusion and disarray can work in either direction; either the confused state of affairs can lead to a successful outcome (resulting from the inability to make a logically correct decision, but where a favorable outcome may randomly occur); or the state of disarray can result in a detrimental consequence, also arising from the state of confusion.  The former is often random in scope; the latter is more predictable.

Reliance on the potentiality that it “may come out right” is normally not the best course of action to take.  As such, if one is confused about a subject, an issue, etc., it is often a wise step to take to consult with someone who can unravel the layers of obfuscation surrounding an issue or circumstance.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a repetitive thread of frustration heard throughout the process — both in a procedural sense, as well as the underlying substantive approach to completion — is the confusion of the forms themselves, the information needed to prove one’s case, and the necessity of coordination in matters of bureaucratic steps.

The obstacle of confusion and disarray is not one which is merely felt by any unique individual; it is pervasive, and you are “not alone” in the matter.  The fact is, the entire administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is indeed a confusing one, and one fraught with a state of disarray.

It is thus important to approach the entire process with a logical, sequential methodology, in order to find one’s way out of the darkness of a black hole.  The universe may well have all sorts of unexplainable phenomena and voids; the Federal process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may well be one of them.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Where to Begin

The captain of a ship docked in a harbor knows three things:  Where the ship came from; where it is; where it will be going next. If any of the three are missing from the thought-processes of the one who intends to navigate the waters, the ship should remain where it is.  For, it is the orientation and coalescence of the past, the present, and the future course of action which should determine the efficacy of whether to act now, or delay for the future.

Unfortunately, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether under FERS or CSRS, because of the exigent circumstances which often surrounds the debilitating nature of a medical condition, the emergency situation of the present state of affairs will often dictate, without guidance, the future course of events.

The future cannot be thought of or contemplated with any sense of purpose, because the exigency of the “now” makes all else irrelevant.  But how we formulate the “now” may well determine the future course of events. As such, in preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to approach the administrative process and procedure in a systematic, logical manner, if only to ensure the best chances of success at the First Stage of the process.

Culling together a disjointed disability retirement packet just to get it filed immediately (unless, of course, the Statute of Limitations is about to come upon one) is normally not a plan for a captain’s log for charting a ship’s future course; especially when one becomes aware of the stormy seas ahead.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Surprise in the Universe of Reconsiderations

Until the science of Physics can implement the ability of molecular and particle transference technology (i.e., “Beam me up, Scotty”), there is little potential of resolving the Cartesian mind/body dualism (i.e., that French Philosopher Rene Descartes, who bifurcated the world between the material and the spiritual). But such dualism in philosophical terms does not mean that we can be at two places at one time; or even attempt to be “objective” when the subjective “I” is the very same person who is attempting to appear objective.

In Federal Disability Retirement law, when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issues a denial letter, the customary response by the denied OPM applicant, whether a Postal Worker or a non-Postal Federal Worker, is that he or she is “surprised” by the initial denial because of the strength, completeness, and thoroughness of one’s Disability Retirement packet.  But that should be a given.

No one who files with OPM should do so without meeting the requisite foundations of thoroughness or completeness.  But this is where the problem is:  the very person who determines that a Federal Disability Retirement application is sufficient, is the same person who suffers from the very medical conditions of which the application speaks about.

The subjective/objective coalescence makes for a difficult mind/body dualism, in that the one who suffers from the medical condition can hardly assess and evaluate, in an objective manner, the strength of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Thus, the Cartesian mind/body dualism lives on, and until Captain Kirk can guide us otherwise, such bifurcated dualism will continue to pervade all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS, and the denials which follow will still have the familiar response of, “Surprise!

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Substance versus Process

In every endeavor, there is the substance of activity, as distinguishable from the process which surrounds the activity (which is further differentiated by the issue of appearance versus substance).  The former encapsulates the essence of what the activity involves; the latter is characterized by the entirety of preparation, formulation and engagement in participating in the activity.

Thus, as there is the “actual activity” of the sport which one engages in; there is also the “process” part of it, such as paying a participant’s fee, negotiating a contract, submitting proper forms in a timely manner, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately both aspects which the Federal or Postal worker must contend with.

There is the substantive activity of preparing the application itself, with all of its attendant responsibilities of obtaining the proper medical documentation, preparing one’s statement of disability (SF 3112A); completing the Application for Immediate Retirement (SF 3107 & Schedules A, B & C for the FERS employee; SF 2801 & Schedules A, B & C for CSRS employees), as well as a multitude of other such substantive issues to be addressed.

Then, there is the “process” activity, of the long wait while the Federal Disability Retirement application winds its way through the bureaucratic maze, first through the agency, then the finance office, then to Boyers, PA for the intake processing part of it; then, forwarding it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, inasmuch as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is something which is voluntarily engaged, it is seen as a necessary evil to be subjected to both the substantive, as well as the procedural (or “process” aspect) portions of the administrative filing.  In many ways, substance and process cannot be separated or identifiably bifurcated; they come together as inseparable twins, and must be dealt with as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Denials

Denials come with an unexpected force and impact; for, in every Federal Disability Retirement case, there is the expectation that the application itself merits close scrutiny and a belief that a proper review will persuade the OPM trier of facts that the Federal Disability Retirement application should be approved.

Indeed, from the perspective of the applicant, who is suffering from the medical condition itself on a daily basis, it is often a reaction of disbelief and anger when a denial is issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But one must understand that this administrative process identified as “Federal Disability Retirement” is one which is not an “entitlement”, but rather, an adversarial process where proof, argumentation and persistent appellate procedures must be invoked at every step of the way.

That is why, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one needs to always prepare a case as if it will ultimately go to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Further, it is understandably disappointing to read an OPM denial and find that the OPM case worker does not even mention or refer to much of the substantive medical documentation submitted, but instead blindly (and generically) issues a template of tired old phrases, such as, “You did not meet the legal criteria“; “The evidence did not show that…”

With hundreds of cases assigned to each OPM Case Worker, one must understand that denials are rarely personal; but in responding to a denial from OPM, one must be diligent, forceful, and approach it with the use of all legal tools available.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Patience & Frustration

Stories now abound concerning the backlog at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and as has been often stated by the undersigned attorney, if the old adage that “patience is a virtue” is truly a truism, then Federal and Postal employees must indeed be the most virtuous of individuals in any given society, because the long wait in order to obtain a decision — favorable or otherwise (and, if the latter, then at least the Federal or Postal worker can assert his or his reconsideration or appeal rights in the matter) — on a Federal Disability Retirement application certainly tests the outer limits of one’s moral character.

The inverse emotional reaction to the moral character of virtue, is the expression of frustration.  Such an expression is the release of irritation, anger, and an overwhelming sense of angst at a system and administrative procedure which follows no rules, acknowledges no time lines, and concedes no boundaries of what a “reasonable” length of time would be defined as.

Then, of course, one always hears of “stories” about individual X who filed and got a decision within a month of a case being assigned; or that individual Y went into bankruptcy while waiting for OPM to make a decision.  It is best to refrain from comparative analyses; such stories, in whatever form and to what extent of truth is contained, will only increase the level of frustration, and further test the moral fibre of virtue.

While there is no single answer to the long waiting period which OPM has imposed upon the process, this much is true:  Approvals are being issued; decisions are being made on a daily basis; it is simply a matter of time.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, this period of waiting must be “factored in”.  But when such factoring has occurred, the actual period of waiting is indeed a frustrating part of the administrative process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Deadlines

One of the frustrating aspects of the entire administrative process entitled, “Federal Disability Retirement” — of the whole of the engagement in preparing, formulating and filing, and then of waiting for an answer from the Office of Personnel Management — is the issue of “deadlines” imposed by the regulations, statutes and rules.  For one thing, it seems to be a unilateral imposition:  a one way street required by the Office of Personnel Management, with no requirement of deadlines of responsive timelines for the Agency, the Office of Personnel Management, or the Federal Government in general.

Thus, the 1-year statute of limitations for filing; the 30-days within which to file a Request for Reconsideration; the 30-days within which to file an appeal from a denial of a Reconsideration Request to the Merit Systems Protection Board; the time to file an appeal to the Full Board for a Petition for Review; the time requirement to file an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals — all of these are statutory impositions and restrictions upon the Federal or Postal employee.  

Yet, where is the timeline imposed upon the Agency, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the MSPB, the Federal Courts, or the Federal Government in general?  It seems that the requirement of waiting and being patient is all upon the individual Federal or Postal employee, without any obligatory ancillary or concomitant requirement placed upon the agency — specifically, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in providing a responsive decision to a Federal Disability Retirement Application, whether under FERS or CSRS.  

While all of this is true, and it may well be “unfair” in a general sense, it is merely a fact of life which must be lived with.  As the famous author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., famously stated in referring to the multiple absurdities of life, “So it goes…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire