FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The Language Used

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a “paper presentation” which must be “proven”.  It is thus not technically an “entitlement”, but rather an accessible benefit which must meet certain legal guidelines as set forth by Statute, subsequent Regulations propounded by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and Case-laws and Court opinions as rendered over a long course of time by various courts and administrative agencies, such as the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

When one steps back and observes the entirety of the process, it is — from inception of the administrative procedure to its conclusion in receipt of payment of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity — a massive compendium and compilation of “language”.  Throughout the process, little need be spoken of or to; rather, the written word — that malleable tool of communication — is placed from mind-to-ink-upon-paper, to be presented to another receptive mind, in order to evaluate, analyze and ultimately conclude with a decision, whether as an initial approval or a denial.  If a denial, then the process continues without interruption as heretofore described.

As such, because Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is comprised by the linear, sequential and persuasive use of language, it is important to utilize the tool effectively, and to apply all of the forces of language which will make for an effective presentation:  brevity, but with emotive force; succinct, but with logical persuasiveness; comprehensible, but with descriptive expansiveness. Language is the tool to be used; as the preferred and necessary tool, it must be applied with careful choosing, in order to be effective in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Weaving of Words

From working with raw materials to the final production of a work of utility with an aesthetically pleasing look, the weaver must be skilled in handling the process of creating from scratch.  It is in the very art of weaving, where the end-product notices not the imperfections of that which nature produced, that the “art form” is created.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to take the materials provided — the medical condition of the Applicant; the doctors who are treating the Federal or Postal applicant; the Supervisor who will be writing up the Supervisor’s Statement; the Human Resources office of the Agency who will be completing SF 3112D — and to “weave” together from the fabric of such diverse sources, and complete a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement packet, such that the compendium of information can be presented in an “aesthetically” pleasing manner (i.e., understandable, comprehensible, and effectively streamlined in order to be convincing and compelling).

OPM is the “purchaser” of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and must be the one who accepts the “product” of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  The “weaver” must be skilled enough to put the packet together, from the raw materials provided, to the finished product.  Upon a successful “purchase”, it is then that the Federal or Postal employee will have obtained the desired result — an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Perfect Wording

There are those who believe that, if only the ‘perfect wording‘ had been in place, then the outcome would have been different.  The problem with that view is twofold:  First, if a perfect word or wording had been chosen, the efficacy of such wording would further depend upon the entirety of the context which surrounds that wording, and second, it would depend upon the receptiveness of the person reading the document, or listening to the person talk, etc.

Grappling with the “perfect word” or phrase is a worthwhile venture and endeavor; more importantly, however, is the effectiveness of the “rest of the story” (as an old radio host would have put it — a man of antiquity and one who always sought the perfect word).

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 often the question (or multiple questions) of:  What should I say?  How should I say it?  Is it okay to say..?”  A singular choice of bad wording will not destroy a Federal Disability Retirement application; a string of bad wording might; the complete delineation of inclusive wrong wording surely will.

Unfortunately, the Federal or Postal applicant will never have the opportunity of a face-to-face encounter with OPM’s representative, in an effort to persuade a favorable Federal Disability Retirement application.  Perhaps one personal encounter would be worth a thousand words — if only OPM could “see” your medical condition — but that is not how the system works.

Wording is important; one word will not make a difference; the compendium of words can, and will.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Necessity of Explicit Redundancy

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to submit material, at each and every turn possible and available, which repetitively and redundantly satisfies each of the legal criteria necessary to meet the eligibility requirements as espoused by the Office of Personnel Management.

Whether it is because the Case Worker at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does not have the time (because of being overworked) to “read between the lines”, extrapolate or otherwise comprehend the implicit meaning of a statement; or the mechanical application of the “7-part” legal criteria is merely performed by comparing and contrasting the listed legal criteria to the substantive contents of the Federal Disability Retirement application — the reasons for the failure to understand the implicit (and sometimes explicit) import of the statements made are irrelevant.

Thus, for example, one would assume that if a medical narrative report states that the medical condition upon which a Federal Disability Retirement application is based, is considered to be a “permanent” medical condition, then one would implicitly understand that such a statement meets the criteria concerning the requirement that a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months in order to meet the eligibility criteria under the law.

However, “permanent” does not necessarily mean (apparently) “lasting for a minimum of 12 months”, and whether the interpretation is somehow lost because the words themselves do not perfectly conform, or because there is some nuance of meanings which only OPM is privileged to comprehend, is an irrelevancy.  What is relevant is to meet the legal criteria and the guidelines of the law.  As such, make sure and have the medical provider understand that language used must conform to the letter of the law — literally.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire