Federal Disability Retirement: Prospective Affirmation versus Retrospective Correction

Moving forward with the right tools is generally more effective than looking back and trying to correct deficiencies; thus, the age-old adage of being penny wise, pound foolish applies; and 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 make a determination early on to clearly assess the strength of a case, the needs required to optimize such strengths, and to obtain assistance where necessary.

As to an objective assessment of a case:  one is normally not the best evaluator in analyzing the strength or weakness of one’s own Federal Disability retirement case.  This is because of a self-evident principle operating in each such Federal Disability Retirement case:  the subject who suffers from the medical condition cannot objectively evaluate from a third-party’s perspective the viability of a case in terms of proving by a preponderance of the evidence the coherence and compelling nature of the evidence to be presented.

Most believe that his or her case is a “slam-dunk”; few in actual reality ever are.  To get denied by OPM at the First Stage; then at the Reconsideration Stage; then to go pro se before the Merit Systems Protection Board; then to obtain a lawyer — while it is good to get a lawyer at any stage of the process — is it wise to attempt a retrospective correction of one’s mistakes?  At what stage does it become too late?  Where in the process does “correction” override “mistakes”?  Compare that to a prospective affirmation of one’s inadequacies — that it is difficult, if not impossible, to objectively evaluate one’s own case; that an effective compilation and presentation of a Federal Disability Retirement case is necessary in order to win in a Federal Disability Retirement case; and that providing a legal citationin support of one’s case is an essential element of a compelling case:  combining it all, it would seem that being wise for the pound is preferable than being foolish for the penny (to make an inverse adage applicable).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Coordinating the Various Elements

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to coordinate the various elements necessary in its core formulation and preparation, to the extent possible.

Aside from simply declaring that there is “insufficient medical documentation” to warrant an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application, such that one’s case does not provide “compelling medical evidence”, the Office of Personnel Management will often cite various inconsistencies between the medical documents, including comparing what Doctor X stated as opposed to Doctor Y, or by noting internal inconsistencies where a particular medical note states “improvement” on a specific date, and contrasting that singular note with the body of the narrative report which the doctor has submitted for purposes of Federal Disability Retirement; or with the lack of performance deficiencies, or in comparison with what the Supervisor stated, etc.  

The problem with attempting to correct all inconsistencies, whether apparent, minor, or substantive, is that most issues in life contain inconsistencies.  Think about it — in normal situations of everyday life, do people act and speak in perfect narratives, where everything and everybody is coordinated in speech, action and motive?  Or are there always some inexplicable inconsistencies where one simply throws up one’s hands and says, Nevertheless, that is what happened?  Yet, the Office of Personnel Management will focus upon such inconsistencies and attempt to compare, contrast, and form the basis for a substantive denial.  

At the Reconsideration Level, of course, the Federal or Postal employee is given the opportunity to explain or to unravel such inconsistencies; but to the extent possible, the effort to coordinate between all of the various elements should be engaged in at the outset.  However, such coordination should be real, and one should never force an artificial coordination of efforts.  

Truth must always be the guide; but that the Office of Personnel Management, in reviewing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, would also be guided by the same criteria, as well as by a balanced approach of fairness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire