Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Testing a Relationship

If the advent of a crisis is a true test of a relationship, then the satisfaction of an ongoing need in response to the crisis is the harbinger of sincerity.  Testing the relationship is often the secondary trauma one must experience in life; for, the feeling of isolation which often accompanies a crisis — that sense that no one else can fully understand the experience; that others, while empathetic words of condolences may be uttered, can always seek the refuge of their comfortable zones of privacy and go on with their lives — is further exacerbated by the island of singularity which one recognizes in the face of finding one’s self in the the human condition of crisis.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the chronicity and progressive decline of that medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the testing of relationships must necessarily occur.  The test of that doctor-patient relationship, to see whether and to what extent one’s longstanding treating doctor will support the need for Federal Disability Retirement; the test of the worker-to-coworker relationship; the employer-employee relationship; they all become tested, to observe their elasticity, their durability, and their sincerity.

Fortunately, it is not one’s own agency which makes a determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application, but rather, a separate, independent agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But one’s own agency is required to complete certain portions of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and those required parts will also be a partial test.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must endure the crisis of a medical condition, Federal Disability Retirement is a process which will test many things — not the least of which will involve who were and are one’s true friends.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Expectations

Expectations are peculiar anticipatory states of being; based upon an accurate assessment of factual considerations, they can comport with a true sense of reality; dependent upon an unrealistic foundation of pure desire and want, it can lead to a devastating loss of trust.  In order to avoid unrealistic expectations, it is necessary to evaluate and assess, as much as possible, facts from past experience, objective present circumstances, and projection of fairly accurate intuitions for the future.

For Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a realistic expectation as to all aspects and corridors of the benefit itself is necessary in order to survive the entirety of the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal.

From evaluating the strength of one’s medical support, to the ability to convey a persuasive argument and case to an agency which reviews tens of thousands of Federal Disability Retirement cases; from a realistic timeframe of the entire process from start to finish; to financial considerations and future earnings potential and whether one can work in another job or vocation.  All such considerations should be evaluated and discussed.

In the end, however, the Federal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits often is confronted with limited choices: to continue working under the same conditions, that is, doing with the same tasks in the same Federal occupation (normally not an option, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is considered in the first place); to walk away without filing for disability retirement benefits (almost never an option — self-evidently so); or filing for disability retirement benefits (the necessary option, and why it is being considered in the first place).

It is the expectations which often dismay, however, and it is a good idea to keep that animal in a cage of realistic assessments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Stark Reality

Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher who recognized the imposition of human categories, structures and conceptual perspectives upon the stark reality of the world around us.  Within such levels of an uniquely human perspective, we shape the barren reality and impose our perceptual constructs.

It is not something we have any choice in; by being uniquely human, we see the world in a human way, thereby bringing to it a comprehension and order which our species can embrace, just as other animals may encounter the world from its own unique perspective.  Thus, the world according to Kant became one of bifurcation — between the “noumenal” world which was unfiltered and unknowable, and the phenomenal world of our own “making”.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must always keep in mind the two parallel universes — the one which we hope for and often “make”, and the one in which we must survive.

When a medical condition impacts a person’s life to such an extent that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the phenomenal world of our making may include:  Hope that the Federal agency will treat us fairly; hope that the medical condition may improve or go away; hope that one’s work will not suffer as a consequence.  But in the stark reality of the noumenal world, one must recognize the unknowable:  Agencies rarely show a sense of sustained loyalty; medical conditions being what they are, will often remain on a steady course of debilitating progressivity; and one’s medical condition almost always impacts the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Walking about with a uniquely human perspective is something which we cannot help; gliding through life with self-deceptions is something which, while also uniquely human, one cannot afford to engage in for too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Expectation of a Rational Basis

Giving a “reason” is the basis of rationality.  In some sense, such a statement is merely a tautology, a redundancy in propositional logic (as pointed out by Wittgenstein), or what Kant had termed as an analytic a priori statement, where the subject (“reason”) is essentially identical to the object (“rationality”) in definitional terms.  But it is precisely the providing of a reason which forms the proper basis for proceeding in a rational manner.

Thus, if a X states that it will rain today, the follow-up query might be:  “Why do you believe that?”  If X answers, “Because I say so,” such a “reason” would not be an acceptable basis to act upon, precisely because it is neither a valid reason nor a basis of rationality.  Contrast that to the following:  “Because the national weather service, after an extensive study of the weather patterns for the past two weeks, has concluded that there is a 97% chance of rain today.”  Now, one may argue that predictions concerning the weather are notoriously unreliable to begin with; but nevertheless, the latter forms a basis for proceeding in a rational manner, while the former gives us no such foundation.

Similarly, in all sectors of one’s life, one has an expectation of giving and receiving “reasons” for which to act upon.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, we are expected to provide reasons for why a Federal or Postal employee is “eligible” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Conversely, it is a “reasonable” expectation to receive a “reason” when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at any stage of the process.  Templates used by OPM will often only present the most superficial of reasons; and some reasonings as proposed by OPM may be self-contradictory.

In the end, whatever the reasons given, the Federal or Postal disability retirement applicant must respond with reasons why OPM is wrong, or provide a rational basis for a difference of opinions.  But that is another matter for a different blog altogether — the very issue of “opinions” and what should be the foundation of a valid one.  For, after all, we each of us possess them, and a scant few make much of a difference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Time, Expectation & Patience

Time is the basis and essence of frustration.  Often, in becoming involved in the administrative process and procedure of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “time factor” is the part which concerns the Federal or Postal employee most.  

During the initial stages of the process, where a certain level of activity is experienced — of requesting the medical documentation and narrative reports from the doctors; of formulating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); of submitting the preliminary application through the Agency (or, if separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, to file it directly with the Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA); and then receiving a CSA Number from the Office of Personnel Management, then…the wait.  Activity is the fodder which satisfies time; frustration with time is the chasm between expectation and reality; where there is inactivity, waiting without a specified end in sight is what frustrates most individuals. With the Office of Personnel Management, the greatest difficulty is now in gauging that “end-point”, because OPM continually falls behind in their estimate of time for decision-making.  

The process is a frustrating one; inactivity without an end only exponentially magnifies such frustration.  Ultimately, however, there is no other choice but to wait; for the Office of Personnel Management is the singular arbiter of the decision-making process in Federal Disability Retirement claims.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Resisting Tendencies

In filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is a tendency to assuming that the Federal Agency will be providing a complete, fair, impartial, and thorough review of one’s application, and that one’s disability retirement application will be applied in accordance with the law.  Such a tendency to expect a certain level of competence and impartiality is certainly understandable; but the reality is far from the tendency of such expectation.

There are many factors which interfere with such expectations: the competency of the assigned OPM representative; the knowledge (or lack thereof) of the individual Representative; the caseload; and multiple other factors. Thus, when there is the false expectation that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application has been fully reviewed and the entirety of the law has been taken into consideration, there is a tendency to believe what the Office of Personnel Management has said as gospel truth.  “There is insufficient objective medical evidence to…”   “The MRIs failed to reveal that…”   “Your doctors failed to state that…”

These are all generic statements that may or may not be true, but sound like they provide a basis for a denial.  Resist the tendency to believe what OPM says; ultimately, a Federal Disability Retirement application must comply with the laws which govern the administrative process, and may well have to go to an administrative judge to prove the issue.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Expectations

One would expect that there would be a correlative input of effort on the part of the Office of Personnel Management, something like a 1-to-1 ratio of effort reflecting the amount of care put into formulating, preparing, and submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, with the ratio being met by a corresponding amount of effort on the part of OPM.

If only for the sake of appearance; to give some justification, some acknowledgement of the medical reports submitted; of the time expended in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of disability, etc.

One would expect — or at least, should expect, in a denial letter issued by the Office of Personnel Management, enough of an indicator that the OPM Representative reviewed all of the medical reports, and attempted to remain objective.  Yet, more often than not, a mere paragraph is issued, with a great percentage of that paragraph a regurgitation of a template from multiple other decisions.

Expectations are often nothing more than an imaginary line where one perceives a professional standard to be; but, more often than not, only to have the expectation set at a standard of performance too high to achieve.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire