Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Backbone of Agencies

While the greater geopolitical standoffs continue, it is always the backbone of the agencies which is most profoundly impacted.  The Federal and Postal Workers (yes, fortunately the latter are exempted from the shutdown) who daily toil and keep government services running, are sent home only to return when the whims of compromise decide to restart the indifferent bureaucracy.

For those Federal Workers who suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of the job, the backlog of work will only mount, putting greater pressure upon the need to toil harder.  The backlog will only exponentially increase at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, also, and at each agency’s Human Resources Department which processes all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.  Postal Workers are somewhat more fortunate, in that the H.R. Shared Services remains open to process all Federal Disability Retirement applications; but forwarding them to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will only await the opening of their doors.

Lines will be forming; but for the Federal Worker who cannot perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the most important thing to do right now is to get in line, prepare one’s application, and submit it as early as possible.  Backbones aside, there will be much work for OPM once the Federal Government is up and running, again.

For the Federal and Postal Worker preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the virtue of patience will again be tested.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Preparatory Steps

Every excellent endeavor requires preparation, whether in purchasing the proper ingredients, of establishing and entering into a proper mental state of mind, or perhaps in performing preliminary stretching exercises to enhance muscular flexibility and loosening for rigorous physical activity.

Lack of preparation is not a necessary prerequisite for success, but it may well be a sufficient basis of failure.  In logic, the conceptual distinction between that which is “necessary”, as opposed to what is “sufficient”, is an important bifurcation of causal implications.  That which is sufficient, may not be necessary; and that which is necessary, may not alone be sufficient in reaching result X; but the combination of sufficiency and necessity will cause X to be achieved.

Thus, adequate preparation alone may be necessary for the best possible outcome, but it may not be sufficient; and, conversely, the utmost of preparation may be sufficient to accomplish a task, but it may not have been necessary all along.

In preparing to formulate and compile a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is always a good idea to engage in the fullest preparatory tasks before filing for the benefits.  Not every act of preparation may be sufficient, but most are necessary; and while even the necessary tasks may not constitute sufficiency, it is the compendium of aggregated causal linkage which will ultimately ensure the greatest potentiality for success in the endeavor.

Logic aside, one will never be harmed by the extent of preparation.

Preparation for obtaining the best possible medical report; preparation for formulating an effective statement of disability; preparation in establishing the causal connection between the former and the latter; all of these are necessary for a compelling Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application, and in most cases, will establish a sufficiency which meets the legal criteria for eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, for the Federal and Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Language, Truth, and the Agency

Wittgenstein’s conceptual identification of society’s creation of various “language games” is indicative of a relativistic approach to truth and reality.  For, Wittgenstein rejected the classical tradition of the correspondence theory of truth, where language corresponds to events in the “objective” physical realm, and in the course of such correspondence, arrives at a notion of objective truth.  Instead, the world of language is an artificial creation within the consciousness of societies, and is tantamount to board games which we play.

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 often interesting and instructive to view the entire bureaucratic process as a kind of “language game” which one must master and engage in.  Indeed, encounters with how one’s own agency views the game, then how OPM views the game, can be quite shocking.

The fact that it is not a “game” per se, for the Federal or Postal employee who is depending upon the Federal Disability Retirement annuity for his or her livelihood for the short-term, does not undermine the fact that agencies and OPM act as if it is just another board game — say, for instance, chess, in the the manner in which various strategic moves and counter-moves are made to try and corner the Federal or Postal employee; or the classical game of go, in which territories are asserted and surrounded in order to “defeat” the opponent.

Language is meant to convey meaning and to communicate human value, worth, emotions and factual occurrences as reflected in the physical world; it is only us humans who create a universe of artifice in which we sequester ourselves in order to torment the weaker members of such participants.  But because language is the only game within the realm of human living, we must contend with the language games played by Federal agencies, and especially the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Blindly Forging Forward

The success of every endeavor encompasses a wide and vast array of preparation not seen, rarely apparent, and never obvious.  It is the time of engagement “behind the scenes” which then, upon the revelation on public display, makes it appear as if it is accomplished with ease and effortlessness.  But the hours of preparation, the extent of effort expended, and the research and study employed — all coalesce to bring about the appearance of ease.

So it is with every activity; it is no different in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under the FERS or CSRS Government Employee Retirement programs, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  To blindly forge forward in preparing and submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is to court disaster; it takes time, preparation, thoughtful deliberation, and careful compilation of the evidence and proof needed to present a persuasive case.

Never let the rumors of someone else’s success disrobe one’s natural instinct to be on guard; you never know what effort such stories entailed, or how true, or the full narrative picture; and such rumors should be left behind on the trash heap of rumor mills, where many a Federal or Postal employee discovered that success results not in following what someone else said, but rather, is attained through accepting the advice of those who truly know.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Escape from the Morass

The loss of perspective comes at a price:  ever deeper in the morass of self-reflection, one cannot step outside of one’s self in order to attain a viewpoint other than that which one possesses.  That is often how we criticize politicians who have been in Washington for “too long” —  caught within a society of power and appearances, they fail to recognize how “real” people live and struggle.

The acknowledgment of such a perspective (or, to put it more correctly, some would say the “loss of perspective”) is a first step; the second, and more important step, is to do something about it.

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 for the Federal or Postal employee to comprehend, understand, and ultimately “see” that there is a way out.

The desperation in the voices of those Federal and Postal employees who have been caught in the morass of the vicious cycle of pain, chronic and deteriorating medical conditions, the self-denigrating perpetual maze of being caught in a web where one can see no future in a job which one cannot perform because of a deteriorating medical condition which one cannot control, can be heard in the description of cries for help.

But the next step in order to escape such a morass is to prepare to formulate a plan, and the first stage of that plan is to decide whether one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  As that old proverb goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Experience & Secrets

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are no “secrets” to the pathway of success (“success” being narrowly defined as receiving an approval from the Office of Personnel Management); rather, there is only the experience of knowing the law, applying the law, stating the facts, creating the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties which one occupies with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and understanding the few but important issues which can defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application.

The latter portion, of course, is just as important as the former issues — of knowing the negative consequences of entering certain arenas of issues, despite every temptation to do so. Thus, as have been more thoroughly discussed in previous articles and blogs, focusing upon collateral work-place issues of harassment, discrimination, subsequent EEOC complaints, etc.; of characterization of one’s medical conditions which comes perilously close to being described as “situational”; and some questions concerning accommodations, and especially at the first two stages of the administrative process, where the Office of Personnel Management will often fail to understand the legal distinction between temporary modified duties, and what constitutes a legally viable accommodation — all of these are able to be dealt with through experience and application of that experience.

Very few “secrets” are truly that; rather, the secret to a successful outcome turns out to be rather mundane:  experience, tempered by careful preparation, formulation, and timely filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Upon a Signpost

In lectures and speeches, a “signpost” is a linguistic device used to reveal to the listener what direction the talk is about to take.  In everyday life, there are similar signposts which one provides, and which others provide to the recipient.  The problem is normally not that there does not exist a signpost; rather, the difficulties normally follow upon the inability of the individual to recognize such signposts.  One can ignore such signposts and continue to forge forward, or one can attempt to identify it, evaluate it, then make the best possible judgment, concurrently preparing for the progressive developments which will ensue as more and more signposts are forthcoming.

In preparing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the identification and action upon a signpost is essentially what one does.  The signpost constitutes the medical condition and the progressive impact of that medical condition upon the ability or inability of a Federal or Postal worker to continue in a particular kind of job.  It tells the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a particular medical condition, as to the direction which (A) will be forced upon the Federal or Postal employee (B) the Federal or Postal employee is encouraged to start to undertake, or (C) the Federal or Postal employee should/must take.

The identification of the appropriate direction is entirely dependent upon the stage and current status of the medical condition, and its present impact upon the Federal or Postal employee.  One can certainly have a fourth option:  to ignore the signpost.  But to ignore the signpost is to merely delay the inevitable, and to progressively limit and narrow the options available.

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, one ignores such signposts at one’s peril.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Time

Attempting to order life in accordance with a schedule which one has manufactured is often an impossible task to perform; when dealing with a Federal bureaucracy, it is moreover an unwise thing to attempt.  

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS necessarily and inherently takes time.  In addition to time, it requires foresight into possible delays, both predictable as well as unintended.  While a general timeline of 8 – 10 months from the start of the process (meaning, the initial gather of the medical documentation and narrative reports, compiling the evidentiary documentation necessary to prepare a case; formulation of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, etc.) to the time when an approval letter is issued by the Office of Personnel Management in response to the First or Initial Stage of the Process, is a realistic assessment of the time involved, there are multiple events, issues and intervening pitfalls which can interrupt and disrupt such a generalization.  

A cushion of time should always be considered.  More than that, however, the Federal or Postal employee who becomes frustrated with the lengthy process avoids thinking about the months and months of delay and procrastination which was engaged in at the “front end” of the entire process — where, for months and months, the Federal or Postal employee kept putting off starting the process to begin with.  

Remember that preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is a process involving a Federal bureaucracy and, as such, the inevitable virtue of patience must be stored in plentiful quantities, to be harvested during the waiting time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: OPM May Say So, But… (Part 2)

Then, of course, there are the multiple “other” issues which the Office of Personnel Management “says so”, such as failure to pay the full amount of back-pay due; failure to compute the average of the highest-3 consecutive years correctly; reinstating the full amount of FERS once a person becomes no longer eligible for Social Security Disability benefits; arbitrarily and capriciously deciding that the medical report is not “good enough” in answering a post-disability approved, Medical Questionnaire; failing to compute the earned income in any given year properly, and thereby informing the disability retirement annuitant that he or she earned over the 80% limit of what the former federal employee’s former job currently pays; and a host of other issues.  My specialty is in obtaining disability retirement benefits for my clients; I only selectively get involved in post-disability annuity issues, but the point here is that the Office of Personnel Management has a track-record of being in error, in multiple ways, on multiple issues, in volumes of cases. 

It is thus important to recognize that the Office of Personnel Management is not an infallible agency.  Far, far from it, they are merely made up of people who are subject to error, but often stubbornly so — unless you counter their denial in an aggressive, but calm and rational manner.  If a denial comes your way, do not get distressed; prepare your case well, and lay out the groundwork necessary to win.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire