FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Process Mentality

The importance of understanding that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, as a “process”, is critical in reaching the mental preparedness necessary to endure the potentiality of the lengthy encounter.

The analogy of the approach should be likened to the difference between WWI and WWII — of trench warfare as opposed to a blitzkrieg.  It is the former which must be prepared for, and not the latter.

For, at each step of the way — from waiting for the proper medical reports to be prepared by the treating doctors, to formulating the narrative of one’s statement of disability; to waiting for the agency to complete the processing of their potion (i.e., the Supervisor’s Statement and the Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation efforts); to the intake processing unit of OPM at Boyers, PA, then down to Washington D.C. where assignment of the case will take some time; to final assignment of the case, and potential routing for review by a contract doctor — this is all merely at the First Stage of the process.

If it is denied at the First Stage, then one must fight the process through the Reconsideration Stage, and possibly beyond.

Thus is the mental preparation at the outset required in order to survive the multiplicity of bumps and turns within the process itself.  It is best to know the trials in order to survive the process, and to prepare for it as best one can.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Medical Conditions & the Holidays

Part of the problem for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is the vicious cycle of work, attending to the medical conditions, attempting to recuperate, being exhausted and profoundly fatigued because of the need to work, compounded and exacerbated by the worry and anxiety of securing one’s economic and financial future.  

Further, the “Holidays”, as this time of year is identified, can further complicate matters, because of the need to appear joyful and festive, thankful and at peace.  Medical conditions have a way of epitomizing the present reality of one’s condition, and the traditional obligation of festivities and family gatherings can often complicate matters.  

During this time, however, it is best to recognize that the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits cannot be accomplished, if only because the Federal Government essential becomes non-operational during the next couple of weeks.  Given that, it is best to approach the entire process as being a suspended time for everyone, and to temporarily set aside the worries, anxieties and need to accomplish or be productive.  Use it to recuperate.  There is always the coming New Year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The MSPB and Beyond

An application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should always be prepared for the “long haul“.  Thus, it should be formulated, argued and prepared as if it will be denied at each stage, and will end up before the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Does this take any “special” preparation?  To some extent, the answer is “yes”, inasmuch as the stages beyond the Initial Application stage before the Office of Personnel Management, then the Reconsideration Stage of the process, then a Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the MSPB, involves whether or not an “error of law” was made.  As such, because each of the preceding three stages of the administrative process would essentially involve foundations for a later stage of an administrative appeal, it is obviously important to know what “the law” is.  One can hardly argue in the later stages what “errors of law” were made if one is not familiar with what “the law” is comprised of in the first place.  By establishing certain key foundations, and inserting legal precedents and arguments throughout the process, one has a better chance at arguing that legal errors were made by the Administrative Judge. While a Federal or Postal worker should certainly expect that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application should be approved at any given level because it has been properly prepared, it is always wise to look beyond the present, and prepare for future contingencies.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Preparations

In a perfect world, each of us would make preparations to confront, engage in, and lay the foundations necessary for dealing in life’s eventualities, whether such events constitute emergencies, circumstances both foreseen and unforeseen; or everyday events which are commonplace but necessary “duties” which have to be undertaken, dealt with, and completed.  For much of what we fail to prepare for, it is often an avoidance issue.  

In thinking about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the fact that one must confront and acknowledge the issue is something which most Federal and Postal employees — understandably — do not want to do.  This is because, for anyone filing with the Office of Personnel Management, an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must entail three (3) essential concepts which must be recognized:  First, that one has a medical condition of a severity, such that it has or will last at least twelve months.  Second, that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  And third — but just as important — that the very process itself, in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, is a process which contains pitfalls, potential setbacks, and the possibility of disapproval, as well as a long and arduous waiting period. This is because one is dealing with a Federal Agency.  But that we could prepare for this eventuality; it remains, unfortunately, one of life’s challenges, and one which most Federal and Postal employees attempt to avoid, but one which is a benefit worth fighting for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Interaction with EEOC & Other Legal Processes

I am often asked if other legal processes already filed — an EEOC Complaint, a corollary adverse action being appealed, etc. — will have an impact upon a Federal Disability Retirement application.  My general answer is, “No, it will not have an effect upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement.”  The second question which often follows, is:  What if the EEOC filing contradicts the Federal Disability Retirement application?  While the full answer to such a question will differ from case to case, depending upon the peculiar and particular circumstances of each individual case and application, my standard response to the second question will often contain a responsive query:  Have you ever heard of an attorney speaking out of two or three (or four) sides of his mouth?  As attorneys, we make multiple (and sometime contradictory) arguments all the time.  I am not concerned with the factual or legal arguments in a concurrent/parallel EEOC case; my job is to make sure that my client obtains a disability retirement — and if it somewhat contradicts the arguments made in an EEOC complaint, so be it — for, after all, I’m merely an attorney, and such inherent contradictions only prove the fact that lawyers have at least four sides to every mouth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Summer Waiting

I have written previously about the long and arduous waiting process & period in trying to obtain CSRS & FERS Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management. Remember that, in your calculation in attempting to survive financially, economically, emotionally, medically, physically, mentally — and in all other ways, keep in mind that the summer months from July to August often represent a “dead zone” when many Federal employees take time off for vacation, time for family, and time for relaxation.  While it is understandable that this makes the Federal disability retirement applicant nervous and anxious to be placed “on hold” when such an important decision may be held in abeyance, it is simply a reality which must be taken into account.  Don’t get frustrated; be patient.  The summer months will come and go, and the important point is to keep looking forward to the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire