Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

U.S. Government Employees Disability Retirement: Failing to meet those goals

Goals define an aspect of humanity that differentiates from the beast; just look at nature and the existential encounter with the “now” at all times.  Animals besides Man look at the world around and respond appropriately and accordingly.  For them, the future is the now; the past is merely a basis upon which to react in this moment of time; and what the appetitive parts of the soul require, the predator attempts to satisfy.

Goals, on the other hand, project into the future.  They require plans, painted by hopes and dreams, and follow upon the trail of golden dust left in residue by the wings of flying angels fluttering by to whisper thoughts of tomorrow and beyond the mortal constructs of our everyday lives.  Reality, of course, dashes those very hopes and dreams, and places obstructions to prevent the accomplishments of those very goals we set.

Humans love projects – whether because of Heidegger’s cynical view that we engage in them merely to avoid thinking about our own destiny to nothingness and annihilation, or merely because that is who we are:  sentient beings who can only be content by projecting into futures yet unrealized, such that our potentiality is always in the molding and making each moment of our lives.

What makes us tick?  Who are we?  What imprint do we want to leave to better the world before we depart?  What can we do to make the old lady across the way find a moment of happiness, disrupted because of tragedies felt and experienced in private lives of living hell?  What inventions, refinements and accomplishments may we reach before we depart this earth?  What is our 5, 10, 20 year plan – sort of like those old Russian declaratives in meeting thresholds of farm output in a communal setting of common goals defined?

We may scoff at them, but we all engage it:  Goals in our personal lives, and endured throughout our professional capacity.  The corollary, of course, is that those who set goals also experience the failure of having not met them.  That is the Yin Yang principle of life.  Being and Nothingness; Life and Death; Happiness and Misery; Goals and Failures.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the bitter taste of failing to meet professional goals is bundled up with complexity of emotional turmoil when a medical condition cuts short the career goals of the Federal or Postal employee.

Accepting the shortness of meeting those goals often extends, unwisely, the point at which the Federal or Postal employee should be filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Yet, that is simply part of being “human” – of exerting self-will beyond what is good for one’s self; of ignoring pain and anguish and just continuing to engage despite self-harm; and always attempting to “meet those goals” despite all cautionary indicators telling one otherwise.  But health is what should be the goal, now, and not the completion of those projects that we believe only we can accomplish.

Life will go on; and failing to meet those goals should never be the final impediment to the ultimate goal one should prioritize:  Of health, life, happiness and family, somewhat in the order stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Preparing properly for each stage

We often hear (and perhaps secretly scoff at?) the modern verbiage of a “Holistic” approach, where the missing consonant makes all the difference – as in the non-word, “Whole-istic”.  It is the approach often ignored and replaced by its cousin – of looking at each stage of every unit in and of itself without taking into account the entirety of the process of an administrative procedure.

For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, that is entirely and wholly a wrong approach.  No unit or stage is an island, entire of itself; every stage of the process is a piece of the whole, and we should never doubt for whom the bells of legal limitations toll; it tolls loudly for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – to misquote and paraphrase John Donne.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who is considering preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the thought of having it denied at the Initial Stage of the process rarely – if ever – enters one’s mind.

Why?  A tentative answer must always include the following: A person who suffers from a medical condition, and feels the chronic, intractable pain, or the turmoil of psychiatric trauma with loss of mental acuity and cognitive dysfunctions, cannot fathom a bureaucracy denying that which would seem self-evident to the preparer of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

There would be, of course, other explanations just as viable and valid, and dependent upon each person’s individual circumstances.

A simpler explanation can also be posited, which would more closely follow the rule of Ockham’s Razor —  that in the rush to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, anything but a focus upon the “First Stage” of the process is simply too complicated, and cannot be envisioned by an applicant who is mired in the complexities of just “living” – of trying to still work; of dealing with the medical conditions; of trying to gather all of the medical and other evidence required in putting forth an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Is this short-sighted?  Perhaps – but it is what is called “reality”.

It is only the Federal Disability Retirement lawyer – one who has “dealt” with hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of Federal Disability Retirement, who can preemptively prepare for stages beyond the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process.

In the end, preparing properly for each stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process means that you should lay the groundwork for the possibility of beyond – not much different than planning for tomorrow, for a year from now, or of taking into account the possibility that the entirety of the process includes multiple stages, and that is precisely the point:  Federal Disability Retirement is made up of multiple potential stages, and the proper preparation of each should always include a view which encompasses the next, and the one after that, and even perhaps the last of the multiple stages.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Application: The tools we have for use

The foundation is always “all-important”; but there are other tools at one’s disposal, and the question is:  Do we know and recognize what those tools are, and if not, how can we use them out of ignorance?

How does SSDI intersect with FERS Disability retirement – not the issue of offsetting the concurrent payments after approval of each (that is merely a monetary calculation that has nothing to do with getting a FERS Disability Retirement application approved); rather, should an approval of an SSDI application have a legal impact upon a FERS Disability Retirement?  How about a denial – but one with a statement in the SSDI denial letter acknowledging that the FERS Disability Retirement applicant is unable to perform the duties of his current/former employment, but may be able to do “other employment”?

How should a mixed removal be utilized to its most effective manner?  If a person is removed partly for his or her medical inability to perform the essential functions of the job, but also because of AWOL issues or excessive LWOP usage, does it undermine the application and efficacy of a Bruner Presumption argument?

What should be done with a Department of Veterans Affairs rating?  Is it always persuasive, never determinative?  Even if persuasive, should it always be introduced, or is discretion the better part of valor – or, in the case of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the better part of value in using it as “proof” for a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Should medical documentation be indiscriminately submitted?

In other words, in a FERS Disability Retirement application, does the FERS Disability applicant have any rights as to dissemination of medical documentation, especially those portions which do not go to the substantive centrality of one’s claim in requesting a Federal Disability Retirement approval?  To what extent can the FERS Disability Retirement applicant and his/her attorney have the right to act as the “gatekeeper” in providing sensitive medical documentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Tools – we have them; but of what use, efficacy or relevance are they, if they are left in reserve without pragmatic utilization?  And, as to the “reserve” – should the FERS Disability Retirement applicant keep in tow any of the tools, or should they all be used in an aggregate, cumulative powerhouse of aggressive and forceful argumentation?

Tools – to have them is one thing; to use, another; but more than that, to know what to use, when, how, and to what applicable relevance; that is the power behind the inertness of that which can be enlivened by knowledge, information and discretionary utilization.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The mish-mash approach

Do you have a linear, sequential methodology?  Is the legal argumentation systematically constructed?  Or, is the mish-mash approach consigned – of a hodgepodge of thousands of hands at needlepoint in creating a colorful quilt for the Fall Festival of creative designs?

Is the Bruner Presumption invoked as an afterthought, and the Bracey-argument concerning accommodations defined in an obfuscated manner, such that the argument reveals more about what you do not know and understand, than of a pin-point accuracy as to the sharpening and attacking of the issues preemptively recognized?  Have, indeed, the knives been sharpened for the battle ahead, or have you revealed the dullness of the edges such that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will likely scoff with disdain and deny the case at the First Stage of this process?

There is a substantive distinction to be made between making an argument in a non-systematic way, as in a proverbial “shot-gun” approach or of throwing what substance you believe will stick and subsequently splattering it against the wall in hopes of increasing a statistically deficient implementation of the process; that, as opposed to a streamlined, methodological approach of sequentially addressing each issue in a preemptive, categorical manner, as well as recognizing what not to touch at this initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, and in realizing what should be addressed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, basing one’s approach upon a “hope and a prayer” that things will turn out well, is probably not the most effective nor efficient engagement of behavior.

First, the initial process and stage itself is a bureaucratically lengthy procedure, such that if the Federal Disability Retirement applicant does not enhance the chances of success at the First Stage, time is “lost” in that a denial will simply quantify by exponential multiplication the time taken at the Second, Reconsideration Stage; and further, another catastrophic delay if an appeal is needed to be taken to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

In the end, the mish-mash approach is what most of us do in life, and often is the very reason why we ended up where we are.  But in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it may well be time to abandon the mish-mash approach, and consider consulting with a Federal Disability Retirement lawyer who specializes in a different approach – one reflecting a systematic, methodological and sequentially logical engagement, refined through many years of experience and encounters with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire