OPM Disability Retirement: The Pathway out of an Untenable Situation

The sensation of drowning is one which horrifies most individuals; everyone has experienced an event involving being submerged in a body of water, and feeling helpless and without control of surrounding circumstances.  It is precisely that sensation of loss of control — where one’s legs cannot locate a foundation upon which to escape; where the steadiness of firm ground is not there to provide the necessary support; and where the body of water continues to overwhelm, surround, and ultimately overtake; the horror of drowning is thus the proverbial metaphor for trials which one faces in life.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a sudden onset of a medical condition, or from one which has shown to be a chronic condition which slowly, progressively, and intractably deteriorates one’s physical and/or cognitive functions, the phenomena of drowning as an analogy for one’s experiential encounter with life’s difficulties will not be a stranger.

In such circumstances, one is told to “remain calm”, to engage in physical maneuvers in order to keep afloat, etc. — but to panic is the death knell in such situations.  Such advice is easily stated in the calm of one’s life; when one is in the midst of such circumstances, such sage advice is abandoned for the immediacy of reactionary decisions.  However, if an available option is presented to allow for a solution to an exigent circumstance, it would be a natural next step to accept the “other” proverbial, metaphorically oft-used word-picture:  the life flotation device.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered for all Federal and Postal employees for the purpose of providing a base annuity for those Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is there to provide that foundation for the Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing that drowning sensation within the Federal sector.

Consider it a life-saving flotation device — one which may provide the fertility of the earth in an environment filled with overwhelming circumstances of life’s unexpected encounters — not involving merely the metaphor of water, but all of the sharks which surround us, as well.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Where to Begin

The captain of a ship docked in a harbor knows three things:  Where the ship came from; where it is; where it will be going next. If any of the three are missing from the thought-processes of the one who intends to navigate the waters, the ship should remain where it is.  For, it is the orientation and coalescence of the past, the present, and the future course of action which should determine the efficacy of whether to act now, or delay for the future.

Unfortunately, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether under FERS or CSRS, because of the exigent circumstances which often surrounds the debilitating nature of a medical condition, the emergency situation of the present state of affairs will often dictate, without guidance, the future course of events.

The future cannot be thought of or contemplated with any sense of purpose, because the exigency of the “now” makes all else irrelevant.  But how we formulate the “now” may well determine the future course of events. As such, in preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to approach the administrative process and procedure in a systematic, logical manner, if only to ensure the best chances of success at the First Stage of the process.

Culling together a disjointed disability retirement packet just to get it filed immediately (unless, of course, the Statute of Limitations is about to come upon one) is normally not a plan for a captain’s log for charting a ship’s future course; especially when one becomes aware of the stormy seas ahead.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Questions Abound

Questions abound when first encountering the possibility of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and that is a natural course of events.  It is tantamount to the proverbial admissions that one’s “mouth speaks faster than one can think,” because of the sudden flood of concerns, potential problems, future-oriented probabilities and the anxieties associated with the unknown.

It is thus often important to systematically categorize the questions and concerns into that which needs to be done immediately; that which can be accomplished within the next 30 – 60 days; and that which must be considered for the long-term.

Such time-imposed trifurcation of tasks, questions, concerns, etc. to place into neat segments will help in managing the daunting task of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, especially when one considers that attending to the care and treatment of one’s medical condition requires time and attention as a priority.  By categorizing and pigeonholing questions into their appropriate time-slots, it will help to manage the onset of natural anxieties which are always felt by encountering the new, the complex, and the unknown.

Questions will always abound; how and when to answer them is the key to maintaining a sense of calm and competence while retaining an aura of peace.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Wind Chime

Wind chimes are interesting objects; at once created to provide a soothing, mellifluous sound, they are often the product of artificiality attempting to mimic nature, and normally presented in the guise of nature’s own pleasantries.  Because the world has become a composite of artifice, we attempt to recreate that which we have destroyed or lost.  It attempts to “sound like” the real thing.  But it is the very mimicking which fails to meet the standard of the original, no matter how hard we try.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, if the Federal or Postal worker is attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the assistance or expertise of an attorney, then the one caveat which should be applied is as follows:  Do it as a layman, not as an attorney.  In the end, the paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management should be decided based upon the merits of the case.  However, when a Federal or Postal employee, unrepresented, attempts to “sound like” a Federal Disability Attorney, it creates an impression — sometimes of comical proportions — of bluster and lack of credibility, which detracts from the merits of the case.

In reviewing cases which have been denied at the First or Second Stages of the process, there are Disability Retirement filings which have attempted to follow certain “templates” based upon information provided, and which purport to cite legal authorities.  Obviously, the denial itself is proof enough that such attempts at “sounding like” fell on deaf ears.  Take the time to listen to the original; as in art, paintings, music and human contact, the “real thing” is almost always irreplaceable.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Adversarial Structure

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, has inherently an adversarial structure built into the entire administrative process.  This is ultimately unavoidable, but one should not be persuaded into complacency about the bureaucratic side of things, merely because a Human Resources office describes it as procedural in nature, and merely an “administrative” matter.

That is precisely why there are appellate stages built into the system — first, within the administrative procedure itself, of filing a “Request for Reconsideration” within the same agency which denies the Federal Disability Retirement application, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the ability to appeal the case to a separate, independent body, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board; and further to a 3-Judge panel of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which is identified as a “Petition for Full Review” (PFR).  Beyond that, there is an oversight mechanism provided via further review, by the ability to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which reviews the legal application and its sufficiency through overview of the laws applied.

Indeed, one need only look at the structural mechanisms in place to understand that, far from being merely an “administrative” process, it is adversarial in nature, and should be treated at the outset as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire