FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: ICM versus ICBM

During the Cold War era, the latter acronym was familiar to most, as fears were magnified as to the intercontinental capacity of the U.S.S.R. (those who can still decipher this immediately reveals one’s age).  In those days, one did not need to know the Eastern European countries by name; they all fell under the satellite rubric of the “union” of those with “the Bear”.  ICBMs were counted and their capacity and efficacy were determined by the exponential powers of the number of “warheads” attached.

ICMs, on the other hand, are a fairly recent phenomenon. They show the extent, or the lack thereof, in what agencies and individuals with minor fiefdoms will perpetuate.  They can also be metaphorical antonyms of ICBMs, in that when one possesses an ICM, it can result in the prevention of an ICBM being launched across the barricades of time.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, because of a medical condition which is impacting one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to utilize one’s hoard of ICMs.

Agencies often have no need or, rather, they will often disregard the need, to engage in utilizing impulsivity control mechanisms, because they have the power to hire, fire, reprimand, reassign or otherwise penalize the serfs of this world. But for the Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is important to apply the various impulsivity control mechanisms available, including resisting the urge to inform a supervisor until the proper time; the inclination to make derogatory references about the workplace in one’s Statement of Disability; and other impulses which may ultimately harm the goal of attainment sought: of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, granted through an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, in the end, the ICBMs remained in cold storage [sic], precisely because the greater instinct for humanity’s survival depended upon the evolutionary relevance of ICMs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Power, Persuasion and the Legal Argument

FERS & CSRS Disability retirement is no different, in kind, than other areas of law which intersect with individuals and personalities.  As an area of administrative law, and specifically, where a government entity (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is involved, the Federal or Postal worker must encounter an agency which is large, powerful, and often immovable (sort of like Aristotle’s Primum movens, or the Prime Mover).  

The singular Federal or Postal worker may find the encounter with the Federal government to be a daunting, almost insurmountable task.  It is the classic meeting of two unequal forces; and, as such, there is always a question as to who will prevail.  

Fortunately, however, there are some mechanisms in place which allow for persuasive argumentation.  If a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied at the First Stage of the administrative process, then there is the Second, or Reconsideration Stage of the process, which places the disability retirement application in the hands of a different OPM case worker, in a different section.  If it gets rejected a second time, then it is taken entirely out of the hands of OPM, and will be placed before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Throughout the entire process, however, the Federal or Postal worker may feel lonely, small and irrelevant.  That is why the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement must engage in substantive and persuasive legal argumentation.  Persuasion is the key where power is unavailable.  It is OPM which has the power; it is the Federal or Postal Worker who has the persuasive tools, and must use them to his or her advantage as the law allows.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Perfect Wording

There are those who believe that, if only the ‘perfect wording‘ had been in place, then the outcome would have been different.  The problem with that view is twofold:  First, if a perfect word or wording had been chosen, the efficacy of such wording would further depend upon the entirety of the context which surrounds that wording, and second, it would depend upon the receptiveness of the person reading the document, or listening to the person talk, etc.

Grappling with the “perfect word” or phrase is a worthwhile venture and endeavor; more importantly, however, is the effectiveness of the “rest of the story” (as an old radio host would have put it — a man of antiquity and one who always sought the perfect word).

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often the question (or multiple questions) of:  What should I say?  How should I say it?  Is it okay to say..?”  A singular choice of bad wording will not destroy a Federal Disability Retirement application; a string of bad wording might; the complete delineation of inclusive wrong wording surely will.

Unfortunately, the Federal or Postal applicant will never have the opportunity of a face-to-face encounter with OPM’s representative, in an effort to persuade a favorable Federal Disability Retirement application.  Perhaps one personal encounter would be worth a thousand words — if only OPM could “see” your medical condition — but that is not how the system works.

Wording is important; one word will not make a difference; the compendium of words can, and will.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Applicability of the Legal Argument

If there is a legal argument to be made, make sure that it is applicable; further, it is important to distinguish between the necessity of making a legal argument, as opposed to allowing the facts to speak for themselves, and the medical reports and records to establish the necessary proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

In administrative law, and specifically in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the “applicant” (the one filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether as a Postal Worker or as a non-Postal, Federal Worker) has the advantage of thoughtfully compiling the material, documentation, legal memorandum, narrative reports, and the entire compendium of proof necessary to meet the legal requirements of eligibility, and therefore entitlement, to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is essentially a “paper presentation” to the Office of Personnel Management.  As such — because the applicant is able to take the necessary time and effort at the front-end of the process to prepare a compelling case, it is important to “pick and choose” the viable legal arguments to be made.

Sometimes, facts can speak for themselves, and there need not necessarily be a legal case to support the facts.  Other times, the medical report and records can meet the legal requirements, without citing a specific statute or case-law.  Then, there are applicable legal arguments which must, and should, be made, if merely because one should assume that OPM will not recognize the legal requirements unless aggressively informed about it.

In making such legal arguments, however, don’t undermine your own case unless you know what you are talking about.  Better to remain silent on matters not known, lest you reveal your lack of knowledge on the matter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A Different Approach

Insanity is sometimes defined as the repetition of behavior despite evidence to the contrary.  But if that is the accepted definition of insanity, most individuals would qualify and fit into the description.  For, security of habitual repetitiveness is what often drives the individual, and the common adage of trying to “think outside of the proverbial box” is something which is not natural to man.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the repetition of OPM’s template, applied to hundreds, if not thousands, of denial letters to Federal and Postal employee applications for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, often requires a “different approach”.

Individuals who attempt to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity without legal representation engage in the process at a stark disadvantage:  they leave the third rail — the legal argumentation — with a void.  For, whether the original application itself, or a response to a denial and engagement at the Reconsideration Stage, or an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — being “inside” or “outside” the box, or taking a conventional approach as opposed to a “different” approach, the three rails of success must always include the medical documentation, the facts pertaining to one’s positional duties, and the legal basis for an approval.

Different approaches are fine; but regardless of which approach one takes, one must always have the foundational approach left intact, in order to build the (also proverbial) house on a solid footing, lest it fall and blow away as a house of cards.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire