OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: The Missing Details

We often know generally about a person’s life — of this person’s promotion in a career or that person’s recent tragedy; or perhaps we read about someone’s travels or another’s triumphs; but it is often the details that we are never given.

How important are the details?  It all depends.  Whether it is from that antiquated show entitled, “The Rest of the Story” or from the rote telling around the dinner table from Grandpa’s memories, the narrative told often leaves out important details, or fills us with too many irrelevancies as to detract from the main point of the story.

Sometimes, details are deliberately omitted — as in veterans of foreign wars who generalize about the fear and mayhem experienced, but leave out crucial details, whether for fear of reliving them or to spare the listener uninvited descriptions of horrors encountered.  Other times, too many details are given, and like the storyteller who knows not how it will all end, so the fact of bringing up the minutiae of irrelevancies may provoke a yawn of boredom when peppered with ingredients that will not bring out the taste and flavor of the main course for dinner.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the missing details in one’s narrative may be crucial — or an irrelevant distraction.  The “story teller” of one’s story concerning a medical condition may not be the most “objective” person to tell that needed story, precisely because a sense of objectivity is often lost when the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is both the “patient” as well as the main character in this narrative journey of trying to become a disability retiree under FERS.

Consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, and find out what the missing details are, what details are necessary and where the details fit into the greater picture of life’s misgivings before an audience of bureaucrats at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The Required Rhythm of Normalcy

When we break it, we become bombarded with looks of irritation, a pause filled with suspicious surprise.  The quick, “Good-to-see-you-hope-you’re-doing-well” is meant as a quick conveyance of polite nothingness, and is the throw-away line that allows for the rhythm of a quick-paced society to retain its fast-lane of existence.  You are not to respond except in a similarly empty manner, with a “Yes, nice-to-see-you-too”.  To break the rhythm of normalcy is to interrupt with a real response; to say something like, “Actually, I am not doing too well.  And since you have asked, let me tell you why…”.

Normalcy is the abnormal, and the norms and conventions that were once taken for granted have now been turned upside down and have become the abnormal, the irritating and the blade of rudeness.

In a time past and now gone for seemingly forever, there existed communities where people actually stopped and spoke to one another, showed some concern and exhibited some neighborly empathy.  In modernity, we hide within the barricaded walls of our own secluded lives while declaring the number of “friends” we have on Facebook, though we haven’t met any of them nor actually known them in person.  The blank slate of a computer screen or of our smartphone determines the emotional viability of our daily lives, and so the required rhythm of normalcy has become one of isolated disengagement from actual life.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the required rhythm of normalcy is to act as if there is nothing wrong, when in fact there is much that is “not right”.  Consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and think about breaking the required rhythm of normalcy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OWCP & FERS Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees

Can both be approved concurrently?  Is there any disadvantage in filing for one “as opposed” to another?  Do they “cross over” and impact one another?  Can you receive payments concurrently, or must you choose one over the other and, if one is chosen, does it “negate” or otherwise dismiss the other?

These are all practical questions which can come about if an injury or illness results from a workplace incident or caused by an occupational hazard.  First and foremost, it should be noted that the two “pockets” of compensatory resources are different in nature: OWCP is not a retirement system; OPM Disability Retirement is. OWCP is a compensatory resource created and established as a temporary measure (although there are many, many cases where an OWCP recipient stays on and receives compensation for decades and beyond) — as a means of allowing the Federal worker to receive treatment, recuperation and rehabilitation, with a view towards an eventual return to work.

The paradigm of a FERS Federal Disability Retirement, on the other hand, is just that: It is a retirement system — essentially, starting your retirement “early” because of a medical condition or injury resulting in one’s loss of capacity to continue to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The latter (FERS Disability Retirement) does not have to possess any causal connection to the employment itself — in other words, the medical condition or injury does not have to be “occupationally related” in order for a Federal or Postal worker to become eligible for its benefits.

Remember, however, that under a FERS Disability Retirement, a Federal or Postal worker must file for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of being separated from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  The fact that a person has been “placed on the rolls of OWCP” does not excuse the 1-year rule for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For further information on the intersection between OWCP and FERS Disability Retirement, you should consult with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about both, and make your decision upon factual and legal information, and not from such sources as, “I heard from Joe that…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Preparing a Seamless Application

Is it possible?  When two fabrics are sewn together, it is almost always the case that a seam will appear; but it is the expert seamstress who has the knowledge of the proper stitch, the “tricks of the trade” and the technical knowledge in order to make it appear as if the boundary doesn’t exist, so that the two foreign bodies mesh and meld into one.  There may be multiple seams in creating a piece of clothing; where the sleeves meet; the attachment of the pockets; or, for style’s sake, sometimes the seams are meant to show.

This is true of almost any process which involves the combining of materials, people, organizations and differing entities — the “seams” must be sewn in order to become a combined but single body; the question is whether there will remain a weakness in the seam, to what extent the seam will show, and how strong the seam will be.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the key to preparing a seamless application will depend upon the proper analysis, evaluation and coordination of the various elements involved in the process itself.  The medical evidence to gather; the relevant information to include; the legal arguments to be made; the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of the position — these all must be brought together by the expert hands of the “tailor” who knows the “stitches” to apply.

Consult with an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in preparing as seamless an application as possible.  For, it is the expert tailor who has the knowledge and expertise to make both the process and the substance as a seamless entity, and that is the key to a successful outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Choices and Regrets

The two go hand-in-hand, although we may not necessarily see them as unalterable couplets forever ensconced and inseparable. Instead, we often make choices, then afterwards, express our regrets without having learned from the process of “choice-making”.

Choices available are often unanalyzed and nebulous; left to appear, remain inert and ignored; the “active” part of a “choice” is when we engage in the act of “choice-making” — of engaging our minds with an inactive but available “something” — a choice there, but lifeless until the activation of our choosing invigorates the inertia of indecision.

Regrets, on the other hand, are comprised by the dust of past choices made. Once settled, they remain in the hidden caverns of forgotten memories until, one day or hour, or moment of quietude when we have the time to reflect back, the unsettling of the dust collected is stirred and rises from the ashes, like the mythological Phoenix that appears with wings spread and ready for flight into our imagination and stabbing at the vulnerabilities of our inner soul.

We regret that which we have chosen; and like the past that haunts, such regrets are ever so painful when once we recall the choices available and the ones we made.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job and position, the next steps taken — of choices being made in whether and how to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits — are important in determining whether regrets will follow.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the choices to be made will result in regrets later recalled; for in the end, it is the choices that determine the future course of success, and not the regrets that harken back the past of lost opportunities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Boundaries

We set them for a reason: To prevent future conflicts; to establish clearly when trespasses occur; to allow for the maintenance of compartmentalization in order to preempt overlapping potential conflicts; to teach societal conventions in a safe, artificial context; to demarcate the lines of acceptable behavior, etc.

Boundaries are set in law, in conventions, in neighborhoods, communities, nations and continents. Remember when we learned in Geography Class about the various countries and their disputed boundaries?  Or of early lessons where we were told not to cross the street unless a school safety guard bade us forward?  And what of mental boundaries — of not answering the phone after a certain hour; of boundaries that prevent us from working ourselves to death; of not responding to emails after “work hours” (is there such an animal, anymore?), etc.

And those subtle boundaries we all seem to learn — of conventional behaviors acceptable in society, including invisible ones of “personal space”, of declarations in public both allowable and prohibited; and even of eye contact, how much is offensive, to what extent a “look” becomes a “stare”, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to cross the boundaries into considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement.  Medical conditions themselves have no boundaries, know no boundaries and respect no boundaries.  It becomes all pervasive — crossing into one’s personal life, and disrupting one’s career and work life.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and consider re-establishing those important boundaries that keep in place the lines of sanity necessary for one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire