OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Fundamentals

What does it mean when a person says, “The fundamentals remain sound”?  Is it one of those “throw-away” lines which makes one sound intelligent, but upon closer inspection, means very little?  Sort of like the misuse of the double-negative that was popularly in use, where people say, “irregardless” of this or that?

Fundamentals are important to every successful endeavor, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the “fundamentals” which must never be overlooked, but rather, to be focused upon, tweaked, considered carefully and crafted with greater perfection.

Unfortunately, many people who prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, believe (erroneously) that the mere fact that one has a “serious” medical condition is enough to satisfy the eligibility criteria for an approval from OPM.  Always remember that there is a vast difference, with a “real” distinction, between “having” a medical condition and “proving” that the medical condition one has prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

It is very easy to focus upon one’s pain, anguish and despair in dealing with a medical condition, and forget that an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is by necessity a “paper presentation” to an unknown, faceless person lost within a vast bureaucracy in Boyers, Pennsylvania, and in the process to neglect the “fundamentals” in preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

When the fundamentals are sound, the rest of it is sound; and though such “sayings” may often be thrown about without much thought put into it, it is the soundness of the fundamentals that will prove to be the effective application that gets a First-Stage approval in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Foundations

Foundations are important to every sound endeavor — or is such a statement a mere tautology of sorts, as “soundness” must by necessity involve a proper foundation, and foundations are by definition the basis of soundness?

We all recognize that, and expect that it is an universal principle; otherwise, we would stand over the constructio1n of every building, house or warehouse we entered, scour the blueprints and interrogate every worker having anything to do with the project before entering its premises.

That being the case, why do we so often disregard that principle when formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Think about it: What is the “foundation” of a Federal Disability Retirement case?  Yes — it is the “disability”; otherwise, without it, there is no “case” to file.  And how is a “medical disability” proven to exist, and more importantly, proven to have a “nexus” with the Federal employee’s or Postal worker’s job?

And, yet, most Federal and Postal employees formulating and preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application simply drop off the SF 3112C (the Physician’s Statement Form), and expect that the medical doctor, the psychologist, the therapist or the chiropractor will follow the minutiae of the instructions on SF 3112C, and then submit it along with the rest of the application and forms without nary a glance at the content and substance of the submission.

Clear, concise and perfected guidance provided to the physician or other medical professionals establishes a strong foundation for every OPM Disability Retirement application, and if you — the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker — have consulted with any attorney who does not state with a straightforward “yes” as to providing that sort of guidance and direction in formulating and establishing the very foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, you may want to reconsider who is advising you, who is providing counsel to you, and who is helping you formulate the foundations necessary for an effective FERS Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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 job, initiation and submission of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Art of the Story

There is the subject itself, and then there is the art of the subject thus identified.  At some point in every civilization, the academic study of a subject becomes pedantically necessary, and a “cottage” industry developed.

Once upon a time, the “story” was an important and inseparable component of a culture; the storyteller was the keeper of the village’s identity, the protector of its essence where mythology and folklore provided meaning, relevance and its self-knowledge of who one was, where one came from, and what the whole purpose of existence meant.  Without The Story, people wandered off despondent, lost, and without a teleological force to hold the unit of peoples together within a coherent whole.

Then, writing came along and as the technological tools of the craft disseminated to other and wider cultural arenas, the shared ideas and adventures of each culture became better known, and assimilated by each over and within others.  The “Art” of the story became the study of it — of what constituted an effective story; what made people laugh, cry, and the erudite articles that explained that which was once obvious and self-evident.  Categorization and specialization soon follows; whether as it becomes more sophisticated or intellectually advanced as a reflection of it, or merely because complexity follows upon a self-satisfaction of what we deem as “progress”, who will ever know?

The “Art” of the story somehow came into being — of the study of a once human need began around a campfire where a village told of its origins, now relegated to the halls of academic “science” where dissection, analysis and discussions ensue.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a “story” about a medical condition that is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Art of the Story becomes a necessary form of application, because SF 3112A —Applicant’s Statement of Disability — requires not only the telling of one’s story about the medical condition, the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s job duties, and how it has dominated all aspects of one’s professional and personal life, but beyond: it must comply with and meet the legal eligibility criteria by a preponderance of the evidence, thus forcing the Federal and Postal employee to go beyond the story itself, and to be fully aware that the Art of the Story has more to do with the proper and effective presentation of it, than the story itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Trials of error

Normally, of course, the common usage of the terms involve the combination with a conjunctive — of trial and error, implicating a process whereby the latter term triggers the former (i.e., the “error” forces us to engage another round of trials, which then may lead to further errors resulting in further trials, etc.) into a potentially lengthy repetition of attempts, each with the advancement through possession of greater knowledge gained from the errors identified and witnessed.

The concept as it stands, however, implies something further:  of the experience of each error and the process within such error and what the error may implicate.

Human beings have an expansive capacity to “move on” quickly beyond errors made, and perhaps that ability of adaptability is an evolutionary advantage for a species that makes a fair number of errors that, in other contexts and within other species, would spell the extinction of the species itself.

Errors compounded go beyond the experience of the trial itself; sometimes, errors lead to other errors, and thus the “trials and errors” in their aggregate allow for greater knowledge and adaptability depending upon the nature of each error and of many trials.  But it is the trial of the error that often needs to be paused, and allowed to ponder upon, before going on to the next trial, lest the lesson from any one error has not been sufficiently learned before a further trial is engaged.

Sometimes, of course, the trial of an error, if not sufficiently comprehended and reflected upon, is the very reason why further errors of judgment follow, precisely because not enough time has been spent upon the nature of the error itself.

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 is important to recognize the trial of an error — for, with a Federal Agency or the Postal Service, one is encountering a behemoth of intransigence when attempting to garner any sympathy or loyalty.

Medical conditions themselves are “trials” enough, and when a Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins the process of punishing the Federal or Postal employee for taking too much SL or LWOP, or even invoking FMLA rights, the “error” is not so much the trial of patience, but rather, in thinking that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service was ever on your side to begin with.

While a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a strictly “adversarial” process, one must always consider whose “interests” are being looked after in each trial encountered:  the interests of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, or of one’s own?

The trial of error often begins with a mistaken identification of a more fundamental error on the part of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, and for the Federal or Postal worker contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the first step in preventing the greater trials of multiple errors is to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: ‘It could be worse…’

Do other species utilize comparative analysis as a tool for deciding the next course of action to take?  Or, does the existential, “here-and-now” appetitive nature of non-human beings rule, such that the conclusion reached — “It could be worse” — never plays a role in the decision-making process?

For, that is the basis of the conclusion reached, is it not?  Of remaining static, refusing to change, in deciding to not make alterations to present circumstances no matter the cost or the pain — that by coming up with imaginative, hypothetical models of circumstances real and fantasized, encapsulating descriptive conditions far worse than the one being endured by you, we can therefore justify continuation of maintaining the status quo?

How much worse must it get before one discards the idea that it could be worse?  Or, are the boundaries of human imagination so limitless that the enduring of present circumstances is always preferable to modification and change; or, perhaps that change itself is so naturally resisted, because the comfort of monotony and repetition provides the sequence of security that favors the stability of an unchanging universe?

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 preservation of the status quo is often preferable to the trauma of needed change.

One can justify for quite a long time the grasping on to that which one has, and to not change; and the justification can be maintained for quite some time in the very statement, “It could be worse…”.  That is the safe path, the road of least resistance; but the question unasked is the one unanswered and therefore untold as to the progressive deterioration of one’s health; Of: “Could it be better?”

That question can only be answered in conjunction with the realization that one’s health is never something that should be sacrificed on the altar of one’s career or work, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the first step in recognizing that, Yes, while it could be worse, it could also be better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Wants and needs

One often encounters such discussions, about the difference between “wants” and “needs”.  Needs are dictated by a loose definition of survival or existence — that which is required by or necessitated of the things which satisfy the criteria for continued existence or maintaining of a given modality of the status quo.  The other — “wants” — are defined as those “extras” that are not required for existence, but go beyond the prerequisite for survival and add to the comfort and meaningfulness of one’s very existence and survival.

There is always a grey area between the two when one engages anyone in a discussion involving the two — and it often depends upon the paradigm and perspective one takes, which leads to conclusions not only about the subject concerning wants and needs, but also about one’s own character, upbringing and attitude towards life in general.

Take the perspective of a member of the British Royal Family, for example — of a person who knows of existence entirely from the perspective of wealth, privilege and undiminished wants and needs.  Such a person will often have a widely differing view of the distinction between the two, in contradistinction to a person born in the ghettos of an inner city, whether here in the United States or of more underdeveloped countries elsewhere.

Can one who has never lacked for needs, or even of wants, recognize the objective criteria that determines the differences between the two?  In other words, can the poor person even have a logical discussion with a wealthy person by pointing out that food is an example of “need”, as opposed to a Ferrari being merely a “want”?  Or, will the member of the Royal Family retort with, “Well, yes, I can see how cheap caviar of a subpar quality could be a need as opposed to wanting a Rolls Royce.”

Such a response, of course, tells one immediately that there will be a difficult road ahead in attempting the bridge the gap between understanding, comprehension and the art of logic and discussion.  What we want, we often do not need; and what we need, we merely want for want of sufficiency.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who want to continue their careers despite a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, will often cross the threshold between wants and needs.

You may want to extend your career, but need to end it because of your medical condition.  Your agency may want to be compassionate, but may need to follow directives from above.  You may want to remain, but need to depart.  The conflict between wants and needs is one of life’s ongoing clashes between the two, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through OPM, may need to be initiated in order to satisfy the ultimate need of one’s existence: The need to want to look after one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire