Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Stark Reality

Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher who recognized the imposition of human categories, structures and conceptual perspectives upon the stark reality of the world around us.  Within such levels of an uniquely human perspective, we shape the barren reality and impose our perceptual constructs.

It is not something we have any choice in; by being uniquely human, we see the world in a human way, thereby bringing to it a comprehension and order which our species can embrace, just as other animals may encounter the world from its own unique perspective.  Thus, the world according to Kant became one of bifurcation — between the “noumenal” world which was unfiltered and unknowable, and the phenomenal world of our own “making”.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must always keep in mind the two parallel universes — the one which we hope for and often “make”, and the one in which we must survive.

When a medical condition impacts a person’s life to such an extent that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the phenomenal world of our making may include:  Hope that the Federal agency will treat us fairly; hope that the medical condition may improve or go away; hope that one’s work will not suffer as a consequence.  But in the stark reality of the noumenal world, one must recognize the unknowable:  Agencies rarely show a sense of sustained loyalty; medical conditions being what they are, will often remain on a steady course of debilitating progressivity; and one’s medical condition almost always impacts the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Walking about with a uniquely human perspective is something which we cannot help; gliding through life with self-deceptions is something which, while also uniquely human, one cannot afford to engage in for too long.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Different Denials

After having formulated, prepared and filed a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the period of long waiting ensues with the review process of the Office of Personnel Management (having survived the waiting process through the Agency).  

At this initial stage of the application, the Federal or Postal applicant will be forced to wait (anxiously) for a decision by OPM.  Thus, when the Office of Personnel Management makes a decision at the First Stage, and that decision is a “denial” of the Federal Disability Retirement application, there is a spectrum of possible responses — immediate, emotional, angry, frustrated, etc.  

Instead, however, the proper response is to recognize that this initial denial is merely part of a greater process which involves many steps, procedures, responses and replies.  Indeed, part of the reason why a Federal or Postal employee feels the pressure and anxieties is because one tends to view the application process as a “one-time” deal — where submission of an application should be reviewed by OPM and an approval is granted.  This can be true — but should be viewed as merely an anomaly, and not the standard.  

While having a Federal Disability Attorney prepare the application for Disability Retirement should increase the chances of an approval at any level of the process, it is nevertheless first and foremost a process involving multiple steps and stages, with potential pitfalls and denials throughout.  Thus, a Federal Disability Retirement application may be initially denied, then responded to, then denied a second time at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, and require a further response.  

Different denials require different responses, not because they are not all part of the same process (I know, the double negative gives one pause), but because each denial is given by different departments and personnel at the Office of Personnel Management. Remember, one must prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, and proof means that there is the potential for an adversarial component of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Proper Balance

The Office of Personnel Management has sent out a number of denials in recent weeks, and the undersigned attorney has had multiple opportunities to review many of the cases which have been submitted at the Initial Stage of the process, by Federal and Postal workers who are or were unrepresented by an attorney.  

The spectrum of the quality of the applications vary; some have obviously engaged in some research, and attempted to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application by following some guidelines which have been put forth.  But in most cases, there is still the problem of an “imbalance” — of not reaching the correct median between the subjective and the objective; of an inability to stay away from the workplace issues, of harassment, of complaints about the Agency, etc.  

Remember that this is first and foremost a medical disability retirement application, and the operative term which should always be focused upon and emphasized is the “medical” aspect of the formulation.  While there is ultimately no formulaic Federal Disability Retirement packet (precisely because the particular medical condition which is unique to each individual resists any such attempt to package a Federal Disability Retirement application in a generic sort of way), nevertheless, there are certain key points which should be addressed and emphasized, while other “non-key points” should be avoided.  

Put in a different way, in proving that a medical condition prevents a Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, one must include multiple “essential elements” in meeting the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire