Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The phony smile

We have all seen it; the question is, how is it recognizable?

Well, one way is by the contrasting identification with other features of the human façade.  Here, Plato’s attributed observation that the eyes are the window to one’s soul, is that comparative characteristic that reveals the veil of the phony smile that uncovers more than words will tell.

It is that disarming act that defies sincerity but only is manifested when it is too late; of the knife that stabs one in the proverbial back just after the smile has been issued, like a letter that arrives with such anticipation of joy and yearning, only to begin with the proverbial warning, “Dear John”.

The phony smile is well known; it is perverse and pervasive throughout literature.

“Did you see that smile?”

“Oh, I can’t stand that person – what a phony!”

The eyes – did you get a look at the cold stare as he smiled?

“Yes, he smiled, but those teeth that bared could have cut your heart in two!”

And so the phony smile has made its way through the analogs of time, truth and tempestuous and temperamental tumults, but has survived precisely because it is a smile that phoniness cannot always be certain to be questioned.  It is, as with words in insincere voices, the action that follows that determines the validity of the smile itself.

The analogy for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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 the Federal or Postal position, is in the way the Federal agency or the Postal facility treats the Federal or Postal employee when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

The “smile” is what the Federal agency or Postal Service promises; the contrast to the “eyes” that tell of the sincerity is defined by what they actually do; and the determination that the former was “phony” is when they proceed to stab you in the back.  That is when preparing an effective 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, needs to be initiated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Jobs: Prerogatives

The exclusivity of a right or privilege can remain dormant until asserted; and assertion triggers and activates, and suddenly that which consisted merely of quietude and inertia, becomes the centrality of controversy, contention and adversarial encounter.  Much of life is like that; resembling the proverbial elephant in the sitting room, or the decaying clump of unidentified derivation of unseemly scents, people tend to avoid and take a wide berth while acting “as if” throughout the day, the week, a year, and in a lifetime.

In olden days of yore, the “prerogative” was retained by the King, the Crown and the Papacy to assert or not, depending often upon the whims of emotional and political turmoil.  The fact of inactivity or inertia with respect to the right or privilege did not result in the loss of it; rather, it merely meant that the non-use of power only magnified the unlimited potentiality for tyranny.  One doesn’t lose something merely because it isn’t used; unless, of course, you are a common man or woman without power or purpose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have been “allowed” by one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service to continue to remain in one’s position at the “prerogative” of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, by being retained in some capacity of “light duty” or informal arrangement of “less-than-full-duty” status, the attitude and atmosphere can be likened to the Royal Family allowing and granting a limited dispensation at the mercy of the Crown, and always with humble subservience of gratitude and metaphorical acts of low-bowing.

While it is dangerous to be indebted to someone else for too much, the greater travail is to believe that one owes something of value when in fact no such indebtedness ever existed.

For Federal and 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 positional duties, the fact that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service “says” that it is “accommodating” the Federal or Postal employee, does not necessarily make it so.

The prerogative to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, always remains and is retained by the Federal or Postal employee, even throughout a circumstance and situation where the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service contends that the Federal or Postal employee is being “accommodated”.  For, the term itself is one of art, and “accommodation” — in order to be a legally viable accommodation — must meet certain standards and rise to a level of legal sufficiency.

The mere fact that the Federal agency on High says it is so, no longer applies; for, despite its claim to greater status of Royalty, the days of uncontested power through mere lineage no longer exists, except perhaps in the feeble minds of the commoner who treads the hallways of Federal agencies and U.S. Post Offices with fear, trembling, and humble subservience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Faking it

We often judge the complexity and sophistication of a species by evaluating the extent of negative capacities.  Thus are humans considered to be advanced creatures because of the capability of lying, subterfuge, dissimulation, pretense of behavior, and other such undesirable characteristics. But other species can “lie” as well, if one accepts faking matters and circumstances as constituting that sort of advancement of evolutionary behavior.

Predators can “act like” they are asleep, or even dead or noticeably unaware, in order to lure the prey into a somnolence of cautionary approach.  Birds can mimicry others; and chameleons can adapt and change in order to engage in subterfuge.  But the true test of sophisticated advancement is the ability to defy an inevitable reaction to a cause, and to simultaneously suppress it.  As pain is a natural alarm system which the body necessitates a reaction to, so the act of concurrently concealing it requires an enormity of self-discipline rarely found in species other than in humans.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition engage in such subterfuge on a regular basis.  Whether in attempting to extend one’s career for a period greater than self-interest, or of necessity to survive among the pack of hyenas comprised of Federal agencies, their cohorts and co-conspirators, the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, faking it becomes a daily routine requiring self-containment and discipline of an extraordinary capacity.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an avenue of relief where the threshold and intersection between concealment and level of pain can no longer be tolerated.  It is the exit by which Federal and Postal employees find where once there was none.  For, in the end, the predator wounded and laying in wait for the injurious cause to approach with lesser caution, in order for the prey to become the aggressor, the danger is that one may wait too long and bleed to death, and unknowingly reverse the intended fortunes of the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life’s Repertoire

It is one thing to have a stock of memorized pieces or performances from which one can reach back and employ, like an inventory of dusty artifacts which can be brought out for display upon request; quite another, however, to reveal it, dust off the residue, begin to showcase it, then be interrupted and, without missing a beat, to ad lib above and beyond the prepared piece.  The tape recorder (does anyone even remember what that contraption is or was, in this digital age?), the CD, the digital device; once set, it can only be altered by enforced remixing.

The human being, however, can adapt and respond according to the vicissitudes of changing and demanding circumstances.  The best jazz musicians are the ones who can go with the flow, and change from the vast spectrum of rising keys and notes in the flash of a feeling; as the blare of the trumpet, the sax or the flugelhorn rhythmically calls upon the beat of the drummer.  It is, in the end, the repertoire which we carry, from which we can wander; without the inventory left in reserve, we would have nothing to start with.  In life, we rely upon that repertoire to carry us forward each day.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who becomes beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to interrupt one’s stock of daily routines, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes an important part of that inventory.  Yes, it is an inventory of change, a repertoire of alterations; and some ad libbing must be engaged; but much of life’s repertoire has been unusable, anyway, and the forced alterations may stretch one’s limitations, but rarely break.  Procrastination, avoidance, neglect and suppression of the inevitable — they are never the stock and trade of the best of jazz musicians.

Rare is the Federal or Postal employee who is also an accomplished jazz musician; but in the privacy of one’s home, the Federal or Postal employee who is forced to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM because of an interruption from a medical condition, is one who must ultimately toot his own horn, in his own time, and in his own unique way, whether forced or not, and to reach back from the vast repertoire of life in facing the challenges in confronting a medical condition both unexpected and unwanted, but there anyway, as another obstacle to overcome in this thing we call a journey of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Those Days of Mental Clarity

One often remarks that we live for such days; when energy, motivation, clarity of mind and enthusiasm for life surges through our veins; one’s outlook is positive, the mystery of life is resolved, and no challenge is too onerous to overcome.  But then the mundane monotony of repetitive thoughtlessness returns; and life is back to the normalcy of day-to-day living.

Do we really live for such moments?  Or is it actually the opposite effect — that such days are mere reminders that living constitutes a linear course of relative quietude, interrupted by interludes of awakenings, like dreams impeded by nightmares in the solitude of self-contained solace.

Medical conditions have a similar impact; days of chronic pain, of lethargy and depression; and the cycle of becoming momentarily pain-free reminds one that there exists a plateau of health where the negation of illness or loss of wellness is the actual normative lifestyle, but where a medical condition reverses such a state of consciousness such that we adapt and come to accept a life of pain and chronic illness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daily pain and impact of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress-induced somatic disorders, as well as lesser-accepted physical conditions of Fibromyalgia, unspecified cognitive disorders, etc., can be the foundational basis of a Federal Disability Retirement claim.  OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit which is available to all Federal and Postal workers who are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, once the minimum years of Federal Service is met, and the preponderance of the evidence proves that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional requirements of the job.

Like those days of mental clarity, the necessity of filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits becomes a reality at some point in the evolution of one’s career, in the struggle to maintain sanity of health in a world which allows for chaos in this bureaucratized phenomena called the Federal system of government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Those Moments of Enlightened Clarity

It occurs in momentary lapses of time, as if fate, the spirits and the ephemeral heavenly bodies are mocking us silently in childish teases of playful provocations.  They are brief segments of clarity, when all of the cylinders of life appear well-oiled, when the metaphorical pistons are firing simultaneously, and the fuel pump is injecting a sufficient amount of energy, and we feel on top of the world.

This is perhaps how man is supposed to live, is meant to exist, and is thought to represent the essence of his being.  But as Rousseau would quip, the ravages of society and civilization tends to weigh upon the natural state of man, and separate him from his true essence.

And so it often is with the daily fight with an agency.

It is interesting to study the entire history of the concept of “accommodations” in the field of disability law; for, what one finds is that entities, including Federal agencies, rarely attempt more than a show of appearance to accommodate an individual’s medical condition.  The unstoppable grind of a bureaucracy’s march forward will wear down the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.  Fighting through standard means of EEO actions, discrimination lawsuits, formal grievances and complaints may stay the progress for a time; but time itself is always on the side of the Leviathan known as the Federal agency.

Ultimately, the disadvantage is two-fold for the Federal and Postal employee suffering from a medical condition: the process itself, and the medical condition which continues to debilitate.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an option which need not be considered the “nuclear” option, but rather an acknowledgment that agencies can rarely change itself to suit the individual, and instead, it is always the individual which must change to fit into the vast sea of an organizational morass.

As for those moments of clarity? They often come when an affirmative step forward is taken, as when the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that there is more to life than fighting against an entity which cares little for the human frailty of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire