OPM Disability Retirement: Simplifying the Complexity of a Case

Have you ever had a technical person explain things in the mysterious jargon of his or her specialized field?  Or, the one who breaks it down into coherent components and translates it into a language game which is comprehensible?

Those in the former category are usually quite impressed with themselves, and are happy to hear the sound of their own voices as the supposed explanatory interlude maintains a semblance of technical competence superior to the audience of targeted turmoil.

The latter populace does what few have come to recognize:  competence is not determined by mere superiority of technical knowledge, but the ability and capacity to apply the knowledge, reduce it to its simplified contents, then provide an explanatory foundation through reduction of complexities into manageable form.  Otherwise, the esoteric nature of any discipline will be governed by every schmoe who can master the language game, without actually acquiring the technical expertise in the application of select knowledge.  For, in the end, the test of sincerity of words is not a compounding of further words, but of actions following up with a revealed understanding of both what was said, as well as done, in any given context.

Similarly, the fact that the salesman can talk the lingo of technology does not mean that he or she can fix a broken computer; it just means that the salesmanship is a learned volume of nice-sounding paragraphs.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the entrance into the universe of Federal Disability Retirement may be an option which must be entertained.  It is a surreal world of new terms, technical contents and definitional strangeness which constitutes a complexity beyond mere words, simply because the consequence of decisions made today will impact choices governed by tomorrow.

Can the complexity of the Federal Disability Retirement process be simplified such that comprehension of the bureaucratic procedures can be understood for its administrative context in the importance of both process and substance of content?  Because Federal Disability Retirement involves statutes, regulations and court case-laws of precedence from previous cases challenging various aspects of the process and substantive issues, the complexity of the entire venue is based upon the cumulative aggregate of decades in the making.  But of that larger universe of process and procedures, what splinter and slice is actually relevant to one’s particular case?  Probably a very small portion.  That is the focus which should be taken.

When one enters an arena of mystery, it is difficult to determine the relevance within the context; and relevance requires selective content and re-creating of one’s own context.  For Federal and Postal employees who need 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, the importance of simplifying the complexity of one’s own case should be governed by information, knowledge, and selective application of relevance and required completion of necessary content.

Try this for a change, as a test of the principle of knowledge and application:  enter one of those chain-gadget stores and hand the know-it-all salesman a gadget needing repair, and see the language game of competence turn to a stuttering paragraph of excuses and explanations about how the complexity of the component is simplified by the simple justification:  Not my Department.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Concurrent Actions

Idioms often convey an underlying truth recognized and identified by a specific culture or population; they are statements from an experiential aggregation of similitude, based upon a shared set of values.  The phrase, “When it rains, it pours”, is easily a recognizable idiom; that when things go wrong, multiple wrong things tend to occur altogether, all at once.  It is somewhat of a tautology, as when “X is Y, X are Ys”.  But it is in the very pluralization of the outcome which makes the differentiation significant.

For Federal and Postal employees contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the engagement of the administrative and bureaucratic process of preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits rarely results in a vacuum.

Often (or perhaps one is forced to begin with the prefatory clause, “All too often”), the long and complex history of harassment, complaints, formal complaints, grievances, lawsuits, EEO filings, etc., precede the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, thereby complicating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application with much baggage, historical aggregation of enmity and acrimony, and creating a simple set of causal facts into a convoluted compendium of complexities.  All of a sudden, the soft sounds of rain turn into a downpour of ferocious flooding.

In such cases, in formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to bifurcate the compounded complexities, and to simplify, streamline and segregate.  From the viewpoint of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the very agency which receives and decides upon all Federal Disability Retirement applications, the mixing of concurrent actions and issues merely complicates matters.

As we all do, we would prefer to hear the soft patter of rain, and not the thunderous mess of a downpour.  Even the plants in the garden recognize that.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Complexity in the Hidden Background

To prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is seemingly an uncomplicated matter.

As one’s medical condition impacts the ability to perform one or more of the essential element of one’s job, it is up to the treating doctor to establish the nexus and provide an opinion as to the connecting bridge between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

How does one do that? Must it be comprised of a 1-to-1 ratio between job elements and medical conditions? How important and prominent are “symptoms” considered, as opposed to the mere clinical declaration of the diagnosis, in persuading the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that a particular medical condition should qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? To what extent is one’s own statement of disability, as described on Standard Form 3112A, important in establishing the foothold towards gaining an approval from OPM?

Also, what algorithm or comparative analysis does OPM use in evaluating a case, and how does one enhance the chances of success at the First Stage of the process? If denied at the First Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, does the basis of the denial (often characterized by a plethora of multiple reasons given) require a point-by-point refutation, and is the Reconsideration Division at OPM using the same standard of review, or a different application of laws in evaluating the additional evidence submitted at the next stage?

If one watches a gymnast, a ballerina, or even a mathematician at work in solving or unraveling a complex problem or exercise, one is immediately struck by the ease with which the feat is performed. But it is almost always the unseen preparation which has preceded the actual performance that sets the stage of an uncomplicated presentation.

It is that mystery of the uncomplicated, which tends to trip us all, and that is no different in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Simplification of Complexities

The art of simplifying the complex requires an effort beyond mere reduction to basic concepts; it is a process of unravelling compound components in order to separate and undo intersecting concepts which tend to confound through connections otherwise incomprehensible, then to analyze each individual element in their own right, before reassembling and reorganizing.

Anyone who has taken apart a piece of equipment without quite knowing what to expect, understands such an intellectual process.  But simplification of explanation does not mean that the issue conveyed is an uncomplicated one; rather, it is an art form of making comprehensible without regurgitating the inherent esotericism itself; it is a reflection of pure understanding when one is able to explain without puffery.

Federal Disability Retirement is a complex process.  There is no getting around it.  One can separate the multiple components into their individual issues, and certainly simplify the morass by attending to each element independently; but in the end, one must reassemble the disparate parts and reorganize it back to its wholeness of integrated integrity.

As an admixture of three complex groupings — the medical, the legal, and the bureaucratic — one cannot entirely escape the linguistic confusion of technical complexities by merely referring to it as “showing this or that”.  The language of the medical issues must be embraced, followed by a clear understanding of the legal elements established, and further promulgated by maneuvering through the administrative process and the agency’s attempt, often deliberate and with conscious effort, to put up unnecessary roadblocks and obstacles.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is not rocket science; however, nor is it an Andy Warhol piece of artwork.  But then, I never understood the latter to be so uncomplicated to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Ockham’s Razor

Ockham’s Razor is a principle of economy; in its various forms and historically evolved attributes, the formulation of lex parsimoniae involves the idea that, where there are multiple competing theories and paradigms in explaining a phenomena, issue, or working hypothesis, one should always choose the least complex delineation — the reason being, superfluous and extraneous material generally lead to complications which rarely add to the foundational essence of the paradigm.  To put it in an alternate form:  Keep it simple.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is always important to follow the principle underlying Ockham’s Razor:  Keep to the core and essence of the case; focus upon the nexus between one’s positional duties and the medical condition which one suffers from; weave a consistent theme; check for inconsistencies; and always maintain the simplicity of the case, while avoiding and disregarding extraneous factual issues which, while they may be personally of importance or of special aggravation, should be left out because they unnecessarily complicate matters.

FERS & CSRS Disability retirement and the obtaining of an approval is the goal to focus upon; all else should fall by the wayside, cut loose by the sharp blade of Ockham’s razor.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: The Importance of Clarity

Press conferences performed by various public figures are interesting to watch; some engage in obfuscation deliberately and artfully; others take the avoidance avenue and attempt to answer questions never asked or intended; and still others fumble through, unable to articulate a response which exists somewhere in the deep recesses of his or her fertile brain.

The joke in preparing a witness to testify is that if you don’t like the question, answer another; and if you don’t like that one; ask for clarification; and if it becomes too clear what direction the question is intending, begin talking about your aging parents.  Clarity is essential.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, being clear, concise and succinct are traits in a Federal Disability Retirement application which are important in order to convey the points which meet the standard of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.  Knowing how to express the points; of getting from point A to conclusion B; and to keep the peripheral issues and historical background to a minimum, are essential linguistic tools which must be maximized.

The attention-span of a child is minimal; the ability of a case-worker to sift through a voluminous compilation of medical evidence and descriptive narrative creations of the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant should be constructed within the context of a child’s attention span; for, in the end, the Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is not submitting the application for purposes of publication; rather, it is to get the attention of the right person for the singular reason:  an approval.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Keeping it Simple

Simplicity merely covers the complexity behind the beauty of the uncomplicated.  Indeed, one only has to look upon an Apple product, or a modern automobile, to recognize the underlying complexities which went into the production of such simplicity.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is often a desire to respond to an OPM denial by attempting to understanding the apparent ‘complexity’ of the denial.  By ‘apparent’ is meant the following:  Most, if not all, of OPM’s denials are regurgitated templates from thousands of previous denials, and quotations of alleged legalese notwithstanding, the basic components of a Federal Disability Retirement case do not change just because the language used attempts to complicate matters.

In the end, driving a technologically advanced automobile still requires hands on the steering wheel, and a foot on the gas pedal and the brake (hopefully, not both at the same time).  All the rest are simply “whistles and horns” to make it appear worth the price tag.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire