OPM Disability Retirement: The Problematic Loss of Confidence

Confidence is an ethereal character trait; in some ways, it is self-perpetuating, as success relies upon it, and feeds it, which in turn reinforces any lack thereof.  At once fleeting but full, the loss of it can be devastating.

For some, a mere look of doubt or suspicion from others can undermine the fullness of possession one may have had of it just a moment before; for others, whether lack of competence or never having had any reason for possession of it appears to matter not, and like self-esteem in the generation of modernity and “me”, a complete void of accomplishments seems not to overturn those who accumulate an abundance of it.  But weakness or negation from outside sources can be the final straw in undermining that sensitive sense of self, and a medical condition which attacks the body, mind and psyche of an individual can be devastating.

Thus, when the Federal or Postal employee who has confidently strode throughout a long and satisfying career, whose performance has raised eyebrows of accolades beyond mere efforts of competence, and where performance reviews have always included adjectives and superlatives searched out beyond mere templates previously applied with thoughtless automation, the introduction of a medical condition into the life of such a Federal or Postal employee can be like the Martian Chronicles revealing the strangeness of alien cultures clashing in a battle of titans heard beyond the roar of civilizations long lost and forgotten.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who struggle with this, resist the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because the disbelief is overwhelming that, somehow, this loss of what was once taken for granted, could possibly be.  But as “possibility” includes the building of concrete structures in thin air, whereas “probability” involves the hard computation of one’s life and “reality-living” in a harsh and uncaring universe, so the Federal or Postal employee must take into account that past foundations of accomplishments may not uphold the confidence once shared and held by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Confidence, indeed, is like the golden dust sprinkled sparingly by the fluttering angels of yesteryear; and today is a dawn of dying expectations, where the harsh realities of a medical condition must be faced with a freshness of purpose, reserved for that fight which may require one’s presence on a day in future pasts, unforseen and as of yet unfought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Non-nexus

Meeting an adequacy test may constitute sufficiency for some purposes, but not for others.  Thus, it may be enough in completing an FMLA form to have a diagnosis, along with answers to other questions on WH-380-E.  But mere identification of a medical condition via a diagnosis, along with a description of symptomatologies will not be enough to meet the sufficiency test in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

People often assume that having a medical condition in and of itself sufficiently explains the severity of one’s condition, and any implied “blank spaces” can be filled in by the mere existence of such a medical condition.  But Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, filed through, reviewed by, and approved or disapproved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the medical condition itself prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

As such, the identification and description of a medical condition fails to comply with the adequacy standards in proving eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  One must establish, through the conduit of a medical professional, the “nexus” or “connection” between one’s identified medical condition and the inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

The weight of the proof is upon the Federal or Postal applicant.

The foundation of such evidence begins with the identified medical condition, but in and of itself, it is a non-nexus — until it is squarely placed in the context of one’s official position and the duties required by one’s duties.  Thus, the non-nexus become the nexus-point when combined with the identification and description of one’s positional duties.

It is this realization of the step-by-step sequence of proof which constitutes adequacy and sufficiency of evidence, and one of which the Federal or Postal applicant for OPM Disability Retirement benefits must be aware.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire