Federal Employee Medical Retirement System: Smiley, Ace of Hides

Similarity of consonant alliteration can evoke and prompt collateral thoughts and memories; likewise, phrases which sound somewhat familiar, yet distinctively remain apart.

Historically, spies were the masters of subterfuge, of appearing as that which they are not.  Then, of course, there is the complexity of the “double agent”, where the appearance is twofold in concealment:  acting with apparent fealty to one source, pretending to be diabolically loyal to a second, when in fact reverting back to the first; and the potential play upon an infinite multiplication of conundrums involving questionable ties of patriotism.  Smiley was the ace of them all, as the fictional character of unperturbed and unflappable creation by John le Carre.

In real life, as in the world of imagination, it is indeed the facial characteristic of the smile which hides; and it is that much more pronounced with the addition of the electronic smiley face that is thoughtlessly pasted whenever deemed appropriate.  Because the smile covers all defects, hides much reality, and conceals deportments of denigrated despair, it remains the choice of frozen acceptance.

People with medical conditions often attempt to smile more than usual, if only to hide the reality of the pain and despair of life.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the veil of a smile is often what the agency expects, and nothing more.

Agencies rarely show a fealty towards an employee who no longer can perform as days of yore; and help, guidance or assistance by a Human Resource Office should be viewed with suspicion and pause, leaving aside the question of whether actions are taken for the best interests of the Federal or Postal employee, or for the benefit of the agency.

Smiles hide realities; they can mask pain, and also present a picture of friendliness when in fact the knife has already been readied for the backside of an unsuspecting victim.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FER, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is something which should be considered by any Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing the two-faced subterfuge of an agency which purports to support, but in fact has shown signs of a hostile working environment.

Smiles are nice, and can sometimes be genuine signs of a person’s demeanor; but, more often, they hide the true deportment of intent; and while George Smiley could alter the character of the geopolitical sphere of power shifts and the passing of state secrets, it is the state of the ordinary Federal and Postal employee that is most impacted by actions of agencies which show no loyalties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: What to Do

Whether or not one should hire an OPM Disability Attorney at the initial stage of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, or whether to wait for a denial; such a question must be answered by each Federal or Postal employee, based upon the strength of a case, based upon the financial resources of the individual and the family, and based upon the ability of the potential applicant to organize, compile, streamline, delineate, communicate, descriptively convey, and methodologically argue the strength of a case.  Much of being able to successfully compile the multiple facets of a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application depends upon the discretionary ability to make judgments about which aspects to emphasize and magnify; which aspects to de-emphasize; and (often) most importantly, which issues to “leave alone”. 

Whatever it is that one does in preparing a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement Application under FERS or CSRS, the “What to Do” list must always include what NOT to do.  Whatever it is that one does, one should do nothing that is going to negatively impact one’s application or case.  And, above all, remember that the person who “assumes” that the Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved at the first stage, and prepares such a packet, is often the person who regrets having said “this or that”, or wishes that “x, y or z” had not been included.  This is especially true when it gets denied the first time, and then the second time, and it is now being reviewed by an Administrative Judge.  On the other hand, I have found that there are few, if any, issues which are not ultimately “correctable” or able to be “explained away”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Approvals & Disapprovals

Approvals of Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS & CSRS, for an attorney who specializes exclusively in that area of law, are self-evidently a professionally satisfying bit of news.  If the OPM Disability approval occurs at the initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, all the better; it means that everything was properly prepared and executed. 

Disapprovals, of course, constitute a temporary setback.  It is a disappointment.  Professionally, it means that the Office of Personnel Management found something wanting; it may not be substantive; it may be as simple as the OPM Representative being in a bad mood on a given day. At the same time, it is a challenge for the Attorney — a time to redouble one’s efforts, discern what is needed to win at the Reconsideration Stage, and win the full confidence of the client.  Winning a case only lasts for the day of the win.  Every attorney worth his or her salt wants to win every case. 

Watching the Olympics during these couple of weeks, it is interesting to see how “winning” is an inherently human desire.  But as with everything in life, it is not just winning; it is how one wins.  Watching each athlete conduct him or herself, it is interesting to observe how there are “winners for the moment”, and “winners in a greater-context-of-life”.  This is not to even discuss the “losers” — or those who believed they should have gotten a gold medal, but instead had to “settle” for silver or bronze.  How one loses at anything in life —  a sporting event, a contest, competition, or a legal case — and how one responds to the “loss”, is what is important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Attorney Representation

I am still often asked about whether or not, or how helpful, legal representation would be in a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case.  To ask an attorney such a question is often unhelpful, for there is always the question as to how much “self-interest” an attorney has in answering such a question.  What I can state, however, is the following:  Remember that everyone believes that his or her case is a “sure thing” — this is natural, because the very individual who is filing for disability retirement is the one who is suffering from the medical condition, and so it is a very “personal” matter, and a sense of objectivity is difficult to maintain in these matters.  Second, remember that when you hire an attorney, you are not just hiring someone who “knows something” about FERS & CSRS disability retirement; instead, you should be hiring that lawyer for his or her reputation, his knowledge of the administrative & legal process with the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board, and how well he is “thought of” by OPM (i.e., how long has he been practicing in the field of Federal Disability Retirement law, does he know the people at OPM, and more importantly, does OPM know him/her?).  Finally, always keep in mind that, while attorneys can be expensive, you must always do a cost-benefits analysis, and look at the benefit you will be receiving (or not receiving) if you do or do not hire an attorney.  Disability retirement benefits are essentially a means of securing one’s financial future, and as such, the benefit to be secured is important enough to consider hiring an attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire