OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: At What Cost?

The introduction of the “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA) by the French (who else?) is a quantitative approach in determining whether to go forward with a given project.  There are other approaches, of course, but the popularity of such a utilitarian paradigm is especially attractive to Americans, precisely because it allegedly places a determinable value upon the project, endeavor or issue in question.

But not everything in life is quantifiable in monetary terms; and while the CBA approach can take into account complex factors and assign methodologies of evaluating such that otherwise unquantifiable terms can be converted into numbers, the question still comes down to a simple issue of self-reflection:  Is it worth it?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have 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 positional duties, a cost-benefit analysis is often taken with a singularly stark question:  Can I survive on the annuity proposed by statutory authority?

But this often ignores a parallel query, just as stark and similarly singular: What other choice is there?  If the medical condition arose as a matter of a work-related incident, certainly the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset should file for OWCP/DOL benefits; but even then, Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, and there will likely come a time when it is still necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The unquantifiable factors in any CBA are those more personal, intangible issues which we rarely desire to face:  What will happen if I ignore the present course of settings?  If I continue to work with my medical condition and somehow reach retirement age, what kind of shape will I be in to enjoy my “golden years”?  Will the agency tolerate my reduced productivity, and what will their next move be?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is never an easy decision, and should not be taken without a thorough and self-reflective analysis; but it is often an approach tantamount to negative-theology which will bring out the true answers to a dilemma — of what will result if one does NOT do X, as opposed to a quantification of values — and provide the necessary framework for a future reference of positive closure to a human condition which always seems, at the time and moment of suffering, to be a calamity beyond mere dollars and cents, and for which the famous Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill noted, that actions are right “in proportion as they tend to promote happiness.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Another similar article previously published: Federal Disability Retirement pros and cons

 

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Flexibility in a Plan

“What is the game plan?”  That is the question which, when posed, is evidence that one recognizes that engagement in an activity or process should have a logistical and strategic paradigm from which to proceed.

Such an overarching plan need not be a formally drawn, meticulously detailed one; it can be fairly general in its guideposts, with some specificity in milestones.  But to formulate a plan which is discernibly comprehensible is an important first step before initiating any process, whether legal, recreational or otherwise.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the plan of action is important to the overall administrative facet, if only to respond to outside pressures which will almost certainly prevail upon the Federal or Postal employee — from one’s agency; from the financial pressures which will continue to remain a factor; from the ongoing medical condition itself.

Yet, within any “game plan” or “master plan”, one must also figure in a necessary component of flexibility.  Just as the future is never a certainty or a predictable development, so changes in a process where one is attempting to file for a benefit will often incur and involves unforeseen changes and malleable circumstances.

An unseen event or trigger, however, does not necessarily mean that one cannot proceed; it merely require the ability to circumvent the obstacle, if indeed it is an obstacle at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Why is mine denied?

There are always multiple (unverified) stories of people who have filed for Federal Disability retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS, based upon what appears to be a “minor” medical condition (at least “minor” in comparison to the medical conditions which were rejected by the Office of Personnel Management per a denial letter), which was approved; yet, you filed a Federal Disability Retirement application based upon multiple major medical conditions, which was denied.  Why me?  Remember that “fairness” is not the criteria in determining the viability of a disability retirement application.  Comparisons of medical conditions with other applicants or co-workers rarely provide any fruitful insight; the point is, the “other guy” got his disability retirement application approved, and you did not.  It may be several factors beyond your control:  Your Supervisor tried to “get back at you” by declaring that all reasonable accommodations were provided; the OPM representative which was assigned to your case was overworked and wanted to clear some of the workload, and yours was one of them; one of your doctors made statements which came perilously close to making your case one of “situational disability”.  Whatever the reasons, you should not worry about factors beyond your control; instead you need to focus upon those factors over which you do have control:  You need to have a strategy on how you will counter the initial denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Beyond the MSPB

Not all cases that should be won, are won. No one can win 100% of the time; think about it — even the best Major League Baseball players strike out at least 2 out of every 3 at-bats. Most strike out every 3 out of 4 times. Fortunately, I am able to pass through a high percentage of my clients at Stages 1 or 2 of the Disability Retirement process, and that is how it should be.

Every now and again, however, a case must go to the Merit Systems Protection Board; and out of the small number that must get to that point, an even smaller number goes before an Administrative Judge who is clearly anti-employee, and ignores the law and sides with the Office of Personnel Management. Fortunately, most MSPB judges are fair and understand that disability retirement laws favor, for the most part, approval of disability retirement benefits. In those instances where, for whatever reason, a case has been denied at Stages 1 & 2, and the MSPB Judge completely ignores the strong and unequivocal testimony of the doctor, then there is still a good shot at winning the case at the 4th level — a Petition for Full Review.

Such a Stage must be approached by pointing out the legal deficiencies and, indeed, the Hearing Judge’s complete mis-application of the law. It must be done delicately and respectfully, however, because you are essentially asking that the Full Board (a panel of 3 Administrative Judges) reverse one of the Administrative Judges at the Merit Systems Protection Board — to declare that the Administrative Judge “erred” in applying the law. It is possible to do — but it must be done with care, respect, and technical expertise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire