Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unknown Resulting from a Partial Answer

If a question is not fully answered, is it a lie or a mere oversight?  If one places reliance upon a partial answer, was it because the question was not properly posed, or the answer only fragmentally provided, or as a result of a deliberate attempt to mislead?

Everyone has experienced the process of “switch-and-bait“, where the sales pitch is declared as one never matched in the history of the world; but upon arrival, the original declaration of the event was merely the “bait” in order to complete the “switch” to persuade the attendee to accept another product.  In such circumstances, it is indeed fortunate if the only real consequence was a wasted trip, and one can turn around and walk out.

In law, knowing only the “partial answer”, or the incomplete set of facts, can lead to irreversible consequences.  For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to receive full answers — from all sources — in order to make the right decision for one’s future.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a serious step for the Federal or the Postal employee’s future. As such, the information which one relies upon in making that important decision — from what the process entails, to the consequential interplay between FERS & SSDI and a multitude of other questions and answers — should be fully understood.

If a source of information seems incomplete, there is often a reason, and sometimes an underlying motive. Beware the buyer; always seek an authenticating source.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Process of Decision-making

It is both informative and interesting to observe various personalities in the thought-process of decision-making.

Some will merely be silent and ponder for hours, days, and weeks (or longer), as if time alone with resolve an issue; others will be proactive and aggressively inquire, gather further facts; still others will make a quick and decisive stand, with little thought or reflection.

Then, of course, there are those who rely upon “gut instinct”; others who apply a methodological paradigm where each criteria must be satisfied and checked off before a decision is made; and some who “hedge their bets” and make a contingent decision, which is often no decision at all.

For Federal and Postal employees who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the luxury of time often works against them.

Time is the great decider of fate; for, whether because of financial reasons, Statute of Limitations, or impending adverse actions proposed by the agency, time constraints must always be factored into the process of decision-making. Wait too long, and it may be too late; wait not long enough, and an opportunity presently unforeseen may have manifested itself.

Time, in its essence, is both the outside influence and the internal trigger, and the time one takes in pondering the proper decision is often the indicator of whether it is the right or wrong decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Understanding & Application

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 important to both “understand” the administrative process — the compendium of the entirety of the process and procedures itself, including the relevant statutory and case-law criteria which is relied upon, the methodological approach of the Office of Personnel Management, etc. — as well as have the ability to apply such knowledge in an effective manner.  The former constitutes the preparation:  i.e., the study of one’s enemy is necessary in the ultimate prevailing of an endeavor.  The latter — the application of such obtained and accrued knowledge — is the initiation of the former.

The distinction between the two, and the effective use of both, is important in reaching a successful conclusion to the whole point of the process.  Understanding of a subject, person, group, entity, or Federal Agency, is important in the initial, preparatory stages of the administrative process, and as there is much information “out there”, one ultimately has little excuse in not taking the time to reading, self-informing, and compiling the available facts and informative advice provided.  The chasm between understanding and “application”, however, is one which differentiates between knowledge and wisdom; and it is the latter which one is attempting to achieve.  Once the information is compiled, the key is to apply it in an effective, impacting manner.

The difference is likened to the person who has read upon on how to fly an airplane (i.e., the language game may be memorized), but would you ever step onto a plane being flown by a pilot who has never flown previously, but who assures you that he has studied all available resources?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Preparing the Case

As in everything in life, preparation is the key to a successful endeavor.  In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS or CSRS has the affirmative burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  

By “affirmative” is simply meant that it is not the responsibility of the Agency, the Office of Personnel Management, or any other bureaucracy to obtain and submit the necessary evidence, documentation or forms to meet the burden.  While it is true that the Agency must complete certain forms, it is still the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement to request their completion.  

Further, by “burden of proof” is meant that there is a certain set of legal criteria that the Federal or Postal applicant must meet in order to become qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Unlike Social Security, where the Agency itself will contact the doctors, set up medical reviews and consultative examinations with appointed doctors in order to establish the extent of one’s medical conditions, etc., under the legal criteria set up by the Office of Personnel Management, it is entirely up to the Federal or Postal employee to gather, obtain and submit the evidence to meet the burden of proof.  

That places a significant responsibility upon the potential applicant, and in order to meet that burden, it is well to take the time to prepare each and every aspect of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and not just blindly leave a form with a doctor, or anyone else, hoping for the best.  To prepare means time; expending the time at the forefront will often save time in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Quantification v. Symptom Delineation

Different systems and processes require different standards of proof, criteria, and elements of qualifying evidence in order to be eligible and entitled.  Applying for, and getting approved, a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, requires that certain legal criteria be met. 

Quantification of a medical condition, although sometimes helpful in further expanding a descriptive narrative of a specific medical condition, is normally rather irrelevant in a Federal Disability Retirement case.  By “quantification” is meant the assigning of a number — of rating a person’s specific medical condition or relative to the “whole body”. 

Thus, in OWCP and VA Claims, there will often be a number assigned — 10% for X medical condition; a “combined” rating of 80%, etc.  One would expect that a high quantification of a medical condition would translate into a more serious appraisal of that medical condition, but various factors need to be considered when attempting to utilize such numbers in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Thus, for instance, a 10% rating upon a person’s foot may seem relatively insignificant when applied to a sedentary job, but for a person who must be on his or her feet all day, with requirements of constant standing, walking, etc., it becomes not only “significant”, but potentially a singularly viable basis for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS. 

One must be careful in playing the “numbers game” in formulating, preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Numbers never tell the full story, but they can be used to help describe and delineate the necessary requirements to be approved for a Federal Disability Retirement application by the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire