The priority of health

We must always take a pause and consider those things which we often take for granted, but which form the foundation of a productive life and career.  Health is indeed one of those “things” which are taken for granted. It is somewhat like automobile insurance: one never thinks about it, until one gets into an accident.

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, health often becomes an issue with greater and increasing focal emphasis, precisely because the corresponding ratio between “effort expended” and “result obtained” becomes out of balance, where the chronicity of pain, discomfort, and inability to physically or cognitively engage in certain duties or activities, becomes pronounced the more one attempts greater efforts.

What to do?  Preparatory work in setting the foundation for a successful future formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application begins with a good doctor-patient relationship. It is often a good idea to begin to confide in one’s treating doctor, for that is the basis of a future formulation in considering a FERS Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The information presented in this blog does not constitute legal advice.  This and other articles may or may have not been previously published in other websites including but not limiting the FERS Disability Retirement website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog, the Federal Disability Attorney blog, and/or other resources in third-party websites.

An attorney’s great satisfaction

The final objective of the Federal Disability Retirement process is to obtain that “approval” letter from the Office of Personnel Management.  It resolves and sets aside the months of anxiety and stress compressed into a time of agonizing suspension from life’s ability to move forward; for, during that time of waiting, one cannot “move forward”, because without the knowledge of whether one can obtain the financial benefit of the FERS Disability Retirement annuity, one cannot make the decisions in life to make plans for the future.

It is of great satisfaction to an attorney to reach the “end goal” — to hear from the client that he or she has received the letter of approval from the Office of Personnel Management, and to hear the relief and joy in the voice of one who finally sees “light at the end of the tunnel” constitutes great professional satisfaction for the representing attorney. It means that the proper medical narratives were gathered; that the description of the client’s medical conditions and their impact upon the essential elements of one’s job was properly formulated; and it means that the legal argument presented to the Office of Personnel Management was persuasive.

Client satisfaction means a lot to an attorney; for one who solely specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, to see the end product — the obtaining of a FERS Disability Retirement annuity — is of great professional satisfaction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The website is only general information.  Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client privilege nor is the information provided via the website.  Nothing published via this website is legal advice.  However, you may contact the author, Attorney Robert R. McGill, for an initial free consultation to discuss the specifics of your particular case.

Stating the Obvious

Sometimes, stating the obvious is necessary.  In filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, and in dealing with the Office of Personnel Management, “stating the obvious” becomes not only a necessity, but a truism encapsulated in profundity surrounded by a simple rule: the greater the obviousness, the more effective the Federal Disability Retirement application.

For the applicant who files for Federal Disability benefits, who is unrepresented, it is best not to act as a lawyer.  While case-law and statutes abound as free information on the internet (and such information and discussion is certainly available on my website at the Federal Disability Lawyer blog and in various articles I have written on the subject), misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or mis-citation of cases, statutes, rules or regulations can easily be engaged in.

While generally harmless, and further, since many at the Office of Personnel Management are not even aware of the laws and case-laws governing the very subject which they are supposed to rule upon, what is the point (one might ask)?

The obvious point is for the future — to always predicate a case upon the simple truism that one stage in the process may not be enough, and so building a foundation for the next stage, and the stage after that, by preserving the legal and factual arguments for an eventual appeal, is always a necessary evil one must perform.  State the obvious — and state it multiple times.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The information that appears in this blog is copyrighted.  Also, these articles may have been previously published in other Federal Disability Retirement websites by the same author or by other third-party publications.

Not all Federal Agencies are equal

No names will be named.  Not for purposes of “protecting the innocent”, because it is doubtful that there are any innocent entities, anyway.  Rather, the knowledge that there are some agencies which are worse than others, is widespread knowledge, anyway; and, indeed, if the agencies are “outed”, it would merely be a redundancy to name them.

There are Agencies which, when the name is spoken, it sends shivers down one’s spine, because of the mean spiritedness, the uncooperative attitude, and the sheer incompetency of the Human Resources Department which is designated to process a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Then, there are agencies where the H.R. Department — no matter who in the department is contacted — goes out of their way to assist throughout the entire process.  They understand the traumatic nature of a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.  They realize that the designation, “Human” and “Resources” and “Department”, when taken collectively, means that it is the point where employees come to in order to obtain assistance, to engage in a process which may be very personal, and that the resources sought after require the understanding and compassion of individuals.

Ponder that for a moment — that one’s job may entail, as part of the “essential elements of one’s job” — a showing of understanding and compassion. Imagine that.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Attorney

Articles published in this website are for information only and may not be subject to an attorney-client privilege.  They may or may not have been published before in some of our previous blogs such as the Federal Disability Lawyer or the OPM Disability Retirement blog.  If you have any specific question about the information presented in this or other articles, please contact attorney Robert R. McGill for a free initial consultation.

OWCP determinations

The key to effectively using collateral sources of disability determinations in a FERS Disability Retirement application is to tailor its relevance in each individual circumstance.

Thus, for example, because the focus upon percentages of disability, or the issue of causal connection to the workplace, is a focal point of importance in an OWCP/Department of Labor case, but not in cases of Federal Employee Disability Retirement.  Such issues should be left alone.  However, the fact that there may be an “independent medical examination” by a Second-Opinion doctor, or a referee doctor in a Worker’s Comp case, can be used to one’s advantage.

Often, a person who has been under the agonizing scrutiny and torture of the Worker’s Comp process will miss the point, and complain that the OWCP-appointed doctor “didn’t even exam me for 2 minutes”, or “didn’t listen to a thing I said,” but all the while missing the key ingredients in the doctor’s report:

(1) That the doctor can be effectively characterized as “independent” — not from an OWCP standpoint, but certainly from a FERS Disability Retirement standpoint, because that particular doctor has no self-interest from OPM’s viewpoint.

(2) If the doctor’s opinion is that, while the causal connection (for example) may not have been established, does he nevertheless express an opinion that the Federal or Postal employee is unable to return to perform the essential functions of his or her job?

Often, the emotional uproar in an OWCP case, or in other similar cases (SSDI & Veteran’s Department disability determinations) causes the Federal or Postal employee to miss the primary point of the process: to use the tools effectively in getting a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS approved.  With that goal in mind, an experienced FERS Disability Retirement Attorney can help you to evaluate your medical records to identify which ones you should use as supporting documentation for your Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The law office of Attorney Robert R. McGill, P.C., has intended to convey general information by the information contained in this blog. The information contained in this website should in no way be construed as legal advice or opinion. The intent of this website is a source for general information about Federal Disability Retirement law only.

Stress and other medical conditions

Often, the generic designation of “stress” is the underlying medical condition; other medical conditions can exist, and perhaps are exacerbated by the underlying condition of “stress” — or, at least that is the suspicion, both by the Federal or Postal worker who is suffering from such conditions, and (hopefully) understood by the treating medical doctor.

While failing to have direct causal linkage, the situation often arises where the chronic medical condition may have periods of remission, followed by severe episodes of unrelenting exacerbations.  The problem with such medical conditions in preparing, formulating and filing a FERS Disability Retirement application, is that the medical condition must prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and such a condition must last for a period of 12 months or more.

Medical conditions which “wax and wane” (OPM’s favorite description of Fibromyalgia) and are “not severe enough to preclude an individual from the workplace altogether” (another of OPM’s favorite descriptive rationalizations for denying a Federal Disability Retirement application — which is legally inconsequential and a mis-statement of the laws governing Federal Disability Retirement) — present a special challenge in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  However, even a challenge such as “stress” and a secondary medical condition which is exacerbated for episodic periods, is one which can be overcome, and successfully overcome.

The fact is that the focus is often misplaced.  Instead of asking the doctor to focus upon each individual medical condition, it is the wiser route to have the doctor discuss all medical conditions in their totality, and show that the complex interaction of the primary and secondary medical conditions together prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

Please notice that this and other articles may or may not have been previously published in the author’s other websites such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog, the FERS Disability Retirement website, or the Postal Service Disability Retirement blog.

Confirming your doctor’s support

After undergoing all of the those diagnostic tests; after allowing the doctor to clinically examine, prescribe multiple medications based merely upon the say-so of the doctor; after allowing for invasive surgery; sending you to physical therapy; if the time then comes to prepare and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, it is important to confirm the strength of that “patient-doctor” relationship that has apparently been ongoing and fostered for those many months, years, and sometimes, decades.

It is not enough to get a nebulous “pat-on-the-back-sure-I’ll-support-you” sort of response, and with that, you receive a thick packet from the medical office, you open it, and inside is merely a copy of your medical records. No — “support” must be concrete and definitive. It must mean, specifically, that the doctor is willing to write an excellent medical report outlining his or her opinion in connecting your medical condition with you inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job. If it is time to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk with the treating doctor, and see how committed he or she really was and is to this “patient-doctor” relationship.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

The information contained in this web site has been prepared by attorney Robert R. McGill, a Maryland-based Federal Disability Attorney, who represents Federal employees nationwide.  Thus, this and other posts have been written for informational purposes and is not legal advice.  It is provided only as general information which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments.

OWCP and FERS Disability future reviews

There are horror stories: of people on “disability” who are watched and video-taped, and after having 500 hours of taping, it is edited to show that, within a 2-minute period, it is revealed that you can indeed perform physical feats which your medical disability should restrict.

As an attorney who receives daily inquiries concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, people relate such fears to me.  However, I am quick to remind such callers on two (2) matters: First, such stories relate almost exclusively to Federal OWCP cases, which have nothing to do with FERS Disability Retirement, and Second, the people I represent have legitimate medical conditions which impact and prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

There is also an additional Third element in the issue, FERS Disability Retirement annuitants are allowed, under the law, to go out and get another job, and to work and make up to 80% of what his or her former position currently pays.

Now, obviously, any such job should be essentially different, in many ways, from the former job.  But the point is that the FERS Disability Retirement is intimately wedded to a particular job, and the inability to perform the essential elements of that particular job.  That is where the difference lies between FERS Disability Retirement rules and OWCP cases — the former allows one to continue to remain productive in the workplace; the other does not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Attorney

Please note that the information that appears in this article is copyrighted.  Originally written by Attorney Robert R. McGill, it has been more recently updated by the webmaster.  This article has been previously published in other OPM Disability Retirement blogs.

How important is the SF 3112B form?

It is amazing how a Supervisor’s Statement is completed.  Normally, it is completed without much thought; sometimes, it is completed with too much thought (and self-protective, CYA language concerning how much effort the agency attempted in “accommodating” the employee, when in fact little or no effort was made); more often than not, there is a last, parting shot at the employee — some unnecessary “dig” which often contradicts other portions of the statement; and, finally, every now and then, the Supervisor’s Statement is completed in the proper manner, with forethought and truthfulness.

Fortunately, the Office of Personnel Management rarely puts much weight on a Supervisor’s Statement in making a determination on a FERS Disability Retirement application — unless there is some glaring statement of a deliberate attempt to undermine the Application.  This is rare, because it is a medical disability retirement, not a Supervisor’s disability retirement — meaning, that it is the medical opinion, not the opinion of a Supervisor, which is (and should be) most important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

The material provided in this blog has been updated from previous publications such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog and the Lawyers.com blog.

OPM & history of medical conditions

There is a distinction to be made between one’s medical history and an extensive discussion of workplace issues which may have contributed to a causal impetus for a medical condition.

The Office of Personnel Management is rarely interested in receiving information concerning the history or causation of a medical condition — especially from the Applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  While the treating doctor may briefly refer to the historical genesis of a medical condition in a narrative report, it is the focus of the present-to-recent-past impact of one’s medical conditions upon the essential elements of one’s job which the Office of Personnel Management is interested in reviewing.

Again, remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “paper presentation” to an onerous, overbearing and overworked Federal bureaucracy, where one’s private affairs (the most private of all — one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s personal and professional conduct of affairs) are to be presented, received, and ultimately reviewed.

History of the inception, origin and impact of a medical condition may be peripherally relevant to the treating doctor, and it would be appropriate to include such historical background in a medical report; but for the Applicant, to delve too deeply and extensively upon such historical context may place the peripheral into a central focus where it should not be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

Information here do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions.  Material presented in this blog may or may have not been previously published in the author’s other websites including but not limiting to the Federal Disability Lawyer website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog, Federal Disability Attorney and other resources in the Internet.