Author Archives: Federal Lawyer

The Tool of Repetition

Repetition is an important tool in any written genre; overuse of the tool can always backfire (is there an inherent conundrum in criticizing the tool of “repetition” by saying that it can be “overused” — probably), but in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS from the Office of Personnel Management, the importance of repetitively stating the important elements of one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job cannot be overstated.

As time is a commodity worth its span in gold, the assigned case worker or disability specialist (or whatever other name or designation given to the person at the Office of Personnel Management who will review one’s Federal Disability Retirement application for identification purposes) must use such time efficiently; and given the volume of cases which the Case Worker must evaluate, analyze and decide upon, the tool of repetition is important precisely because, in the short time-span within the volume of cases to be reviewed, the ability to catch the attention of the reviewer and to highlight the main points of one’s case by shouting out in bold-faced screams, is an effective way of presenting one’s case.

As paper-presentations go, they are silent vehicles of communication. However, within the neutral silence of being presented to the reader, it is important to repetitively state (and restate) the main points of a case in formulating one’s narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  As with everything else, however, in preparing, formulating and filing a FERS Disability Retirement application, there is a danger point in using the tool of repetition: too much repetition can make one’s case appear to be “artificial” and conniving.

You don’t want to file a Federal Disability Retirement application by stating the FERS Disability Retirement application too repetitively because to overstate the Federal Disability Retirement application too many times would be to use the tool of repetition too much in a Federal Disability Retirement application (hope one gets it).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Medical Retirement Benefits Lawyer

Neither your receipt of information from this blog, nor your use of this website to contact the author creates an attorney-client relationship between you and Attorney Robert R. McGillAs a matter of policy, Attorney McGill does not accept a new client without first investigating for possible conflicts of interests and obtaining a signed engagement letter.  You may, however, first contact Robert over the phone for possible legal representation and to assess your probabilities of becoming a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant after the specifics of your case are evaluated.  An initial consultation with Attorney McGill is always free.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

What does it mean to be “efficient”?  Is it distinguishable from being “effective”, or are the two inseparable?

In preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to be effective in submitting a paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management.  Efficiency, while helpful, is not necessarily a precondition in order to be effective.

In an inverse manner, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is very effective in its procedural approach — the laws support such effectiveness, in that their decisions, time frames and arguments are effective in their very finality (leaving aside the issue of appeal rights, of course).  But is OPM efficient?  Most would argue that because of the recent inefficiencies reflected by their case-load backlog, that one could hardly describe OPM as being very “efficient”.

Thus, “effectiveness” and “efficiency” are two distinct concepts which are clearly separable.  If one were to choose which of the two characteristics one should embrace in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it would clearly be the former (effectiveness), as opposed to the latter (efficiency).  For, while time will fade, the final decision of whether one gets an approval or a denial in an OPM Disability Retirement case will not.

Being effective in fighting a case is the more important of the two characteristics, and sometimes, when one needs to be effective, one is not terribly efficient in the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Attorney

The information appearing on this blog is provided for informational use only and is in no way intended to constitute legal advice.  Transmission or receipt of any information from this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this website without seeking the advice of a FERS Disability Retirement Attorney.

Keeping it Simple

In almost all instances, stating the obvious when filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the rule to follow.  Another simple rule to follow: Keep it Simple.  Except in special circumstances (e.g., where there is a nebulous diagnosis and one must interweave multiple symptmatologies in order to bypass the possibility that you may be later precluded from “adding” a “new” medical condition, etc.), it is best to stick to a paradigm of a 1-to-1 ratio or correspondence of medical conditions, symptoms, impact upon work, etc.

Such a template can be dangerous to follow, however, because any Applicant’s Statement of one’s disability should never appear mechanical or stilted in its tone and tenor.  Emotionalism should not be stripped from an Applicant’s Statement of one’s disability in a Federal Disability Retirement application and, indeed, sterility should not be a goal to be sought.

That goal should be from the treating doctor, where technical medical terms present a sense of diagnostic objectivity and scientific validity.  But such simple rules as presenting the correspondence between specific physical conditions with the physical requirements of one’s job, and similarly, between specific psychiatric symptoms with the cognitive requirements of one’s job, is an important “rule” to follow.

Remember, however, that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is not a “perfect science”; in fact, it is not a science at all, but a mix between law, personal input, and medical facts, with the creative force of persuasion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The content of this blog may include FERS Disability articles previously published in other websites by the same author.  While we do our best to maintain our content updated, laws and rules are constantly changing, and therefore we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information presented in this website.  You may, however, contact the author, Attorney Robert R. McGill, if you have any specific questions about current laws and regulations and to request a general evaluation of your Federal Disability Retirement case.     

The Agency’s Attempt

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of “accommodations” will necessarily surface, if only because the Agency must complete SF 3112D — the Form which is entitled, “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” (which bureaucrat came up with that title?).

Agencies will often choose the wrong box to check because they will either misread the choices or misunderstand what the statements mean.  For instance, in the third choice of Question 4, it states, “Yes, describe below the accommodation efforts made, attach supporting documentation and provide narrative analysis of any unsuccessful accommodation efforts.”  The problem with the choice itself is that the entire concept of “accommodations” has been clarified, modified, and thoroughly discussed in cases which have been brought before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and such court opinions have been issued subsequent to the original meaning of the term when the Standard Form was first issued.

But when the Agency completes the form, they will often answer the question in terms of “allowing for liberal use of sick leave” or “letting the employee refrain from doing X, Y or Z”, etc.  But allowing for temporary, light duty work does not constitute a “legal accommodation“, and thus does not go to the requested information.  In fact, the loosely-used term of “accommodation” is actually no accommodation at all.

What to do about it when it happens?  One must be discreet in how to approach it.  For most cases, the agency’s lack of understanding will have no impact at all, and it should not be responded to.  In other instances…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Materials and information on this blog are provided for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and do not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice.  For more specific information, or to discuss the specifics of your case, you may contact the author for a free, first-time phone consultation.

Discretionary Judgments

There are many things in the long process of getting a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, which are purely “discretionary”, based upon one’s experience, sense of a case, an ear to listening to a client, and based upon a compendium of factors, facts and circumstances, to come up with the “best” decision on a particular issue. A person who tries to go through the process alone, without the ear, mind, experience or judgment of an attorney who knows the process governing Federal Disability Retirement has to make such discretionary decisions without the benefit of past experiences.

Such decisions can range from small issues of: how and when a treating doctor should be approached in the request for a medical narrative; how much guidance the doctor would need or want in preparing a medical narrative report; when and how to inform the agency of the pending decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, etc.; to the larger decisions, such as which medical conditions and reports to include in the final packet to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management; and many other such discretionary decisions. Yet, when grouped together, the complex interactions of the multiple “discretionary judgments” can often make or break a case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Benefits Lawyer

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement is not a decision that should be made lightly.  Whatever your circumstances are, consider every aspect of the application, the process, and your individual situation before making a final decision.  Set up an appointment over the phone with Attorney McGill to review your case so that he can help you to assess your chances of getting approved.  It’s easy, convenient and free for first-time consultations. 

Reassignment Considerations

In considering filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management the issue of possible reassignment will arise — normally as a rather secondary and unimportant facet of the process — as an obligatory agency action.

SF 3112D is a form which the agency must complete.  The form essentially affirms that the agency attempted either of 2 things: tried to “accommodate” the Federal or Postal employee, or tried to find a suitable “reassignment” to another existing, available position.

As to the latter, case-law has made it clear that in order for an offer of reassignment to preclude the Federal or Postal employee from continuing with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, such light or limited duty offer must be at the same pay or grade of one’s current position (there are some complicating details connected with the enunciated standard, but for present purposes, this general rule will suffice).

Sometimes, the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will find a lower-paying position, and offer it, and the employee will gladly accept it because it allows for continued employment.  But one must understand that, if down the road, the Federal or Postal employee finds that he or she is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of that “lower” position, then it is from that “lower” (and often of lesser responsibilities) position that one will be filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Just some thoughts to ponder; for, as a general rule, the greater the responsibilities of a position, the lesser the standard of meeting the threshold for a Federal Disability Retirement; and, conversely, the lesser the responsibilities of a position, the higher requirement to prove one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

This and other articles might or might not have been published before.  In this blog edition, we have tried to update them to check over laws and rules that change over time.  However, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of this information.  If you or a loved one is considering early medical retirement from a Federal or Postal position, contact Attorney McGill to discuss the specifics of your case.

Preempting OPM’s Arguments

It is important at all stages of a FERS Disability Retirement application for Federal employees to predict, anticipate, and preempt the arguments which the Office of Personnel Management may make, will make, and can be expected to make.  Obviously, the three main areas of such concern are: Sufficiency of medical documentation; Agency efforts for accommodation and reassignment; the impact and interconnection between one’s medical condition(s) and the positional duties of one’s job.

However, there are multiple other areas, and it is the job of an applicant filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or his/her attorney, to anticipate the areas of OPM’s concerns, and to address them both factually and legally — the latter, by pointing out statutory authorities and case-law holdings directly or implicitly touching upon those very areas of concern.  Further, one should never be fooled if, in an initial denial of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the substance of a denial is fairly short or if it is detailed and lengthy; the content of a denial letter should not determine the extent of a response by an applicant at the Reconsideration Stage.

Instead, whether short, of “middle length”, or extremely detailed, a response should anticipate all areas of concern, and the applicant who is attempting to secure an approval for his or her Federal Disability Retirement benefits should always preempt any potential areas for a further denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

Federal Disability Retirement laws and rules are constantly changing and evolving. This is one of the reasons why we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information found here.  Some of these legal articles might have been previously published in other websites such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog or the Federal Disability Lawyer website.  If you have questions about these articles and need to have an expert opinion about your chances of getting an early retirement due to your medical conditions, please contact the author for a free and confidential evaluation of your current situation.

Clarity and Conciseness

One can be completely clear in a statement, yet convey the information incorrectly.  Clarity of statement is merely the vehicle for precision; the substance of the information itself is a separate matter.  The problem with the former is that, it is often mistaken for comprehension by the conveyor.

Rambling, convoluted run-on sentences (yes, we all should have taken note and paid attention during those early grammar lessons) may be perfectly understood by the writer of such garbled conceptual constructs; but it is always the targeted audience which must be kept in mind when one’s goal is clarity of thought.  As for the latter, the substantive information must be screened and streamlined; volume of information in any endeavor cannot replace succinctness and precision of thought.

In preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management clarity and conciseness in preparing (especially) one’s Statement of Disability is crucial in attaining the success of one’s goal: an approval of Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Volume of information should not replace a well-prepared, concise disability retirement packet; and lengthy narratives will not undo the meanderings of imprecise connections between one’s medical condition, the positional duties one engages in, and the nexus between the two.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Attorney

The information on this legal blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this website should be taken as legal advice for any individual FERS Disability Retirement case or OWCP claim.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  If you wish to receive a more personalized evaluation of your current legal situation, considering the specifics of your medical condition(s) and your agency, please contact Attorney McGill.

The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is still way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included. And now with all of the pressure to become more “efficient” under this current Administration, I am receiving reports from multiple sources that OPM is denying more and more FERS Disability Retirement applications.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended. The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation. Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her FERS Disability Retirement attorney, or the Federal agency for whom the applicant worked. It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Any articles viewed on this blog are intended to provide information only and are not intended to be legal advice.  As laws are always in a state of change, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information.  For current updates of laws, rules, the current proposal for the elimination or replacing of the Office of Personnel Management, and to get a personalized assessment of your individual disability claim, please contact the author for a free first-time consultation.

Listening to the Doctor

It is amazing how unaware we often are of our very surroundings, even when the circumstances and scenario directly impact us. Doctors see dozens of patients per day, and the administrative aspects of their medical practice rarely engender excitement; for, while being a proponent of a patient to assist in the entirety of the recuperative process, writing a medical narrative report is not the crux (for most doctors) of that process.

However, when a doctor makes statements which clearly reveal the extent of administrative support that they are willing to provide, it is time to listen. For example, if your treating doctor says something to the effect of, “Your job is clearly killing you,” or “you shouldn’t be doing this line of work,” or sometimes even the non-subtle approach of: “You need to medically retire” — the response for the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits should not be one of remaining silent, unaware, smiling distractedly, or even responding with, “Yes, I know, but…” with a trail of silence.

That scenario is precisely the moment to seize, and to say to the doctor, “Doctor, I think that you are right. Will you be willing to write a medical narrative report which would support me in my quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, which would then allow me to recuperate from my medical condition?” Such a conversation must have the cooperative participation of both the doctor and the patient. For, if the doctor does not bring the subject up, and the Federal or Postal employee begins the process of seeking to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, the type of conversation-opener described herein will have to take place, anyway.

If the doctor brings up the subject during any clinical examination or encounter, the pursuance of such a conversation should be taken advantage of. The old saying that the doctor knows best is certainly illustrated when one’s treating doctor has opened the door to supporting the Federal or Postal employee in the quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Benefits Attorney

The copyright of all the articles in this blog belongs to Attorney Robert R. McGill. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the blog.