Author Archives: Federal Lawyer

Doctor Office Notes

The Office of Personnel Management, in reviewing a FERS Disability Retirement application, will often request to see the doctor’s office/progress notes, detailing the history of treatment for the previous 18 months.

Such scrutiny of clinical notations made by the treating doctor is meant to verify and validate the statements made by the doctor in his or her medical narrative report, to see if there are internal contradictions between the clinical notes and the narrative report prepared for purposes of obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Such a review of clinical notes can be an unfair process, precisely because they are being reviewed with a paradigmatic purpose in mind: to “find” any inherently contradictory remarks or evidence which conflicts with statements made in the primary medical report.

Thus, reviewing the medical notes in a vacuum, outside of the context of the entirety of treatment, and with the intention and motive of seeking out any “discrepancies”, will sometimes result in a denial based upon selective interpretation of the office/progress notes.  Statements such as, “medications are helping”, “patient notes feeling better”, “Is sleeping much better”, can provide a false picture of the actual progress of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant.  Indeed, such a skewed picture will often come up in the denial letter issued by the Office of Personnel Management, where the denial letter will selectively quote from the progress notes.

This reminds one of a particular case where the Office of Personnel Management quoted from clinical notes, statements made by the applicant: “Feeling much better”; “Making great progress”; “overall doing very well.”  The problem, however, is that the applicant was permanently in a wheelchair, and the job was that of a Law Enforcement Officer. It was denied at the Initial Stage; at Reconsideration, when the pertinent facts were pointed out to OPM, it was quickly approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

FERS Disability Retirement is a benefit available to Federal Civil Service employees and U.S. Postal workers who meet certain medical and legal requirements.  To find out if you’d qualify for Federal Disability Retirement, please contact Attorney Robert R. McGill for a personal assessment of your case.

Continuing Your Medical Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of FERS Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

FERS Disability Retirement is a benefit awarded to all Federal and Postal employees meeting the criteria of “disability”, a term which has a special definition under FERS Disability Retirement Laws.  It doesn’t mean that the employee must be “totally disabled”; rather, “disability” is loosely defined as an injury or illness that affects the performance of the main work tasks assigned to a Federal employee.  Thus, while a particular physical condition may qualify a Postal Carrier, the same condition may not qualify an Intelligence Officer working in an office environment.  For an individual assessment of your case, contact the author for a first-time consultation to help you to establish your eligibility.

Providing Medical Information

In every area of law, in most facets of life, and certainly in the administrative procedures of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits either under FERS with the Office of Personnel Management, one must determine the extent, scope and substance of the information which will be provided to the requesting entity.

Most of the time, the extent of information is pre-determined by the requirements which must be satisfied.  Similarly, the scope of the information to be submitted must meet certain criteria, but additionally, it will depend upon the question asked.  More importantly, the substance of the information one needs to provide, will be determined by the question asked, the criteria to be addressed, and the statutory and regulatory guidelines which must be met — in the case of FERS Disability Retirement, that which would meet the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence.”

In venturing and maneuvering through the administrative process of applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, however, there will be times when either the Agency or the Office of Personnel Management may request “additional” information, indicating that they are not satisfied with what has been submitted.

An appraisal of what information is being asked; whether the question is properly formulated as posed, or whether it can be reformulated and still satisfied; and the harm or good in responding fully or partially to the request — these are all determinations which are best guided by the advice and counsel of an attorney who understands the laws governing the legal criteria in Federal Disability Retirement cases.

Not every question deserves a full answer.  Sometimes, the question itself must be re-formulated and answered in the re-formulated format.  Agencies are not gods; they are not omnipotent, and certainly not omniscient.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

While we strive to keep legal information on the blog accurate and up to date, we do not give any assurances and will not be responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information published in this blog.  Instead, you should contact the author for information about specific laws and trends with the Office of Personnel Management or to discuss the particulars of your case with a free (30 minutes) telephone consultation.

The Bridge

The “bridge to nowhere” has become a metaphor for wastefulness and needless expenditure, both in terms of effort and resources.  It is a phrase in politics which has become overused and bandied about for political gain, attack ads and undermining of an opponent’s credibility.  As a political tool, in its very repetitiveness of its incessant utilization and reactive assignation against opponents, it has lost its efficacy.  Yet, in a very real sense — while the phrase itself may have become conceptually emptied of meaning — the foundation of what it represents still applies, and is relevant in all walks of life.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must create a “bridge”, or a “nexus”, between one’s medical condition(s) and the positional duties of one’s job.

The underlying and inherent self-contradiction in the phrase itself is fascinating, if one pauses to reflect:  a “bridge” by definition” is intended to connect two or more points — from A to B, to perhaps other destinations. Yet, because a “bridge to nowhere” fails in its very definitional inception by only going from point A to … (?), as such, it undermines its own definition and purpose.  It is not a bridge.  The “nowhere” destroys the conceptual integrity of the “bridge“, and therefore the phrase itself is a conceptual conundrum of nonsense.  In order to regain its conceptual identity, one must go back to the foundational purpose of what a thing “is”, in order to regain what it must become and why it has lost its identity.  As in most things in life, we must go back to Aristotle’s “first principles”.

In Federal Disability Retirement, one needs to go back to what the question is that is being asked on Standard Form 3112A, its purpose, its directive focus, and why it is that the Office of Personnel Management is asking the question.  Only then can one begin to effectively formulate the bridge between one’s medical conditions, and the impact upon one’s positional duties, whether as a Federal employee or a Postal worker.

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, the “bridge to nowhere” will result in a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  The bridge must begin from a point of relevance, and end in its intended destination.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

Attorney McGill specializes in Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law.  He spends all his law practice time helping Federal and Postal workers secure their FERS Disability Retirement benefits.  You may contact Robert by sending him an email message or by calling him to schedule a free and confidential 30-minute initial consultation.

Intersection with Other Benefits

Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the Office of Personnel Management is an independent benefit from an independent agency.  However, there may be some intersecting features which are important to understand, prior to beginning the process.

A FERS Disability Retirement annuity has an “off-set” feature with certain other federal annuities, by statutory mandate and direction, but not with certain others.  For instance, there is a coordinating offset with Social Security Disability (under FERS), and an election must be made between OWCP Temporary Total Disability payments and Federal Disability Retirement benefits (except for scheduled awards).  On the other hand, there is no offset between a Federal Disability Retirement annuity and VA Disability payments.

In making a decision as to whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, each Federal and Postal employee should be fully informed as to the offsets with other Federal benefits and payments, as well as whether there are limits and restrictions as to the amount of other “earned income” a person may be allowed to make.

The importance of finding out which benefits are fully or partially offset is important in making a final decision as to whether it is financially feasible to proceed in preparing, formulating and filing a FERS Disability Retirement application.  Of course, in the end, it is usually a medical decision which is paramount — out of necessity, and not out of choice– as opposed to a financial one.  However, it is nevertheless important to know what is on the other side of the cave, before one enters it to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
OPM Disability Lawyer

The information on this website may not reflect the most current legal developments in FERS Disability Law. The content and interpretation of the law addressed herein is subject to revision. However, if you have any questions about current law developments or if you need to have a professional assessment of your personal case, contact the author for a free initial consultation.

OWCP, EEOC, Grievances & the Comfort Zone

Medical conditions are often accompanied by the necessity to engage in certain forums, to initiate particular legal actions, and to file for alternative means of compensation.  Actions of necessity often come in bundles, and this is natural, as a single event can spawn multiple avenues of legal relief, and reflect various responses by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Thus, a medical condition — whether work related or not — can result in Agency retaliation, persecution, adverse actions, subtle changes of attitudes, etc.

It is therefore not a surprise that a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management also has parallel actions which may include the wide spectrum of a simple Grievance, to an EEO Complaint; a concurrent OWCP/Department of Labor case (for an application of compensation based upon a medical condition or injury resulting from an on-the-job incident or on an occupational disease claim, etc.); a claim of hostile work environment, retaliation; assertion of the whistleblower provision, etc.

As an attorney who specializes in obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits for Federal and Postal employees, one observes the following: there is often a mistaken belief that being involved in parallel or alternative routes of litigation somehow delays the need — whether practically speaking, or in terms of the 1-year Statute of Limitations — for filing of Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

This mistaken belief often stems from a “comfort zone” that arises — whether because OWCP is paying on a regular and monthly basis, and so the financial concern is not presently and immediately existent; or because one is continually engaged in some form of contact with the Federal Government through alternative litigation, that the 1-year requirement to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is automatically delayed.  The Statute of Limitations is not a sympathetic statute.

A personal comfort zone is not a basis to delay what the law requires. Immediacy of an event should not be the basis of whether to file for a claim or not.  Planning for the future is the important basis to act, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits is something which every Federal or Postal employee should be considering concurrently with all other forums and avenues of compensation.  A man can do more than one thing at a time, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should be one of those multiple issues to be embraced.

Don’t let a present comfort zone deny you the right of a secured future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

Mr. McGill is a Federal Employee Attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Employment Law, helping Federal and Postal employees across the nation secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  You may contact Attorney Robert McGill over the phone or by email to receive a free and confidential 30 minute initial case evaluation.

Relying on Common Sense

The problem of relying on “common sense” (as that term is often used and understood) is that such reliance not only reflects a presumption that one possesses that very quality that we deem and recognize as “common sense”, but further, that we assume that we have such sense to realize one possesses it, and additionally, that the person to whom such sense is applied also has it.  In preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, it is indeed an arbitrary delegation and assignment of one’s case, that the Case Worker would possess that very quality in the process of evaluating, analyzing and reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Instead, what normally happens is that the OPM Case Worker mechanically applies a sheet containing the “7-part Legal Criteria” and determines whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement application satisfies each of the criteria.  But much of OPM Disability Retirement has to do with subtle implications and “reading between the lines” of a medical report, and coming to a “common sense” conclusion by extrapolating and actually analyzing the connection between one’s positional duties and one’s medical conditions, and determining whether or not an inconsistency exists.

Further, when the Bracey decision concerning the concept of “Accommodations” is considered, the issue of inconsistency between a Federal or Postal position and the medical condition can be viewed in a proper light and context, with greater clarity.  But to rely upon common sense — both in one’s self, and in someone else — is a dangerous assumption: one which proves the old adage about making a donkey out of you and me.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer

While we do every effort to keep our blogs updated, Federal Disability Retirement Law changes over time, especially with new case laws and rules.  If you have any question about the FERS Disability Retirement process, please contact the author for a personalized consultationMr. McGill is the leading FERS Disability Retirement Attorney in the country.  He dedicates 100% of his practice in this unique field of law.

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.