Tag Archives: Mistakes that disabled Federal employees make

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.

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.

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 Priority of Your 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.

Filing for Disability Without a Federal Disability Attorney

Sometimes I get calls all the time by people who tell me that they thought their particular Federal Disability Retirement case was a “slam dunk”; that the medical documentation was there; that everything looked like it should be approved at the first level.  Then, there are people who tell me the same thing after the second, Reconsideration denial — that he or she thought it should definitely pass through.  But law, and especially administrative law before the Office of Personnel Management, has peculiarities beyond a surface, apparent reality.

There is a process and a methodology of obtaining FERS Disability Retirement.  Can a Federal Disability Attorney guarantee the success of a disability retirement application?  No.  Does an individual applicant have a better chance with the assistance of an attorney who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement Law?  In most cases, yes.  Aren’t there applicants who file for medical retirement, without the assistance of an attorney, who are successful?  Yes.  Should everyone who files for FERS Disability Retirement hire an attorney?  Not necessarily.

When I speak to a client, I try and place him or her on a spectrum — and on one side of that spectrum is an individual who works at a very physical job, and who has such egregious physical medical disabilities; on the other side of the spectrum is an individual who suffers from Anxiety, who works in a sedentary administrative position (please don’t misunderstand — many people who suffer from anxiety fall into the “serious” side of the spectrum, and I am in no way attempting to minimize the psychiatric disability of Anxiety).

Most people, of course, fall somewhere in the middle.  Yes, I have told many people to go and file his or her disability retirement application without a Federal Disability Lawyer.  There are those cases which are so egregious, in terms of medical conditions, that I do not believe than an attorney is necessary.  However, such instances are rare.  Thus, to the question, Should everyone who files for Federal Disability under FERS hire an attorney?  Not necessarily — but in most cases, yes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

Note: The information that appears in this blog is copyrighted.  Originally written by Attorney McGill, it has been updated by the company webmaster.  This article has been previously published in other OPM Disability Retirement blogs.

FERS Disability Retirement Applicants

FERS Disability Retirement applicants are especially “vulnerable” because of the inherently precarious financial situation that an applicant often finds him/herself in, and often desperate need for an approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Most of the cases that I represent are approved at the First Stage; upon a denial, however, it is necessary to go to the Second Stage, or the “Request for Reconsideration Stage.”  An individual has 30 days from the date of the denial letter to file a request for reconsideration, then another 30 days to obtain and submit additional medical and supporting documentation.

If it is denied a second time, then an applicant has a right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).  While the MSPB will hear the case de novo (meaning, “anew” without consideration of OPM’s prior decisions), neverthess, it is important to look upon a disability retirement case as a “case in progress”, and that is why hiring an attorney at the outset is often important.  While most “mistakes” made by an applicant are minor and correctable, everything that is submitted — the applicant’s statement, any records or reports submitted — become part of the record as a whole and cannot be retracted or erased.  That is why a thorough review by a competent attorney is important in filing for FERS Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
OPM Disability Retirement Attorney

The content provided in this article has been updated and previously published in other resources such as the Federal Disability Lawyer website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog and/or the Federal Disability Attorney blog.