US Postal Disability Retirement: Making the Right Decisions before Ending up At the Merit Systems Protection Board

     Long before a Federal Disability Retirement case reaches the Merit Systems Protection Board, there were multiple decisions, reviews and considerations engaged in – both by the Applicant, as well as by the reviewing Agency, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Why a particular disability retirement case ends up for an Administrative Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), as opposed to one which gets approved at the Initial Application Stage, or at the Reconsideration Stage, depends upon a number of factors.  Who makes the decisions, considerations, and reviews such decisions at each step of the way, can often make the difference between whether a case gets approved at the OPM stage, or whether a case must go to a Hearing before the MSPB. 

     As an attorney who specializes exclusively in representing Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) and CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System), I have reviewed and been involved in all aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  From Psychiatric conditions (ranging from Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Agoraphobia, etc.) to physical conditions (chronic and intractable Cervical and Lumbar pain, failed back syndrome, degenerative disk disease, plantar fasciitis, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, Lyme Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivity issues, Hepatitis, chronic liver and kidney diseases, visual impairment, to just name a few), as well as the combination of both (and, as an aside, many times depression becomes secondary to chronic and intractable pain precisely because of the profound and overwhelming fatigue which occurs on a daily basis), I have been able to obtain Federal disability retirement benefits for almost every medical condition there is.  This is because disability retirement is not so much concerned with a particular diagnosed medical condition, but rather, with the impact that such a medical condition has with one’s Federal or Postal job.

     At each stage in the process – from the initial application stage; if denied, then at the Reconsideration Stage; if denied, then on to an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board —  decisions were made as to what to submit, how to respond, and what information to provide in order to satisfy the legal criteria under the reviewing eyes of the “Disability Specialist” at the Office of Personnel Management.  Such decisions are crucial and critical, at each stage of the process, in terms of whether or not a Federal Disability Retirement application will or will not be approved.  Who makes the decision; how the decision is made; what is the right decision to make – these are all important considerations to take a seriously look at, for each stage of the process. 

     When a case ends up at the Merit Systems Protection Board, it is fair to say that somewhere along the line, a decision was made (or perhaps more than one decision) which did not persuade or convince the personnel at OPM to approve the case.  That is why it is important to hire the advice and counsel of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law.  Yes, money and expense is always a consideration.  But how much money and expense is lost if a case is denied, then denied again, and the case ends up at the Merit Systems Protection Board?

     Long before a Federal Disability Retirement case reaches the Merit Systems Protection Board, there were multiple decisions made.  It is important to make the “right” decision before it reaches the MSPB, and an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is helpful to that decision-making process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Why Is the Postal Worker Being Removed From Service?

While a compromise position on certain issues in the U.S. Postal Service Disability Retirement for FERS & CSRS may be the best that one may hope for, obviously, clarity over question is the better course to have.  Thus, for instance, in a removal action, where a Postal employee is being removed for his or her “excessive absences,” it is best to have the proposed removal and the decision of removal to reference one or more medical conditions, or at least some acknowledgment by the Postal Service, that would explicate — implicitly or otherwise — that the underlying basis for the “excessive absences” were as a result of the medical condition.  There are cases which clearly state that where excessive absences are referenced by medical conditions, the Bruner Presumption would apply in a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Now, in those cases where the removal action merely removes a Postal employee for “excessive absences”, there are other methods which may win over an Administrative Judge to apply the Bruner Presumption.  Such “other methods” may include emails or correspondence, at or near the time of the removal action, which appears to put the Agency on notice about specific medical conditions, including attachments of doctor’s reports, medical notations, etc.  Such concurrent documentation can convince an Administrative Judge that, indeed, the question as to whether the “excessive absences” were as a result of a medical condition, and whether management was aware of such an underlying basis, is clarified by documents which provide a proper context within the reasonable time-frame of the issuance of the proposal to remove and the decision to remove.  It is always better, of course, to have clarity over a question, but sometimes the question can be clarified with additional and concurrent documentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire