Posts Tagged ‘opm attorney’

Can I Continue to Work While I Wait for OPM?

Thursday, December 19th, 2013 by

The simple answer is “Yes, you can.”

This can get complex, but the basic reasoning is that the OPM federal disability retirement is given to anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from being fully successful at their job. They must have a deficiency in service with regards to performance, attendance, or conduct. In the absence of such a deficiency, there must be medical rationale stating that continuing in the job would cause the deficiency.

That is a complicated way of saying that if you are not missing work regularly, or have been performing all of the essential functions of your job, or your conduct has been acceptable, you need to show that your medical condition is making it impossible for you to sustain that. Your doctor needs to be able to state that your medical restrictions are not compatible with your job, or that your medical conditions are worsened — to the point of disability — by the job duties.

The overarching concept is that you do not have to forfeit your right to work just because you apply for the benefit. If you are denied for the benefit, you can continue to do their job as best as you can. You can even reapply for disability retirement as long as you still work for the agency.

Understanding that applying for benefits does not bar you from continuing to work at your current job is an important part of making your decision. If you have questions about how and when you should file for federal disability retirement, call Harris Federal for a free case consultation. We can help you understand your rights and options so you can make the best decision for your future.

Most Common OPM Denials

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 by

The Office of Personnel Management adjudicates applications for federal disability retirement for all career federal employees that apply. A large number of the applications are denied. The reasons can vary greatly, but they generally seem to have a common thread.

While our office rarely has denials from our client’s cases, we often take claims that have been denied before we became involved. When we review denial decisions, many claims are denied because the claimant failed to establish that their disability was of the severity to warrant an approval.

Simply put: They want to see more evidence.

The confusing part here is that overloading your Legal Administrative Specialist with additional paperwork and “evidence” is not the way to convince them that your medical condition is disabling. We work on so many cases every year, and have for so long, that we feel that we know what the OPM is looking for. They are generally referring to the type of evidence you are submitting.

What is important to remember, if you don’t hire a representative to help you with your claim, is that all of the evidence that you submit should lead directly to your medical condition causing you to be unable to fully perform your job for a sustained period of time. Just sending every piece of paper that you have collected over the past number of years is not your best bet.

Make sure to evaluate your own evidence harshly. You should be able to convince someone who does not know you, and won’t ever know you, that you have a disabling medical condition that precludes you from provider full service in your current job. It sounds easy, but there is a very strict set of rules and guidelines that the LAS’s follow to make sure that they approve appropriate claims.

Please call Harris Federal to get a free consultation about your claim for federal disability retirement. Just because you have a strong case, or a very serious medical condition, does not make your claim easy to get approved. Approvals are not only based on the medical condition, but how the evidence is compiled and submitted to prove the residuals are strong enough to keep you from fully performing your job.

Let us know if you need any help. For over a decade, Harris Federal has been representing federal employees nationwide with their federal disability claims. We can answer questions for you, or take on your case from the beginning if you meet the eligibility criteria. We look forward to serving you.

Good numbers from OPM in October

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by

Everyone knows that the Office of Personnel Management is a little overwhelmed right now with the amount of federal retirement claims it’s responsible for. Hopefully everyone acknowledges this and understands that there is and has been a backlog in the processing on their part. With that being said, OPM reported great numbers in October.

OPM has reported now that the overall backlog with federal retirement claims in down 39%. According to OPM, the agency received 8,138 new claims in October and managed to complete 12,228 applications. As of now, the total backlog still stands tall at 37,086, but OPM is slowly chipping away.

What does this mean for injured or disabled federal employees who need federal disability retirement? The exact same thing… OPM is taking record time in reviewing and adjudicating these claims. While it’s true that federal disability retirement claims are decided by a separate section of OPM, they are still backlogged.

This is why we believe it is vital to have your “ducks in a row” when applying for federal disability retirement. The last thing that an applicant would want is for their disability retirement claim to finally see the light of day only to be quickly dismissed due to an unsuitable and nonstrategic submission.

- Harris Federal Law Firm

OPM to begin new hiring program July 10

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 by

The Office of Personnel Management will begin a new hiring program beginning July 10, 2012. Known as the Pathways Program, the three tiered program will consist of an internship for enrolled college students, a program for recent college graduates and the Presidential Management Fellows Program; a program which already exists within the OPM.

ResumeOf significant change to current hiring practices, OPM will reduce the probationary period for those in the recent graduates program to one year, as opposed to the two years which were originally suggested. OPM indicated that the federal unions associated with their department did not feel that new hires should be held to a longer probationary period than employees hired under the standard competitive process.

Several OPM managers, including former Department of Homeland Security chief human capital officer, Jeff Neal, disagreed with the new policy, stating that they preferred the two year probation period which was part of the Federal Career Intern Program; a program which is now defunct. The managers preferred the old program as they indicated that this extended time period gave them more time to evaluate new employees following their training.

Initially, OPM suggested a compromise to allow recent graduates to go through the one year probationary program, but after they completed a job specific training program. Jeff Shriver, OPM’s general counsel, explained that OPM is working to determine which jobs having training that will require a deferred probationary period.

However, the executive director of the Federal Managers Association, Todd Wells, relayed that his organization still preferred the two year period in contrast to the one year probationary period.

According to Federal Times, Wells said that OPM’s decision, “leaves a ton of leeway as to when the so-called training is complete,” and that, “In theory, it would absolutely be fine with managers. But a two year probationary period simplifies everything for everyone, and there’s no misunderstanding for any party as to when [the training] started and was completed.”

While Colleen Kelley, National Treasure Employees Union President, said she approves of OPM’s decision to shorten the recent graduate’s trial period, she expressed concern that some hires currently in training may experience longer probationary periods.
Kelley mentioned that as OPM did not provide a limit to the number or type of employees who can be hired under the new program, the potential for abuse could create conflict.

With the new system, managers can choose to either convert the recent graduate employee to the competitive service or the employee will lose his job. Under the standard hiring system, a manager must opt to terminate an underperforming employee prior to the end of their probationary period.

Individuals who graduated from college after December 2010 will be grandfathered into the Recent Graduate Program. While OPM can establish a limit to the number of individuals who may use the Pathways program, they will elect to not cap it as of now. It is expected that agencies will begin hiring under the new program this year but it is not expected to accelerate until the Spring of 2013. Agencies will be required to post jobs via USAJOBS.GOV and that these positions must be open to all qualified applicants, though veterans preference rules do apply to those vacancies.

- Harris Federal Law Firm

FederalDisability.com

Monday, May 7th, 2012 by

Harris Federal Law Firm created the website FederalDisability.com to help inform more federal employees on the subject of Federal Disability Retirement. The best part is it’s free to use! Go explore the site and you’ll find that it is packed full of helpful information for both FERS and CSRS federal employees.

FederalDisability.com

We speak to thousands of federal employees from all across the country every year and we’re always surprised at how many don’t know about Federal Disability Retirement. Unfortunately there is just not a lot of good information or help out there on this benefit. Federal employee benefits are complex and can be very overwhelming for anyone. FederalDisability.com can help you understand the benefit and your rights.

Harris Federal Law Firm is honored to fight for federal employees every day. If you or someone you know has questions or needs help, contact our offices anytime. Our team of Attorneys, Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultants and Support Staff understand the ins and outs of federal benefits and we can help you prevail.

Where should we host our next FREE seminar for Federal Employees?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 by

Our firm strongly believes in sharing information among federal communities so that everyone can have a better chance at successfully asserting their rights. It always amazes us at how little information and/or help there is available to federal employees. This is why we love hosting free seminars to help spread knowledge about OPM Federal Disability Retirement , OWCP Federal Workers Compensation and more.

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Harris Federal Law Firm has spent the last decade helping injured and disabled federal employees all across the country and overseas. We consider it an honor to talk with thousands of federal employees every year and help point them in the right direction.

- Harris Federal

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MSPB and the Appellate Process

Monday, February 6th, 2012 by

Part 2 of 2…

After the administrative judge and both parties have satisfied all of the qualifying pleadings, the administrative judge will typically hold status hearings (prehearing conferences) to narrow down specifically the issues to be decided by the MSPB while encouraging both parties to settle their dispute, if possible.

If no such settlement can be reached, the administrative judge will proceed one of two ways. The first possibility is to have a formal hearing and issue a decision based upon the evidence presented at the hearing, or, close the record and make a decision based upon the information contained in the submitted documents.

The initial decision (the administrative judge’s decision) must: identify all issues of fact and law; include a summary of the evidence submitted by both parties; and articulate the conclusion with relevant legal authority that was used to make the decision.

Whatever the administrative judge decides, either party can then petition for review by the Clerk of the Board. The Clerk of the Board is a panel of three members who will hear the case and issue a final decision. However, the losing party of the decision by the administrative judge can elect to forgo the petition for review by the Clerk of the Board and petition the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

These concepts and proceedings are complicated and can be overwhelming if you do not have experience in these areas. We suggest talking to a professional who has a proven track record with the MSPB. Contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your claim in detail. We are here to help!

MSPB and the Appellate Process

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by

Part 1 of 2…

It is important for Federal Employees to be familiar with their rights and how the appellate procedure for their Federal Disability Retirement claim works. Originally, a claimant (Federal Employee applying for Federal Disability) files for Federal Disability with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Refer to prior posts to see the necessary criteria for this benefit, but, generally speaking, the original decision is based upon its examination of the submitted documents and pertinent facts.

MSPB Once submitted, and if the initial submission is denied, (based upon OPM’s claim that there is a burden the claimant is said to have not met), the next step in recourse for the claimant (now called appellant) is to seek reconsideration of the denial. Reconsideration is part of the appellate process and commonly referred to as step two. At this point, the appellant can submit additional medical evidence in an attempt to have the initial decision “reconsidered” and overturned.

However, if the reconsideration step does not overturn the initial decision of denial for Federal Disability Retirement, the appellant can submit an appeal to the Merit System Protection Board (herein referred to as MSPB). If the MSPB has accepted the appellant’s case for review, it is assigned to an administrative judge. At this point, both the agency and the appellant will be informed of MSPB’s decision to consider the appeal. The agency will receive an Acknowledgment Order and a copy of the appeal filed by the appellant.

The agency has the ability to file a response to the appeal filed by the appellant whereby the administrative judge will review the responses of both parties and direct either or both parties of any subsequent pleadings necessary to qualify this step in the appellate process.

To Be Continued…

Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultants

Monday, November 28th, 2011 by

We are proud to anounce and acknowledge the recent designations recieved by members of our team. Bo Harris, Brad Harris and Grant Ostrander are now Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultants.

A Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultant is a prestigious designation for Financial Advisors, CPAs, Attorneys, and certain employees of the Federal Government, who have successfully completed an intensive training course and passed a rigorous examination covering all federal employee benefits.

They are required to stay up-to-date on the ever changing Federal Government Benefits Programs. They have extensive knowledge about FERS, CSRS, Special Provisions (LEO, FF, ATC, CBPO).

So if you have questions about your OWCP, OPM, TSP, FEGLI, Social Security, or other aspects of your federal retirement benefits, we can help! Call us today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your specific situation and options.

Federal Disability Retirement: A Dissertation Part 11

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 by

From Yesterday…

While that may seem like an easy thing to accomplish, it can be very difficult to specifically meet that burden along with the other requirements regarding attempts to accommodate and adequate medical evidence can be very difficult.

This is the general FERS retirement computation:

If the annuitant is under the age of 62 at separation, or over the age of 62 but with less than 20 years of credible service, the annuitant is entitled to 1% of their High-3 per credible year of service. If the new annuitant is over 62 and has more than 20 years of credible service they receive 1.1% per credible year.

Special provisions employees are entitled to 1.7% of their High-3 per credible year of service up to 20 years and 1% for every year above 20 years. 

Remember, this information is meant to be helpful, but you should never make any major decisions about your retirement or employment benefits without having a professional evaluate your particular situation. Come back tomorrow for more about FERS disability retirement