A Good Lawyer is the Key to Winning - But What About the Fee?
Transcript edited for clarity:
How come you retired?
I’m old! I’m 77! When I turned 75, I said, “OK, that’s enough, time to play!”
Then how come you are still doing this blog?
Because I can’t retire. I unplugged my business line when I retired, and by happenstance I turned it on a few months later, and I had 87 calls waiting for me. 48 of them were people who really needed help!
I assume they are coming in because people are reading my website, which is still online, and need advice. Under those circumstances, I can’t retire.
What do people need you know about you now that you are retired?
Well, I am not gonna take your case. But I’ll hear you out over the phone. I’ll be happy to do it and take my time with you because I love this work.
And, if you have a case of merit, and you need a referral, I can refer you to a lawyer who I think will be dynamite for you. He will call you if I tell him you have a case of merit.
If you don’t want a referral, that’s fine – but I won’t be taking your case.
Should people worry about a fee?
Everyone worries about the fee. Now, I won’t charge a fee for anything. I’m retired, and your conversation with me is free.
If you do take your case to a lawyer, there will be a fee. Here’s my advice about a fee.
If your #1 worry is the fee, you are worrying about the wrong thing. If you don’t have the money to pay a lawyer, it makes sense to be concerned.
But if you win, the take here (if we can talk in gangster terms) is very high. The fee will pay for itself.
Let’s say you are 55. Now, a lot of people get disability retirement even earlier. You are going to get, in the first year, 60% of your three-high-year-average salary. In the second year, you get 40%.
Now, people say, “Oh, 40%, that’s not a lot of money.” Well, it is when you are doing nothing. Because you are allowed to go out and work at any job for which you are not disabled, and you can keep the entire 60% and 40%.
However, your outside income must be less than 80% of the current base salary of the job you left. Still, Harvey says:
That is what I call making out like a bandit.
When do you make that 40% until?
You earn 40% until age 62, when you fall under the regular retirement annuity. But your years taking disability retirement benefits count toward your annuity. That’s another part of banditry!
So when you say, “Don’t worry about the fee”…
If you are going to make out like a bandit, why worry about how much it costs to make out like a bandit!
If you knew a stock would grow by three or four times, you would pay a little up front!
Now, if you don’t have money for a fee, that is a different problem. But many lawyers, including the ones I would refer you to, will be willing to take a contingency fee. That means they only take a fee if you win.
That will make it possible for you to get the help you need.
If you want to talk to Harvey about your situation, fill out the form at the right, send him an email, or give him a call. As a semi-retired lawyer, he is here to talk with you and help as best he can – think of him as a friend you drop in on for advice.
We have a real problem with Physician’s Statements from doctors who are too busy to spend time writing them and unwilling to go out on a limb to say it like it really is. So you have to work around this.
When it comes to doctors, you have to…
Following up on my earlier post about getting fired for misconduct:
If you are fired for misconduct, that does not mean your agency can wash its hands of you and not cooperate with your claim for Disability Retirement. Your agency is still required…
What determines the date from which the monthly annuity begins?
ANSWER: Assuming that you are disabled at the time, your annuity will start from either (1) the day after your government pay ceased; or (2) the day after you were separated from government service. If your government pay ceases and then starts up again, the resumption will cut off your right to collect disability retirement for the period during which your pay had ceased. Therefore, make sure that once your pay has ceased for any considerable time, that you do not receive any further pay from your government job before finally being separated.
Example: Peter, a government employee, applied for disability retirement and went on LWOP status for nearly a year, pending approval of his application. At his boss' urging he returned to his government job part-time for two weeks. After he won disability retirement, OPM refused to pay him his annuity for the nearly one year he had been out of work. By going back to work for the government, Peter forfeited his retroactive disability annuity for the nearly one year period. He would have been awarded the annuity for that period if he had not worked those two weeks for the government or if he had worked for a non-government employer instead.
What is "accommodation," and how is it related to disability retirement? What about "reassignment?"
ANSWER: Making some change to allow you to function in your current job is "accommodation." Placing you in another job in which you can function is "reassignment." Government policy dictates that disability retirement be a last resort. (That does not diminish the fact that it is also your right if you meet the legal criteria.) Because it is a last resort, your agency is required to make a reasonable attempt either to allow you to continue working in your present job or to reassign you to another job. Included in the OPM application is Form 3112 D titled "Agency Certification of Accomodation"
Accommodation may involve modifying the work site, adjusting the work schedule, restructuring the job, etc. To be a valid accommodation, it must allow you to perform all the critical elements of your job, regardless of your medical disability. A valid reassignment must be an offer of another position in your agency at your grade, pay and tenure, within your commuting area. The new job reassignment must be one in which you can perform satisfactorily despite your disabling symptoms.
Only after efforts to accommodate or to reassign have been attempted and have failed, can the agency move your case to OPM for disability retirement consideration.
Example: Edna became hypersensitive to tobacco smoke, causing her to suffer from disabling symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Her agency tried to accommodate her by moving her to a non-smoking office. When that didn't work, she was placed on a smoke-free floor. Edna still got sick from the trace amounts of tobacco smoke she encountered in the hallways and elevators. Apart from her hypersensitivity to tobacco smoke, Edna was perfectly healthy. Edna was legally disabled. The agency has made greater accommodation efforts than is customary. If she meets the other requirements, Edna would be entitled to disability retirement.
I have represented Federal government employees and Postal workers seeking OPM Disability Retirement for a long time. I also represent them in agency leave problems such as AWOL, FMLA, LWOP, etc. Leave problems often come along with being sick and disabled. I have stuck to this area of the law for more than 30 years of the 50 years I have been a lawyer.