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 can I do to best assure that OPM takes my claim seriously?
ANSWER: Apart from the formal steps necessary to get disability retirement, there is one particularly effective informal step that I take in some cases. I flood OPM with evidence of disability by introducing letters and affidavits from family and friends on the home front, and co-workers and colleagues on the work front, all testifying to my client's credibility and disability. I never worry that the formal process has no place for such letters and affidavits. I go on the assumption that it's hard to ignore someone with a horde of witnesses out there just itching to testify.
Will the amount I collect be related to the degree of my disability?
ANSWER: No. The amount you collect has nothing whatsoever to do with the degree to which you are disabled; nor does it have anything to do with how or where you were disabled; nor does it have anything to do with the cost or duration of the treatment you might require.
If I refuse to accept an accommodation or reassignment, will I lose my right to disability retirement?
ANSWER: Yes. You will lose your right to disability retirement if you turn down a reasonable accommodation or reassignment. If the agency is able to accommodate you in your current job or to reassign you to another job, within the legal strictures explained above, you must accept it or you will lose your right to disability retirement. On the other hand, if you do accept either an accommodation or a reassignment, you will of course lose your opportunity to gain disability retirement (unless it doesn't work out for you, in which case you can try again). In short, the last thing that most people applying for disability retirement want is for the agency to accommodate or reassign them.
But not to worry. In the vast majority of cases, the agency has neither the desire nor the ability to accommodate or reassign an employee. For the most part, accommodation and reassignment of those who are disabled, like accommodation of other handicapped individuals, is treated as a joke by the federal agencies.
One exception: many non-management Postal Service employees fall under a different rule and, under certain circumstances, they can turn down reassignments to a different craft (or those which violate collective bargaining agreements) without jeopardizing their disability retirement rights.
Which diseases and injuries qualify for disability retirement?
ANSWER: All diseases and all injuries qualify for disability retirement, including phobias, depression, chronic pain, allergies, chemical sensitivities, drug addiction, and alcoholism.
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.