Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Ignorance and Coping

Within the complex world of information technology, modernity has reached a level of overload which few from past generations could have ever imagined. One needs only to peruse a Tom Swift novel to compare how far we have come; and even the old greats like Asimov and Bradbury could not have foreseen, in the height of their intellectual and creative powers, much of the technological gadgetry of the present age.

Then, of course, there is the “human side” of the equation of modern technology — of how individuals cope with such information overload.  Many have theorized that the exponential explosion of Major Depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and the societal impact of increased psychiatric disorders, stems from a response in terms of coping mechanisms; and we counter the response with advanced pharmaceutical admixtures.  The more common means employed to cope with the deluge of constant informational dissemination, is to limit the exposure to the volume of encounters.

Thus, the age-old adage of ignorance being a “blissful state” retains some semblance of truth.  But for those facing issues of legal limitations and filing deadlines, it is best to “be in the know”.

For Federal and Postal Workers intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the 1-year Statute of Limitations for filing applies from the time of separation from Federal Service.  Being on OWCP does not forestall or extend the 1-year rule. As such, once an SF 50 or a PS Form 50 is issued or, for Postal Workers, when those 0-balance pay stubs stop coming in the mail, it is well to be aware that the clock has begun to tick.

Ignorance can indeed be blissful, and being the gatekeeper of information overload may be a means of coping; but in the end, the inquisitiveness of Tom Swift must always prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Simplification of a Complex Process

It is the simple things in life which provide the greatest amount of pleasure; but simplicity often conceals the underlying complexity inherent in that which merely appears so.  

The child who first observes the vivid pictures on a computer screen has little to no understanding of the complex hardware and software network interfacing which, in the long history of computer design and evolving creation of computers, resulted in the seemingly simple result, produced by a push of a button.  Thus, the complexity behind the microchip and the human endeavor which designed, created and manufactured the product is what makes for the simplicity of the complex.  

As with all other things simple and complex, Federal Disability Retirement must be approached with caution. The questions which are required to be answered on Standard Forms (SF 3107 series for FERS applicants; SF 2801 series for CSRS applicants; SF 3112 series for both FERS and CSRS applicants) may appear quite simple in form; the content of what must be provided will necessarily require a complex interaction of thought, foresight, knowledge of the law, and carefully chosen words to provide information, argument and documented evidence which proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Federal or Postal worker is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

To compile and produce a product which appears “simple”, from the myriad of administrative complexities, is the key to a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Simplicity betrays complexity; that which appears so, may not reveal the underlying and compound complexities which must be cautiously approached.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unplanned Event

One always likes to think of the present state of affairs as one resulting from the systematic planning put in place years ago — as in the proverbial “comfortable retirement” that was set in motion through wise investments and retrospective prognostications which were presumably based upon sage advice.

But life rarely works that way.

Yes, the analogy of the treadmill, or of taking one step forward and two steps back, all apply.  There is a famous line in a British rendition of “Emma”, in which the father mumbles beautifully, “Life is like going from one bowl of gruel to another”.

Those who come to a point of contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, often find themselves in a similar situation.  One works tirelessly, thinking that such hard work will reward itself by growing one’s nest egg, where savings develop over time; where within-step-increases come because of meritorious behavior; and where loyalty to, and from, one’s agency is strengthened and established because of the time, effort, and hard work one has, and will, put in.

But then the unplanned event surfaces.

In the beginning, one can fool one’s self and say that it is merely temporary, that it will all go away, and that one needs only to survive for the next coming day.  But the unplanned event can be just as effectively destructive as the planned one, and the results just as final.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is best to see the neutrality of one’s circumstances — for, it matters not whether one “planned” for a medical condition; rather, the point is that, once accepted as a fact, it is the extent and effort of planning after the revelation of an unplanned event, which will make all the difference in one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Proof

This is a proof-based process.  It is not merely a matter of completing some forms and meeting procedural guidelines in order to obtain a benefit; rather, it is an administrative process in which evidence and documentary support from third parties must be obtained in order to meet the legal criteria imposed by statute, regulation, and ever-evolving case-laws as handed down by the Administrative Judges of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

There are administrative processes which are “entitlements”, such as certain economic assistance programs, Social Security, Medicare, etc., where one has paid into a system, and upon reaching a certain age, or meeting income-qualification criteria, etc., such procedural guidelines are merely shown, met, and approved.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, it is not merely a matter of meeting procedural criteria (although that, too, is required), but moreover, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible, by submission of substantial and adequate documentation that one cannot perform, because of a medical condition, one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

Proof is the lynchpin by which the standard of winning a Federal Disability Retirement case is won or lost.  Proof is a “must”.  As such, never consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as merely a matter of filling out paperwork; one must prove one’s case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Adversarial Structure

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, has inherently an adversarial structure built into the entire administrative process.  This is ultimately unavoidable, but one should not be persuaded into complacency about the bureaucratic side of things, merely because a Human Resources office describes it as procedural in nature, and merely an “administrative” matter.

That is precisely why there are appellate stages built into the system — first, within the administrative procedure itself, of filing a “Request for Reconsideration” within the same agency which denies the Federal Disability Retirement application, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the ability to appeal the case to a separate, independent body, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board; and further to a 3-Judge panel of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which is identified as a “Petition for Full Review” (PFR).  Beyond that, there is an oversight mechanism provided via further review, by the ability to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which reviews the legal application and its sufficiency through overview of the laws applied.

Indeed, one need only look at the structural mechanisms in place to understand that, far from being merely an “administrative” process, it is adversarial in nature, and should be treated at the outset as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Experience & Secrets

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are no “secrets” to the pathway of success (“success” being narrowly defined as receiving an approval from the Office of Personnel Management); rather, there is only the experience of knowing the law, applying the law, stating the facts, creating the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties which one occupies with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and understanding the few but important issues which can defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application.

The latter portion, of course, is just as important as the former issues — of knowing the negative consequences of entering certain arenas of issues, despite every temptation to do so. Thus, as have been more thoroughly discussed in previous articles and blogs, focusing upon collateral work-place issues of harassment, discrimination, subsequent EEOC complaints, etc.; of characterization of one’s medical conditions which comes perilously close to being described as “situational”; and some questions concerning accommodations, and especially at the first two stages of the administrative process, where the Office of Personnel Management will often fail to understand the legal distinction between temporary modified duties, and what constitutes a legally viable accommodation — all of these are able to be dealt with through experience and application of that experience.

Very few “secrets” are truly that; rather, the secret to a successful outcome turns out to be rather mundane:  experience, tempered by careful preparation, formulation, and timely filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Certainties and Presumptions

Life presents conundrums of certainties and presumptions; the former in order to retain sanity; the latter in order to appear sane.  A certain event is one which is expected to occur because of a natural law, a habitual repetition of reliance, or because the daily routine has engrained it upon our consciousness.  A presumption is a wish for certainty which may not even be rationally-based, but one in which we conclude will likely occur because of past events, contextual probabilities, and a sense that the present should reflect the historicity of the past.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to establish the strict bifurcation between certainties which are clearly so, and avoid presumptions.

It is certain that Federal Disability Retirement is a process which will likely require multiple stages to obtain; it is certain that the Office of Personnel Management will scrutinize each Federal and Postal employee’s application and find it deficient or inadequate; it is certain that one’s agency will likely be two-faced and feign loyalty and support but act in ways which defy such declarative embracing of the Federal or Postal employee.  Conversely, one should never presume that one’s case is a “slam-dunk”; nor that OPM will make a decision sooner than later; nor that OPM will provide a rationally-based reasoning for denying a case.

Hume and Berkeley aside, we live in a world where cause-and-effect are relied upon, and where the world does not merely depend upon our perceiving it; but certainties should always be tempered with an understanding that Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process which must be fought for, then protected, and presuming an easy path with any Federal agency is to defy the logic which both Hume and Berkeley took to the extreme.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Returning to the Boredom of Health

Everyone desires to attain a path of certainties, where life has a rhythm of regularity, predictability and consistency.  We often complain of a life of boredom, but there is a distinction to be made between “being bored” and having what some would consider a “boring existence”.

One need only encounter a life-threatening emergency, or a crisis impacting self, family members or friends — or a serious medical condition.  Then, one yearns for those “boring” days of yore, when living a daily existence of merely being pain-free, when one could bend, reach, turn, twist, pick up a cup of coffee — without a thought of invasive and excruciating pain; of a time when focusing upon a task did not require one’s utmost energy and stamina; where the intrusion of nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks did not paralyze one’s totality of being.  Living a boring life for those encountering the “excitement” of a medical condition, as opposed to “being bored”, found a consistency of a rhythm of certainty.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is the goal of the Federal or Postal employee to enter into a period of a recuperative universe, in order to get back to the days of a boring existence.  Boredom is not necessarily a negative thing; indeed, when one is beset with a medical condition which prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, the very notion that one’s prior existence of health was somehow less than exciting, is a puzzle to those who have lost their health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a chance to attain the boring life of yore; preparing properly the application for submission; formulating it effectively; and filing it to attain the goal of returning to that former self, is a consideration worth making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Man’s Best Friend

Dogs reflect the owner’s personality, character, and often even one’s appearance. Whether by intuition or by sheer chance, the choice which the master makes in the selection of a dog is more revealing about the former than the latter.  On the other hand, just as in marriage, where a man and a woman begin to think, act and live alike, perhaps it is merely that the master and the dog begin to assume the personalities, traits and characteristics of one another, over a period of time.  Certainly, there are instances where mismatches occur — as in an older couple rescuing a large dog out of sympathy, but who have neither the physical strength nor the means to manage its care.  Sometimes, the mismatch is merely apparent; what one finds is that the adoption of a particular breed of dog is “just what the doctor ordered”.

In making a decision about preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the initial reaction is simply one of doubt, hesitation and foreboding; for, throughout one’s life, one is taught to advance in one’s career, to “give it one’s all”, and that the Protestant Work Ethic is the essence of meaning which drives one forward from birth until death.  Circumstances dictate one’s life more than one would like to admit; the vicissitudes of life’s unexpected gifts and challenges require an acceptance without doubt or question.  Medical issues will often mandate a change; and while one may be reluctant to change a career, admit to a medical condition which requires a different pace of life, the acceptance of such a change will often prove to be a blessing.  Fear is often both a motivator, as well as the obstacle to change.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is indeed a change which is hard to accept for the Federal or Postal employee; but like adopting a dog which appears to be a mismatch to one’s personality, character, and style of living, it may prove to be the prescription which is necessary.  The real difference is that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will reduce the financial resources one receives; adopting a dog merely increases that which is essential to man’s happiness:  unconditional love, provided in the form of a slobbering canine tongue first thing each morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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