Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Counting the days

Do we count the days when vacations lapse within the final hours and minutes, when in the beginning sunsets were timeless moments of restful hours yet to come?  What anticipation of worry-less days, and of looking forward to sleeping in, letting one’s guard down and the muscles relaxing from the tensions of anxiety-filled build-ups: No emails (at least for a few days, maybe…until the thought begins to intrude, then grow, then overwhelm, of the accumulation of those hundreds sitting there waiting…waiting…), no phone calls, no need for the greatest necessity in modernity — the ability and capacity to multitask.

The days began with lazy hours and hazy minds; of the sleepiness still caught between eyelids barely opened, and thoughts of the rat-race still barely behind.  It takes days just to unwind, and just when you begin to relax, it dawns on you that you are already counting the days when summer is over, the kids are back to school, and even the commercials on television are already pushing to get those supplies that are blaring with fanfare of sales and super-sales.

Do lions in the wild count the days?  Do the salmon as they fight to go upstream relinquish the solitude of mindless numbers?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition forces one to count not just the days when vacation is at hand, but every hour, every day, every week because survival to the end of the week is the mode of existence, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, counting the days is nothing but a clear indication that the numbered days are shrinking exponentially, and lost with the sequence of each count is the unalterable truth that days counted are days lost, especially when one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The spare

It is a peculiar word when left alone, for it often is used with an accompaniment, as in “a spare tire”, “With room to spare”, or even, “Do you have any spare change?” queried the panhandler to the passerby.  It is a word which either describes a certain set of circumstances or of a person’s demeanor, characteristic or even of physical features, as in: “He had a spare bedroom”; “He was a spare, bald-headed man”; or how about: “He was spent and had no energy to spare”?

But to make it into the central character, as in the title above — “The spare” — makes it suddenly rather peculiar, for it is meant to always be the character actor, the word that “adds onto other words” and the unique little offshoot that never takes center stage.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue in the chosen career of one’s life, the word retains multiple relevant applications, whether standing alone or in accompaniment with other words.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who no longer has any spare energy left at the end of the day; when one must be careful in using sparingly any accrued Sick Leave or Annual Leave; when time can no longer be spared beyond doctor’s appointments and attending to work, family obligations and the spare time no longer forthcoming; and where that spare reserve of energy is now devoid and profound fatigue has set in, it becomes time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement, because any spare time, effort or energy has now become a deficit to be reckoned with, where the spare of anything and everything must be focused upon that which can never be spared: One’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Psychiatric or Physical Incapacity: One among many

Does it tell us anything that we recognize that we are merely one among many?  Does such an awareness actually add anything to one’s conscious life, or is it just another one of those pithy egotistical “self-realization” statements that purports to sound profound but adds little, if anything, to any existential intuition beyond the words themselves?

Does a lone dog pampered by its owner have a similar awareness when it is taken for a walk, encounters other dogs or sees rabbits scurrying across the suburban landscape?  Does it pause and reflect: I am merely one among many?  Is language a prerequisite to conscious awareness of one’s place in the universe, or is the mere fact of existence enough to bring about an instinctive realization of the same relevance?

To be “one among many” certainly brings about a certain perspective, does it not — perhaps of one’s significance or irrelevance; that each has a burden or part to play, but is not necessarily responsible for the entirety of the problems encountered; and perhaps even of a sense of community or sharing-ness, that one is merely one cog in a complex multitude of wheels spinning about in a universe that is often impervious and uncaring?

Medical conditions, however, have a way of destroying even that perspective, in that it makes loners of us all.  When a medical condition hits, it leaves one with a profound sense of isolation, where one begins to think and believe that no one else in the universe experiences the pain, tumult, angst and loss of joy, and that the one suffering from the medical condition is all alone in the universe.  To that extent, the statement that one is “one among many” helps to remind one that, No, others too have gone through similar trials and circumstances, and such suffering is not unique in this world.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to recognize that while each person’s condition is unique, it is also shared by many others.

Federal Disability Retirement itself is a recognition that the frailty of the human condition must sometimes allow for an end to a career, but that further, productivity in some other career or vocation is still possible.

Federal employees and Postal workers are one among many, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to share the burden of self-realization that while your medical condition may indeed be unique to you, you are not alone in the need to change direction and move on into another and more promising future where the one among many may be many more than you first thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management: SF 3112C

As a “government form” it purports to provide guidance in general terms, and it is doubtful that the lack of clarity as to its purpose or utility will assist the medical professional into writing an effective report.

The plain fact is that SF 3112C is a confusing form — confusing both to the doctor or Nurse Practitioner who is presented with it, as well as to the FERS Applicant who is attempting to prepare an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.  It refers to a “position description” being attached, but fails to provide the necessary explanatory nexus between the PD and the medical opinion sought.

What part of the position description should be focused upon?  Is it the entirety of the PD, portions of it, or just the “essential elements”?  Is it relevant whether a person can work part-time, full time, or an erratic combination of both depending upon the severity of symptoms that may arise periodically?  Is SF 3112C meant to confuse, or like so many “government forms”, is the language inevitably misleading because it is (A) meant to be that way, (B) unintentionally written in an unclear manner or (C) is meant to be wholly unhelpful because OPM doesn’t want to go out of its way to help the Federal Disability Retirement applicant?  Must the SF 3112C, the “Physician’s Statement”, be used at all?

If you are still working with the Federal Agency or on the rolls of the Postal Service, or at least not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, must the prepared physician’s statement be sent directly to your H.R. Office without first being reviewed and validated by the applicant?  The form itself certainly makes it appear so, but is that really the case?

In the end, the applicant who is preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, must make some initial and important determinations concerning the substance and content of the application itself.

Forms are tricky; the laws that oversee them, often vague; but if you are relying upon instructions written and formulated by the very government agency that will be making a determination on your application, you may want to first consult with an attorney who specializes in the very law that governs Federal Disability Retirement, before you begin “filling” out forms or having your doctor fill one out.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Proper Sequence

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers seeking to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, is there a proper sequence in preparing the Standard Forms?  Does it matter if one set of forms are prepared or taken out of sequence?

Or, is the fact that the two primary sets of forms — the SF 3107 series and the SF 3112 series — are already provided in an ordered manner (i.e., for the SF 3107 series, first the “Application for Immediate Retirement”, then the Schedules A, B & C, then forms for the Agency to complete; and for the SF 3112 series, first the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, then the Supervisor’s Statement, the form for the Physician, etc.), reflective of the sequence one should complete them?

This, of course, brings up another and more important question: Would you trust the government to look out for your own best interests in completing the series of Standard Forms (i.e., SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) in the order that they want you to complete them, or should you complete them in a manner that looks after your own best interests, separate and apart from the order that the Federal Government and OPM wants you to fill them out?

There is, in the end, a proper sequence to everything, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is no different from every other kind of form and content to be completed.  The way and manner that OPM and the Federal government wants you to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily imply any nefarious intent; it is just a difference in deciding whose best interests are you looking after — your own, or OPM’s?

In the end, all of the Standard Forms (again, the SF 3107 Series and the SF 3112 Series) must all be filled out completely, and some might conclude that the order and sequence of completing them shouldn’t matter, inasmuch as they all have to be completed anyway.  But you may want to pause and reflect for a moment: Does “proper sequence” imply that the Federal Government and OPM have prepared the SF 3107 and SF 3112A for the benefit of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, or for their own convenience?

Tricks tend to trip, and the trips are not merely the destination from point A to point B, but a hidden accident waiting to happen if you don’t complete SF 3107 and SF 3112 in their proper sequence — and that means, not necessarily in the order of their appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire