FERS Disability Retirement: Structure and Content

The former provides the form; the latter, the character of the entity.  It is the duality in combination which creates the ability to identify the particular being in an Aristotelian manner — as opposed to the more generalized definition of “Being”.  Without the largest organ of the human body — one’s skin — the “content” of that which separably identifies one individual from another would be lost, and we would all be mere aggregations of various organs not necessarily organized in any coherent way.

Similarly, in any presentation of a written form, it is important to plan the structure and content such that the former allows for coherence and ease of understanding while the latter compels the force of persuasion to impact upon the reader.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS, it is important to provide both structure and content in order to enhance the chances for an approval at any stage of the process.  For, the Federal or Postal applicant who is preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one must first recognize that such an application is a “paper presentation” to OPM, and thus does structure and content both matter.

To merely focus upon “content” — i.e., medical records; the words in the Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) is to overlook the persuasive nature of the structure of the application itself.  Conversely, to concentrate too heavily upon the structure of the FERS Disability Retirement application — the forms to be filed; the “checklist” of necessary and required paperwork — is to underestimate the power of content.

The two must be formed [sic] in tandem; and a persuasive and powerful legal memorandum that provides both a roadmap as well as content-filled legal citations is a “must” in every FERS Disability Retirement application, and this should be formulated and prepared by an experienced Federal Disability Retirement Attorney who specializes in, and is fully knowledgeable of, Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: If life were a story

Could the First Chapter be changed?  Who will write the final chapter?  Does memory serve the dictates of truth, or does a bit of “fudging” occur as with every narrative told, taking liberally the artistic license to its extreme?  Will it be a Dickensian opening or a Salinger’s scoffing of the details of birth?  What genre would be encompassed: Fiction; autobiography; Science Fiction; a Narrative Poem, perhaps?  Can fact and fiction be interwoven, and will the middle parts include characters long forgotten, and some individuals be left out deliberately just out of pure spite?

But that we could write the ending to our own story — of dreams that were fulfilled, loves that embraced, regrets that could be erased.  To that extent, every life would then be a work of perfection, where each chapter being written as the experience of this encounter with the world became an undifferentiated reflection of a phenomena encased in self-fulfillment: As life is lived, the story is written; as the story is told, life follows upon the very telling.

Isn’t that what “virtual reality” is; or even of being lost in one’s daydreaming, and wishing for things beyond the bubble of real life?  If life were a story and we were the authors, every dream would be fulfilled, every fantasy satisfied, every thought completed, and every sentence punctuated with exactitude.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “life” that becomes the “story” is the completion of SF 3112A — Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

That is the narrative, or the slice and portion thereof, that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing and analyzing, and perhaps even “picking apart” if it is not told persuasively, punctuated punctiliously, and provided with clarity of purpose.  It is, indeed, the story of one’s life — a slice thereof, but one which must be a narrative in response to specific questions posed by SF 3112A.

Consult with an attorney before formulating and narrating; for the next chapter beyond, after the Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, will be determined by how one tells the story of one’s medical condition and the nexus with one’s employment capacity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The historical data

How much historical data is too much?  Is there a correlation between “too much” and “loss of interest”? In other words, when a history book is written, does the interest shown by the reader begin to wane when a certain point of quantitative overload begins to overwhelm?  Further, does the audience for whom the historical data is written depend upon the extent given?

Certainly, “popular” historical narratives provide “juicier” content than more “serious” biographies, where the salacious aspects of a person’s life or of an event are put to the fore, as opposed to relegating them to footnotes or in those “fine print” pages at the back of the book.

If, for example, data is compiled for an internal study for the “Historical Society of X”, then certain detailed information without limitations might be included — i.e. how many times this or that civilization went to war, went to the bathroom daily, ate one kind of fruit as opposed to another, etc. But if that “study” were to be made into a biography of an indigenous tribe, to be sold to the general public, it might leave out certain of the more uninteresting data, or placed in footnotes or “background notes” at the back of the book.

At what point does a historical narrative become “tedious”?  Again, is there a correlation between “interest shown/sparked/waning/losing” and the extent of data provided?  Is there a “qualitative” difference as opposed to sheer quantitative overload?

These issues are important to keep in mind when a Federal or Postal employee begins to write one’s narrative in response to questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, there is always a tendency on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant to have this unquenchable desire to “tell one’s story”, as opposed to answering the question on SF 3112A in as precise, concise and incisive manner.

At times, some amount of historical background may be relevant and somewhat necessary, but unlike “internal studies” that have no cognizable consequences in providing “too much” information, an overabundance of irrelevant data provided may have a duality of negative results: First, it may take away from, and diminish, the “main point” of the narrative, and Second, you may be providing information that is inadvertently harmful to one’s OPM Disability Retirement case without intending to.

Remember always in a Federal Disability Retirement case, that the eyes that once see cannot be blinded after the fact, and it is better to provide information as a supplemental means in a Federal Disability Retirement case, than to have to explain, correct and amend after a denial is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Help: The Applicant’s Statement

The SF 3112A is the focal point of it all; without it, the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement application would be incomplete, inconsequential and insidiously irrelevant.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management can make a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application — theoretically — without full answers or incomplete answers of the “other” forms, such as the Checklist, or even the Supervisor’s Statement; but as for the SF 3112A, The Applicant’s Statement of Disability — well, there is no getting around the fact of its prominence, importance and position of significance and relevance.

The Applicant’s Statement of Disability puts everything in its proper perspective; it tells the narrative of one’s medical conditions; it provides (or, at least should) the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job, tasks, duties, positional requirements, etc., and gives a key and insight into the very foundation of the legal criteria for OPM to either grant or deny a Federal Disability Retirement application.  That being the case, why would a Federal or Postal employee leave such an important component as the content and substance of an SF 3112A up to one’s own self?

The person who suffers from the medical condition can hardly be the one to properly, adequately or completely describe the key components of one’s medical condition and its impact upon one’s positional duties; for, the one who suffers by definition is the very.same person who is divorced from having an objective perspective.

Remember, always, that Federal Disability Retirement is a medically-based administrative procedure — one which must encompass and encapsulate the objectivity of medical documentation, the meeting of a legal criteria that has evolved over many decades, and an aggregation of the two combined in order to persuade the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the compendium of one’s documented evidentiary findings rises to the level of a preponderance of the evidence presented in a coherent manner to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Does such an endeavor appear consistent with the Federal or Postal employee who is too sick to work the essential elements of one’s job?

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

 

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