OPM Medical Retirement: Putting it all together

It is the disparate and disconnected narrative that often remains deficient — just short of the finish line and like the runner who suddenly steps upon a pothole on the road to the ticker-tape parade, the discombobulation that ensues can throw the entire coordination off, where feet become entangled and the arms fail to swing in rhythmic motion.

Have you ever watched how some runners have perfect coordination — arms swinging in cadence, the effortless motion of the legs, like the “feel” of silk upon a windy day where nothing gets entangled and everything is in perfect synchronization of timeless beauty?  Or, what of a child who has just begun to walk, trying to run — are they not all legs and arms bundled into a web of discord?

Putting things “all together” is like the runner who must coordinate breathing, arms in motion, legs in cadence and eyesight in guiding — of a perfection reached in order to arrive at a destination point called “the finish line”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to a successful outcome is partly based upon coordinating all of the elements into a synchronized whole — of the medical records and reports; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (as reflected on SF 3112A); of the legal arguments to be made and referenced, both as a shield (e.g., of preemptively countering any claim by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service that an “accommodation” has been provided) as well as a sword (e.g., asserting the Bruner Presumption where applicable, or the due consideration that must be given to VA Disability Ratings, etc.); and all of the other details besides.

Putting it all together” may seem like an effortless feat for an experienced runner, but for the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, who must put a Federal Disability Retirement packet all together, some assistance from an experienced “runner” — an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — might be in order.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Procrastination and delay

The former denotes an active passiveness, while the latter connotes the former but may also include objective circumstances beyond the subjective input or control over the consequences resulting, whether from external forces, internal influences or a combination of both.

What compels one to procrastinate?

There can be a number of factors — of secretly not wanting to proceed; of the proverbial kicking the can down the road; of wanting to extend the known quality of the present and resisting the unknown quality of an uncertain future; or perhaps, just simple laziness.  Of the latter — of delays in a process, or of results expected — this can be because of actions taken or not by others, and a whole host of reasons not known by the expectant party.  Thus, for a delay to occur, much of the circumstances often cannot be controlled; of the former, most, if not all of it, is within the purview of one’s influence.

Further, it is often the monsters within that loom much larger than the reality without, and that is often true of things we anticipate we will not like, and of obligatory mandates that may be inevitable objectively but resisted subjectively.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is often that initial step that is the most difficult one to take.  And like that Chinese proverb that is often quoted, the journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step, so it is likewise true that procrastination of that initial step is the one that prevents all subsequent steps and actions from being taken.

Procrastination is within the purview of one’s self; delays, beyond one’s control, or at least some part of it.  To overcome the obstacle of one’s self, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, so as to first understand the process of what it takes to file with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the intricacies involved and the requirements needed to meet the legal criteria for a Federal Disability Retirement application to “pass muster”, to realize what initiating steps are necessary, and to recognize whether the fears that delay are the ones that are merely in one’s own mind, or whether the pathway forward is as onerous as the fears that paralyze.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Medical Incapacity: The boxes in Standard Forms

For some forms, it is a convenience to have a restrictive, limited “box” in which to put the “x” into, or maybe the needed “Not Applicable”; others, however, try and contain a limited narrative and force succinctness into the standardization of answers.  That is all well and good, and perhaps from a bureaucratic standpoint and perspective, the conformity of forms and the mandatory “answers within a box” makes for streamlining of paperwork.

The reality, however, is that some questions cannot be answered — and more importantly, should not — within the proposed space allocated, and so you have two (2) choices: decrease the font size in order to fit a greater substance of the narrative within the provided box, or attach a continuation sheet despite no indication in the standard forms for allowance of such cheekiness of presumptuous creativity.

How does one identify which Standard Form should be prepared and completed within the confines of standardization, and which ones should not?   First, a conceptual identification should be applied: Which ones are merely “informational” that request only singular answers, and which forms make queries that compel for narrative answers?  Once that initial, identifying bifurcation is made, then the next step is to determine whether an adequate and sufficient response can be stated within the “box” provided within the font-size allowing for regular eyesight that does not require extraordinary magnification, or if a continuation sheet is necessary.

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, certain Standard Forms are merely informational — for example, the SF 3107 series which asks for basic, factual information.  Then, of course, there is the SF 3112 series, and especially SF 31112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker under FERS, who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the greater mistake has often been to quickly annotate within the boxes provided a swift “jotting down” of the medical conditions one “feels” — as if the body parts providing temporary sensations for a given day, or even the lack thereof, will sufficiently satisfy the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to become approved for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Make no mistake about it: there can be dire legal consequences if SF 3112A is not completed properly and sufficiently.  And always remember the philosophical dictum: That which is necessary may not be necessarily sufficient, and that which is sufficient may not be sufficiently necessary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The option of nothing

The path of least resistance is often to simply do nothing.  To make an affirmative choice is sometimes a painful one involving sacrifice and steps taken which will determine an outcome, later to be judged by retrospective insight, as to whether it was the “right” one or a “wrong” one.

To negate, refute or otherwise do the opposite, and to say “no” in the choice-making process, is also an “affirmative” one, if only in the negative sense.  It is still a call made, a judgment asserted, and while the “no” may not be able to arrive at a retrospective viewpoint as to whether it was the “right” one or the “wrong” one (precisely because, in the very negation of making a choice, one may never see any further consequences, but merely a nothingness that prevails from the option to not do that something, which is essentially a double-negative that results in nothing).

The worst option to assume is to allow lapse to occur – to do nothing, neither affirmatively nor negatively, and allow outside circumstances to determine the course of fate.  In taking such a path of least resistance, two things occur: First, you have left it in the hands of circumstances, and failed to take any affirmative steps in the allowance of lapse; and Second, the fact that you will never know it was a good or bad idea to allow for the lapse means that you have forsaken the entire decision-making process, and thus you disengaged yourself from the importance of life’s major participation.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the Statute of Limitations that imposes a restriction upon post-separation filing is One (1) Year.

Thus, the law is as follows: Upon separation, whether by termination or resignation, of a Federal employee, that Federal employee has up until 1 year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If the Federal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement within 364 days of the separation from Federal Service (give yourself at least 1 day, just to be on the safe side), then no harm is done.

If the Federal or Postal employee determines not to file (i.e., a negative – affirmative decision), then so be it, and after the 365th day, that Federal or Postal employee is forever prevented from asserting his or her rights under the Federal Disability Retirement laws, acts, statutes and regulations.

If the Federal or Postal employee simply does nothing – neither making an affirmative or a negative decision, and simply allows for the time to lapse and the opportunity to pass – then the path of least resistance has been taken, with the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process forever lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Trust

Is it by actions followed by words, or by mere words spoken that it develops, solidifies and concretizes? Can we really go by appearances alone, or must there be a history of words followed by actions, followed further by assurances, then again by more actions, until a sense of comfort and solidarity of feeling comes together to form an aggregate whole where we declare within our inner consciences, “Yes, I trust him (her)”?

Trust is a peculiar human emotion –for, it is an emotion, in the end, is it not?

Not quite like smiling or crying; not nearly a cousin to a shriek or a wail; but more akin to a calm, a peace of mind or a self-satisfying sigh.  Once earned, it can last a lifetime and beyond into off-springs and surviving relatives; once betrayed, it may be that it can never be restored, no matter how many apologies, the innumerable “make-up” actions and the irrelevancy of gifts galore.  For, how can you restore that which was meant to be inviolable?

If a spouse cheats once, will the suspicion of another time ever disappear?  If a person abandons his or her post and absconds in the middle of the night, does that not hint to a character flaw that he or she can and likely will do the same thing again?  Would an embezzler be invited to be employed as the head treasurer once accused, convicted and imprisoned?  Can trust shaken once ever be regained?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of trust will need to be met head-on at some point.

When should the Agency be told of one’s intentions to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  Who should be told and who will be the one to tell?  How will confidential issues – gleaned from medical records and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability – be handled, and by whom and by which prying eyes?  Should the issue of confidentiality be magnified, be concerned over, and which employees actually have a “right to know” concerning all such issues?

These and many other legal entanglements constitute the encompassing purview of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and for answers to these complex questions, queries should be made in consultation with an expert in the field of Federal Disability Retirement Law.  For, in the end, it is the lawyer who is the advisor and counselor who gains the trust of the client through his experience, specialty and knowledge of the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Working to preclude

Aren’t most of us perennially, incessantly, constantly and by chronic despair in that “emergency mode” of operating through life?

We are working to preclude: Some imagined disaster; some trouble just around the corner; some depth of a hole we cannot dig ourselves out of; and some problem that we are thinking about that is developing that we are not yet aware of.  Few of us actually work with a positive attitude to build; fewer still with a confidence that tomorrow will bring some answers; and rarely, of that person who does not work to preclude.  Caution is the mainstay of a troubled past that left a child anxious, uncertain, self-conscious and entirely lacking of self-confidence.

That is why that wide arc of “self-esteem” training that began to spread about in the classrooms and throughout communities took hold – in the false belief if we just kept saying to a child, “You are worthy” or poured accolades and trophies just for showing up, that somehow we would counteract the deep imprints left upon the cuts and scars that were perpetrated by homes of divorce, emotional devastation and incompetent parents.

Working to preclude is often a form of sickness; it is the constant scrambling to try and play prevent defense, and how often have we seen an NFL game where the team that scores first and many times ends up losing because they spent the rest of the game working to preclude?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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, the constant effort in working to preclude the Federal Agency from putting you on a Performance Improvement Plan (acronym “PIP”), issuing a letter of warning, or proposing a removal based upon excessive absenteeism, being on LWOP for too long, or for poor performance, leaves a hollow feeling of an uphill battle that can never ultimately be won.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a step away from working to preclude – it is, instead, a positive first step towards securing a future that is otherwise as uncertain as one’s efforts in working to preclude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire