OPM Disability Retirement: Explicit versus Implicit

The former leaves no room for confusion or doubt; the latter, a bit of “wiggle room” where insinuations, hints and suggestive openings are characteristic invitations of open regards.  They are not mutually exclusive within a paragraph or even a sentence; they are, however, antonyms, and should be used with context-defined relevance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the choice of either can determine the future viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Certainly, there are times in life when one chooses the latter methodology, for various reasons — perhaps being forthright and blunt is not the “right” approach; perhaps there is fear of offending, or mere laziness and sludge of confrontation prevents one from being straightforward.  In the legal arena, the former approach is preferable, if only to squeeze out the light of linguistic malleability and flexibility in supercilious argumentation.  But in the context of an OPM Disability Retirement packet, there will often contain multiple usages.

One’s Supervisor, in completing SF 3112B (Supervisor’s Statement), may present contradictory information by checking a box which is relatively unequivocal (is that an oxymoron — to use the terms “relatively” and “unequivocal” in the same breadth of a sentence?) but placing remarks implying the exact opposite in response to “explanatory” and more expansive questions.  Or, for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, in completing SF 3112A, the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, there may be a strategy in mixing both explicit statements and providing for implicit openings for meanings and connections.

Certainly, the “law” of Federal Disability Retirement allows for it; but one must always take care in addressing the nature, extent and susceptibility of statutory interpretation in formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Ultimately, as in most things in life, the former is preferable to the latter; though, wiggle room and the dictates social conventions may sometimes require one to be explicitly implicit in order to be inefficiently efficacious.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability: Those Winds of Change That Portend to Pretend Promises

Change is an inevitable circumstance of life; it is what we seek when we are discontented; what we demand when threatened; and of which we fear, when least we expected it.  For Plato and Aristotle, the puzzle of life and the winds of change had precursors who, in the tradition of ancestral doomsayers, declared the natural corollaries reflecting discontent, despair and fear, as represented by Heraclitus and Parmenides.

Such change was first observed in the natural order of the universe, and worked slowly, deliberately, and sought a teleological understanding because of the mysteries inherent in the seasons, the heavens and the geocentric perspective defied by the reality of a heliocentric algorithm of calculations.  At some point in history, man was no longer satisfied with measuring with thumb and forefinger; and thus were pyramids built and Stonehenge created, to satisfy the yearnings of universal comprehension.

Changes did not just occur from the ashes of natural disasters; we invited them, manufactured them, and manipulated the vast conspiracy of quietude, lest we became comfortable in our own discordant behavior.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that a long and productive career may come to an end because of an intervening medical condition, the winds of of change may seem uninviting, but the inevitability of life’s resistance to permanence requires taking affirmative steps in order to establish future security, such that change which portends alterations of present circumstances does not pretend to make promises falsely expected.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option to be taken when once a medical condition is recognized to last a minimum of 12 months (which can be accomplished through a medical “prognosis” as opposed to actually waiting for that period of time) and where the chronicity of the medical conditions prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional requirements of the job.

Medical conditions portend change; but the promises resulting from inevitable change need not be subverted by subterfuge and lack of knowledge; and like the harkening of soothsayers of yore, we should listen to wisdom in light of a hastened call to change, and distinguish between those winds of change that portend to pretend promises, from those which have an established record of success.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Informational OPM Forms (SF 3107) versus Specific Content OPM Forms (SF 3112)

Categories are important in order to properly bifurcate, distinguish, identify and comprehend for effective satisfaction and completion. If such differentiated distinctions are not clearly understood, one can easily be lulled into responding to a specific-content question as if it is merely “informational” in nature.

Thus, for the Postal and Federal employee who is formulating responses to Standard Forms for purposes of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the sequence of preparing for completion in providing satisfactory answers is important.

OPM form SF 3107 (the “SF” stands for “standard form”) requests basic, factual information data, such as the applicant’s name, address, agency information, marital status, whether and to what extent one wants to elect survivor’s benefits, etc. The accompanying form, Schedules A, B & C, requests further information regarding military service, whether time in the military was bought back, as well as any OWCP claims previously or currently submitted or received, etc.

Then, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, again whether one is under FERS or CSRS, the accompanying SF 3112 series must be completed and filed. One’s mental status and intellectual antenna, however, should immediately be placed on high alert when encountering and engaging the SF 3112 series of OPM forms. For, in this series of Standard Forms (SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D & SF 3112E), the distinguishing features should become immediately self-evident by the very nature of the questions queried. No longer are the forms merely requesting basic information; rather, interpretive considerations must be thoughtfully engaged.

Questions concerning one’s medical conditions; what medical conditions will be considered; whether one can later supplement the listing of medical conditions if further medical developments arise; whether there is room on the form itself for a full description and, if not, can a continuation of the form be attached; the impact upon the essential elements of one’s positional duties; what those essential elements are; and multiple other similar conundrums suddenly become presented, necessitating the switch from mere “information” to one of “specific content” directed by the change in the series of OPM forms from SF 3107 to SF 3112.

Paradigm shifts were made famous by Thomas Kuhn in his historically important work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is no less important to recognize that a paradigm shift is equally important in completing OPM Disability Retirement forms. While there is no book which guides the Federal or Postal employee, such as, “The Structure of Form-Filling Revolutions”, the identification and recognition that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits requires an acuity of mind in filling out OPM forms, is an important step in reaching a successful outcome.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire