OPM Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The carefully crafted life

But that we could just write the narrative of our life, reflecting briefly upon our past, describing the present condition of being, but most importantly, to carefully craft the anticipated future of our lives in process.  What is revealed from one’s past is telling of a person’s character; of the present, a manifestation of the compass of one’s heart; and to the narrative of one’s future?  If the cultivation of one’s soul is the essence of the teleological process of life, the content of what we insert into the delineated poetry of future actions will uncover the truth in being of our damaged and tortured souls.

Would the script include fame and fortune?  Encounters with the common and ordinary, or of the arrogant dismissal of all but the beautiful and fortunate?  Would money always be written into the narrative of a future life, or ignored and instead replaced by peculiarities of fantasies, such as time travel, the ability to fly, or defiance of mortality and vanquishing of fear?

What one wishes for, like the genie who grants the dreams of youth, casts aside the veil we walk about with, and reveals all.  But the operative concept often overlooked is not about a crafted life; rather, that “extra” descriptive adverb which denotes painstaking caution and conscientious execution:  How does one “carefully” craft a life?  For, when wishes are offered and granted without constraint, the crafting itself becomes cast away as a mere byproduct and of irrelevant concern, like the human detritus flung out from a window of a speeding car down the highway of reckless disregard.

The care that one takes in crafting a life — now, that is an undertaking few of us attend to, despite every opportunity at every turn in the linear sequence of even the ordinary life of an individual.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, of course, 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, that opportunity is offered in a limited and defined manner — in the form of 2 pathways.

First, by being required to write one’s narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability (where the Federal or Postal employee must describe, delineate and prove a sliced portion of one’s life concerning the medical condition and its impact upon one’s capacity and ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job); and Second, by preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and submitting it through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — thereby formulating the narrative which will determine the future course of one’s life and livelihood.

No, in either case, the Federal or Postal employee will not be able to receive a genie’s grant of unfettered wishes and requests; but that was always the thoughtless residue of a childhood fantasy, anyway.

For, in the end, the carefully crafted life is not one which has any room for the misspent daydreams of a forlorn childhood; rather, the truly substantive content of a carefully crafted life necessarily involves the Triumvirate of the T:  Trials, Triumphs, and some sprinkling of Tragedies; just refer back to Shakespeare, or of Milton and Melville; anything else was merely the storybook fairytales of a bygone memory left behind in the dustbin of a forgotten era.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Benefits: The Afterthought

It is perhaps best that anticipatory planning, based upon predictive analytics, is an afterthought for human intuition and predilection of priorities in life.  Otherwise, one can remain in a world of obsessive preventative maintenance of efforts, and never accomplish what needs to be done today.

Future forebodings aside, and whether an individual engages in hazardous duties which exponentially increase the statistical curve for the onset of an occupational disease or injury, or the development of a medical condition through repetitive and overuse of a particular appendage or anatomy; regardless, the bifurcation of thought from the daily aches and pains from one’s body, warning of impending and future difficulties, is ignored and banished, to be reflected upon in some future corner of pondering.

Human beings have an almost unlimited capacity for relegating present concerns to the realm of an afterthought, and the benefit of disability retirement will naturally take a backseat for those in the youthful set, precisely because disability is associated with thoughts of avoidance, sort of in the company of old age, infirmity, and early onset of dementia.  As well it should be.  But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, and therefore becomes a threat to one’s livelihood, the afterthought becomes the primary issue, and it is then that one sounds a heavy sigh of relief in knowing that an employment benefit includes a Federal Disability Retirement packet.  But once the acknowledgment comes to the fore, the reality further hits one, that you must prove your case, and it is not merely a matter of entitlement.

Federal Disability Retirement, filed through one’s agency if you are not separated for over 31 days, must ultimately arrive at the doorstep of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  OPM is the agency which makes the decision upon a Federal Disability Retirement application (and that’s the reason why this medical benefit is also known as ”OPM Disability Retirement”).

While there are minimum time in-service requirements (18 months under FERS and 5 years under CSRS), it is the compendium of proving one’s case under the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, which must be submitted in order to win.  Afterthoughts are human evolutionary means of avoiding unseen dangers; but when the afterthought becomes a present danger, it is time to become aware of the surroundings, context, and content of the formidable opponent one must face.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Genotype-phenotype Distinction and Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal and Postal Employees

The distinction is important in the study of genetics, where the genotype represents the entirety of one’s hereditary information contained in one’s DNA, whereas the phenotype represents the manifestation of that genetic heredity received and retained by any given individual. In simple terms, it is the inner/outer distinction, or in Aristotelian terms, the substance/accident representation, or further, in Platonic characterization, the form/appearance description of the world. It provides for a fascinating study of the theory of evolution, the plasticity and adaptability of a species, and the capacity of survivability within the greater context of environmental pressures and influences.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the concept of the genotype-phenotype distinction is peripherally interesting to understand, in the following way: The internal struggles eviscerating one’s capacity to perform the Federal or Postal job, will sometimes remain unobtrusive and lacking of evidence by all appearances.

The “phenotype” of a Federal Disability Retirement case may be represented by good performance reviews, lack of awareness by one’s supervisor, and an agency which fails to recognize the struggling Federal or Postal employee. The “genotype” is often the “inner” struggle, characterized by profound fatigue (how does one quantify cumulative exhaustion?), chronic pain (if only pain were color-coded, where white is on the lower spectrum and red is at the extreme end), the where the Federal or Postal employee pushes one’s self to the limit of absurdity until one is ready to collapse in an effort to perform the essential functions of one’s job.

The problem of appearance-versus-substance, or that which is seen as opposed to the hidden reality of a thing, is not a new or unique one. In the context of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, and whether the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to make clear and bring to the surface that which is unrevealed, and that will normally come about through generating an excellent medical report from one’s treating doctor.

Ultimately, a Federal Disability Retirement application is based upon the medical opinion of one’s treating doctor, and the “genotype” of an effective Federal Retirement application must comply with the requirements of the law, the criteria for eligibility, and the expression of that genotype into a coherent representation in the form of a “phenotype” in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability application, though OPM, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Opinions, OPM and Power

In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, one must always be aware of the distinction between the two — opinions and power — and apply it with that awareness in filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  

There will be multiple opinions involved in any Federal Disability Retirement packet — the opinion of the medical doctor who is treating the applicant; the opinion of the applicant as to one’s ability or inability to perform some, which or all of the essential elements of one’s job; the opinion of the Supervisor or someone at the Agency on multiple issues, rendered in the Supervisor’s Statement and the Agency’s Certification for Reassignment and Accommodation; and the “opinion” handed out by the Office of Personnel Management as to whether all of the compendium of opinions, collectively gathered to present the evidence for approval in a Federal Disability Retirement application, constitute sufficient evidence such that it meets the preponderance of the evidence in proving one’s case.  It is thus helpful to understand that all of these identifiable propositions are all “opinions”.  

The one distinction, however, is that the opinion of the Office of Personnel Management carries with it the power of approval or disapproval, and so one may designate it as carrying more “weight” because it contains an inherent authority which all other opinions lack — that of the power to say yea or nay.  But remember that such power, fortunately, is not absolute, nor necessarily arbitrary and capricious, and there is ultimately an appeal process to have such raw power reviewed for viability and sufficiency.  That is why the validity and force of the “other” opinions is important to maintain — the medical opinion and the opinion of the Applicant — so that when it is reviewed by an Administrative Judge, the integrity of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS may be properly adjudicated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Service Disability Retirement: Agency Support

Sometimes, the question comes up as to whether or not it is important to have the blessing or support of the Agency or the USPS, when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. My answer to such a question is fairly uniform and redundant:  this is a medical disability retirement; it is unwise to proceed to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits on the assumption that your Supervisor or Agency will be supportive, for there is no guarantee as to what “supportive” means (they may have a completely different understanding or definition of the concept than you do — something which you probably learned over many years of working in the Federal Sector), and further, the primary focus from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, is upon the medical evidence presented and how the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of your job.  The Supervisor’s Statement should be minimized in importance and relevance, as much as possible, by ensuring that the rest of the disability retirement application is “excellent”.  By doing this, you neutralize any undue dependence upon an Agency’s alleged “support” of your application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire