OPM Disability Retirement: The Process of Decision-Making

As has been previously stated in repetitive fashion, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand and acknowledge the duality of the process — for it is a process, as opposed to a singular event, both as an administrative legal issue, as well as for the individual Federal or Postal employee in a personal sense.

To clarify:  As an administrative issue, it is a process which involves multiples stages of argumentation (potentially).  Yes, it would be nice if every case was decided with an approval at the First/Initial Stage of the administrative process; however, there is a purpose and a reason why there are multiple stages.  It is precisely because it was anticipated that there would be denials and appeals to such denials, that an administrative procedure for multiple stages of review and further submissions of evidence and arguments was constructed and implemented.  It is not an entitlement pursuant to a fixed date, a fixed age, or a triggering event.  Rather, it is an administrative process which must be proven, applied for, and affirmatively shown that one is eligible.

From the personal perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, the decision of “when” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is also a process, as opposed to a singular event.  There are, of course, cases where a traumatic injury or life-changing accident occurred, and such an event is the triggering moment for filing.  But for most Federal or Postal employees, the medical condition suffered is a progressively deteriorating process, and it is often difficult to determine a “date certain” where one can point to on a calendar and state, this is the day and hour when I cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of my job.

This is why there is an inherent complexity to a process, as opposed to a singular event of certitude — for, it is always the unknown and the uncertain which gives rise to the anxieties of life, and a process is indeed a period of the unknown, and a chasm of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Employees: The Diatribe

There may well be an appropriate time for a lengthy diatribe.  The act itself often finds its impetus in bitterness; it also implies a lack of control, overwhelmed by anger and originating in attribution by an act of injustice.  But where emotion controls rationality, the loss of sequential propriety normally results in a corresponding lack of coherence and comprehension.

For Federal and Postal Workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS, the urge to right past wrongs is a compelling force which often erupts in a diatribe of sorts, within the content of a Federal Employee Disability Retirement claim. This is, unfortunately, a self-defeating proposition.

Yes, agency actions often comprise a compendium of injustices; yes, treatment of coworkers can be the basis of collateral actions; yes, discriminatory behavior may be a justifiable basis for filing EEO actions; but, no, weaving one’s frustration into the substance of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not the right path to take, for the simple reason that it is not the appropriate venue in which to vent.

Federal and Postal Workers who intend on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, need to bifurcate the issues, and recognize the practical dualism in existence:  OPM is a separate Federal agency from the one employing the chronically ill or injured Federal Worker who intends to submit a Federal disability Retirement application (in most cases, unless of course the Federal employee works for OPM — and even then, the section which reviews the Federal Disability Retirement application is separate and distinct within the agency).

Context and appropriateness are invisible lines which need to be followed.  Diatribes may have their place in literature; it rarely serves a useful purpose in filing for CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Fear and the Masking of Medical Conditions

Fear can exacerbate, and simultaneously hide the underlying cause.  The Western philosophical quest for the essence of a thing never considers whether the human element of fear is part of the problem; instead, the focus has always been to unravel and lift the veil from the world of appearances by either recognizing the imperfection of perceptual engagements, or by acknowledging that the objective world is unreachable and unknowable.

But fear is the penultimate human emotion of irrational masking; and when an individual has a physical or psychiatric condition such that this medical condition begins to deteriorate and debilitate, and impacts upon one’s workplace relationships, social engagements and family security, the exponential magnification of fear can mask the condition itself — or, at the very least, deliberately cover the symptomatologies which trigger alerts daily.  But the underlying motivation prompted by fear can only conceal for a time, until a flash-point occurs where the seriousness of the medical condition exceeds the ability of fear to mask; and when that crisis-point reaches fruition, the condition itself becomes a point of crisis.

Yes, fear can mask for a time; man has the unfathomable capacity to lie not only to one’s self, but to lie to the self which lies.

For Federal and Postal employees who walk with fear because of financial and workplace security, who are beset with a progressively deteriorating medical condition, fear is a factor of which one must contend.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a great leap of faith.  But faith should first be reinforced with information; and so the best medicine to treat fear is to initially gather the information on the entire process.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement; understand, reflect, and battle against the fear of ignorance.  That is the proper methodology and approach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Process Mentality

The importance of understanding that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, as a “process”, is critical in reaching the mental preparedness necessary to endure the potentiality of the lengthy encounter.

The analogy of the approach should be likened to the difference between WWI and WWII — of trench warfare as opposed to a blitzkrieg.  It is the former which must be prepared for, and not the latter.

For, at each step of the way — from waiting for the proper medical reports to be prepared by the treating doctors, to formulating the narrative of one’s statement of disability; to waiting for the agency to complete the processing of their potion (i.e., the Supervisor’s Statement and the Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation efforts); to the intake processing unit of OPM at Boyers, PA, then down to Washington D.C. where assignment of the case will take some time; to final assignment of the case, and potential routing for review by a contract doctor — this is all merely at the First Stage of the process.

If it is denied at the First Stage, then one must fight the process through the Reconsideration Stage, and possibly beyond.

Thus is the mental preparation at the outset required in order to survive the multiplicity of bumps and turns within the process itself.  It is best to know the trials in order to survive the process, and to prepare for it as best one can.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Vicious Cycle of Psychiatric Conditions

The paradigm and general assumption of those who are not suffering from a chronic medical condition, especially of a psychiatric component — whether of severe Major Depression, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or possessing characteristics of paranoia and suicidal ideations — is one of, “What’s the big deal?”

If you are going to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, then why hasn’t the paperwork been done?  Why haven’t you gotten the medical reports (as if doctors just drop everything for their patients and fill out forms, etc.)?

Those who are not in the same shoes as a person who suffers from psychiatric medical conditions, fail to understand the vicious cycle — of the impact of the medical condition itself, upon the very ability to proceed in a productive manner.  Yet, the puzzling question is:  If X could behave and produce in the same manner as non-X, would he/she be filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to begin with?

The vicious cycle of a person beset with psychiatric conditions involves the paralysis of behavior and the ability to create and produce.  Unfortunately, the world around us fails to understand or have the requisite empathy for such behavior.  To get out of the cycle of paralysis, the sufferer of psychiatric medical conditions will often need the advice and legal assistance of someone who can guide, prompt and implement.

The world is an uncaring system of rules and regulations; empathy and understanding, unfortunately, are not written into the law of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Respites

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management — if one is a current employee of one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated but it has been less than thirty one (31) days since the separation, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be processed through one’s agency; if, on the other hand, you have been separated for more than 31 days, then you must file the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits directly to the OPM intake office in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which will then be processed and forwarded to the main U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. — is a process which one should expect will require considerable energy, involving one’s emotional physical, and mental fortitude.  

Filing for the benefit and involving one’s self in the process of the administrative procedure, is rarely — if ever — merely a matter of “filling out forms“.  Yes, there are Standard Forms to be completed (the SF 3107 series for FERS employees; for CSRS employees, SF 2801 series; and the SF 3112 series for both FERS and CSRS employees) — but it is the “connecting of dots” between preparing one’s narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the gathering of the medical documentation sufficient to meet the burden of proof of “preponderance of the evidence”, and all of the attendant actions which accompany the creation of the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s duties — all of the cumulative aggregation taken as a whole, constitute an imposing, formidable process.  

Fortunately, the Holidays, the weekends, etc., provide a brief respite from such challenges.  But the problem with such periodic and temporary respites, are that they merely serve to remind us that the hurdle still exists, and the process is still to be encountered, and the procrastination of the inevitable must be confronted at some point; and that, in and of itself, is an exhausting thought.  Medical Disability Retirement from OPM is precisely there is provide a long-lasting respite. Delaying by periodic respites only prolongs the time when the true respite, of meaningful duration, may be embraced.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire