Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Substance and Process

In any bureaucratic, lengthy administrative process, one can become embroiled in the procedural aspects of an endeavor, and overlook the substantive elements which form the foundation of any case.  Conversely, one can make the mistake of approaching a case and declare to one’s self, “This is so obviously a good case,” and take shortcuts in the process of putting together an effective and persuasive case.

Either approach is one fraught with grave errors, and for Federal employees and Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Medical benefits, first through one’s own agency (if still on the rolls of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated, for not more than 31 days), and ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pennsylvania (directly, if the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker has been separated from Federal service for more than 31 days), it is important to keep the balance between the substance of a case, and the process of the case.

Substantive issues involve everything from the factual, informational content required on all standard forms (SF 3107, along with Schedules A, B & C, and the required attachment of one’s DD 214 showing prior active military service; SF 2801 for CSRS employees; and the substantive content of the description of one’s medical conditions to be considered, as required in SF 3112A, etc.), as well as the medical documentation needed to provide the evidentiary support for one’s case.

“Process” issues involve the timeframe in filing a case, the administrative procedures of where the disability application must be submitted through, as well as the myriad of sequential steps required for satisfaction of accommodation issues with one’s agency.

Substance and process — they are the necessary sides of a single, inseparable currency of an administrative reality known as Federal OPM Disability Retirement, and both must be attended to in order to reach the heights of efficacy mandated for a successful outcome in the preparation, formulation and submission of an OPM Medical Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Beginning the Federal Disability Retirement Process

The Chinese proverb, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, is meant to remind us that looking at a process in its entirety can result in self-defeat even before starting, and every daunting journey must begin with the small, almost insignificant, effort of initiation.

Facing a bureaucracy and an administrative process can feel like that metaphorical journey of a thousand miles.  The multiple and complex standard forms to complete; the legal criteria to meet; the need to gather, compile and consolidate the medical documentation into a linear, coherent whole; and all of this, in the face of voluntarily reducing one’s income by applying for an annuity and having to deal with the debilitating medical condition from which one suffers.

But the successful way to approach the entire administrative process known as Federal Disability Retirement, is to bifurcate it into workable portions. The SF 3107 series (reissued in May, 2014, where previous editions are now outdated) is merely informational in nature.  It is is the SF 3112 series of forms which one must take care in preparing and formulating, and especially SF 3112A, which requests for detailed information concerning one’s medical conditions, the impact of the medical conditions upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job; and other pertinent information needed to convey compliance with a legal criteria established through many years via legal opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as well as by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Yes, it is a difficult process, and one which can be eased by legal advice and expertise. But as with all journeys, to look upon the landscape and obstacles as mere hindrances to overcome, will serve one better, than to stand at the foothills and refuse to begin the journey at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Step-by-step Process

Complexities abound in every field, and the solution to preventing one from become embroiled in such confounding complexities is to divide the complexities into manageable entities.  While any bifurcation may be arbitrary, it does not mean that there is not a reasonable basis for such arbitrary division of issues.  

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to identify the primary medical issues which are impacting one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s life.  It is often queried as to “which one” of the multiple medical conditions should be included in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A), and further, what are the “primary essential elements” which should be described.  

Both questions pose a complexity beyond an ability to answer such a question in a generic fashion, precisely because each case is unique.  As to the former question, it all depends upon the impact of the latter question; and as to the latter question, it all depends upon the answer to the former question.  

This circularity of interdependence, of which of the major medical conditions one should include, depending upon the type of essential elements of one’s job, is the complexity which must be unraveled, and it is in the process of this unraveling that one then begins to formulate the “bridge” or the “nexus” between the type, extent and severity of one’s medical condition (or its variance of pluralities of conditions) and the multi-tasking nature of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  

It is a complex process, but one in which the various components begin to provide for a foundation of that bridge, which must be constructed carefully, with scrutiny, and with deliberate reasoning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire