Federal Employee Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Procedural Hurdles

Bureaucratic complexities have become a part of everyday life.  When societies become entrenched in administrative procedures, where the process itself is paramount over the substantive goals intended to achieve, and the proper filing of standard forms cannot be ignored lest the conformity of all is undermined by the exception of the singular; then, it is declared that progress has been made, the height of civilization has been achieved, and the pinnacle of human inventiveness has been reached.

Whether one agrees with the satire of bureaucratic conundrums or not, the reality is that the inherent complexities of government must be contended with, and attempting to subvert or otherwise evade the necessity of completing standardized procedural methodologies is an act of futility bordering on rebellion.

For injured/ill Federal employees and Postal Workers who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, or even CSRS Offset, the importance of overcoming procedural hurdles cannot be overstated.  SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C & SF 3112D must be completed for all Federal and Postal employees filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and for FERS Federal and Postal Workers, one must also complete SF 3107 (as opposed to SF 2801 for CSRS & CSRS Offset Federal and Postal employees).

And, while there are ways to provide additional addendum information beyond that which can fit within the neat spaces provided on the standard forms themselves, nevertheless, it is necessary to follow the rules and abide by the bureaucracy of conformity.  Yes, administrative hurdles are a headache and a difficulty to overcome; but, no, you cannot ignore them, as the reality of administrative and bureaucratic headaches is a constancy we must live with in a society deemed to be the pinnacle of human achievement and progress.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

 

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Flashpoint

The flashpoint is the temperature at which an organic compound becomes combustible; during the entire time building up to that point, the rising temperature in combination with the chemical reactiveness of the substance was all the while sitting in preparation for the point of ignition; were there options to pursue prior to the point of ignition?  If there had been a change in chemical make-up, then perhaps the point of temperature-to-combination of substance would have altered, where either a higher or lower flashpoint would occur; or, the rise of the temperature, and the rate of acceleration, could have been changed.

Whatever the needed changes in order to avoid the flashpoint, however, one thing is clear:  the options are limited, and any altered states would merely delay the ultimate event of a flashpoint occurrence.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the flashpoint of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is an inevitability which leaves the Federal or Postal employee similarly limited options.

One can continue in the mode of life which one finds one’s self in: of the daily treadmill of suffering through the workday with pain, profound fatigue and progressively debilitated emotional turmoil.  Or, one can wait for the Agency to initiate an adverse action, such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), periodic suspensions or reprimands — or removal.  Or, one can begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Limited options do not necessarily constitute a flashpoint of negative consequences; yes, a fire bursting in a home is a tragedy, but then there are controlled fires and even naturally occurring ones in fields of decay which benefit the environment.

It is thus ultimately up to the Federal or Postal employee to determine the point of combustibility, and therefore the timing of the event identified as the flashpoint.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: To Enter the Gates Blindly

Being naive is a quality and character trait which is distinguishable from innocence; in this world where information and the opportunity to obtain wisdom is vast and limitless, retaining the former quality may be unpardonable, whereas maintaining a level of innocence may reveal a life of self-discipline, where one has deliberately placed lines of demarcation around one’s life, and insisted upon not being sullied by the world around us.

One can remain innocent, yet not be naive.  While the converse may also be possible, it is important not to deliberately avoid the harsh reality around us.

Thus, 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 that one enters into the metaphorical gates of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with eyes of wisdom and experience, and not be saddled with the blind naiveté of thinking that the administrative process will be one of fairness and just analysis.

Assume that OPM will attempt to selectively read medical reports and records with an eye to deny; presume that they will ignore crucial evidentiary documentation which upholds one’s case; expect that legal “triggers” such as the Bruner Presumption or the holding in Trevan will be unimpressive.

That is why that which may be implicit, needs to always be made explicit, and repetitively so.  While it may be advantageous for one to enter the proverbial pearly gates with innocence, to enter through the gates of OPM with naiveté is merely inviting a door slammed shut.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Office of Personnel Management

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) , located in Washington, D.C., is the agency which makes the decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset.  They are the responsible agency for the first two “stages” of the process of attempting to show eligibility and entitlement to a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  By “stages” is merely meant the initial application stage of the process, as well as the second, “Reconsideration” stage of the process — where a Federal or Postal employee has the right to, within 30 days of an initial denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application, request that his or her case be “reconsidered”, and further have the right to submit any additional medical or other supporting documentation for review and consideration. 

If the case is denied a second time by the Office of Personnel Management, then the Federal or Postal employee who has filed the Federal Disability Retirement application, or the attorney representing the Federal or Postal employee, has a right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.  The Office of Personnel Management is taking quite a long time in making a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application, and although they are attempting to get caught up with their workload, the volume of cases filed and received by OPM on a weekly basis has made such an attempt difficult.  As has been stated by this author many times, Patience is a virtue, and as such, Federal and Postal employees must be the most virtuous of all, because patience is what is needed to endure and survive the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Reasons & Conclusions

In a denial letter from the Office of Personnel Management for a Federal Disability Retirement application filed under FERS or CSRS (which, if received, a Federal or Postal employee must file a Request for Reconsideration within 30 days of the date of the denial letter), the connection between the reasonings given, and the conclusions arrived at, will often be missing.  

Often, OPM will tangentially or in a cursory manner refer to various medical documents which were submitted with the original Federal Disability Retirement packet, or actually extrapolate a selective quote from a medical report or office note, and even make it appear as if a full and complete evaluation of the submission has been performed.  Thereafter, a conclusory statement will be proposed, often with a logical pretext of:  “Therefore, your application is denied.”

However, there is a vast difference between referring to various medical reports or statements, and evaluating such reports and statements in order to arrive at a proper legal conclusion based upon the evidence submitted.  It is rare that the Office of Personnel Management engages in the proper evaluative process in determining whether or not a Federal or Postal worker’s Federal Disability Retirement application meets the applicable legal criteria.  That said, such lack of evaluative and analytical process is legally required, and there must be a logical connection between the reasons given, and the conclusions reached.  Such lack of engaging in the process must be pointed out, but it must be done in a “diplomatic” manner.  Diplomacy is best engaged in by diplomats; similarly, legal issues are best tackled by lawyers.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Unequivocal Statements

Unequivocal statements can go either way:  They can either show the force of authority, or unravel a lack of knowledge.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where a Federal or Postal Worker is attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, such statements of “unequivocal” authority can be seen at any stage of the process.  An unequivocal statement of disability can be made by a treating doctor.  An unequivocal statement of denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application can be made by an OPM Representative.  

What is the distinction and difference between the two?  For the former, the medical doctor who makes an unequivocal statement of disability is based upon the history, clinical examinations, experience, possible diagnostic testing, and other criteria applied in coming to a medical conclusion.  There accompanies it the force of the doctor’s credentials.  The latter is an opinion based upon (hopefully) a comparison of the documentation submitted by the Federal or Postal worker, and the “letter of the law”.  But that assumes that the OPM Representative understands and correctly applies the law.  Such an assumption is often erroneous, inasmuch as the OPM Representative is not a lawyer — and that is just the first of many reasons.  

Don’t be fooled by unequivocal statements; authority of such statements must have a force of rational basis and credentials, and not just because a person “says so”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire