Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Last-Minute Application

If one fails to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (i.e., the Statute of Limitations for all Federal and Postal employees in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, is 1-year from the time of separation from Federal Service) within the time prescribed, then one cannot make any legal arguments or supplement one’s case — precisely because the Federal or Postal (former) employee has failed to meet the minimum statutory deadline.

However, once filed, the case can be supplemented and “added to”; additional evidentiary documentation may be submitted; but amendment to the Federal Disability Retirement application will be severely limited, because you cannot withdraw the application in order to change it — if the withdrawal is effectuated after the 1-year Statute of Limitations passes.  This is because the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant is restricted by the rules governing SF 3112A, where one cannot “add to” the list of diagnosed medical conditions once it is received by OPM (although there are ways to characterize such identified conditions to somewhat circumvent the restrictions).

Sometimes, because of the medical condition itself, or for unforeseen circumstances which are beyond the physical, emotional or cognitive control of the potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement, such procrastination is simply a fact which must be dealt with.  Whether the day before the 1-year cut-off, or 10 months before, once filed, at least the Federal or Postal employee will have the opportunity to make legal arguments, and for the most part, the ability to supplement his or her case.

It is only if it is NOT filed on a timely basis, that such additional activity will then be precluded.  Thus, the obvious rule:  File before the deadline.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Cumulative Emergency

Most emergencies need not have been; either through preventative maintenance or attending to it through troubleshooting at regular intervals; or by cautiously identifying overt signs of oncoming problems, the vast majorities of apparent emergencies turn into the status of such urgent needs because of neglect or deliberate avoidance.  

That is not to say, however, that once an event reaches a heightened status of requiring an urgent response, that it should not be treated with the appropriate manner of alarm; rather, it is merely a recognition that most emergencies need not have become so.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the best course of action is to attempt to avoid having the entire administrative process become an emergency need.  

In order to practice containment, one must recognize the medical condition, the potential impact of the medical condition; the time when the medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; a carefully prepared plan to initiating the needed conversation with one’s treating doctor; financial planning to weather the long and arduous bureaucratic morass; and an expectation that one’s own agency will not be supportive, for the most part, throughout the process.

Such recognition of some of the bare essentials which comprise the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement process is easier said than accomplished.  

Life rarely occurs and presents itself in neatly folded stacks of laundered clothing; instead, the more apt analogy is the pile of dirty clothes brought home in a black garbage bag by one’s college son or daughter, with the door opening, a smile on the face, and declaring, “Here, will you take care of this for me”?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Timing and Perseverance

The proper timing of an event has much to do with the successful outcome of an endeavor.  Just look at the “timing” passes in the NFL, where the quarterback throws a pass towards a receiver who has not yet looked for the ball, but expects it because that is precisely the play which has been called, and one which has been practiced for in countless previous series of practices.  But with timing comes a history of perseverance. Timing is perfected by practice, and practice becomes fruitful and productive only through countless effort and perseverance.

If the first time one attempts X and the timing is not perfect, one cannot walk away in frustration because the timing was “off”; rather, it is through perseverance where perfect timing is achieved.  Effortlessness is achieved through the very achievement of great effort.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are multiple “timing” issues, coupled with the need to have the perseverance to achieve that proper timing.  

Sometimes, it is simply premature to start the process:  perhaps the doctors are not ready; perhaps the Federal or Postal worker is not mentally prepared to take the next step.  Psychological barriers are just as real an impediment as physical ones. At other times, timing has to do with the doctors — cases often have to develop, and doctors have to spend time with the patient/applicant before admitting that disability retirement is the only and best option.  For that “perfect timing” to occur, perseverance by the Federal or Postal employee may be needed — if not only to persevere through a slightly longer process of case-development.  

Thus, timing and perseverance are not limited to the NFL or sports in general; rather, in life, and in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, being “in the game” and trudging along to perfect the right time, are all important components in the successful submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application for the Federal and Postal Worker.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Federal Disability Retirement: Fiscal and Other Cliffs

The general public is, by and large, rather puzzled by the inability of the Executive and Legislative branches to come to terms with the impending “fiscal cliff” facing the nation, precisely because they face such hard decisions on a microcosmic level on a daily basis.

In representing Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is clear that the “everyday person” faces tasks and obstacles which require hard decision-making almost on a daily basis.

The surreal world of the Federal Government, where there is never a debt limit, and where the hardest task is determined by the difficulty of reelection, fails to properly recognize and appreciate the daily toil of its own workers.  Proper management at the highest levels of government should be presumed to take place, so that the “field workers” can continue doing their duties.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who has come to a point in his or her life that the positional duties cannot be performed, anymore, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is one which comes with a harsh realization:  one’s chosen career may be effectively over; the camaraderie and interaction with coworkers will cease; the financial security of one’s future will be compromised, etc. But necessity of action results in the making of such decisions, and Federal and Postal employees must, and do, make such decisions on a daily basis.

They face fiscal and other cliffs almost daily; as greater responsibility falls upon those in higher echelons, it is a puzzle why there is a cliff at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Collateral Work Issues

There is often, and inevitably (it would appear), collateral work issues which appear in parallel form, along with the impact of a medical condition upon a Federal or Postal worker.  Such issues can take multiple and varied forms — from actions on the part of the Federal or Postal employee which impact upon the performance of the job itself; to behavioral issues at work; to issues concerning actions by the Federal or Postal employee outside of the workplace, but which leads to legal issues which are brought to the attention of the agency.  Whether such collateral issues directly influence or have a peripheral reverberation upon a Federal Disability Retirement application is anyone’s guess.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, however, it is best to assume that (A) the Office of Personnel Management will know, or will somehow find out, about the collateral issues, via being informed by the agency or through some non-pertinent document which mentions or otherwise touches upon the issue, and (B) that OPM will use it as a basis for an argument that there was an underlying motive for filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, aside from the medical issue itself.

There are ways to counter such selective attempts by OPM to use a collateral issue to defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application, and it is best to have both a paper-trail as well as a clear time-line of events, to show that the collateral issue existed in a parallel, but separate, universe than the central issue of one’s medical condition.  OPM searches to defeat; it is the job of the Federal or Postal employee to rebut the search, and to destroy the effort in order to force the issue, and obtain an approval from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire