OPM Form SF 3112C and the Sufficiency of the Physician’s Statement

Confusing necessity and sufficiency is always a precarious matter. That which is necessary may not be sufficient for a given purpose, and failure in understanding such a fundamental distinction can be fatal to a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

SF 3112C requires that a physician complete and provide essential medical information in the pursuance of a Federal Disability Retirement application. The form itself — SF 3112C — is the vehicle by which the medical documentation is obtained. It is “necessary” in the sense that SF 3112C delineates a guideline of the type of information which is needed in order to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The form itself — SF 3112C — however, is to a great extent irrelevant (although, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has recently required that a signed SF 3112C be included in the final Federal Disability Retirement packet, despite SF 3112E clearly stating that an “equivalency” of the form would satisfy the lack thereof, as in the attachment of the medical documentation itself), and it is instead the medical documentation through which SF 3112C is obtained, which is what is important.

Regardless, while the OPM SF 3112C constitutes the vehicle, is necessary, but is ultimately irrelevant in and of itself, it is a necessary form to the extent that it mandates the delineation of what information is required for eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Will following the guidelines in accordance with what SF 3112C states, result in a successful OPM Disability claim? That is the question of “sufficiency”, as opposed to “necessity”.

Over the years, case-law and statutory interpretation and expansion of Federal Disability Retirement laws have greatly altered the landscape of a Federal Disability Retirement claim. SF 3112C is the vehicle of necessity, although the form itself is an unnecessary one. The greater question is whether it is sufficient to meet the legal weight of preponderance of the evidence, and that question must ultimately be answered by questioning the efficacy of the form itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: What Was It All For?

In the midst of a crisis, when the security of the mundane is replaced by the turmoil of fears, “what ifs”, pain, intrusive nightmares, suicidal ideations, profound fatigue, and the uncertainty of one’s future, questions begin to haunt and abound, enveloping decisions of past moments, reevaluation of present concerns, and furrowing eyebrows for an anxious anticipation of possible events to come.

Medical conditions have a tendency to interrupt present plans, and to degrade the list of priorities once thought to be of significance, or even of any relevance.  But all things must be kept in their proper perspective.  Balance of thought, and prudence of action, should always be paramount.

For Federal and Postal employees who are confronted with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and therefore one’s livelihood and capacity to survive in this increasingly difficult economic climate, the prospect of being unable to perform one’s Federal or Postal job is a daunting challenge which must be faced.

One’s agency can rarely be relied upon to exhibit any lengthy period of empathy; jobs and tasks left undone constitute a basis for termination.  As such, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a consideration the Federal or Postal employee must evaluate early on.  It is the one who begins to take those initial, prudent steps, who may later be able to answer those universal questions emanating from fear of the future, such as: What was it all for?  It is for securing one’s future, and to be able to retain one’s place in this often disjointed universe of bureaucratic morass.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum eligibility requirements met (for FERS, 18 months of Federal Service; for CSRS, 5 years — normally a “given”); and it is precisely that which is offered, which should be accessed when the need arises; and when applied for, perhaps to answer those questions engendered by the trauma of the moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Life as Episodic Declarations

One wonders whether harm is not being perpetrated upon the youth, in the manner in which reality is presented.  Many seem to believe that reality is that which occurs on Facebook, Twitter, or some form of electronic media; and the interconnected nature of relevance in life cannot be decoupled from the episodic declarations as posted on such mediums.

For the next generation, how much more of reality will be defined by virtual reality, where “reality” itself no longer needs the predicate of “virtual”, because the subject has replaced the predicate? Contrast such an upbringing to a generation of older workers who struggle daily with technology and its practical applications; and while we all recognize the future relevance regarding technological innovations, virtual reality was meant to be merely an escape from the daily toil of the harshness of life, and never a replacement.

For Federal and Postal Workers who face the trauma of a medical condition which can neither be avoided nor replaced, the decisions contemplated for securing one’s future become more than mere episodic declarations on the pages of social media; it is the threat to one’s existence, and the daily encounter with pain, cognitive dysfunctions, and potential surgical interventions which dominate; but for the next generation, will such harsh realities mean little until and unless they are posted on social media sites?

Federal and Postal Workers of today understand the causal connection between livelihood, work, production, career, and the difference between the compendium of the latter and that which constitutes “virtual reality”.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an administrative process which goes to the heart of confidentiality, personal life, and answering of concerns about one’s future.  While some may in the end post something about it on a website, there are some things in life which should remain private and sacrosanct, and the guiding advice of an attorney and the confidentiality kept within the confines of an attorney-client relationship, should always remain.

Life, in the end, is more than an episodic declaration on a social media site; in fact, when the lights are turned off, it is the quietude of reality which continues on, and not the artificial glare of technology.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Advice and Guidance

The worth of advice is unique in that it is valued based up multiple facets of judgments: the source of such advice; the reputation and historical successes of that source; the soundness of the advisory statement, based upon all information available; and, ultimately, the receptiveness of such advice on the part of the person who seeks it. When advice falls upon deaf ears, of course, then the very value and effectiveness of such advice has been lost forever.

In the legal arena, there is an added component — that the attorney is unable to, for obvious ethical reasons, to render advice unless there has been established an attorney-client relationship.  The “obvious reasons”  have to do with the fact that proffering advice in particular circumstances can only come about if and when an attorney has received the confidential and specific information pertaining to a “client”.  Guidance of a general nature, without reference to individualized details, can be given in a generic sense.

In Federal Disability Retirement law, where each case is unique because of fact-specific medical conditions, position descriptions which are impacted by the particularized medical conditions of the individual case, and the nexus which must arise with the interaction between the two — because of this, legal advice must be tailored within a context of an attorney-client relationship.

General guidance can be given; but the Federal or Postal employee seeking help in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, should understand that the importance of getting good legal advice is dependent upon the value and worth the Federal or Postal employee places upon his or her unique and individualized case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Solutions

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to focus upon the solutions to the multiple obstacles which necessarily accompany the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement packet.

Part of the inherent problem for the Federal or Postal worker who is contemplating filing for the Federal Disability Retirement benefit, is of course the medical condition itself.  It is difficult enough to maneuver through the potholes, valleys and pitfalls of life which one must face on a daily basis; it is exponentially pronounced when one must do so with the hindrance of a physical, mental, or emotional (or often all three) medical condition.

Thus, if the problem at the outset is to secure the support of a doctor, because the doctor is unwilling to provide a medical narrative report, then the solution is to find another doctor.  This often happens if the originating injury occurred as a job-related incident and the doctor’s services were obtained through OWCP; or, sometimes, one’s own lifelong treating doctor simply becomes weary of all of the administrative paperwork which is entailed by the process itself.

To “find another doctor”, of course, is an easy enough statement to make; to actually do so may entail energy, effort and a level of focus which involves much beyond what one wants to expend.  But what choice does one have?  Repetitively reviewing one’s obstacles contributes little to the advancement of one’s cause; focus upon the solution, not the problem, for it is the former whichjavascript:; leads one on a path of recovery, not the latter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Confirming the Relationship

After undergoing all of the those diagnostic tests; after allowing the doctor to clinically examine, prescribe multiple medications based merely upon the say-so of the doctor; after allowing for invasive surgery; sending you to physical therapy; if the time then comes to prepare and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to confirm the strength of that “patient-doctor” relationship that has apparently been ongoing and fostered for those many months, years, and sometimes, decades.  

It is not enough to get a nebulous “pat-on-the-back-sure-I’ll-support-you” sort of response, and with that, you receive a thick packet from the medical office, you open it, and inside is merely a copy of your medical records.  No — “support” must be concrete and definitive. It must mean, specifically, that the doctor is willing to write an excellent medical report outlining his or her opinion in connecting your medical condition with you inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job.  If it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk with the treating doctor, and see how committed he or she really was and is to this “patient-doctor” relationship.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire