Federal Disability Retirement: Perspectives, Altered and Static

Medical conditions have a way of changing one’s perspective; the daily outlook of merely taking ordinary things for granted reverts to an ongoing sense of appreciation for the mundane.  Even to be pain-free for a few moments may seem like an utopian state of blissful enlightenment.  The ordinary becomes the miraculous, and the order of priorities for others may become inversely reorganized.  But the problem remains for the world at large whose perspective has not been impacted by such alterations.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is suddenly confronted with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the Agency, the Supervisor, coworkers, the U.S. Postal Service, etc., may not (and one can more forcefully predict, “does not”) share that change of perspective.

Pausing to smell the flowers may be fine for some, but not while in the same room as the Supervisor who sneers at such folly.  Such altered perspectives may need the mundane remedy of a legal response; and, ultimately, if filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is the option to pursue, because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, then such a course of action should be initiated as soon as practicable.

Not everyone shares a change of perspective; and, indeed, the Federal or Postal employee who has an altered perspective should recognize that he or she once resided in the exclusive club from which expulsion and ex-communication is now imminent.  The static nature of the ordinary will always dominate; it is the extraordinary which remains in the minority, as history has always proven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Inside/Outside

Visiting another institution, community, neighborhood or business often evokes an initial response of envy or dismay; first impressions abound, and floods the channels of opinions based upon a comparison of one’s own life.

It is an interesting phenomena to view the perspective of an “outsider”, and it is always important to recognize that the private information known only by an “insider” is simply inaccessible to those who are not residents of a given community, or who have not been a member for a sufficiently long-enough period of time.  It is not so much that such information is a secret; rather, it is often the case that certain types of knowledge can only be gained through being a part of the whole.

On a microcosmic scale, then, the turmoil which an individual experiences because of a medical condition is a life which is rarely understood in full, and less so by certain types of predisposed personalities.   Sympathetic individuals have become a rarity; as we become more and more disconnected through virtual reality and the impersonal conduits of the internet, electronic mailing, etc., human capacity for empathy diminishes.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the problem is further exacerbated because of the nature of a large bureaucracy.  Bureaucracies are by definition impersonal; starting off as another insider (within the Federal Sector), but in essence always remaining an outsider (because of the impersonal nature of the environment itself) often portends a lack of empathetic response by supervisors, co-workers and the organization as a whole.

Having the proper perspective throughout — of effectively and persuasively proving one’s Federal Disability Retirement case to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is the best and only course of success.  How to go about it often depends upon balancing the proper insider/outsider perspective, as is the case for all of us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Disability Retirement & Standard Forms

Standard Forms are intended to restrain, contain and standardize; it is meant to make you believe that if you violate the “fence” around the physical form itself, or fail to answer specifically the questions “as asked”, that there will be a penalty to pay — i.e., in the case of a Federal Disability Retirement application before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is intending on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of what to say, how much to say, and in what tone or tenor (does one presume that OPM is an “adversary”, and therefore should any submission be crafted in such a manner?  Or, should the tone be more “neutral”?  Hint:  Whatever the proper balance of tone to embrace, OPM is not one’s close relative, and should not be approached as such); and, ultimately, whether and to what extent “continuation pages” should be attached to the forms themselves.  

For FERS employees, or course, one must complete SF 3107, along with Schedules A, B & C, as well as have the Certified Summary of Federal Service completed, and if applicable, SF 3107-2, the Spousal Waiver.  For CSRS, one must complete SF 2801, and again, the Schedules A, B & C and the Certified Summary of Federal Service.  For both FERS and CSRS employees, the second set of forms — SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D & SF 3112E — must also be completed.  

For the Federal or Postal employee, it is the SF 3112A which is the most daunting, the most important, and the one which must be thoughtfully completed.  It is the first form which OPM will search for, review, analyze, compare, attack, and scrutinize, in making a decision upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  It is indeed a form which is “standard” in every sense of the word — in appearance; in requirement; in formatted appearance; and in the end, the level of effort and input one makes of it.  

What should one’s own “standard” be in preparing, formulating and filing the Standard Form 3112A?  Care, caution and a concern for coordinated completion.  Yes, and by the way, the undersigned writer enjoys engaging in alliteration, assonance and consonance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Perspectives

From the perspective of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, once the information is received that the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal employee has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — or is contemplating filing — such an individual is seen merely as an obstacle to a positional slot on a piece of paper:  presently taking up space, but no longer a vital piece, leaving aside a piece of any kind, to the organization.

Perspectives are peculiar animals:  they formulate from a specific angle and motive, and rarely attempt to empathize from a differing aspect.  Thus, whether a Supervisor has been supportive for many years often becomes an irrelevancy when a Federal or Postal employee informs that Supervisor that he or she is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Such a supportive attitude and approach was based upon a perspective involving the employee’s long-term involvement with the organization; such a perspective can quickly and irreversibly change once information is received that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer a part of that long-term goal.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will be informed of such filing; the question of the appropriateness of informing the agency prior to the actual filing, is a discretionary issue with the employee.  Normally, unless a compelling reason exists, inasmuch as the Federal agency will be informed upon the actual filing, anyway, there is little reason to “pre-inform” the agency.

Perspectives change; changed perspectives can result in sudden actions which may be detrimental; anticipating a changed perspective can be a tenuous endeavor, especially when it comes to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: From the Doctor’s Perspective

In attempting to understand others, it is important to gain a perspective from which the third party views the world.  Understanding the third party perspective is a way to formulating an effective way of persuading a change in that person, if that is the goal. Or, perhaps understanding X merely in order to accept the behavior or actions of the individual, is enough of a reason.

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 often important to understand the perspective of one’s treating doctor in order to obtain the necessary support and administrative initiation of the medical provider.

From the doctor’s viewpoint, it is normally counter-productive in terms of treatment and therapy to declare, ascertain and deem that the patient is “totally disabled“.  Work is therapeutic; it allows for a teleological motivation which compels continuation in recuperative and rehabilitative terms.

Further, when this “fact” is combined with the general exposure of most doctors to other forms of disability benefits — state or federal OWCP benefits; Social Security Disability benefits; private disability insurance benefits — and rarely an encounter with FERS or CSRS disability retirement issues, it becomes apparent why doctors often become reluctant and resistant to getting involved with the administrative process.  OWCP benefits require an assertion of causality-to-employment; SSDI necessitates a declaration of “total disability”; private disability policies can often lead to depositions and legal responses.

Thus, everything that is counterintuitive to a doctor’s perspective of what is therapeutically beneficial to the patient, is potentially there when presented with a request for support in a disability retirement case.

Explanation is the key to understanding; effective explanation should persuade and alter a perspective founded upon a misinformed foundation.  It is often necessary to explain the differences between FERS & CSRS disability retirement benefits and the “others” which have previously polluted the waters of a pristine stream of thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Interests of Each

In assessing and evaluating friends, adversaries or neutral parties, it is important to analyze the self-interest of each, to understand the differing perspectives of the people involved, then to arrive at conclusions concerning the benefits received in the interaction of the process.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, the parties involved include:  The individual FERS or CSRS Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating initiating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; the Agency (including coworkers, Supervisors, Managers, etc.) for whom the Federal or Postal worker is employed by; the Human Resources Department of the Agency (which is a separate and distinct entity from the “Agency” for whom the Federal or Postal worker is employed by, precisely because (A) they are often a separate section of the agency and (B) the personnel employees have had no day-to-day contact, for the most part, with the employee but (C) whether the Human Resources Department is “management-friendly” or “employee-driven”, may color the perspective of where their alliances and loyalties lean); the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; the Attorney or Representative of the Federal or Postal employee assisting in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Obviously, the first and the last (the potential Federal or Postal employee/applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits) and his or her attorney, should have a contiguous perspective:  to look out for the best interests of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  The “others” — no matter how friendly, by all appearances “helpful”, and no matter how much assistance is provided —  have their own self-interests to protect, preserve and advance.  Keep the different perspectives in mind.  Better yet, understand that self-interest is the primary motivating factor of Agencies — and act in the interest of one’s own advancement accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire