FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Credibility (Part I)

The credibility of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A both for FERS & CSRS employees) is crucial to obtaining an approval for a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Remember, first and foremost, that the personal pronoun “I” is being used — and should be used.  As such, one’s integrity and personal credibility is put to the issue.

While descriptive delineations of one’s symptoms are important, with appropriate adjectives to convey the extent of the subjective symptomatologies experienced, remember that exaggeration is the undermining element which can unravel a Federal Disability Retirement application, and ultimately reflect with harm upon one’s integrity and credibility.

Truth should always be the guiding principle; but perspectives are accepted in the conveying of such truth.  Remember that Pontius Pilate asked the famous question, “What is Truth”?  In asking the question, he never stopped to consider the answer; instead, he asked it in a rhetorical fashion, without regard to the truth.

Truth is important; being truthful is essential; and beyond this, correspondence of truth with the medical records and reports is the coherent package which will win in a disability retirement packet.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Always the Initiator

In preparing, formulating and completing a Federal Disability Retirement packet under FERS & CSRS for the Office of Personnel Management, it is important to always be the initiator of all issues, real, implicit or potentially existing.  Nothing should ever be “hidden”.  To hide is to admit that something is wrong; to paraphrase a Shakespearean verse, to object too strenuously is to admit to something that you think needs objecting to.  Or, to put it in elementary terms, honesty is always the best policy

Aside from the obvious penalties for lying upon a Federal Application for Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is the practical reason:  rarely is an issue of such ominous importance that it would preclude a Federal or Postal employee from obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Certainly, some issues can become temporary impediments; other issues — often relating to performance issues, misconduct during Federal Service, a perception that an employee did something “wrong” — will lead a potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to “color the truth” in an application for Federal Disability Retirement.  There is no need.  Certainly, some issues need to be highlighted more than others, and other issues need to be left in the periphery; but openness is the best policy, and honesty is always the only avenue to success.  It is merely how you state it, that matters.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The MSPB

The entire process of preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should be accomplished with the view that it will end up at the Merit Systems Protection Board, being heard by an Administrative Judge.  This is why much thought and preparation should foreshadow each application.  There should be a running theme throughout the narrative which reveals the individuality of a person’s medical condition and how that medical condition impacts his or her ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job

Truth should always be the guide; however, truth is always influenced by perspective.  It is the “perspective” of the Office of Personnel Management, in all Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS & CSRS, to carefully scrutinize the narrative of the medical condition, impact upon the job, and the ability and inability to have the necessary connection between the two.  It is the perspective of the supervisor who will render his or her opinion based upon a limited knowledge and observation.  Perspectives must be questioned.  Thus, there is the opportunity for cross-examination at the MSPB level, which must be engaged in artfully and with care.  Each individual believes that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application is a “sure thing” at the First Stage of the process — until the reality sets in.  The reality, of course, is that every application must be prepared as if it is going to the MSPB, because it well might, and often does.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Filing II

People often come to me at the 2nd (Reconsideration) Stage, or the 3rd (Merit Systems Protection Board) Stage, and ask that I correct the mistakes made in the initial filing. Most mistakes can be corrected. Of course, it would have been better if the Applicant had done it properly the first time, for once the Office of Personnel Management views something which should not have been submitted, it cannot be easily retracted — only further explained.

There are, moreover, certain mistakes which cannot be “explained away” — such as deliberate omissions or deceptions. Thus, if the Office of Personnel Management gets the idea that there is an element of deceptiveness in a disability retirement application — either through omission or deliberate avoidance of an issue — then it becomes a difficult case to win. Honesty is always the best policy, and no Disability Retirement applicant should ever engage in any act of covering up any information. This is conceptually different from emphasizing the elements in a disability retirement application which favor an approval, as opposed to de-emphasizing those elements which tend to obscure the primary elements of an application. Such artful emphasis/de-emphasis should always be a part of every disability retirement application, coordinating the Applicant’s Statement of Disability with supporting medical documentation, to convey a consistent “whole” to the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: The Filing

Never be deceptive in your filing. Always be truthful. To be deceptive or untruthful will harm your credibility, your case, and ultimately, may defeat your ability to obtain disability retirement benefits. Now, there is a conceptual distinction between being “truthful” and emphasizing certain issues of your case, while leaving certain other issues as secondary and less prominent in the documents & supportive papers filed. Thus, to take a rather crude example, while everyone in the world spends a great deal of his or her life in the restroom, we rarely — if ever — talk about such events. Is it because we are not being “truthful”? No — instead, while it is an issue which is not emphasized, it is not something which we are also being deceptive about.

Thus, with respect to disability retirement issues, one should never deliberately attempt to mislead, hide, or otherwise “expunge” certain aspects of the disability retirement application. At the same time, however, those aspects which are not very helpful, or which may harm your case, should not be placed in bold-type or underlined in red. Wherever possible, those aspects which will weaken your case, should simply be de-emphasized — but never deliberately hidden.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire