OPM Retirement for Medical Incapacity: The boxes in Standard Forms

For some forms, it is a convenience to have a restrictive, limited “box” in which to put the “x” into, or maybe the needed “Not Applicable”; others, however, try and contain a limited narrative and force succinctness into the standardization of answers.  That is all well and good, and perhaps from a bureaucratic standpoint and perspective, the conformity of forms and the mandatory “answers within a box” makes for streamlining of paperwork.

The reality, however, is that some questions cannot be answered — and more importantly, should not — within the proposed space allocated, and so you have two (2) choices: decrease the font size in order to fit a greater substance of the narrative within the provided box, or attach a continuation sheet despite no indication in the standard forms for allowance of such cheekiness of presumptuous creativity.

How does one identify which Standard Form should be prepared and completed within the confines of standardization, and which ones should not?   First, a conceptual identification should be applied: Which ones are merely “informational” that request only singular answers, and which forms make queries that compel for narrative answers?  Once that initial, identifying bifurcation is made, then the next step is to determine whether an adequate and sufficient response can be stated within the “box” provided within the font-size allowing for regular eyesight that does not require extraordinary magnification, or if a continuation sheet is necessary.

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, certain Standard Forms are merely informational — for example, the SF 3107 series which asks for basic, factual information.  Then, of course, there is the SF 3112 series, and especially SF 31112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker under FERS, who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the greater mistake has often been to quickly annotate within the boxes provided a swift “jotting down” of the medical conditions one “feels” — as if the body parts providing temporary sensations for a given day, or even the lack thereof, will sufficiently satisfy the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to become approved for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Make no mistake about it: there can be dire legal consequences if SF 3112A is not completed properly and sufficiently.  And always remember the philosophical dictum: That which is necessary may not be necessarily sufficient, and that which is sufficient may not be sufficiently necessary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Employee Disability Retirement: The carousel of life

It is the easiest of analogies to ponder:  of a vision in the humdrum of circularity; different sizes, shapes, and images of artistry; of the choices we make and the alternatives offered; where we sit in life, of the approaches we take and the variable speed of the up and down motion; do we possess the fearless temerity to change midway from a lumbering, elephantine facade to the sleek and pathological ride of a cheetah?  Does the music have the concordant synchronicity such that it is neither an annoyance nor a distracting disturbance?  Or do we even take note of the loud cacophony of the blaring entourage, or merely as a backdrop to the excitement in the very ride we undertake?

Some recent intellectuals have argued that human beings comprehend their interaction, environment, place and significance in this world, only through the thought-process of analogical thinking; that the intersection of words, linguistic culpability and attachment of language games to encounters with the objective, impervious world of reality, becomes elevated to that Rorschach moment when the obfuscating inkblots of an objective universe otherwise indistinguishable from the insular parallelism of one’s own conceptual constructs suddenly explodes with insight and vigorous apprehension.

That was the problem with the nascent approach of existentialists; somehow, we all recognized that something was missing.  But instead of taking a right turn, that missing “something” took the wrong path down the corridors of Foucault and Derrida, and allowed for deconstruction to embrace the self-destructive charisma of nothingness.  How we understand the world; what we impart to it; the self-image of whence we came; and the walking pictures we carry about in the chasms of our psyche; they all matter, and the narrative of our lives become written the longer we survive in this anachronism called “life”.  We have become misfits in a virtual world of our own making.

The metaphors we establish within ourselves; the analogies we create to comprehend; the novel within each of us and the narrative of carefully chosen ideologies; all cumulatively define the essence of our being.  And thus as we ride the carousel of life, or watch ourselves ride from a distance, matters little to those who have decided to sit this round out; and yet, they, too — whether from afar or in a slumber of repose, must by necessity hear the music which plays regardless of whether one rides the circularity of the metaphor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, of course, such an analogy can be a poignant reminder of the current state of turmoil.  Perhaps the analogy takes on greater significance if we posit a mechanical failure — of stoppage of the rhythmic ride, and where the music also blares a discordant trumpet of shattered symphonies screeching with discomfort down the sensitive eardrums of the bystanders.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, have a clear choice to make:  Stay on the broken carousel; get off and walk away with nothing; or, of greater benefit and reward, to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

If the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and has the minimum years of service in order to become eligible, then it is time to consider that it is not the carousel of life that has broken, but merely failure of the operator to take into account the suitability of the particular vision with the individual embracing that concept.  It is not always the rider’s fault; sometimes, the faulty ride itself has miscalculated the algorithm of synchronizing the music to the roundabout.  Think of it in terms of the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz — but then, that is for another blog altogether.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The Gatekeeper

Garbage in, garbage out; leave the door wide open, and the flies come in; “we don’t live in a barn”; and other similar quips, quotes and quotidian truths abound to guide us throughout the day.  In Medieval times, the Gatekeeper held a prominent position of authority and safekeeping; trust was of paramount importance, and the potential for bribery to undermine loyalty and fealty to the inhabitants of the Court or Castle meant that treatment of the assigned individual demanded respect as well as adequate renumeration.

With the advent of privacy and the insular family unit, where community was replaced with walls of silence and solitude, the position of the gatekeeper was abandoned and relegated to the relics of antiquity.  Yet, while the public position has become extinct, the conceptual construct remains a necessity of choice.  Few consider the relevance, significance and importance the Gatekeeper, and so we allow for technology, any and all forms of television shows, images, opinions unfettered and logical (and illogical) consignments to enter and exit, leaving aside the mere tincture of bad taste to flow freely through our doors.

Who is the Gatekeeper in this age of unconfined information, where Orwell’s fears have been confirmed, and even more so; and where judgement, good taste and sheer hypocrisy of life matters not because “anything goes” and the only prohibition is to express one’s self honestly, lest the psyche and ego of one’s neighbor be offended and the thought police from the campus next door comes knocking on the proverbial wall in the middle of the night?  For, when the Gatekeeper was fired those many eons ago, we forgot that a locked door relied merely upon the person entering or exiting, and responsibility shared is no more than perils disbursed amongst the many, including those who fear not or carelessly sputter through life’s travails.

Now, for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, what relevance does the concept of a Medieval Gatekeeper have in this day of modernity?  Much.  And beyond, of greater relevance than you might think.  Garbage in, garbage out.

Leave the door wide open, and a denial might be guaranteed by OPM.  “We don’t live in a vacuum.”  And another:  Since the applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement claim has the burden of proof, such that a “preponderance of the evidence” standard must be met, who will be the determinant of what facts, relevant information and significant documentation is to be forwarded to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

In the end, the applicant, or his/her attorney of choice, is/are the Gatekeepers of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; and like the Medieval Gatekeeper of yore, it is well to treat that position with respect, lest any undermined fealty results in the doors left wide and open for the haunting ghosts of yesteryear to enter and defile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Epochal Dawns

There are those momentous events in life which we mark and memorialize; and, in the end, whether the cumulative bag of goodies amounts to a positive aggregate, or a negation of sorrows, we determine in the quietude of private thoughts.  Avoidance of future uncertainty is a talent wrought only by humans; for animals of other species, they cannot afford such luxuries, as survival in the here and now constitutes reality of future causality.

For us, there is today; tomorrow will take care of itself within the constructs of fear, angst and uncertainty; and as Heidegger would have it, the projects we savor are the ones which delay thoughts of tomorrow, death, and the certainty of extinction.

What are those epochal dawns?  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it can include the advent of a medical condition.  In the beginning, in retrospect, perhaps it was of minor consequence; left as merely an afterthought, a nagging pain, or perhaps a singular moment of sudden urgency.  But the chronicity of life often parallels the longevity of a condition, and what was once a mere quibble may have turned into that momentous event.

Medical conditions belong in the bag of goodies set aside as “negatives”; and it may well lead to the necessity of considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Avoidance of the issue will not switch the bag of goodies from the negative to the positive; but once that decision is made to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is up to each Federal and Postal employee to determine whether the future course of events — that “hereafter” and “post-disability retirement life” — will mean that there is yet a future of positives, and not merely a reverberation of past negatives.

And what of that “epochal dawn”?  It remains so only if the event itself stays in a motionless rut of stagnation, like those old films of a dying carcass stuck in the mud of a scorching desert sky, where the vultures of a future abyss fly above, waiting for their pick of tenderloin.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Life Lessons

Most of us stumble through it, and somehow end up down unexpected corridors of unplanned venues; and then we have the nerve to think that we can have kids and impart wisdom we never learned, refused to lived by, and rarely listened to.  It is said that hypocrisy is the characteristic of the common farce; it just happens to infect everyone else, and never ourselves.  But there is an evolutionary determinant even in the comedy of life; it used to be that Western Philosophy would teach us to always seek out the substance of a thing, and to recognize mere attributes and appearances for what they are — recognizing that superficiality conceals the essence of Being.

Now, there are popular books which tell us that “faking it” is okay, so long as everyone else is too stupid to know it.  Then, there is our job, our careers and that vocation at which we spend the majority of our lives pursuing.  One day, we wake up, and find that the manifestation  of a medical condition makes it impossible for us to continue.

What do we do about it?  Procrastinate.  Deny.  Avoid the issue.  But reality has a way of ignoring our pleas of ignorance and avoidance.  Harassment at work; Letters Warnings; imposition of a PIP; Proposed Removal; Removal.  It is not that we did not see it coming; we just hoped that life’s lessons would make a detour around our individual circumstances.

Fortunately, however, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, there is a consolation benefit in the event that a life lesson involving a medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties as a Federal employee or U.S. Postal Service worker.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the Federal or Postal employee to have “another chance” at life’s misgivings, by providing a base annuity, allowing for work in the private sector on top of the OPM Disability Retirement annuity, and to garner a time for restorative living in order to attend to the medical conditions by retaining and maintaining one’s FEHB.

In the end, there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “Life Lessons” and “Life’s Lessons”; the former is what our parents and the juggernaut of historical inevitability tried to teach, and which we deliberately ignored; the latter is that which impacts us daily and personally, and to which we must by necessity respond.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lesson of life — whether as Life Lessons or as Life’s Lessons, is to take that stumbling former self who ended up in the corridors of the Federal Sector, and to straighten out the future course of events by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire