Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Life Choices

We all have to make them; and though we may alternatively want to curl up into a fetal position and wish the blunt world to stop bothering us, the decisions we make, and take responsibility for, reflect the state of maturity which binds us to age, experience and level of moral maturity.  It is, to a great extent, a superficial and shallow connotation and reference point; for, as the inevitability of choices to be made result from living in circumstances of our own making, so to imply that there is anything “substantive” in speaking about them undermines the very relevance of implication itself.

To live is to be confronted with daily choices; only the dead remain silent and require not the paths to pick.  Thus do mundane and pithy sayings originate.  Life is full of choices; the choices we make in life determine the future course of events yet indeterminate, but somewhat foreseen and predictable. Often, we avoid them not because of consequences untold, but for knowing the folly of our decisions.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition foretells of impending signs which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service have, or will, impose and initiate, the time to begin preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is “now”.  Yes, the Federal and Postal employee has up to one (1) year to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to meet the Statute of Limitations for filing an OPM Disability Retirement; but as it often takes many, many months to prepare, submit and get an approval from OPM, so the decisions we make today will have future consequences untold but foreseen if choices are not embraced in a timely manner.

Life presents many choices, alternatives, and lists of items like entrees on a menu; but in the end, the choice made means that when the plate of food arrives, a check for payment will follow soon afterwards, and it is the expectation of the price to be satisfied which should prompt and motivate any decisions of delay for the Federal or Postal Worker who intends on procrastinating in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Preemptive Actions

Knowledge can be a dangerous commodity; partial, or little knowledge, can be all the more damaging, precisely because actions can result based upon incomplete information and slices of factually curtailed composites.

The Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit has previously pointed out one of the methodological deficiencies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in its review and determination of Federal Disability Retirement cases:  of focusing upon that which is not included in a Federal Disability Retirement application, as opposed to reviewing the information of what has been received.

Such a distinction may be a subtle one, and a difference which can be easily overlooked, but it reveals much more than mere word-play.  For, what it manifests is an application of a criteria based upon an erroneous assumption, and one which continues to be applied to this day, despite case-law which admonishes OPM to the contrary.

Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, a 2007 Federal Court of Appeals case, points out the error of OPM’s ways in Federal Disability Retirement cases, where insistence upon “objective” medical evidence continues to dominate, despite the lack of such requirement to the contrary.  Such an issue is especially relevant, of course, in cases where psychiatric medical conditions prevail, and when OPM insists upon the lack of such “objective” medical evidence where none can be obtained, it leads to Federal and Postal employees to react desperately in a preemptively unreasonable frenzy of actions.

Not knowing the law is one thing; knowing, but deliberately ignoring it, is quite another.  But the price Federal and Postal employees pay for when a bureaucracy engages in practices which clearly defy the clear mandate of legal requirement, results in preemptive actions which ultimately lead to another day in Court, to argue that which one thought was previously already established.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Semblance of Joy

Happiness is but a fleeting moment; satisfaction is but the natural result of completion; but joy, that is a tincture derived from the depths of one’s soul.  Perhaps there is an element of word-play; how we define levels of emotional states of being can depend upon the contextual usage of each conceptual construct, and in the end it is how we have described a given set of circumstances, based upon our personal experiential encounters and what sense of being we perceived at the time.

Beyond the veil of words, casting aside the layers of callouses which we have carefully built up over the years in order to survive the daily onslaught of venom in this world lacking of empathy or cooperative caring for one’s fellow human being, it is when a traumatic event suddenly befalls us that the true state of our souls becomes apparent.

Medical conditions have a tendency to magnify the reality of our state of existence.  Suddenly, perspectives become skewed; realities once depended upon appear suspicious; and we begin to lie to ourselves and take on a semblance of joy.  Why is that?  Is it because we fear the truth of human cruelty?  That despite all of the allegedly cultural advancements and technological innovations we pride ourselves about, the truth of our evolutionary baseness has never changed:  the vulnerable are merely meals for the predator in waiting.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such a state of affairs is nothing new.  Agencies begin to pile on; coworkers shun; supervisors increase the level of vitriol and punish through administrative sanctions and progressive pressures through threats and intimidating language; and, all the while, the dedicated Federal or Postal worker must suffer through with limited options and constricted avenues slowly being blocked and cordoned off as restricted zones no longer open, where once the brightness of tomorrow promised the world.

For Federal and Postal employees finding themselves in the untenable position of having a medical condition, such that the medical condition is preventing him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When once the Federal or Postal worker comes to a realization that the bet upon happiness cannot be placed upon one’s employment or career, and where satisfaction is no longer a possibility with the mission of an agency; when the exhaustion and fatigue of hiding behind the semblance of joy begins to constrict and close in, like the human figure behind a Noh mask covering the claustrophobia of existence; then, it is time to consider taking on the long road of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether you as the Federal or Postal employee are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Confirmation of Worth

Recognizing the value of Federal employees with medical conditions

Diamonds demand it and markets survive by it; investments grow or shrink according to assessed worth, and relationships are maintained by the relative perspective of individuals entangled.  Worth, or the value of a thing, is determined in a capitalist society as a result of increase in demand, and scarcity of supply.

But what of the worth of an individual, as opposed to an inanimate object?  Do we treat it in the same manner?  Should it be?

When first the concept of “human capital” was introduced to the lexicon of capitalist verbiage, it was meant to convey the value of workers in a society consumed by material wealth; but over time, one could argue that the very introduction of such a concept on an equal footing with valuation of goods and services, only resulted in demeaning and dehumanizing the uniqueness of each individual.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, that very concept of the equality of value between one’s humanness and the worth of services provided, is all too real.

Suddenly, it becomes apparent and self-evident that the two are inextricably entangled:  One’s worth as a human being cannot be separated from the value of the work provided.  The compound concept of “human” and “capital” are inseparably linked, like siamese twins sharing a vital organ, never to be surgically extricated, forever compartmentalized into a conceptual embrace of blissful togetherness.  But that is precisely the time when the value of the individual should be recognized, apart from the worth of the services provided.

A medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, should be valued independently, until the medical condition can be resolved.  But as agencies fail to do this, so the Federal or Postal worker has an option to maintain his or her dignity throughout the process:  to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As value is a relative concept, so the confirmation of worth is relative to the capital investment which a society is willing to put up with; and the confirmation of the worth of an individual should always be paramount in viewing the pinnacle of human essence, as above the primates of an evolutionary yesteryear, and just below the angels gently strumming the harps on a morning when the breeze whistles a tune of hope.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Sisyphean Drudgery

The Myth of Sisyphus is well known, both because of the philosophical essay written by Camus, as well as through the Greek mythological narrative of the condemned figure to toil in endless meaninglessness, by rolling the boulder up the hill, only to watch it go down, and to repeat the process all over again.

For Camus and the existentialist viewpoint, it is in the very act of absurdity itself that meaning and significance can be derived; for the Greek citizen of yesteryear, it was perhaps the circularity of the human condition which provided for relevance in the telling of the myth. In either extrapolation, the powerful and profound story provides for an image of consequence in this modern age of technological overload, where causes are no longer believed in, customs no longer adhered to blindly, and social constraints no longer attached by meaningful obedience.

The absurdity of daily toil has come to a fruition point, where the great expanse of information in the age of the internet now destroys any definitional meaning, either in words, relationships, or for lives and livelihoods.  Crisis points often infuse momentary meaning in meaningless and mindless midpoints; and so, at the pinnacle of balance, just as the boulder meets the midpoint of the hill and balances for a millisecond upon the hill before “deciding” to roll forward, the point of reflective relevance engulfs Sisyphus within a frozen moment of infinity.

Medical conditions often have a similar effect and impact upon a life; for, in the turmoil of trauma, one asks those reflective questions as to the mundane:  what does it all mean?  What is the point?  But perhaps such questions of eternal queries last only for a brief moment in time, before pain, fear, angst and anxiety overtake; and in this physical world where materialism and the scientific narrative prevails and predominates, getting beyond pain and through the day, only to experience insomnia and unsolicited loss of solace is not enough to attain a meaningful existence.

Are there solutions?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, there is a likening of the work performed with the Sisyphean plight of the Greek mythological figure:  the greater bureaucracy representing the scene of turmoil; the medical condition representing the task itself; and the heroic feats of the meaningless in the context of the greater significance of life, surviving medical conditions and getting beyond pain, despondency, depression and anxiety, and the exit one attempts to find in order to escape from such a condition, leads one to that moment of absurdity and balance of the boulder at the pinnacle of the hill.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a way to attain a level of restorative capacity in order to escape the vicious circularity of the toil which only further exacerbates one’s medical condition.

While never the answer to all, obtaining OPM Disability Retirement benefits allows for one to move forward, and to progress beyond the absurd.  Otherwise, the disabled Federal employee or the injured U.S. Postal Worker may find him or herself caught in the web of another narrative put forth by another well-known existentialist philosopher, entitled, No Exit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The “Other” Civil Service System

Information concerning Federal Disability Retirement benefits will often refer to the universe of “FERS” employees (acronym for Federal Employees Retirement System, which was enacted by Congress in 1986 and became effective the following year), with little to no information concerning its replacement system, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

There are, additionally, some hybrid systems, sometimes referred to as CSRS-Offset; but FERS & CSRS constitute the crux of employment systems of retirement for all Federal employees and Postal workers. The reason for the unfairly-weighted balance in favor of FERS employees is that, because the system has been in place for almost 30 years, now, and most CSRS employees have either already retired, died in office, or are otherwise catatonic in the catacombs of bureaucracies, there is a basic assumption in place that any references to FERS employees and the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, necessarily includes CSRS employees and is indirectly applicable to the surviving few remaining.

References to FERS thus necessarily assumes an inclusion of CSRS employees, and this is true in Federal Disability Retirement applications, and for any FERS or CSRS employees seeking to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The primary differences between the two is merely one of completing standard forms.  Thus, for FERS disability retirement applicants, one must complete the SF 3107 series, as well as the series of SF 3112 forms; and for CSRS employees, the SF 2801 series is completed in place of SF 3107, but both systems must complete the SF 3112 series of forms.

Of course, when FERS was first introduced, enacted and presented to the entirety of the Federal public sector, the numbers of CSRS employees clearly outnumbered the number of FERS employees. Furthermore, when previously-separated CSRS employees (for whatever reasons) re-entered the Federal workforce, many were given the option of re-establishing inclusion and participation in the previously-abandoned system of CSRS. But, over time, and especially in the last decade, the number of FERS Government employees has outpaced CSRS employees, and the last and dying breed of CSRS employees will be like those Civil War veterans of yore, pictured in grainy photographs of faded daguerreotype plates, of antique images of a time past, and passing by today.

The “other” system has now become the new; and as time fades the faces of antiquity, those images of an age long past have replaced the reality of the present; sort of like computer-enhanced graphics which make us all look the age we desire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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