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

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Worth and the Sanctified Process

To hold sacred and to consecrate; it is a recognition that a period, an event, an article or symbol is worthy of being set aside for reverential sequestration.  When one once recognizes that the body which one occupies, is being attacked by a medical condition, it is time to care for it.

Life cannot go on as days of yore; as guilt precedes sentencing, so the manner in which we act will determine the length of days for which we must account.  And so the cycle of humanity wrapped in empathy, of souls anguishing over spent days of youth, and whether we wasted our finite activities of superficial social interactions; as we tended to our dying parents, or merely showed concern for a sick relative, the age old question sometimes haunts us:  Are we our brother’s keeper, and to what extent do we owe an obligation?  But it is different with one’s own health; its ownership and obligation cannot be avoided; as health deteriorates, so the days grow longer and require greater exertion and arduous efforts. In the end, how we treat our own bodies reflects the depth and extent of who we are.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the avoidance of the issue and the struggle to simply “hold on” to that which is familiar, is a way to delay the penultimate realization that there are priorities in life, and the worth of a life is intricately entangled in the choices we make, and how we treat the process, whether with sanctified reverence, or of a lasting imprint of stigmata.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS.   It is ultimately a process which ends up at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and while it is merely a mundane administrative process, it is the accessibility of time, reflection and future alternatives which, if approved, allows for the Federal and Postal employee to tap into, where the worth of tomorrow, and the sanctification of memories once held but lost in the turmoil of daily living, can again be attained through the restorative reflection of time and quietude of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Choosing the Medical Conditions

Often, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the question is asked as to which medical conditions should be included in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  The obvious answer, of course, is to identify the “most serious” of the medical conditions, with a secondary consideration being the ones which impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  

Whether to list “all of them” is a separate question, and then there are the subtleties which further delve into a more detailed analysis of the creation of an effective nexus between one’s medical conditions, the job description which one is supposed to be doing, and the provability of the medical conditions identified and described.  

Inasmuch as a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is a “paper presentation” to the Office of Personnel Management (and yes, the concept of a “paper presentation” still applies even if and when OPM converts entirely to the technological next-step of a paperless system; the Federal or Postal employee must still present a formatted application), the admixture of legal and medical issues will ultimately come about.  

The conceptual distinction between the diagnosis and the symptomatologies; the extent of willingness of what a treating doctor will state; the concordance between the diagnosis, the symptoms described, and their impact upon the particular elements of one’s position description; the potential impact of being found “disabled” by the Office of Personnel Management based upon a “minor” medical condition which may resolve itself in the future, as opposed to a more serious-listed one; the nebulous areas of “syndromes” (as in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and the description of symptoms and making sure to relate the symptoms to a particular medical condition — these are all “subtleties” which involve an intersection between the legal standard of proof and the medical “facts”, in formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  But that it were as easy as simply listing one’s medical conditions.  But, alas, OPM is a Federal bureaucracy, and the combination of “the law” and “a bureaucracy” can only lead to one result:  a conundrum.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Don’t Overlist Medical Conditions

The natural inclination, taking all factors into consideration, would be to list all medical conditions, and to take the chance that the Office of Personnel Management will intelligently discern and ascertain such medical conditions in the order of their severity.  This would be a mistake.  For, in filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the arbitrary nature in which the medical conditions are selected by OPM, makes it into a dangerous gamble.  What must be decided early on, is to take into consideration all factors and circumstances, looking at the medical conditions in their priority of severity, and assessing the impact of each, or the combination of several, and placing them into a “pool” in which medical conditions comprise a generic designation which would “cover” or “identify” a number of subcategories — then to list them in the order of how they specifically impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  This must be done intelligently, with foresight, and with deliberation.  Otherwise, to rely upon a presumed rational methodology by the Office of Personnel Managment will ultimately backfire in an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Which Medical Conditions to List II

If you list all of the medical conditions you suffer from on the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) in filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, then you take the risk that the Office of Personnel Management may approve your disability retirement application based upon a condition which is only marginally serious (which can lead to some future problems, if OPM requests that you respond to an OPM Medical Questionnaire, inquiring about your current status and your disability).  On the other hand, if you fail to mention a medical condition, and you file your Federal Disability Retirement application, once you are assigned a CSA Number, you are precluded from amending or adding to the list of medical conditions described in your Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  Thus, discretionary decisions must be made.  You must strike a proper balance between listing the major medical conditions, and deciding which medical conditions truly impact your ability/inability to perform the essential elements of your job, and discern which conditions and symptoms are likely to remain chronic, or continue to deteriorate.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Which Medical Conditions to List

I am often asked that question — will all medical conditions be listed?  What happens if a medical condition is not listed, but later develops into something serious?  That is the essence of the problem of the unlisted medical condition, of course.  In a FERS or CSRS Federal Disability Retirement application, once the packet is submitted to the Office of Personnel Management and a CSA Number is assigned to it, you are precluded from amending the Applicant’s Statement of Disability by adding further medical conditions.

Thus, the problem in not listing a medical condition (or a symptom thereof) can have exponential significance.  In such a situation, one option would be to withdraw the Federal Disability Retirement application and resubmit it anew.

The loss of time involved, however, is one obstacle which often makes an applicant pause at such a drastic step.  Another problem — one which cannot be overcome — is if you have filed within the statutory timeframe, but the 1-year of separation occurs after you filed your application for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS.  In that hypothetical, you are “locked in”, because you cannot withdraw your application.  To do so would leave you with no avenue to “refile”, because the 1-year statute has already passed and precludes you from filing again.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire