Federal Disability Retirement: The Hug That Wasn’t

Regrets are priceless; they lack both a marketplace value, as well as a worth beyond applicability of accounting principles.  The conceptual void of negation; the paradox of non-existence and nothingness; the chasm of obsolescence and absence where once perceptual conformity allowed for the revelation of a thing; these are all within the imaginative mind of the human puzzle.

What possible evolutionary utility can be ascribed to things that did not happen, could have, but never did, and where the pit of void in one’s stomach leaves a dissatisfying wanting of that which could have been?  In the quietude of a sleepless night, when images of past concerns invade and prevent that final lull into a dreamworld of peaceful intent, those thoughts of missed opportunities, bumps in the night of moments forgotten by interludes of dusty memories once enlivened but now deadened with time and fading photographs darkened by degeneration of remembrances once clung to; in a twinkle of twilight, a sense of regret can pervade.

It has often been said that, on the eve of one’s deathbed, one never remembers the time of work unfulfilled; rather, we recount the time lost of things we did not do because we were too busy with work.  Regret does not cull the graveyards of memories lost about parallel universes involving work left undone at the office; instead, it reaches into the bottomless chasm of simple recollections, like the hug that never was.

Medical conditions often serve as a reminder of important priorities, and tend to impose the sequence of one’s lives, reordering them into a listing of priceless artifacts, like uncut diamonds lost in the sands of time.  Suddenly, one’s mortality is in question, and more than getting meaningless tasks done, the vitality of relationships come to the fore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly recognize that a medical condition is beginning to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the sense of regret often accompanies the realization, but is also and just as often a misplaced case of loyalty.  Why should fealty be sworn to an agency which is impervious to human suffering?  How can a guilty conscience pervade when the Federal or Postal employee has already given beyond what is required, for years and decades already lost?

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit open to Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impedes continuation with an agency or the U.S. Postal Service based upon a legal criteria of proof of preponderance of the evidence.  Guilt and regret should never be a part of the process.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an employment right, accorded by statute, and should be done once the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that one cannot perform at least one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is a benefit tapped into only through proof by evidentiary sufficiency.

And like the hug that wasn’t, the failure to file for Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to the negation of rationality when continuation in circumstances of employment only exacerbates the pain, prolongs the suffering, and extends the nightmare; leaving to wonder the capacity of the human animal, the quietude of regrets and the forlorn despair of the empty space left, when once we tried to embrace a loved one, but instead spent that time serving a master who had long since gone home to his family.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Interruption of Tradition

The common remark against the American culture is that it lacks any stabilizing force of tradition.  That is a fair criticism, given that it has emerged from a recognized “Old World” and designated as the “New World”; and, indeed, it is where cultures and traditions were left behind, in search of a fresh beginning and open opportunities to remake one’s self, the future, etc., and thus leaving behind the past and old ways of living and thinking.

That is the macro-cultural perspective; but within the microcosm of one’s insular universe, the privacy of small pockets of traditions form.  Individuals and families perform acts, engage in daily living and embrace repetitive forms of normative establishments, thereby creating private dwellings of tradition.  Yes, the concept of tradition normally is comprised of the transmission of an established set of values, beliefs, etc., from generation to generation; but if there exists none, and freedom and liberty continually interrupts the constancy of cross-generational transference of the old ways, can one “create” a tradition within a family, a group, or an individual?

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the vacuum of a lack of tradition necessitates finding security and refuge in one’s family and the daily, repetitive connection with one’s Federal or Postal employment. That is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often an extremely traumatic event.  Where values and self-identity are formed within the context of one’s employment, and where such identification of self extends for years and decades back to one’s family, the sudden interruption and dismantling of a lifetime of daily routine in performing the essential elements of one’s job, is indeed a trying and difficult time.

If “tradition” is likened to “routine”, and instead of inter-generational transmission of values, it is replaced with a set of constancy of actions over an expansive period of time, then the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be likened to the sudden uprooting of a person who must travel from the “Old World” to the New World.

What devastating impact upon the psyche must have occurred upon arrival to a strange land.  But then, such psychology of trauma must be similarly experienced by the Federal or Postal worker who loves his job, but where a medical condition suddenly necessitates the sudden demise of working for a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and where one’s self-identity must now change because he or she can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job. Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the Federal or Postal worker who, as a result of a medical condition, can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, can file for, and become eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Yes, it can be a traumatic event; and, yes, it can be the destruction of a tradition of years of established routines in one’s life. But like the immigrant of old who had to uproot from a land where opportunities faded and starved, the Federal and Postal worker who files for Federal OPM Disability Retirement must look to the future, and follow the sage advice of old, as Horace Greeley is said to have quipped, and to “Go West, young man…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Statement, the Stranger and the How

Paper presentations are dangerous creatures; if read by a stranger, it lacks the context of familiarity, and therefore must include enough information and detail to lay the preparatory foundation for coherence and comprehensibility; when viewed by someone known, unwarranted inferences and implications may be extrapolated, where characters and references are alleged to be fictional representations of real people, events and encounters.

The stranger’s eye views without prior preconceptions; the familiar, with an overabundance of active input; thus is the balance between objectivity and subjectivity disproportionately out of synchronization.  Sometimes, however, the inverse can be also true, and problematic, where the narrator assumes too much, or too little; where an overabundance of irrelevant information is provided in an attempt to make up for an assumed lack of contextual understanding, and in the course of such infusion of irrelevancies, the core of the purposive elements of the narration is effectively undermined.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the Statement of Disability as prepared on SF 3112A, must be approached with care, relevance, curtailed overloading of information, and with a contextual understanding of the governing laws surrounding a Federal Disability Retirement application.

It is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — an agency which knows not the applicant — which evaluates, reviews and decides upon the Federal or Postal worker filing for Medical Retirement benefits; and the statement delineated on SF 3112A must fully appreciate the fact that a stranger will be reviewing the Federal employee’s application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and, as such, how one approaches the entire administrative process, the extent of detailed information, any background to the medical conditions, the quantitative and qualitative essence of the narrative to be formulated — all must thoughtfully and with subtle provocation be employed in the tool of effective narration.

What happens in our lives as told to a stranger, and the response we receive in the form of an approval or a denial, will be determined by the Statement of Disability in SF 3112A, reviewed and decided by a Stranger at OPM, based upon how well we prove the Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Benefits: The Afterthought

It is perhaps best that anticipatory planning, based upon predictive analytics, is an afterthought for human intuition and predilection of priorities in life.  Otherwise, one can remain in a world of obsessive preventative maintenance of efforts, and never accomplish what needs to be done today.

Future forebodings aside, and whether an individual engages in hazardous duties which exponentially increase the statistical curve for the onset of an occupational disease or injury, or the development of a medical condition through repetitive and overuse of a particular appendage or anatomy; regardless, the bifurcation of thought from the daily aches and pains from one’s body, warning of impending and future difficulties, is ignored and banished, to be reflected upon in some future corner of pondering.

Human beings have an almost unlimited capacity for relegating present concerns to the realm of an afterthought, and the benefit of disability retirement will naturally take a backseat for those in the youthful set, precisely because disability is associated with thoughts of avoidance, sort of in the company of old age, infirmity, and early onset of dementia.  As well it should be.  But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, and therefore becomes a threat to one’s livelihood, the afterthought becomes the primary issue, and it is then that one sounds a heavy sigh of relief in knowing that an employment benefit includes a Federal Disability Retirement packet.  But once the acknowledgment comes to the fore, the reality further hits one, that you must prove your case, and it is not merely a matter of entitlement.

Federal Disability Retirement, filed through one’s agency if you are not separated for over 31 days, must ultimately arrive at the doorstep of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  OPM is the agency which makes the decision upon a Federal Disability Retirement application (and that’s the reason why this medical benefit is also known as ”OPM Disability Retirement”).

While there are minimum time in-service requirements (18 months under FERS and 5 years under CSRS), it is the compendium of proving one’s case under the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, which must be submitted in order to win.  Afterthoughts are human evolutionary means of avoiding unseen dangers; but when the afterthought becomes a present danger, it is time to become aware of the surroundings, context, and content of the formidable opponent one must face.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Excessive Reliance

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 never a good idea to proceed with excessive reliance (or any at all, for that matter) upon expected or presumed actions on the part of one’s Agency.

The preponderance of the evidence in proving an OPM Disability Retirement application is always upon the Federal or Postal worker, and one should affirmatively and pro-actively proceed without regard to what the Agency will do, says it will do, or might do during the process.

Yes, the Agency has its portion to complete; yes, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management does review the entirety of the OPM Federal Disability Retirement packet, including the standard forms which the agency must complete, along with other personnel information that is forwarded to OPM.

But the crux and essence of a Federal Disability Retirement applications always remains the medical information gathered and submitted, along with the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in conjunction with the asserted nexus constructed between one’s medical condition and the positional duties of one’s job.

Any other approach is merely to run a fool’s errand for a fiefdom from which one is attempting to flee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Remembering What “Supportive” Means

Over time, one’s memory and historical perspective becomes clouded and obscured.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is obviously a long and complex history of changes, amendments and refinements to the aggregate compendium of that which constitutes the totality of “the law” governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Thus, since the initial inception of the enactment of statutory authority granting the U.S. Office of Personnel Management authority to approve Federal Disability Retirement benefits under CSRS (and later under FERS), there has been an evolution of statutory amendments, regulatory clarifications, case-law expansion, contraction and clarifications — the composite of which constitutes “the law” governing Federal Disability Retirement applications whether under FERS or CSRS.

Part of the evolutionary process includes what is termed “supportive” documentation or evidence, such as an Agency’s determination that the Federal or Postal employee cannot be accommodated; the Flight Surgeon’s decertification of an Air Traffic Controller’s medical clearance; a Law Enforcement agency’s conclusions that a Federal Law Enforcement Officer is unable to meet the physical requirements of his or her position; and many other agency determinations which “support” a Federal Disability Retirement application.  But “supportive” does not mean “primary”, and the Federal or Postal worker must always remember that such ancillary evidence must be in addition to the primary evidence submitted in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Don’t mistake the support evidence as replacing the essential evidentiary component of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS. The primary evidence must always come first — both by definition, as well as by statutory requirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Pushing for a Decision

In these difficult economic times, when alternate or secondary employment is hard at best, waiting upon the Office of Personnel Management for a decision on one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, can be unsettling.  

There are, of course, multiple ancillary methods of “putting pressure” upon the Case Worker at OPM — contacting a supervisor; repeatedly calling and leaving multiple voicemails; sometimes, contacting a congressman/woman to initiate a “congressional inquiry” into the matter.  Whether, and to what extent, such ancillary methodologies work, is anyone’s guess.  

Hume’s argument concerning causation is probably at work here:  If an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received shortly after pressure is initiated, one can declare that it “worked” — that the effect of an approval followed the causal impact of such pressure.  If a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received shortly after such pressure is initiated, perhaps one may suspect that while the pressure may not have “worked” to one’s liking, nevertheless, the fact that a decision was made shortly after the initiation of such pressure may “prove” that the effect followed the cause.  

Or, as Hume would argue, does the fact that the rooster makes a ruckus shortly before the sun rises, mean that the former caused the latter? One will never know.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Lawyers and H.R. Personnel

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, one of the peculiar “events” which often erupts and surfaces is the interaction between a Federal or Postal employee, his or her attorney, and the interaction with the Human Resources Department of the particular agency.  

While the reaction of the H.R. personnel is not universal by any means, and while exceptions will surprisingly occur, nevertheless the pattern of recurrences leads one to conclude that there is an undertone of antagonism between the lawyer representing the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, and the Agency’s Human Resources Department.  

What is puzzling is the following:  (1)  The undersigned writer always attempts to approach all H.R. Personnel with humility and courtesy, with the view that both are working towards the same common goal of assisting the Federal or Postal employee, (2) the very existence of the Human Resources Department of the Agency is predicated upon the notion that they are there to assist the Federal or Postal employee in his or her employment endeavors, including filing for administrative benefits, and (3) since both the attorney and the H.R. Personnel are there to help the Federal or Postal employee, cooperation of efforts would be the natural course of action.  

Unfortunately, in most instances, the very opposite is true.  Whether because the H.R. Personnel believe that an attorney is antagonistic by nature, and therefore must be met with equal force; or because they believe that the attorney is somehow circumventing or undermining the role of the Human Resources’ work and role; nevertheless, it is important for the H.R. Personnel to understand and appreciate that the role of the Attorney in representing a Federal or Postal employee in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the Agency (first) and to the Office of Personnel Management (thereafter), needs to be a tripartite effort (the Federal or Postal employee; the Agency; and the attorney), all working together.  

If the Human Resources Department did its job, much of what the representing attorney needs to do would be diminished, and perhaps altogether unnecessary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: During the Lengthy Process

During the “waiting time” of the lengthy process in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to begin the secondary process of preparing for the next “phase” of one’s life.  

Many Federal and Postal workers unfortunately view the waiting period — that period when one’s Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed, and is waiting for a determination by a Case worker at the Office of Personnel Management — as a time where everything is on “hold” because the lack of a determinative decision results in a paralysis of an ability to plan for the future.  However, submission to such paralysis would be a mistake, and a misuse of the most valuable resource which one has:  time.  For, ultimately, one must make future plans based upon an assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved.  

This assumption is based upon the factual underpinnings of the filing of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself:  it was filed with the support of a doctor; the Federal or Postal worker is unable to continue in his or her job; the medical condition is expected to last a minimum of 12 months.  If all three of these basic criteria are met, then one must proceed with the assumption that one’s Federal Disability Retirement application will ultimately be approved.  

Based upon the foregoing, the time of waiting should be spent — not in anxious despair and despondency because of the wait — but rather, in preparing for the future.  To allow for those things which one has no control over to control one’s life would be a foolish endeavor.  OPM will ultimately make a decision, and whether at the First Stage of the Process, the Reconsideration Stage, or before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board, one should be preparing for the next phase of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire