Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The imperfect image

There is, to begin with, the “perfect image” — that which we hope to project; those which appear on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook postings; and further, the public domain of our selectively chosen, carefully manufactured and manicured condescensions of carved lives.

The imperfect image is that which haunts us; it is the opposite of what we wants others to know about us; the very antithesis of what society allows for and deepens within the fears of our psyche where nightmares begin to boil over, anxiety begins to percolate, and stress-induced heartbeats rise to the level where dangerous palpitations lead to sudden onset of a terminal feeling.

The latter feeds upon the former.  It is precisely because the former exists that the latter becomes the illegitimate child of a figment of an unreality, and yet gnaws and destroys despite everyone’s recognition of its impossibility.  It begins perhaps with the age-old theological arguments — of the query, How can man have a concept of perfection unless there is such an entity that exists?

The classical counter-argument has often been: Well, we are able to imagine 3-eyed monsters with green-colored tentacles, are we not, even though they do not exist?  And the counter to the counter-argument was: Yes, but that is merely a matter of the imagination amalgamating all of the separate components — of 3 different eyes; of the color green; of tentacles like an octopus’ appendages; then, by creativity of the mind, to put them together.

Thus does one imagine perfection because there is such a Being as a perfect Being; and from that, Man views himself, sees the inadequacies and determines his or her own sin— unless, of course, you are on Facebook or Instagram, in which case you are the Being of Perfection itself…at least to all others who view you on such mediums of communication.

It is from that held-concept of perfection that when the early rash of imperfections begin to spread, we think in error that life is no longer worthwhile, and the despair of a false belief begins to pervade the inner psyche of our private lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the sense of despair and hopelessness often begins with the manner in which you are suddenly treated by others — by coworkers, supervisors and managers — where your imperfections are suddenly highlighted.

You are no longer as “productive”; your attendance becomes “unacceptable”; you begin to make too many “mistakes”; you are deemed less than “perfect”.  The reality is that there is no such thing as perfection — only a concept forever unrealized but put forth falsely into the arena of public consumption.

The imperfect image that we hold onto — of a deteriorating body or stress-filled mind that begins to show wear and tear over the years — that is merely the reality of who we are: Imperfect beings, frail and fraught with error and (used in the old-fashioned way) filled with sin.

For the Federal employee and Postal worker who comes to the realization that imperfection is a reality not to be ashamed of, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not merely an admission of such imperfection, but rather, a facing of a reality that we all must embrace — of the imperfect image surrounded by false notions of a perfection never to be realized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Enduring, surviving or achieving victory

The first two in the tripartite of conceptual constructs are similar in meaning; the third and last, an extension beyond where it may include a historical background of the first two but emerge with a separateness of conclusion from them.  To endure is similar to surviving; to survive, to endure the difficulties and maintain a semblance of remaining intact.

One can “endure” a traumatic event and survive it; similarly, one can survive such an event and, in retrospect, realize that to have endured the experience was the very key to such a conclusion.  One can endure and survive, however, and yet fail to achieve any victory.  For, victory is the conclusion and outcome of how one has endured and survived; the first two are thus necessary condition precedents, in one sense, in order for the third to occur.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal 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 job, the necessity in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may become a reality.

For the time being, perhaps the medical condition has not gotten “too bad”, and the Federal or Postal employee may be able to endure the difficulties, go into work and maintain a level of productivity such that no adverse actions from the Federal Agency or Postal Service may result.  Or, the medical condition may be tolerable such that the Federal or Postal employee may be able to survive for the next year, or even the following few years, and be able to endure the turmoil of balancing work, family, progressively deteriorating medical conditions and the essential elements that the Federal or Postal employee must be able to endure.

If and when the time comes, however, for the Federal or Postal employee to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the test at that point will not be whether or not the Federal or Postal employee can endure or survive the lengthy administrative process of a Federal Disability Retirement application, but rather, whether one can come out at the “other end” by achieving victory.

In order for that to happen, knowledge of the legal basis to be argued, the necessary connection between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job – all must be effectively compiled, argued and persuasively presented.  For that to happen, you will need to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and 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.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmative Steps

Procrastination is the bane of progress; by delaying and kicking the proverbial can down the road, the chances of decreasing one’s odds of accomplishment become magnified exponentially.  What is the reasoning behind inaction and inertia?

Human life must by necessity involve movement and progress; for, unlike other species who find the immediacy of satisfaction and gratification to be the basis of existential justification, we bring to the fore the coalescence of one’s memory of where we came from; a future hope of where we want to go; and in combing the two, a greater purpose of teleological rationality within the context of the here and now.  But that which provides the foundation of uniqueness, can conversely be the lynchpin of destruction.

Self-justifying language games of self-immolation; we can construct strings of logically valid reasonings based upon convoluted cacophonies of orchestrated mutterings.  But that which appears reasonable is not always valid; and as validity constitutes the systemic structure of logic, so that which may reveal itself as sound uttering may merely be a whining whisper of a mad man’s meanderings.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s position, the reasons for not filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits are wide, varied, and often complex.  “This job has been my life for so long” (understandable, but change is often an inevitable feature of life); “Maybe my agency can accommodate me” (unlikely); “I am hoping to get better” (yes, but in the meantime, what is your agency planning to do?).

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a big and dramatic step.  But for the Federal and Postal worker who cannot perform at least one, if not more than one, of the essential elements of one’s positionally-determined duties, it is time to consider taking some affirmative steps in a direction which one often knows to be true, but where procrastination is the path of least resistance.

And, yes, to err is human, but at what cost, and where does human history reveal that delay results in a successful outcome?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Standard Forms and the Proverbial Blank Slate

The paradigm of a tabula rasa is a frightening one.  It implies a complete negation of historical context, of evolutionary influence, and therefore denies instinct, nature, and pre-conditional implications.  But clearly there are confines and parameters of behaviors, and different species of animals will act in specific ways peculiar to the individuality of the entity, while taking on certain imprinting models if surrounded by members of other species.

To assume, however, that no context exists, either in prefix or suffix form, is to deny a fundamental truth at one’s hazard in doing so.  For Federal employees and Postal workers who begin to complete the required forms for a Federal Disability Retirement application — whether the informational requirements queried in SF 3107 (or SF 2801 for CSRS individuals); or the series of SF 3112 forms which inquire into the foundational questions of one’s medical conditions, their impact upon the essential elements of the job, etc. — it is important to approach any and all such standard forms with a view towards denying the existence of a tabula rasa, or the concept of a blank slate.

Such pristine states of being do not exist, neither in nature, nor in the complex world of administrative bureaucracies.  The history of the forms, of SF 3107, SF 2801, or SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D or SF 3112E, all have a history preceding and superseding the date of the formulation and printing of such forms.  Statutory underpinnings, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board rulings, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, and expansive legal opinions, all provide a context for each question queried, and each piece of information requested.

Thus, to approach any such OPM Disability Retirement standard form as if it is merely a blank slate, is to proceed down a dark and curving road with ignorance and fail to realize that it is not a quiet, rural road with nary a car, but the Autobahn busy with high-powered vehicles testing the limits of speed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112 and SF 3107

Advice and instructions for OPM Disability Retirement Forms:

SF 3112:  In Connection With Disability Retirement Under the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System

SF 3107: Application for Immediate Retirement (Also needed by Federal and Postal Employees applying for Immediate Medical Retirement)

Standard Forms tend to require tailored responses.  That is precisely what it is meant to do.  The very appearance of a Standard Form, or of any forms provided and required by the Federal Government, is intended to specifically contain and constrain responses, as well as an attempt to target a wide range of the population of ages and education groups.  What statutes, laws and regulations were promulgated by the formulation of the form; the history behind the legislative intent of the form; the extent of court cases, issuances of judicial or executive opinions — all form a compendium of the background in the final issuance of the form itself.

That is why the simplicity of the form itself is often misleading; as with all of literature, philosophy, theology and the countless disciplines indicated by the suffix of “ology”, it is the creativity of the complex manifested by the uncomplicated form which produces an appearance of simplicity from that which is complex.  Thus are we harkened back to the age-old question of Plato’s acknowledged differentiation between “Form” and “Appearance”, or of Aristotle’s fundamental distinction between substance and accident, in describing the entity or “Being” of a thing.  Forms, whether they be government forms or Platonic entities in the ethereal world, have a similitude not only in designation, but in the reality of our complex and complicated universe.

For the Federal or the Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the initial encounter with OPM forms in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can be a daunting engagement.  The Federal or Postal Worker need not know the history of philosophy, or the references to platonic forms; but one should certainly be fully aware that there is an important distinction to be made between substance and appearance.

The initial encounter with an OPM form in preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, will bring one in contact with the SF 3107 series, as well as the SF 3112 series of forms.  Issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (thus the acronym of “OPM”), both series of SF 3107 and SF 3112 have a long history of statutory, regulatory and legislative history. The Federal and Postal employee may be unaware of such a long history in the development of SF 3107 and SF 3112A; such lack of knowledge, however, already purposes an advantage to the Federal agency, to the detriment of the Federal and Postal Worker. But then, that is the whole purpose of keeping hidden that which constitutes the reality of Being, as in the ethereal Forms identified by Plato throughout his writings, in contradistinction to the appearance of things, which rarely represents the reality of what is going on.

Thus, a word to the wise: Do not let the simplicity of SF 3107 or SF 3112 series of OPM forms mislead you into thinking that the process of obtaining Federal & Postal Disability Retirement benefits is an easy path to travel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

SF 3112

Standard Forms are a necessary part of life. Bureaucracies streamline for efficiency of services; the question of whether such efficiency is for the benefit of an applicant to a Federal agency, or to ease the workload of the agency and its employees, is ultimately a fatuous question: as common parlance would sigh with resignation, “it is what it is”.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts and ultimately prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, will be a requirement which will include completing OPM application forms. There will be the SF 3107 series of forms, as well as the SF 3112 forms. Such forms request a tremendous amount of information, both personal and of a very confidential nature.

The justification for requesting such information by the agency which will review such forms (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the later stages of a Federal Disability Retirement application, but initially through one’s own agency, including the Human Resource Office of the agency for which the Federal or Postal employee works, as well as the Supervisor of the applicant who is applying for Federal Disability benefits), is based upon a two-folded approach: The applicant who voluntarily applies for Federal Disability benefits is required to provide such information in order to prove eligibility, and such voluntariness justifies the request itself; and, secondly, there is a “need to know” such information in order to properly assess such information, based upon a preponderance of the evidence.

Beyond the SF 3107 forms, the SF 3112 forms will ask for detailed information on the most personal of issues: One’s medical conditions and the impact upon employment capabilities and daily living issues; request of the Supervisor information concerning work performance; ask of the agency to assess and evaluate any capability for accommodating a medical condition; and a similar multitude of onerous, prying questions.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will require much of the Federal and Postal employee seeking a medical retirement annuity, in the very forms which allegedly “streamline” the process, and these will necessarily include SF 3107 forms and SF 3112 forms. In the end, however, when weighed comparatively against one’s health and the need to move on to a less stressful environment, the price one must pay is relatively cheap when considering the high cost of continuing in the same vein.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Platonic and Other Forms

Forms are interesting conceptual constructs:  They are created for ease of use; yet, concurrently, they contain, restrict, and by all appearances, limit the ability to go beyond the “form”.  Thus it is with Plato’s philosophical proposition of Forms — they represent the “essence” of what a thing is, as it is; and, like government forms, one is presumable unable to violate the essence in their particularized representative appearances.

The difference, however, between Platonic Forms and government-issued forms, is quite obvious:  Plato’s Forms represent the highest and best of any individual construct in the physical world; government forms rarely represent anything but a bureaucratic decision to force conformity upon anyone and everyone contemplating filing for a benefit.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the potential applicant must understand that he/she will be confronted with multiple and complex forms to complete.  How one completes each form; what one states on any given form; whether one answers the questions posed in an adequate or sufficient manner — each of these will have a direct and often irreparable impact upon the success or failure of a Federal Disability Retirement packet.

The forms themselves may appear simplistic in appearance and content (i.e., SF 3107 series for those under FERS; SF 2801 for those under CSRS; SF 3112 series for both FERS & CSRS); what they represent, however, constitute unstated complexities which can only be understood within the full context of the evolution of statues, regulations and case-law handed down throughout the years, which make up the entirety of the compendium of Federal Disability Retirement practice.

One would never have thought that government-issued forms would be as complicated to understand as Platonic Forms; but then, Plato never encountered the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — otherwise, he may never have proposed that there is indeed the existence of the Form of Beauty and Goodness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire