OPM Disability Retirement: Which Forms, How to Fill Them Out, and What to Put

Filling out forms is a part of life.  At some stage in our lives, we are required to complete forms.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties as a Federal employee (which encompasses the full spectrum of positions, from secretaries, administrative assistants, to scientists, Information Technology Specialists, 1811 Law Enforcement Officers, etc.) or a U.S. Postal worker (including Craft employees, Managers, Postmasters, Supervisors, etc.), preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity.

Thus, the act of “form filling” must be confronted.  On computers, of course, if you have been completing online queries, the “autofill” option may be presented.  But the limitation of such an option, and the unavailability of that choice, should become readily apparent when attempting to complete the various “Standard Forms” required of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For any remaining CSRS employees intending to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, the series embodied under the designation of SF 2801 must be completed, along with the SF 3112 series.  For all of the rest of the Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who came into Federal or Postal Service after around 1985, and who are under FERS, the SF 3107 series must be completed, and as well, the SF 3112 series of standard forms.

Thus has the question, “Which Forms?” been answered.  As for the remaining two questions:  How to fill them out and What to put —  the “how” is, to put it mildly, with care and trepidation; the “what to put” is too complex to elucidate in this forum.  The series of “informational” forms — SF 2801 series for CSRS employees and SF 3107 for FERS employees — are fairly straightforward (e.g., full name, date of birth, Social Security number, agency name and location, military service, etc.).

It all comes back to the SF 3112 series which becomes problematic — for that is where the Federal and Postal employee must “prove” the nexus between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions by which one is prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  For that, the Federal and Postal employee must go “outside” of the boundaries of the forms themselves, and consult documentation obtained from the doctor, and make legal arguments based upon wise counsel and advice.

As with much of life, it is never as easy as a bureaucracy promises; indeed, the complexity of life is in the very bureaucratization of administrative forums.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: When Curiosity Fades

It is that compelling feature for animals and humans alike (if one is to make a distinction between the two); of an innate sense for the extraordinary, and a need to figure out change, reveal the hidden vortex of anomalies, and uncover the mystery behind the curtain.  Shakespeare made reference to the known proverb in Much Ado about Nothing, and it was originally meant as a forewarning for those who meddle in other’s affairs; but it is curiosity, indeed, which maintains an evolutionary compulsion to strive forth, to manifest life and liveliness in the face of dull acceptance and loss of inherent inquisitiveness.

When other concerns begin to intersect and overtake, is when such features meant to enhance survivability and adaption begin to diminish.  Life and its exhaustive characteristics, especially in modernity, can result in the uncharacteristic feature of disinterest and dismay.  Whether the medical condition portends first, or the sense of abandonment in prefatory congealment, the fact is that life and its inherent stresses can be like a weight of seemingly insurmountable burdens crushing in its suffocating pervasiveness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the heightened stress imposed by increasing steps of adverse actions, punitive measures and letters threatening discipline and termination, can be daunting and devastating.  Dealing with a medical condition itself can be a full-time endeavor, and can sap the life, energy and reserve of vitality for even the strongest of individuals.

When the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, it is time to take stock and inventory of one’s choices, which are normally limited to three:  (A)  Stay with the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and allow for the progressive diminution of that peculiar trait called curiosity for life, (B) Wait for the adverse actions to increase in systematic advancement of punitive impositions, or (C) Begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal or Postal Medical Retirement.

The shell of a man did not become so in one fell swoop; rather, by incremental destruction, like a child taking apart a completed puzzle piece by piece.

Filing 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, is often the first step towards regaining a piece of one’s sanity, one’s physical well-being, and one’s “wholeness” of being a human being; and contrary to the common perspective that curiosity killed the cat, it is almost always the exact opposite:  it is the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service which kills curiosity, which is the underlying force and beauty of a life worth living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Foreign Lands

There was a time when foreign lands had a sense of the exotic and prohibitive; but in a shrinking world, where technology brings images of distant scenery into homes and living rooms “as if” time and geographical dissonance matters not; and where virtual reality and computer graphics crosses the bifurcated worlds of fantasy and reality; today, it is the native who finds that being a foreigner in one’s own country is far more common than merely the inability to communicate  effectively in a different tongue.

Being in a foreign land is merely a state of mind; the pendulum swings, and swings far and wide, when first one enters a territory of unfamiliarity; but over time, with growing acclimation and recognition through daily routines, the distance of the pendulum harkens back to a beginning point, and a balance is achieved.

That is how one felt when first the career and employment entered with youthful vigor was embraced just after the school days of yore; the tingling excitement of a new venture, a steady paycheck and fresh with ideas to conquer the universe filled the cauldrons of hope, and where the future beckoned but with endless opportunity and fenceless expanse.  Crisis points have a jarring effect.  They tend to dampen spirits and shake the foundations of confidence and composure.

For newly disabled Federal employees and injured U.S. Postal workers who are hit with a medical condition, even sometimes a mildly disabling condition, the sense is often that one has entered into a foreign land, and the language spoken is one which few understand, fewer still speak well, and where only a handful are willing to take the time to give explicit directions.  Suddenly, the very people who were once comrades in coordinated efforts of missions to accomplish, act as if they no longer know you; familiar doorways are suddenly shut; people whisper, and whether they do so in hushed and incomprehensible tones, or in a language unfamiliar, all amounts to the same.

The need to apply for a visa to exit the land once loved, becomes a reality to forebear; and the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, must consider carefully the ramifications of leaving that land once beloved, but now distant in space, time, and geographical reality.  One has become a foreigner in a foreign land; and the exit still open is to file for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

How, and whether, and to what avail, such tragedy struck, is not as important for the time being as the pragmatic steps needed to be taken in order to secure one’s future.

When war breaks out in a foreign land, the pawns to be captured and traded for barter and advantage often involve the vulnerable and the expendable; and having a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform in the workplace, often becomes like a war zone of sorts; and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits  is merely another type of fight, of a bureaucratic sort, through an administrative maze in another foreign zone of battle.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time to exit is before the borders are sealed, and to enjoy the scenery of foreign soil from the safety of one’s home.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire