OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Consider the Alternatives

In making any decision, it is always important that one consider the alternatives available.  It is the decision made in isolation — of contending with thoughts, fears and misinformation within a vacuum of not knowing — that often results in disastrous decisions made without consulting and considering the alternatives available.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where that medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the choices are often stark and clear: Stay at a job or career which is no longer sustainable, and where the Agency will increasingly harass and punitively initiate actions in an effort to remove you; resign and walk away with nothing; or, in the best alternative available, file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

Sometimes, of course, the “unexpected” alternative can occur: For example, a person who has filed for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is offered a reassignment that is both acceptable and accommodating to one’s medical condition, and continuation in the Federal Workforce is thus possible.  In most instances, however, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is “The” alternative, and the only viable one available, but even such an alternative must be considered carefully in light of the existing laws, the potentiality for problems to be encountered, and the resistance met by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the multiple and varied reasons that OPM bases its denials upon.

Considering the alternatives is not just a matter of whether and when to file, but to be cognizant of the difficulties ahead in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM; and in order to do that, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Hunt for Nirvana

The initial question is: Is there even such a state?  That would, of course, preemptively undermine the very “hunt” for it, precisely because it would be an act of futility.  On the other hand, don’t most of us chase after chimeras of various sorts — whether of fame, wealth, lost loves or repressed daydreams?  So, why not hunt after the paradigm of paragon-like virtues — a state of release, of a transcendent experience devoid of self, suffering and selfish self-centeredness; or, as some might say, of a death-like state in living form.  Many would not even have a desire for such a state.

The amalgamation of we “think” is the state of Nirvana is probably quite different from the actual concept as attained or sought after by those who profess a belief in it.  It is the complete loss of self; of a state where one’s ego no longer exists, and with its disappearance, both sides of the human “coin” are also transcended: pleasure and pain.  One cannot go through life without its opposite and corollary: If you are capable of experiencing pleasure, then you are open to feeling pain, just as the person who can have happiness must by necessity tolerate sadness.  It is, unfortunately, part of being what it means to be “human”, and it is an act of futility if you try and expunge one while attempting to retain the other.  It is simply not possible.

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 Federal or Postal job, it is likely time to consult with a FERS Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is not a hunt for Nirvana; no, not even close.  In fact, it is another bureaucratic morass which can be a pain in the proverbial behind, and is a long and complex administrative process which makes the hunt for Nirvana like a pleasurable vacation in comparison.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes and knows about Federal Disability Retirement Law, and leave the hunt for Nirvana to those who like to trek through the Himalayan mountains.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management: SF 3112C

As a “government form” it purports to provide guidance in general terms, and it is doubtful that the lack of clarity as to its purpose or utility will assist the medical professional into writing an effective report.

The plain fact is that SF 3112C is a confusing form — confusing both to the doctor or Nurse Practitioner who is presented with it, as well as to the FERS Applicant who is attempting to prepare an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.  It refers to a “position description” being attached, but fails to provide the necessary explanatory nexus between the PD and the medical opinion sought.

What part of the position description should be focused upon?  Is it the entirety of the PD, portions of it, or just the “essential elements”?  Is it relevant whether a person can work part-time, full time, or an erratic combination of both depending upon the severity of symptoms that may arise periodically?  Is SF 3112C meant to confuse, or like so many “government forms”, is the language inevitably misleading because it is (A) meant to be that way, (B) unintentionally written in an unclear manner or (C) is meant to be wholly unhelpful because OPM doesn’t want to go out of its way to help the Federal Disability Retirement applicant?  Must the SF 3112C, the “Physician’s Statement”, be used at all?

If you are still working with the Federal Agency or on the rolls of the Postal Service, or at least not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, must the prepared physician’s statement be sent directly to your H.R. Office without first being reviewed and validated by the applicant?  The form itself certainly makes it appear so, but is that really the case?

In the end, the applicant who is preparing, formulating and filing a 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, must make some initial and important determinations concerning the substance and content of the application itself.

Forms are tricky; the laws that oversee them, often vague; but if you are relying upon instructions written and formulated by the very government agency that will be making a determination on your application, you may want to first consult with an attorney who specializes in the very law that governs Federal Disability Retirement, before you begin “filling” out forms or having your doctor fill one out.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Relating negative events

Bad things come in pairs, or is it triplets?  Is there a tendency to relate and categorize in terms of color, logical sequence, similarities and characteristics?  Is the Kantian model of imposing categories upon an otherwise orderless universe the reason why we relate negative events in bunches, like grapes growing upon vines waiting to be picked?  Or do bad things happen in combinations naturally, as a law that cannot be avoided?

When we learn that others have been speaking ill of us, or of unkind statements and gossiping rumors spread about, do we not then consider the look of those around us and begin to suspect that the facial frown was directed at us, the distracted individual is not merely lost in his or her own thoughts, but is deliberately ignoring and shunning us, and even the dog that was once friendly is heard to emit a low-growling sound of unfriendly disposition?

Relating negative events is a natural response to a world that is orderless, and one that can be cruel — a perspective that is easily and readily confirmed by the uncaring attitude not just from an impervious universe, but from those who pretend to be out best friend, as well.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Universal Law that dictates relating negative events becomes unavoidable: Suddenly, because you have taken too much SL and have requested FMLA, you are no longer the “golden boy” (or girl) who can be relied upon, and next comes the leave restrictions; the “Memorandum of Warning”, and then even a PIP; and what next?

Termination is the target for the future.

All the while, the “negative event” was the deterioration of one’s health, which then set into motion all of the other negative events which became related one to the other.

Bad things, unfortunately, happen in bunches, and it is important to initiate a “positive” element and infuse a “good” thing into the middle of those bunches of negative events, and 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 that positive step one can take for one’s self in the morass of relating all of those negative events that seem to have occurred without your consent.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: The parade that fades

Parades are often forlorn events.  The pomp and circumstance that brings forth the loud serenade of trumpets, drums and cadence of disparate groups; the sequence of human colonnades marching to the beat of rhythmic blares where medals gleam in the glint of sunlight’s twilight; and when the speeches end and the parade that fades leaves but for the leaflets that once announced of its impending arrival, the hearts that once fluttered in anticipation of the marching band that lost its footing may but be a glimmer of tomorrow’s hope.

Parades celebrate, and the participants engage the public eye to put on a show of appreciation, but do they voluntarily come together, or are they merely compensated workers ordered to appear?  And when once the parade fades, what happens to those left behind, of the grieving widows and children left orphaned, and the pinning of medals that sang the mournful hollow of a priceless life?

Other lives march on; it is the forgotten ones that inhabit an earth that continues on in haunting groups of voiceless sorrow, for years on end without the recognition noted but for that singular day on the parade grounds, where glory once revived and then soon forgotten.  Much of life is like that, isn’t it?

Like a parade that is put on, lasts for a day, or perhaps merely a part thereof, and then soon to be forgotten except for memories that are seared with a grimace and graceless utterances of voices once remembered and now merely a fading vestige, if that.  What was the fanfare for?  Do we even remember? What was said in the speech now faded but for glory’s once grand applause?  Do we even care?

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 worker’s attempt to continue his or her career because the progressively worsening medical condition itself is preventing one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — the end of one’s career may be likened to the parade that fades.

That sense of belonging; that feeling that life’s cadence included you in the marching band of the colorful parade; of being part of a team, with a sense of coherence and purpose; but like all parades, the day’s end ultimately comes.  Whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the sinking feeling that the parade that fades may mean that there is no longer the trumpet’s blare or the drumbeat of life’s cadence is simply a fear within that does not reflect reality.

Tomorrow, the sun will still shine and the birds will yet sing; the grounds will still be there, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is merely changing the venue of where the next parade will be held, thus replacing the parade that fades at the end of this day alone.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire