Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file 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.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Medical Incapacity: The boxes in Standard Forms

For some forms, it is a convenience to have a restrictive, limited “box” in which to put the “x” into, or maybe the needed “Not Applicable”; others, however, try and contain a limited narrative and force succinctness into the standardization of answers.  That is all well and good, and perhaps from a bureaucratic standpoint and perspective, the conformity of forms and the mandatory “answers within a box” makes for streamlining of paperwork.

The reality, however, is that some questions cannot be answered — and more importantly, should not — within the proposed space allocated, and so you have two (2) choices: decrease the font size in order to fit a greater substance of the narrative within the provided box, or attach a continuation sheet despite no indication in the standard forms for allowance of such cheekiness of presumptuous creativity.

How does one identify which Standard Form should be prepared and completed within the confines of standardization, and which ones should not?   First, a conceptual identification should be applied: Which ones are merely “informational” that request only singular answers, and which forms make queries that compel for narrative answers?  Once that initial, identifying bifurcation is made, then the next step is to determine whether an adequate and sufficient response can be stated within the “box” provided within the font-size allowing for regular eyesight that does not require extraordinary magnification, or if a continuation sheet is necessary.

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, certain Standard Forms are merely informational — for example, the SF 3107 series which asks for basic, factual information.  Then, of course, there is the SF 3112 series, and especially SF 31112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker under FERS, who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the greater mistake has often been to quickly annotate within the boxes provided a swift “jotting down” of the medical conditions one “feels” — as if the body parts providing temporary sensations for a given day, or even the lack thereof, will sufficiently satisfy the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to become approved for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Make no mistake about it: there can be dire legal consequences if SF 3112A is not completed properly and sufficiently.  And always remember the philosophical dictum: That which is necessary may not be necessarily sufficient, and that which is sufficient may not be sufficiently necessary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The chaos of life

Of masochism, there are indeed some who purport to invite the chaos of life, and actually enjoy it, relish in it and thrive in it.  Its opposite is considered monotonous, lacking of artistic content and without the excitement of unpredictability.  Yet, even those who thrive within the chaos of life will often need that period of respite, whether with a quiet moment of reflection, a night of reading beside a crackling fire, or just dozing in front of the drone of a television.

EMT personnel often require such a personality trait; firemen, law enforcement officers, and nowadays, teachers, professors and other educators, if only because the chaos that unruly and undisciplined children, teenagers and young adults bring into the classroom.

Perhaps it was a childhood upbringing; it is often said by learned psychologists that battered people tend to themselves batter upon reaching maturity, because they find solace in the comfort of that which they are familiar, and so the behaviors they learned and were imprinted upon as a child are the very patterns that are comforting; and thus does the vicious cycle of life – such as the chaos of life – recur and regenerate, only to imprint the same cycle upon the next generation.

Those who sincerely crave the very opposite – of a regularity in monotony of patterns predictable in their characteristic of non-change – are often criticized for failing to be able to “deal” with the chaos of life, and so the argument goes that those who thrive upon the chaos of life are better prepared for the vicissitudes of life’s misgivings.

Medical conditions comprise a sort of chaos of life, but whether one is “well-prepared” for it or not, it is something that must be “dealt” with.  It is, in the end, doubtful whether a person’s life prior to the entrance and introduction of a medical condition can adequately prepare one to “deal with it”.

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 the Federal or Postal job, part of the process in dealing with such a chaos of life is to prepare 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.

In such a case, instead of dealing with the chaos of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application yourself, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in such legal matters.

In this vast universe that includes the encumbrances deemed the chaos of life, we must all make choices as to which portion of the chaos we want to personally handle; for, in the end, the chaos of life, how we handle it and what benefit accrues from it will all be determined by the outcome of the event – and for Federal and Postal employees, that outcome-based perspective is the resulting approval by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on a Federal Disability Retirement claim, where once the approval is obtained, the chaos of life may be turned into a respite of relief.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Witnessing the residue

Most of us merely witness the residue; the process itself, the events leading up to the conclusion, and “during” as opposed to the “after”, and all of the miniscule details that make up “in between” are invisible, ignored, unimportant or simply not thought of.  We see the “end product”, only, and that is how it should be.  We don’t have time to watch the apple tree grow from a seedling; for sausages to be made; for politics to be compromised; and for other people’s problems to fester.  And even if we did, what difference would it really make?

We assume much – that characters we see in movies made from “based on a true story” (whatever that means – and how much artistic liberty was taken with the details of such a “true story”, and what part is true and what is not?) productions went to the bathroom in between shooting at each other and becoming heroes; or that when children are seen, there was once love between the couple (although, that can turn out to be a wrong assumption where adoption or other arrangements have been made) even if the residue we witness shows only acrimony, bickering and constant arguing.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers preparing to 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, “both sides” witness the residue – from the Federal Agency or Postal Service’s side, they witness the residue of a filing for a disability retirement, without knowing the long and arduous struggle that the employee had with the medical condition prior to coming to such a decision.  Or, for that matter, from the viewpoint of the supervisor or co-worker, such a decision may come as a complete surprise.

Conversely, from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, witnessing the residue of the Federal Agency’s reaction or the co-workers and supervisors who make comments, or say anything at all, is often an interesting phenomenon for its complete lack of understanding or empathy.  They simply didn’t know, didn’t care or didn’t take the time (or all three) in showing any concern during the long struggle with the medical condition.

The key, however, in witnessing the residue, is with respect to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the Federal Agency that reviews and makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.  For OPM, it is important to formulate a concise narrative in answering the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  How much of the history; to what extent the minutiae and details of the past; and the precision of establishing the nexus between the medical condition and the job duties – these are all important in the proper preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, where witnessing the residue may be a void too important to neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Identity Theft

Concerns over “identity theft” abound in this information age where an almost unlimited trove of personal data gets transmitted through the ethereal universe of the Internet.

Certainly, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management itself should be aware of this, with the recent hacking of Social Security Numbers, birth dates, responses to security questions, etc., and their failure to protect such sensitive caches of information.  But such thievery is normally recoverable; new passwords and keywords can be changed and obtained; additional walls of security impositions can be constructed, and life can be returned to a relative level of normalcy, with mere vestiges of fading memories of inconvenience to haunt our daily lives.

There are other forms of identity thievery, however, which can be more onerous, and unrecoverable.  When an individual is stripped of his or her identity as developed over many years through hard work, dedication and loyalty to a purpose or cause, and that reputation becomes destroyed in quick order and succession resulting from circumstances beyond one’s immediate control, where is the restorative avenue for that?  To what door or office does one apply to regain the loss, and return back to a sense of normalcy?

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who are daily harassed because they suffer from a medical condition which impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform, any longer, the full essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal sector or for the U.S. Postal Service, such “identity theft” of an alternate kind is well known and intimately experience.

Those multiple years of toil, dedication and loyalty to development of fine-tuned talents in order to perform one’s job with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service — they become for naught, when one’s worth is so closely tied to one’s health, whether physical or psychiatric.  And so it may be time to “move on”, and this means, in all likelihood and necessity, preparing, formulating and 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.

Yes, ultimately, one’s OPM Disability Retirement application must be filed with the very same agency whose vault of personal personnel information was hacked into; but that is often the irony of life itself, where the Federal or Postal employee must knock on the very door which allowed for identity theft, in order to regain it again for a new and brighter tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Myth of Upward Progression

We like to think that life is represented by a linear curve of upward progression; in reality, most of us reach an apex, then remain static and content in the late summer years of our lives.  There is nothing wrong with such a state of affairs; as contentment and comfort embrace a spectrum of stability, so the refusal of change and resistance to vicissitude are not indicators of laziness, as once thought in former days of youth where transition, sacrifice and relinquishment of stability were necessary for purposes of future advancement.

Most of us, within a defined minefield of progress and regress, remain within an invisible glass casing of immobility.  Perhaps there is a major financial setback in a given year; or, a promotion or cash incentive award had not been achieved; but in the year following, or the next beyond, it is attained; or an unexpected windfall allows for greater stability least anticipated and most gratifying.

In a sense, we delude ourselves.  But so long as we remain within a constancy of comfort, where an appearance of major retrogression cannot be palpably discerned, contentment prevails, and the bother of breaking new grounds, moving to a larger house, taking on greater responsibilities, adding to headaches and stresses, can be quietly forsaken, left with the self-satisfaction that quietude is a byproduct of a goal once sought for, and achieved without fanfare or celebration.  It is when the bounds of contentment are scattered, the barriers of satisfaction crumbling, when the call to action is suddenly a turmoil of exoneration, and peace as shattered glass stepped upon in bare feet of bleeding souls, that affirmative movement must then be spurred, leaving behind those spurned opportunities once thought cumbersome.

Medical conditions have a tendency to create such circumstances of unrest.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that the chaos of inchoate situations developing because of a chronic and progressively deteriorating medical condition impacts upon the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the possibility and need for 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, becomes a reality which disturbs and perturbs the quietude of living contentedly.

When a medical condition disrupts that glass bowl of satisfaction, the myth of upward progression becomes shattered, because suddenly all that one has worked to achieve may be in doubt.

Most of us are happy to just find that small oasis within the turbulent oceans of insanity we designate as “civilized society”; but for the Federal or Postal employee who must contend with a medical condition such that the medical condition threatens the very foundation of one’s hard-fought dreams and desultory circumstances, consideration needs to be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, if only to resist the temptation that static circumstances are a foregone conclusion, or that the myth of upward progression cannot be defeated by planning for the next great adventure in this, a universe of turbulence of unexpected turmoil.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire