Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The last Edwardian

What does it mean to be an “Edwardian”?  The reign of Edward VII was brief, but its influence is often extended to periods both before and long after in an aggregation of understanding “trends” that were noted, and often idealized.

It is a period of little interest to most Americans, except perhaps when there is some vague reference during a period of a royal scandal or a royal wedding that somehow touches the fancy across the great ocean that divides.  And despite our English “roots”, scant attention is paid to the history of England in either schoolbooks or offered curricula, except in referring to those dastardly “redcoats” who quartered themselves uninvited and had the audacity to tax its colonies without proper representation in Parliament.  Or so the memory of one’s childhood history lessons are recalled.

That period — whether one extends it some decades before, or well into the “Roaring Twenties” — actually lasted only from 1901 – 1910, but left a romanticized memory of lazy summer days, prosperity, greater involvement of women and the “common man” into the political arena, and came to symbolize the dawn of the “modern era”.  Whether such an idealized recollection actually reflected any reality of the era is open to debate.  But, then, that is what we cling to when situations worsen, isn’t it — of an idealized “before” in contrast to the stark gloom of “after”?

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, that desperate “clinging on” to one’s job may in part be attributable to the need to be that last Edwardian — of a “before” (before the onset of the medical condition) when life seemed more rewarding, when pain, discomfort or overwhelming anxiety was not only unthought of, but never occurred as an issue of consideration — who “after” the onset of the medical condition can now only recall the romantic period that once was.

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, may not solve every problem that besets the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer consistently get to work and accomplish all that is required by the position; but it does allow the Federal or Postal employee to prioritize and focus more upon the reality of one’s current situation — one’s health — and not become entrapped in trying to be that last Edwardian.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Next Steps

It is the previous step that determines the following one, and the one before that which closes the alternatives for multiple other pathways; in the end, sequence matters, protocol can make a difference, and how one takes the steps, in what direction, by what methodology — these are all important considerations to contemplate.  What the endeavor is; by what means one is attempting to achieve the end-result; and the manner in which the goal is reached; the attempt the take a short-cut will often result in only a short-lived gain, but often with long-term consequences that, upon reflection, made the short-cut pay a price greater than the worth of the gain.

Next steps are important; each step, whether previously taken or subsequently considered, are also obviously of significance, but one could argue that those already taken cannot be reversed or, if reversed or retraced, may complicate matters more, whereas the “next step” yet to be taken may impact all previous ones already established and thus must be considered in light of the consequences likely to ensue.

Whatever has already occurred in the past cannot be undone or, if it can, must be retracted with care such that any retrospective refashioning of previous actions taken will do no greater harm than that which has already been consummated.  It is always the “next steps” that are the crucial ones, for they will determine not only the efficacy of all previous ones, but further, will either validate or undermine all previous ones heretofore taken.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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, the next steps you take may be the critical ones that determine the success or failure of the entire complex, administrative and bureaucratic process you are attempting to undertake.

What statements are made as reflected on SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the sufficiency of the medical reports and records gathered, to be submitted as Attachments to your Federal Disability Retirement application; whether you answer and address the issues concerning accommodations in the workplace sufficiently or in what manner; whether you have an adequate understanding and comprehension of your rights with regard to Federal Disability Retirement Law; these and many other “next steps” may well determine the future course of actions previously taken, ignored or otherwise not initiated.

Perhaps the “next step” should be to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest the “next step” be the one that leads to an unforeseen stumble, where that next step leads to a misstep or the following next step after that cannot occur.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Asylum

As an active noun, it can mean the protection accorded to a migrant seeking refuge and escape from persecution; in a passive sense, it is an institution with a historical connotation of ill-treatment and mistreatment, imposed against the will of another who may be unable to care for oneself.  In either implied denotations, it reflects a protective refuge, either against the outside forces by within, or in response to inner spirits imagined without.

In rarer moments of perceptive translucence, one sees the need for the imposition of both definitions upon an allegedly sane universe.  Like the story by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes, it isn’t until we stop ourselves and pause for reflection, like the boy who shouted out that, indeed, the Emperor is wearing none, that the need for an asylum is everywhere to be discovered.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers observe and witness such an event each day, every hour.  For Federal employees with a medical condition, and Postal workers who suffer through the agony of daily turmoil because “management” will not allow an injured worker to be accommodated, the abuse and misuse of people — the very resource of civilization which should be protected like precious gems to be admired and revered — is palpable and ultimately inexcusable.

Federal Disability Retirement should not be the final refuge of asylum seekers, but it often is.  It isn’t that Federal or Postal workers turn at the first opportunity to seek the protective walls of escape, but Federal and Postal workers often have no other choice.  If allowed to recuperate and regain one’s sense of equilibrium and repose, it may be that the wealth of experience and knowledge gained through years and decades of work could be re-channeled, but Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service rarely see it that way, and instead view all individuals as merely short-term investments.

Asylums are built to protect, but when the patients have run amok and control the very institutions designed to provide the refuge needed, it is then time for the Federal or Postal worker seeking assistance in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, to contact an attorney to escape from the madness of antiseptic walls crawling with imaginary creepy-crawlies — or those who control the levers of power in the Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Legal Language Game

Wittgenstein’s contribution to Western Philosophy was an extension of a line of English linguistic/analytical approach to unraveling substantive issues of confounding puzzlement.  Leave it to the British to resolve all problems through the correct usage of language — or, in his case, of Austrian-British conversion.

Within every context of societal constructs, there are unique conventions of linguistic acceptance.  Thus, the “language game” when engaging a Rapper will necessarily be different from that of having a polite dinner conversation with the Pope, and discussion with a computer geek will take on a different tone and content than speaking to a 2-year old.

Similarly, there is a specific language game when entering the legal arena — often characterized by aggression, subtle threats, compelling force and the Roman Centurion admixture with troubadourian  characteristics ready to paper-massacre the opponent.  Words like “liability”, “sue”, “court order”, “subpoena”, “deposition”, “money damages” — they comprise the extensive corpus of the language game of lawyersAdministrative law is a sub-facet of that legal route, but involves a bureaucratic maneuver which involves just as a great a level of complexity and specialized knowledge.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative legal process which asserts the right to, and compels the attainment of, a Federal benefit from OPM for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is not simply “given away”, and must be secured through proof of a level rising to a preponderance of the evidence.  There are legal precedents to follow, statutory and regulatory components which must be adhered to, and laws both stated and implied which encapsulate the whole of the language game of OPM Disability Retirement.

As a subset of the greater language game of “The Law”, it is a winding route of mazes within precipitous promontories involving a complexity of conundrums — not quite as esoteric as the language game of mathematics or physics, but somewhat akin to computer geekery and macro-economics.  Add to that the sword of yore utilized by a Roman Centurion ready to attack, transformed into the mighty pen (or, in modern linguistic update, the laptop computer).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Balance of Information

Most administrative entanglements involve some measure of balancing.  How much information to provide; determination of that which constitutes satisfaction of the request; whether, and to what extent, the information is sufficient to complete the transaction; and other similar analytical evaluations prior to submitting the compendium of data.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers struggling to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s agency (if still on the rolls and not separated for more than 31 days), and then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (unless one has been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, but not more than 1 year, as all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be submitted within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key component and measure is the effectiveness of Standard Form 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The act of balancing begins upon an initial review of the questions posed by SF 3112A.  While other forms require basic information concerning one’s personal data and the agency for whom the Federal or Postal employee works (e.g., SF 3107 series, including Schedules A, B & C), the SF 3112A is the linchpin of it all.  Care should be taken in answering the questions; reflection upon the character and extent of the data provided; editing and review of any final submission.  Too much, or too little.

The Goldilocks principle should always be applied, and when served in just the right amount, the true test of the balance of information has been finally met.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire