FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Ideas come in bunches

Like wildflowers, there is something about ideas that have a tendency towards coming in bunches.  And, like wildflowers and ideas, we have a further notion that misfortune, likewise, comes in droves and groupings.

Is that a Law of Nature, or merely an observation that has no logical foundation or factual basis?  Didn’t that neighbor down the street get hit by a car, and at the same time — within a week of such a tragic event — lose his wife and 3 kids?  Wasn’t it Uncle Billy who stepped on a nail, and with a few days had his house burglarized and his dog shot in the process?  And surely we recall that movie star who drank himself silly one night and then mistook a shadow for a stranger when it turned out to be his girlfriend’s best friend who shot him in the arm and then took her own life?

These we all recall; and like Hume’s dictum that causality is nothing more than mere combinations of repetitive occurrences, we fail to recognize the silent workings of events unfolding which quietly and subtly fester in the unknown universe of our own ignorance; and yet, when they come to the fore, we relate one to the other.  But ideas are different; they do, indeed, come in bunches, perhaps because the creative energy lagging behind suddenly realizes that potentiality can be actualized when for all those years they remained as stagnant molecules lost in a world of microscopic insignificance.

So, that being said, here are a bunch of ideas: For Federal and Postal workers who believe that the medical condition suffered cannot be accommodated, why not file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  What if you weren’t even aware of such a benefit?  What if the benefit is not widely circulated, never trumpeted and rarely announced?

You have 1 year from the date of separation from service to file, and as it takes a significant amount of time to properly prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, if might be a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — lest the ideas that come in bunches turn out to be bad luck that arrive in groupings; for, in that case, it is certainly time to consider that one’s destiny depends entirely upon actions taken, and not upon ignoring the signs of misfortune that do, indeed, come in bunches.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The house next door

It is the one that follows the same comfortable convention for all these many years — of never knowing the intimate details; a wave of the hand every now and again; of fleeting appearances on various days, such as recycling, garbage and the occasional Saturday when the in-laws from out-of-state come to visit on Thanksgiving, or a birthday, or perhaps when a tragedy occurs and the sudden appearance in the driveway that is filled with cars never before seen.

The house next door, or across the street —the neighbor who you do not know, and somehow never got around to knowing, whether because they were latecomers or you were, and the “other” didn’t seem all that willing, friendly or “neighborly” to begin with, and so a settled truce became the daily routine that never altered, never became a problem, and forever became entrenched in the mundaneness of deliberate social avoidance.

We imagine what occurs in the house next door; or, perhaps not at all, except to complain when they’ve made too much noise, let their grass grow beyond the acceptable conventions of normative beliefs (or otherwise in violation of strict codes imposed by the “lawn police” of the local Home-Owner’s Association), or parked one of their cars in front of your house (yes, it is true — that street section in front of your house is actually not your property, and though it may be obnoxious, the house next door has every right to park the car on your side of the street, right in front of your house).

We never know what occurs to the house next door until one day we read about the tragedy in the pages of the obituary in the local paper.  There is a sadness in that very fact; or, perhaps that is the way we have set up this disinterested and alienated society?  Do we prefer to remain ignorant of the goings-on of the house next door?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition forces the preparation and filing of a 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, it often feels like living in the house next door — for, suddenly, you find yourself looking at familiar surroundings from across the street, or from beyond the fence that separates, and you begin to wonder whether you ever knew your neighbor, and what they are up to.

There is an alienation involved, and you must always remain suspicious as a “new” car is suddenly seen parked across the street, and the Supervisor or coworker seemed to be sharing information and gossiping with furtive eyes averted from your view; and yes, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service may be getting ready to initiate an adverse action of some sort — like the house next door that you never knew and now would rather not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The difficult good-bye

It is always difficult to say good-bye.  Whether of a long duration, or with a quick ending to an already fast-deteriorating relationship, the good-bye that brings sorrow, tears and a sense of unease is the one that once was never thought of.

Separating from loved ones; the end of a stay that may have begun with trepidation, hesitation or even loathing, but which turned out to be an embracing of past memories forgotten, revitalizing conversations and enlivening moments of collective reflections; or even of a chance encounter with someone, or with the lengthy last moments with a bedridden relative who wants the warmth of human contact nearby before departing into the netherworld through gates of wandering souls.

Whatever the circumstances, the good-byes we fear, the ones we think will be a relief, and even those that turned out to end merely with a half-hearted wave of the hand — it is the difficult good-bye that echoes within the hollow of one’s mind, squeezing between schedules full and memories touching upon a conscience that will not abide.

Careers have good-byes, as well, and not just between people; for it is the career that defines so much of who we are.  It is never just the “what do you do for a living” part of it, but the title that comes with it, the identity that is attached to it, the camaraderie that accompanies it and the past memories that haunt one; these are the cementing tributaries that form one’s personhood.

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, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the difficult good-bye is the one that separates the Federal or Postal employee from the Federal Agency or the Postal Facility — not necessarily because of the circumstances compelled by the medical conditions themselves (although that is admittedly difficult enough), but often because the job itself was and has been an integral part of one’s life, livelihood and identity, and because any change in one’s routine is hard enough.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is essentially saying good-bye to a good chunk of one’s daily routine of life and living — of spending about 50% or more of one’s life (including preparing for the day, commuting, doing work-related emails and similar activities, etc.) — and thus will be, even under the best of circumstances, a difficult separation and departing.

But always remember that the difficult good-bye is the one that retains an abiding meaningfulness within the souls of worthwhile characters, which then forms the seeds of hope for a future yet untold, as opposed to the half-hearted wave of the hand that dismisses so casually that we remember not even which hand with which we waved good-bye.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Of fortunes unattained

Here, of the story untold:

“He woke up and went into the bathroom, and there found an old man staring at him.  There was no voice that called; no utterance of a salutation so early in the morning.  The corrugated skin of this stranger was pulled back, revealing deep cuts in the rivulets of age where time had taken its toll.  His hair was unkempt; thinning and grey, with speckles of white reaching deep within the roots of timeless agony.

Where had time robbed this pathetic creature, where a lifetime was given as a gift in order to make his fortune, to find his love and to gather his friendships?

It seemed only yesterday that the toddler reached for his parents’ loving arms, and they who looked upon him with kindly affection and whispering, ‘There, there, you have a whole life ahead of you to dream your dreams and reach your goals’, and then the fading summers where life seemed but a dream where oceans divided and manhood arose from the depths of a sea that swallowed me whole.  And when the stranger in the bathroom finally spoke, it had the voice of one who stared back from a mirror that reflected the insanity of myself, old and lost, voicing a soliloquy of loneliness where once my children laughed within a wilderness of a future yet unseen.”

And so it is with many of us; time seems to creep ever so slowly during troubled waters of despair; and then, one morning, we wake up and decades have passed us by.  Did we do all that we wanted to do?  Did we find that love we yearned for?  Did we make that fortune we promised ourselves we would attain, remembering the poverty of our youth and the promises whispered in huddled caves beneath the conscience of our lonely hearts?

Of fortunes unattained, we can always justify by telling another tale: Life is too short to search only for abandoned treasures and, besides, what truly is a ‘fortune’?  Is love of lesser worth than gold in reserve, and does not friendship value greater than a penny saved?  And when compared with one’s health, is fortune amassed of any value if the former is sacrificed for the latter?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, 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 an important step towards reaching those goals yet reconsidered.

Of fortunes unattained — perhaps so; but when one’s health is at stake, all else must become secondary, and for the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer continue in a career which is only exacerbating the deterioration of one’s health, those thoughts of fortunes unattained must by necessity be temporarily set aside and replaced by the wisdom of a more valued existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire