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

 

How much OPM Disability Retirement Pays?

“What will the benefit pay?”  That is often the primary concern of a Federal or Postal employee who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), and it is certainly a valid first question.

The greater concern that cannot be overlooked, however, is the one that involves calculating the cost of NOT filing.  In the end, those Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits have three fundamental options: Stay put; resign and do nothing (or wait for termination/separation proceedings to occur, which amounts to the same thing); or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

The benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is quite simply calculated as 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of service for the first year (offset by 100% of any Social Security Disability benefits received during the concurrent payments received) and 40% of the average every year thereafter (offset by 60% of any Social Security Disability payments received during those years), until age 62, at which point the Federal Disability annuity is recalculated as “regular retirement” based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that the disability retiree has been on Federal Disability Retirement.

Thus, the “greater” benefit in calculating the cost has to take into account the fact that one is actually “building up” one’s own retirement by the years one stays on disability retirement — for, those very years that you are receiving a disability retirement annuity count towards the total number of years of Federal Service when it is recalculated as “regular” retirement at the age of 62.

Yes, it is true that on the cost/benefit ledger that one should review before filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, you need to take into account the lesser income and the lengthy bureaucratic process that must be engaged, but you should also never forget what the originating basis for considering such filing compelled the consideration in the first place: Your health.

Calculating the cost of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits too often places the emphasis on what is lost — in terms of monetary gain and loss, etc.  But in calculating the cost of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted and considered to and by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the primary issue involves one’s deteriorating health and whether you can continue to remain in a job which has clearly become inconsistent with the medical conditions one is suffering from.

In the end, calculating the cost must go beyond the lessening of income; it must calculate the cost of one’s health, which is the single greatest asset one possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Chekhov’s gun

It is the ultimate principle of substantive minimalism, where extraneous and peripheral elements should be eradicated unless used, essential, or otherwise central to the narrative.  Teasing merely for the sake of itself is denied; a serious venture if always pursued, and open honesty with the audience forever relied upon.  Chekhov disdained and avoided the superfluous; his short stories and other works were paradigms of linguistic economy, where words were valued and cherished, without room left for an unused element.

Compare that to modernity; of Franzen and works where volumes are spoken to merely illustrate a simple point contrary to Ockham’s razor.  The “gun”, as the metaphor of utility or otherwise, first introduced in the first chapter or Scene I of a play, must by a few chapters hence or a scene or two later, be fired, pointed or struggled over; otherwise, never introduce it in the first place.  And of the razor of rational argumentation, the lex parsimoniae of scientific observation, let not human complexity and self-delusions of grandeur in constructing untenable principles of convoluted thought-processes cloud the simplicity of nature’s design; for, in the end, it is in the simple that complexity finds its apex, and of the complex, where simpletons gather.

In the end, economy of words allows for room of thought and invitations of acceptance; it is only in the crowded gallows of condemned men where cries for space echo into the chambers of unheard cries.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in the process of 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 principle of Chekhov’s gun, or its correlative paradigm of linguistic economy, Ockham’s razor, should always be applied:  Keep to the centrality of one’s narrative, and never allow the teasing of an unloaded gun direct the masthead of a sinking ship to tip too perilously towards the unforgiving winds of want and self-importance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Federal Medical Retirement Help: Paroxysm of Fate or Faith

Of the former, it forces us within that fitful slice of time to endure the determined events beyond our control; and as to the latter, it does almost the very opposite:  it grants us a reprieve of sorts, and draws us into the delusional universe of believing without cause.  Causation is indeed the harbinger of validity and scientific accountability; whether and by what means the short-lived fit of revelatory insight occurs, the paroxysmal opening of one’s eyes to the reality of a matter can result in truth unveiled, or falsehood concealed.

We tend to live life like that; one moment, we sigh and throw up our hands to the gods of determinism and complain that we have no control over whence we came, the essence of our present being, and where the journey will take us; and in the very next instant, we fervently believe that if only we were to make our urgent pleas more loudly known, our very belief would impart the causation of a cold and impervious universe to move mountains and shift the tectonic forces of nature’s aplomb.

Man — that animal half caught between instinct and rationality, betwixt carnivorous vengeance and civility with a clink of teacups; yet, subject to the whims of gods and determinism.

Medical conditions will often exacerbate that tendency towards the extreme of one side of the spectrum or the other; tendencies tend to magnify when the human condition deteriorates.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact and influence the ability and capacity of the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, it is important to maintain an equilibrium of sorts.

Medical conditions, by their very nature, will often skew the linear reality of a situation, and therefore it becomes important to seek out advice, counsel and wisdom in determining the best course of actions to undertake for securing one’s future and stability.

Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, need to take care not to allow themselves to wither and bend by the vicious winds blown thoughtlessly by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and instead to retain that balance of foresight, between the paroxysm of fate and that of faith, and instead to partake in the essence of the angels above, and not the imprints of our animalistic past, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application for submission to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Happy Meter

We have metrics for everything, now; devices simultaneously wearable as necklaces to gauge heart rates and exercising of limbs; of crystals which tell of emotive alterations throughout the day; and connective apparatus lest we lose a signal within the vast field of human interactions with the greater world in distant horizons.

Then, why not a “happy meter”?  How would it determine the accuracy within a spectrum of a day’s journey?  Would it be based upon a pinnacle on a graph? Or, perhaps it would calculate the average temperature between qualitative quotients of sad, neutral and ecstatic?  Or, maybe it would provide a needle prick, or a gentle nudge with a vibrating sensation or a humming sound which reminds us that we are now in the state we seek, of a joyous moment within the historicity of our own emotions.

But would it work, and would a happy meter merely gauge our state of being, or fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-aggrandizing need for knowledge reflective of foolish accounts as seen by other cultures and societies?  For the most part, any quantification of self-satisfaction would still require the affirmative input of the subject being studied.

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 all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea of gauging happiness as the sole criteria for seeking Federal Disability Retirement benefits is merely to identify one criteria among many.

For, in the end, “happiness” is just a byproduct resulting from multiple other factors, including a future sense of security; an idea of where one fits within the larger schematic plans of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; where one’s career path will go if the Federal or Postal employee attempts to remain in the job and the agency which cannot be completely fulfilled; whether a viable “accommodation” can be provided to allow the Federal or Postal employee to continue in the same position such that the Federal or Postal employee can perform all of the essential elements of the position; and multiple other and similar elements to consider.

Ultimately, one’s “happiness” cannot be determined by a mere quantification of heart rate, level of perspiration, or the stability of emotions and thought-processes; and while there is no mechanism discovered or invented, yet, which is encapsulated by a commercially salable Happy Meter, perhaps there will be one in the near future.

For the time being, however, one could nevertheless do what men and women have done for centuries, and simply reflect seriously for a moment upon one’s past accomplishments, determining present needs, and plan for one’s future security by taking the affirmative steps necessary to prepare, formulate, and file with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — today.

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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Whispers of Time

Sometimes, in the deadened silence of night, thoughts beyond our daily routine creep into the shadows of the subconscious; or, in the quietude of rustling leaves, a harkening which is lost but for the whispers of time.

Is it true that there are signs, voices, foreboding elements around which warn of impending events beyond the pragmatism of our technologically-driven society?  Did epochs of yore possess knowledge beyond what we discover on Google?  Put that way, the simple answer is, “yes”; but if characterized as engaging old spirits through acts of necromancy and boiling bones, hairs and organs in a cauldron of witch’s brew, then our doubts begin to ponder.  Is there a “middle ground” — of recognizing that animals have an innate sense of danger which we have lost, or where the scent of impending prey pervades, which we once may have possessed a heightened alarm for, but which society has stamped out through the callous indifference of civilized comportment?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who wait for finality of judgment prior to beginning the process of 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, it may be that the Federal or Postal employee shuns and casts aside that quiet “inner voice” which tells one, “This cannot go on.”

We tend to do that.  Man has an unlimited and vast capacity for self-justification and rationalization, often to the detriment of self.  And that quiet voice of foreboding need not be something mysterious or even sinister in timeless sorcery; it could merely be our bodies telling us that, whatever hope our treatment modalities may be holding out for, the inconsistency between the medical condition and the positional duties required by the Federal or Postal job can no longer be maintained.

Truth is always magical, if not bluntly pragmatic; and while the days of magic have been lost when once the whispers of time succumbed to man’s landing on the moon, where romances and imagines faces converted to mere dust in the dustbin of history, there still remains room for the person who stops, listens, and pauses, if not for the oncoming train warning of impending catastrophe, then at least for the quiet warning signs that continuing in the same vein may not be the wisest of paths to take.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire