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 from OPM: Feelings

There are appropriate contexts within which to consider them, as well as places, insertions, events and conversational modalities where it is partly or entirely irrelevant; but as with most things in life, the boundaries that bifurcate are not always clear and distinct.  When one is considering purely subjective circumstances, it is clearly the “appropriate” moment — of personal relationships; of a vacation to be taken; of emotions being considered.

In a court of law, it is probably not the best approach to take with a judge; although, in the sentencing phase or the “damages” argument to be made to a jury, it may be the singular force of persuasive impact that makes not only the distinction unclear, but the decision quite the decisive edge.

“Feelings” are to be reserved for puppies, late nights in bed with a fever, and how the toes tickle when lying on a grassy knoll in the middle of summer when the lone ant walks along the pathway of your bare skin.

Do we dare admit to them?  When you are in a heated argument, is it not an oxymoron to shout, “Feelings don’t have anything to do with it!”  For, what is the criteria to be applied when making a decision based upon them?  Does the spectrum of emotions never cloud one’s judgment?  Or can we, as we often claim, set them aside so easily, like so many automatons in those doomsday movies that have become popularized, where androids and mechanized juggernauts that have taken over the earth and tried to suppress humanity are now the very beings whom we always wanted to emulate?

And what of the French Existentialists and the horror of reaction to that old favorite, “Invasion of the body snatchers” — what was it that made it so fascinating, where beings were stripped of their souls and emotions were all of a sudden undone, extinguished and no longer relevant, where bodies devoid of feelings walked about the earth like so many empty tombs?

Feelings are funny animals; they make up so much of who we are, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to avoid the very essence of that which makes up who we are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the anomaly concerning “feelings” becomes quickly apparent: for, confronted with having to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application before an administrative body — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — you are asked to remain “clinical” and antiseptic in the face of “proving” the medical evidence by the cold calculus of “the law”, and yet at the same time you are trying to convey your “feelings” with respect to the impact of the pain, the anguish of anxiety or the daily levels of profound fatigue felt.

It is a tightrope, balancing act that must be done with expertise, subtle techniques and an interspersing of line-crossing deftly engaged. Completing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is the single most important form in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, aside from gathering the proper medical documentation and making the persuasive legal argumentation.

For, in the end, that lifetime of trying to suppress those “feelings” must be utilized carefully, yet at the same time you have to be persuasive enough to touch upon the emotional makeup of a fellow human being who, also, likely has had to suppress those same feelings in order to apply “the law”.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Of mice and things

In the early morning hours or in the late twilight of night when everyone else is fast asleep, of mice and things scurrying about tells of a world beyond the days where we awaken and watch.  We all have a tendency to anthropomorphize upon a world we otherwise would fail to understand, and projecting our own characteristics upon another species has always been what we cannot resist.

Of mice — do they run about when everyone else is away because of fear, or because they, too, love the quietude of a period when all except the insomniacs and burglars tiptoe in shadows of darkness where the innocent dare not trample upon?

Sometimes, in the rush from hiding place to food source, the mouse will pause, lift up on its hind legs, look about, nibble a bit, then off again; and when they become bold enough to actually stare and look directly at the master of the house, you know that it is time to bring out the cheese and the traps, for they have exceeded their welcome and are likely becoming too comfortable in a home that they are unwelcome.

And what of the “things”?  Well, there are mice, and then of course, centipedes and spiders, and cousins of mice, and other things.  They are the ones who go “bump” in the night.  Are we like them?  If a greater master were to look upon us like we do of mice and things, would that Grand Wizard think similar thoughts?  That if we scurry about in fear and try and remain anonymous and unobtrusive, we would be left alone; but if we became bold in our unwelcomed status, a trap would be set for us and we would be cast aside into the oblivion outside of the walls of our own making?

Isn’t that how the injured Federal or Postal worker feels when a medical condition continues to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal worker’s position?  Such a Federal or Postal worker begins to feel like the mouse that scurries about trying to survive, but once he or she gets noticed, the Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins to set traps, to put the pressure on and proceed to ostracize and get rid of the pesky things.

Fortunately, Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition have somewhat more protections than those accorded to creatures small and large, of mice and things.

Preparing 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, is one such “protection” that allows the Federal or Postal employee to move beyond the workplace harassment and attempts to remove and terminate, thereby ending a career where one has invested one’s life to prolong.

What the Federal or Postal employee does not want to do, is to end up like those creatures that go bump-in-the-night — of mice and things — by failing for access all available benefits, and especially a Federal Disability Retirement annuity that can secure one’s future and allow for one to focus upon the important things in life, like one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The picture album

Time was, every family had a picture album – that anachronism bound carefully in a large leather book-shaped monstrosity, kept safe where dust settles and mice scurry around; taken out for occasions where boredom is accentuated and friends or neighbors have stayed long past their welcome, and so it is taken out carefully, dusted off and laboriously paged through, telling of a history for each page, each photograph laid meticulously upon the thick plaster-backboard of a person’s history.

It used to be that we all had one picture for an event – or, two at most, once Peoples Drug (for those who are old enough to remember; and that, in and of itself, was somewhat of a historical marker – when “Peoples” Drug – the drugstore of the “people”, was bought out by successive entities of greater reserve until it finally became a nondescript, boringly corporate entity under the designation of “CVS”; somehow, something was lost when the corner drugstore started in a suburb of D.C. was engulfed by mergers and corporate purchases) declared a two-for-one sale.

Of course, we all kept in safekeeping those brownish negatives that neatly fit into those thin plastic columns (i.e., thrown into a drawer based upon the sequence of receipt) – you know, the ones you hated to slide out because you could never get it back in without bending them, and somehow you suspected that they were never meant to be fit within the columns of plastic in the first place.

Somehow, there was something quaint and innocent about a picture album that only had one shot of a slice of life that told a limited tale about a person’s continuum of historical detail – by contrast, today’s Smartphone and digital chip that can hold literally thousands of photographs, and the person who is willing to show all in a public display for everyone in the universe to see, by downloading, uploading, displaying and replaying, for a person barely in his or her twenties.

The picture album is an anachronism, telling in its humility, limited access and manifesting a humble origin of consciousness.  It is a relic that bifurcates a “before” and an “after” – of a time now gone and lost forever, replaced by an after that manifests a change most of us never asked for.

To that end, the picture album is likened to a Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition.  That Federal or Postal employee suffers from a history of that which most of his or her coworkers are completely unaware of.  And like the picture album that is taken out from the dusty bookshelves of a corner closet, when the Federal or Postal employee comes to a point of needing 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, the reaction displayed by others is often one of boredom, lack of concern or even of interest shown in forced phoniness.  For, what others know or find out about a person’s life – even of his or her medical condition – is ultimately a private slice of life that is shared with quiet discretion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement Benefits: The Diary

Many begin the process at an early age, then abandon it with little remorse or afterthought, as a worthless project discarded for want of inherent value; and when, years and even decades later, it is discovered behind a bureau or a secret cubbyhole where trinkets and memorabilia retaining an eternal aura of privately precious remembrances are stored away, we shriek with joy as if the lottery had been won, a proposal has been declared, or a camouflaged vault containing the mysteries of gemstones and valuable cadavers had been pried open with but the wishes of gold pots at the end of a rainbow.

Then, as we turn the pages and delight in the innocence of bygone days, we regret that early abandonment turned away the gleeful idealism of a youth now a stranger, a mind intimately once known, but somehow forever a mirrored reflection of an identity of the same historicity in time and element, but yet in a parallel universe now non-existent but for memories kept securely in the destined vault of youthful summers.

Blank pages which abruptly reveal the terminal secrecy of thoughts and activities recorded once as sacred incantations of mysteries foreboding; whether of loves begotten or turmoils annotated in cloaked tears when others had retreated to the privacy of a house appearing in mirth, but ignoring the secret lives even in the midst of intimacy; now from the perspective of wisdom and maturity, do we laugh, or yearn for that innocence lost and the extinguished glow of naive eyes now dim with the experience of calloused beatings?

In more recent times, of course, we are told that one can actually lie to one’s self in a diary; but our own experiences tell us with greater certainty than the world can accord, that the tattered pages of bygone memories reveal truth as never before declared, and moreover, there is nothing more precious in life than the self-confessions of a heart once pure, only to be consecrated into the malignancy of a world which cares little.

It is, indeed, that transition from writing to the imaginary character of one’s own creation, to the intermediate level of testing the waters of reality, then to be pushed into the manifold chaos of the greater world, that constitutes the sin of destroying the human soul.  But that we could turn back the hands of time and reenter the hallways of innocence; but, no, that would mean that the womb of our essence would be revisited, and the soil of our own impurity would desecrate the purity of those precious memories we safely tucked away.  Then, one day, we open our eyes and we have “grown up”; and nowhere is there any room for such foolishness as hearts which once poured out for yearning of innocence betrayed.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer the inequities of workplace hostility, harassment — no, let’s just use the singular word which is simple, outdated, but still relevant — “meanness“, as in the child who has just had enough, screws up his face and cries out, “You are just plain mean!” — know of the experiential desecration of humanity, when a medical condition becomes revealed, and others who were perhaps identified “friends” and coworkers suddenly turn the proverbial “cold shoulder” upon the vulnerability opened, as a wound wrapped but now exposed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not unlike the youthful abandonment of the innocent diarist from bygone days.  For, like that abandoned project scoffed at for want of perseverance or perhaps plain boredom, it is the treasure found at the end of the process which resuscitates the goals once considered and the future to be embraced; and, in the end, there is a difference between regret for a childhood forever gone, and a later stage now delivered, but where broken promises are ignored with a twinkle of a child’s forlorn gaze.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire