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 Disability Retirement: Life as a Byproduct

When it happens, or how, is of insignificant notice; the incremental arrival, where past segments of time seemed to traverse epochs where memories captured mere millennia of lifetimes; and then, one day, you wake up and yawn, and your life has taken on an incidental, tertiary level of importance.  One has been living by negation for so long, any positive or affirmative step has become a ghost of not just a Christmas past, but of decades evaporated.

Can life long be lived as a mere byproduct, where time, space and the centrality of one’s essence is shoved aside, and separateness of identity is relegated to occasional hellos and furtive glances of suspicious canopies?   Can a life of negation — of avoiding pain, trying to merely survive the day, or of constantly worrying about the next adverse action which might be initiated against you — is that “living”, or merely life as a byproduct?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition (whether physical exclusively, psychiatric, or a cross-combination of both) prevents the Federal or Postal worker from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the daily grind of avoidance, fearful of the next stressor of the day, and the constant battle to get some recuperative period of rest and peace away from the turmoil of work and one’s constant fight against the medical condition, leaves the human soul depleted and defeated, to the extent that life is merely a secondary and incidental experience; the true and focused task is intertwined with fear, angst and dread for each day.  Is that really a way to live?

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, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems; but for that segment of society, the Federal Sector and the U.S. Postal Service employees — it is at least a small step and a beginning.

Life’s problems did not aggregate in a single day; and just as the ancient Chinese proverb admonished that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so the life of a Federal or Postal employee can return to the essence of being, as opposed to a mere byproduct, when once we take steps to attain a level of restorative peace and begin to fulfill promises made but broken in past moments of progressive deterioration, when health was once taken for granted but now considered the gift of blessings forgotten in previous baskets of happiness and joy, lost but never forever regretted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire