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

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Tone and tenor

In music as well as in grammar, the first word remains somewhat constant, in that it refers to the sound itself – how it sounds, the decibel level, the texture and coherence, etc.  Between the two, it is the tenor that alters, for in music, it refers to the male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto, while in grammar it is the content and substance of that which is said.

Thus, in either manner of usage, whether in music or in grammar, the combination of both is a bifurcated distinctiveness that goes to the duality of the following:  How it is being played or said, as opposed to what is being emitted or posited.  Both in verbal communication, as well as in written delineation and presentation, each are important.  In the former, one can often modulate the first upon the second, and even adapt the second in order to “soften” the first.

Thus, a person might say, “Go take a hike” in an angry, unforgiving manner, and the words spoken are consistent with the tone granted.  Or, one can say it in a joking, soft-spoken manner, and suddenly the tenor of the words take on an entirely new meaning – for, no longer do you actually mean the words themselves, as in “Please go away, I don’t like you and I don’t want to see you”; rather, stated in the second manner, it can simply be a cute retort, a friendly quip or a joking gesture.

In writing, however, one must be quite careful – for the tone of a sentence is encapsulated within the tenor of the written statement; the two, being entangled by the written mode of communicating, can easily be misinterpreted unless carefully crafted.  That is why texting, emailing and other written modes of delivery can be dangerous vehicles easily misunderstood and taken with offensive intent that otherwise was meant in a different manner.

The “tone” of a written sentence, paragraph or page must be intimately woven with the context of the “tenor” presented; and how the reader or recipient reads it, what internal “tone” is ascribed, can be misguiding.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must prepare 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, the tone and tenor of a Federal Disability Retirement packet is important to consider.

Will a somewhat “third-person, objective” persona be assumed?  Will the SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, be presented in a cold, clinical manner, where the tone is set “as if” someone else is describing the personal issues of the medical conditions, as well as their effect upon the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, or will it be more likened to a weeping bundle of hysterical cries begging for approval, or even closer to an angry shout that deafens the ears of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s assigned “specialist”?

Tone and tenor need to be decided upon early on in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and it may well be that consulting with an attorney who specializes in preparing such applications will ensure the proper modulation in both the tone and tenor of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Conspiracy of life

Tabloids lead us to suspect it; odd coincidences force us to confront it; and the amassed aggregate of life experiences allow us to consider seriously the implications of it.  Are there such deliberative interconnections that make seeming chance encounters more than the arbitrary clashes of random events, such that they are planned, coordinated and precipitated by human activity beyond mere statistical anomalies?

If the creation of the natural world can be acceptably explained by evolutionary forces without a grand designer of some relevant intelligence quotient, and if randomness can be explicated by instinctive forces based upon a genetic predisposition for survival, then certainly the conspiracy of life can be readily accepted.

Often, we dismiss and refute sequential events that “could only happen” with some modality of deliberative intent, with a dismissive declaration of, “Naw…it just couldn’t be…”   Yet, we believe in those inane, proverbial truisms, like – “When it rains, it pours”, as events seem to come in bunches, bad luck follows upon acts violating superstitious conduct defying the supernatural, and we still try and avoid making major life decisions when the stars become misaligned during a winter solstice.

And so we remain careful when coming upon the path of a black cat, or refrain from making major life decisions on those Fridays which fall upon an unlucky number; and, beyond, believe that a conspiracy of life may yet manage to subvert, pervert and preemptively undermine the dreams we dream, the fantasies we pursue and the follies we hope for.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 position, it is not a far stretch to conceive of, believe in and otherwise suspect a conspiracy of life – precisely because Federal fiefdoms and Postal power-centers are replete with bands of marauding rogues whose sole purpose in life is to harass, intimidate, make life miserable and force the issue of “who is boss”.

Little people with evil souls tend to congregate in places where the frustrations of a personal life spill over into the professional arena of employment contexts.  Always remember, however, the singular focus in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application:  To have it approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, if you get “drawn in” to the tangents by invitation of the conspiracy of life, you may regret the wayward course and the detour compelled by losing your way, direction and compass-driven focus that should guide you to ignore those unverified and arbitrary chance events as depicted in superimposed photographs besides outlandish editorial exclamations seen and surreptitiously viewed while standing in line at the grocery store.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Observing Dogs

They belie conformity of thought, though they are willing to obey and follow strict adherence to rules and commands; and while “experts” in clothing of meandering letters, capitalized after the patronymic lineage displayed proudly as designators of validity and knowledge, may conclude that they neither smile, nor exhibit greater intelligence than primates deemed closer to our ancestral genetic heritage, what constitutes a test of possessing such a quotient is often irrelevant to defining the species.

They can defy; they can doubt, and be suspicious; anticipate by mere thought or look; and know the scent of danger from miles afar, long before any human capacity to fathom such instinctive acuity.  We think we are the great observatories of behavior and time; but dogs can as well decipher with watchful eyes, and smell the aroma of turmoil and disease, oftentimes long before a diagnostic tool can determine the course of future treatment.

We can learn much from observing dogs; for, while we may marvel at the obedience displayed, we mistake such adherence to commands as mere acts of automatons, as opposed to the want to please and the love they possess.  And how much of one’s life is characterized by a need to please, even when it is refused and countermanded with cruelty and crass contempt?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who continue to remain in a Federal or Postal job, despite all indicators from their bodies, minds and spirits to leave for the sake of health, is it any different than the observations gleaned from dogs who obey despite the cruelty of a contemptible master?

It is like the famous quote from Hemingway, that in modern warfare, a man will “die like a dog for no good reason.”  Sometimes, obedience and adherence is nothing more complicated than a desire to please, and to “stay the course” because no other way is known or shown.

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, is no different than the curse of the cur; and while we may applaud our own superiority by making grand conclusions based upon observing dogs and other creatures, the wonder of it is what those observing dogs must consider of our own plight, as fellow mongrels in a universe replete with stupid cruelty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Hoarding Hordes

As homophones, they are often words confused and confusing, both in usage as well as in application; but it is the perspective by which they are utilized which refines the proper insertion into a grammatically correct context.  Thus, the former pertains to volume of items in vast storage supplies, collected for purposes often beyond want or need; while the latter is attributable to the invasion of foreign forces in greater numbers, in overwhelming tides of armies by invasion.

History is replete with instances of both, and the present day migration and waves of immigrants world-wide is a testament to that.  Hoarding defines an affirmative intent, and the will to refuse to get rid of or let go, while the entrance of hordes of people or other entities may have nothing to do with control or affirmative actions.  Where one is the gatekeeper, it is often important to recognize the elements which one has any control over, as opposed to those which are beyond such capacity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, it is important to not confuse homophones and to conceptually distinguish between similar entities, whether by sound, identity or some other means.

Hoarding hurts, tragedies, defeats and setbacks, is something which the Federal or Postal employee has some semblance of control over; the hordes of aggressive actions and behaviors initiated by one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service upon the Federal or Postal employee in order to harass, intimidate or force a resignation upon, is beyond the borders of control (although they may certainly contribute to the anxiety felt, the anger festering, and the deep depression settling).

Recognizing the homophones of life is an important tool in maintaining clarity of purpose and acuity of determined planning for the future, and at some point, it is necessary to realize that the hordes of comity are nowhere to be found, and preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may first require getting rid of the hoards of emotional baggage accumulated over the past years of insensitive encounters.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire