Federal OPM Disability Retirement: The Mistakes People Make

The greatest mistake of all is to “assume” X or to “presume” Y; and this is not uncommon, precisely because the wording of the Standard Forms as presented on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), which is the central basis upon which a Federal Disability Retirement application is formulated (both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees), makes it appear as if obtaining an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is merely a pro forma activity.  

And, indeed, many have informed the undersigned attorney that Human Resources’ personnel at various agencies will understate the scrutiny which OPM will apply in reviewing and evaluating a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

The problem with H.R. Personnel dismissing the arduous and meticulously scrutinizing administrative process as applied by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is that such underestimation is barely acknowledged when a denial is received from OPM on a Federal Disability Retirement case.  All of a sudden, the Human Resources personnel put up their hands and state, “It’s not our responsibility”, when all along they had been insisting as to the ease of the process.

No, it is true — it is not the ultimate responsibility of the Agency or its Human Resources Department.  Yes, it is also true that any application for a Federal Disability Retirement is the responsibility of the individual applicant.  As such, because responsibility falls squarely (why, by the way, is it “squarely“, as opposed to “triangularly” or “circularly”?) upon the Federal or Postal Worker, it behooves one to take the entire process seriously, and to invest the proper time, attention, and expenses needed, to do it right “the first time”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Perspectives

From the perspective of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, once the information is received that the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal employee has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — or is contemplating filing — such an individual is seen merely as an obstacle to a positional slot on a piece of paper:  presently taking up space, but no longer a vital piece, leaving aside a piece of any kind, to the organization.

Perspectives are peculiar animals:  they formulate from a specific angle and motive, and rarely attempt to empathize from a differing aspect.  Thus, whether a Supervisor has been supportive for many years often becomes an irrelevancy when a Federal or Postal employee informs that Supervisor that he or she is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Such a supportive attitude and approach was based upon a perspective involving the employee’s long-term involvement with the organization; such a perspective can quickly and irreversibly change once information is received that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer a part of that long-term goal.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will be informed of such filing; the question of the appropriateness of informing the agency prior to the actual filing, is a discretionary issue with the employee.  Normally, unless a compelling reason exists, inasmuch as the Federal agency will be informed upon the actual filing, anyway, there is little reason to “pre-inform” the agency.

Perspectives change; changed perspectives can result in sudden actions which may be detrimental; anticipating a changed perspective can be a tenuous endeavor, especially when it comes to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire