OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Twilight’s Landing

Sleep is often the category of escape; restorative sleep, a palliative prescription for a medical condition.  Upon closing one’s eyelids, the images which pervade from the day’s stimuli slowly recede as the dark chasm of one’s own consciousness begins to fade, and sleep begins to overtake, leading us into that shadow of twilight’s landing.

It is when chronic pain, discomfort, and the gnawing neurons which fail to relax but continue to send signals of dismay and distress, that the world of wakefulness and the dawn of sleep fail to switch off; or the continuing anxiety, depression or panic attacks control and jolt one into the awareness of darkness.  Medical conditions have an impact not only upon the daytime soul, but in the sleeplessness of non-sleep as well.

For Federal and Postal workers who are formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application and preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A, one aspect of the descriptive narrative which is often overlooked, both by the doctor as well as the Federal or Postal applicant, is the role that profound fatigue plays upon performing the essential elements of one’s job.  While often implicitly stated or otherwise inferentially contained, explicit extrapolation is important in order to convey all of the elements of one’s medical condition and their impact upon the Federal or Postal employee’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Perhaps one was reprimanded or suspended for “sleeping on the job”.  Was it mere laziness, or was the underlying medical condition the intermediate cause of an act or event otherwise seen as an insubordinate statement of defiance?  Reasons and rationales provided make all the difference in this very human universe of language games and counter-games.  For, in order to effectively submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the important thing is to make sure and sufficiently describe and delineate the primary and secondary causes of one’s underlying medical conditions. This includes the inability to have restorative sleep, the profound and intractable fatigue one experiences, impacting upon one’s daily cognitive functions, etc.

Otherwise, the medical conditions are not adequately conveyed, and when one goes back to sleep in attempting to reach that twilight’s landing, the difficulties of the world will be magnified by another potential problem — a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A Day Does Not a Life Make, Nor a Decade

The tragedy of extinguishment is the failure to recognize future potentiality.  We often gauge the value of a lifetime based upon the quality of any given day.  Yet, what happens in an arbitrary period of a life, whether viewed randomly on a day, or even assessed and evaluated over a decade, will rarely reflect the comparative worth of a lifetime as analyzed on a linear continuum.

Youth is a wasted period of emergence; middle-age is often a reflection upon that wasteland of remorse; and old age brings physical and cognitive infirmities which engage in fruitless efforts of counting the remaining days.  And so does a circularity of the absurd prevail upon us.

Medical conditions merely exacerbate and are an unwelcome source of further despair.  When a medical condition impacts upon one’s “quality” of life, whether upon the ability to perform one’s positional duties

as in the Federal sector, or debilitates and prevents the physical capacity, such a condition magnifies in exponential despair the devaluing of the human condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a way of countering the valuation of a lifetime of contributions based upon a given day of despair.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, whether intentionally or unwittingly, will make disparaging judgments upon the worth of an individual once a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  But such valuations are based upon pure ignorance of witless magnitude.

For every Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, judgment on any given day does not a life make, and indeed, nor does even a decade declare the true value and worth of a person.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Self-predication

Some people are uncomfortable in doing it; others relish the repetitive self-reference, enjoying the first-person attribution and the incessant pronouncement of the personal pronoun, the centrality of dramatic characterization every time the “I” is inserted; throughout, everyone recognizes that the identification of the “I” can never be fully expunged despite a heightened level of modesty or humility.

There is an artfulness to speaking about one’s self while at the same time making it appear as an objectification of the referential focus.  Talking about oneself; constantly inserting the self-attribution throughout a narrative; dominating every element of a conversation with self referential accolades; these can all be overwhelming, leaving aside the issue of being irritating.  But in some circumstances, such self attribution cannot be avoided.  There are times when we must talk about ourselves, but the manner of how it is done can be the difference between repetitive boredom and referential relevance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must 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 requirement to prepare, formulate and file one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A is something which must accompany every Federal Disability Retirement application. That is where one tells one’s “story” about the medical condition, the impact upon the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and upon other and personal aspects of living.  Of course, self-reference and attribution of the personal pronoun must be used; but it is also a time and place where a prevailing sense of objectivity should be garnered, and where peripheral irrelevancies should be strictly limited and contained.

Concise brevity should guide one; reference to outside sources and medical evidence should be encapsulated; the story of centrality should be about the impact upon the personal “I”; and yet, throughout, the truth of the narrative should come out such that self-predication does not constitute self-promotion with an ulterior motive, but rather, that the universe of living beings has for a brief moment in time, allowed the spotlight of significance upon a singular entity who has dedicated him/herself to the mission of an agency, but where unforeseen circumstances of life beyond one’s control has necessitated the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Hostile Work Environment and the Centrality of the Medical Condition in a Government Employee Retirement Claim

Pithy quotes are replete throughout advisory or “self-help” books; it is a cottage industry involving coming up with linguistically sticky statements, like post-its tacked on to our sleeves in order to remind us of daily living tools to carry.  “Keeping the main thing the main thing” is one such quote, and numerous similar mutations, which remind us that prioritization of concepts, in any endeavor, is important to keep in mind, and to not allow for peripheral concerns to overwhelm and dominate.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers intending on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the centrality of the medical condition should always be paramount, penultimate, and properly placed atop the prioritized priority list of planned penmanship (such early morning alliteration is indeed a challenge).

This is normally not a concern; for, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, suffers from a medical condition, which is the primary basis for which such a life changing event must be engaged.  But in the course of encountering the adversarial administrative process — of the agency, the supervisor, coworkers, the H.R. Department, and in the end, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — it is easy to become sidetracked with issues of a hostile work environment, of harassment, increasing disciplinary measures, suspensions, initiation of a PIP, etc., and to forget that the centrality of the medical condition should be the guiding principle and light which drives the engine of success or leads to the drone of failure.

Getting sidetracked with peripheral issues remains the singular and problematic course of careening causal catastrophes; it is, as stated at the outset, the centrality of the medical condition which needs to be placed at the forefront, the mid-section, and the conclusory compendium of all carefully calibrated cases in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire