FERS Disability Retirement: Square peg in a round hole

You know the old adage; it is when a person is trying to do something that is frustratingly obvious that it cannot be done, yet persists in it despite the reality of resistance.  The truism itself by necessity requires one of three courses of action: You either cut off the edges of the square peg in order to shape it into a form where it can fit into the hole, or you smooth the edges of the circular hole and widen it such that the square peg can fit into it.  The third option is: You continue to try and force the issue.  And the fourth way is: You give up and walk away with obvious discontentment and frustration.

You want to remain friends with X, but X is a cad and no matter how much you try to change X, X will not change; and so you try and ignore X’s idiosyncrasies in an effort to extend the friendship, and remain frustrated at your attempts to change reality.  Or, you try and please everyone but end up angering all — you cannot shape the square peg or widen the hole, because there is simply too much resistance from both to alter its shape, size or essence of being.

Reality has its limits; that’s the beauty of the life we lead: virtual reality can be altered with a click of the button, but the reality of the real is that the quirkiness of life defies fullness of understanding, and the mystery of each individual denies total control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who continue to struggle with a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal job, the choices are clear: Stay and suffer; walk away and lose everything; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. In such a case, this third option is tantamount to shaving the edges of the square peg in order to fit into the hole, as opposed to trying to stay when it is no longer medically advisable, or to walk away and abandon everything in frustration.

Old adages remain relevant for a reason; the truth behind the words is retained and, indeed, there is still a recognition that truth prevails.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Fear and trepidation

The first may lead to the second; the second, exacerbating the first, may establish a vicious cycle where fear is feeding the trepidation and the trepidation continues to exponentially increase the fear because non-action only expands the tension that grows without containment or restriction.  It is, indeed, a conundrum of paralysis; and the will to change, alter or modify necessitates action, but action cannot come before fear is vanquished and trepidation is overcome.

This is a dysfunctional society.  There is a lack of stability, and perhaps the instability is as a result of the greater freedoms and liberties enjoyed.  But where a culture and society are founded upon unfettered liberty, there must be some internal mechanism that contains the extent of choices offered and the pathways opened.

Once upon a time, ice cream flavors numbered within the fingers of a hand, or perhaps both hands; but once the Pandora’s box of alternatives was unleashed, the paralysis that follows betrays the fragile nature of a human psyche.  Fear and trepidation go hand-in-hand precisely because it is an insular, self-contained cycle of self-immolation feeding each upon the other.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her job, it is understandable that fear and trepidation continue to paralyze any movement away from a career that has been invested with such high costs.  The choices here, however, are limited. You can stay put; walk away and abandon; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is the last option which is normally the most viable, the most vibrant and the one to pursue because it protects and preserves the future security of one’s livelihood.

Do not let fear and trepidation paralyze and overwhelm; a consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is often the first best step in moving forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The Wonder of Functioning

The complexity of the human condition makes one wonder about the capacity, endurance and ability of this animal who has created such a dysfunctional, technologically sophisticated universe.

From genetic predetermination of uncontrollable susceptibility to behavior patterns, diseases and addictive personalities, to environmental factors which condition and influence; what we eat; the wide spectrum of tolerance (or intolerance) to stress; medication regimens which would otherwise knock out an elephant, to modern prosthetic devices which makes the Six Million Dollar Man of the 70s a mere skeleton of technological innovation; and where this post-information age of constant data and stimuli bombardment is a never-ending stream of stresses; through it all, it is a wonder that Man is able to function at all.

But functionality is a paradigm which possesses subtle distinctions despite the concealment of appearances; it is always the irony of life that, after the havoc of a murderous rampage, the little old lady next door always responds to the query of the reporter and says, “And he was such a nice young man…”

The veil of appearances; the brave face we put on; like the Noh Mask which alters expression depending upon the angle, perspective, light and vantage point of the viewer, the inner reality of turmoil in every man passing on a single street, betrays the reality of cosmetic surfaces.  And, too, that is the problem for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who wants to — nay, needs to — file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Through it all, the “others” have been playing the same “game” of enduring through concealment.  Bizarre behaviors sometimes betray; or, perhaps, it is some rumors of over-drinking; or the unexplained and unexplainable cuts and the bald spot from pulling and scratching; whatever the evidence, they can all be glossed over with a smile and a furtive glance to other and parallel universes.  But for the Federal and Postal worker who truly suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time has come when wonderment and reality clash in an intergalactic battle of proportionality and justice, where mind, body and spirit can no longer lie to the inner soul of one’s essence.  For, ultimately, it is that “soul” which hurts and suffers.

When we lie to others, it merely allows for the medical condition to fester and progressively deteriorate; when we lie to ourselves, it damages and destroys the inner character of one’s essence.  That is the epic tragedy of reality in a universe concocted with virtual devices, and therein lies the true lie of that which we desire, and it is indeed a wonder that we are able to function at all in that unending maze of cacophonous laughter we deem to be the madness of society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire