OPM Disability Retirement: Which Forms, How to Fill Them Out, and What to Put

Filling out forms is a part of life.  At some stage in our lives, we are required to complete forms.  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 one’s positional duties as a Federal employee (which encompasses the full spectrum of positions, from secretaries, administrative assistants, to scientists, Information Technology Specialists, 1811 Law Enforcement Officers, etc.) or a U.S. Postal worker (including Craft employees, Managers, Postmasters, Supervisors, etc.), preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity.

Thus, the act of “form filling” must be confronted.  On computers, of course, if you have been completing online queries, the “autofill” option may be presented.  But the limitation of such an option, and the unavailability of that choice, should become readily apparent when attempting to complete the various “Standard Forms” required of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For any remaining CSRS employees intending to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, the series embodied under the designation of SF 2801 must be completed, along with the SF 3112 series.  For all of the rest of the Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who came into Federal or Postal Service after around 1985, and who are under FERS, the SF 3107 series must be completed, and as well, the SF 3112 series of standard forms.

Thus has the question, “Which Forms?” been answered.  As for the remaining two questions:  How to fill them out and What to put —  the “how” is, to put it mildly, with care and trepidation; the “what to put” is too complex to elucidate in this forum.  The series of “informational” forms — SF 2801 series for CSRS employees and SF 3107 for FERS employees — are fairly straightforward (e.g., full name, date of birth, Social Security number, agency name and location, military service, etc.).

It all comes back to the SF 3112 series which becomes problematic — for that is where the Federal and Postal employee must “prove” the nexus between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions by which one is prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  For that, the Federal and Postal employee must go “outside” of the boundaries of the forms themselves, and consult documentation obtained from the doctor, and make legal arguments based upon wise counsel and advice.

As with much of life, it is never as easy as a bureaucracy promises; indeed, the complexity of life is in the very bureaucratization of administrative forums.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Problematic Loss of Confidence

Confidence is an ethereal character trait; in some ways, it is self-perpetuating, as success relies upon it, and feeds it, which in turn reinforces any lack thereof.  At once fleeting but full, the loss of it can be devastating.

For some, a mere look of doubt or suspicion from others can undermine the fullness of possession one may have had of it just a moment before; for others, whether lack of competence or never having had any reason for possession of it appears to matter not, and like self-esteem in the generation of modernity and “me”, a complete void of accomplishments seems not to overturn those who accumulate an abundance of it.  But weakness or negation from outside sources can be the final straw in undermining that sensitive sense of self, and a medical condition which attacks the body, mind and psyche of an individual can be devastating.

Thus, when the Federal or Postal employee who has confidently strode throughout a long and satisfying career, whose performance has raised eyebrows of accolades beyond mere efforts of competence, and where performance reviews have always included adjectives and superlatives searched out beyond mere templates previously applied with thoughtless automation, the introduction of a medical condition into the life of such a Federal or Postal employee can be like the Martian Chronicles revealing the strangeness of alien cultures clashing in a battle of titans heard beyond the roar of civilizations long lost and forgotten.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who struggle with this, resist the necessity of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because the disbelief is overwhelming that, somehow, this loss of what was once taken for granted, could possibly be.  But as “possibility” includes the building of concrete structures in thin air, whereas “probability” involves the hard computation of one’s life and “reality-living” in a harsh and uncaring universe, so the Federal or Postal employee must take into account that past foundations of accomplishments may not uphold the confidence once shared and held by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Confidence, indeed, is like the golden dust sprinkled sparingly by the fluttering angels of yesteryear; and today is a dawn of dying expectations, where the harsh realities of a medical condition must be faced with a freshness of purpose, reserved for that fight which may require one’s presence on a day in future pasts, unforseen and as of yet unfought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Ritualistic Behavior

We persuade ourselves that only children play those games; of turning suddenly left, instead of right; of pretending to be asleep, only to unexpectedly open one’s eyes to test the reality of our surroundings; and other discordant acts in an effort to defy the predetermination of fate, as if the karmic principles governing the universe are subject to the vicissitudes of private thoughts.  But the anomaly of the unexpected is that, once a pattern of disjointed behavior itself becomes a monotony of the routine, the corridors of ritualistic behavior become entrenched and often prevents one from taking steps necessary to step outside of the proverbial box.

Conventional thought processes can themselves become ritualistic; thus do we believe that by neglect or avoidance, medical conditions will just “go away”; or that the increasing hostility and initiation of adverse actions by an agency will cease if we just “ignore” them; or if we just continue maintaining a semblance of competency, the incompetents will recognize and acknowledge the superiority of motives, and desist from the constancy of interruptive actions.  Such ritualistic behavior, however, has little to no impact upon the reality of the world, no more than when the child in us attempted to defy fate and the karmic gods which rule the universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the route of exit from the madness of the universe is to 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 plain fact is, no one cares for one’s health or well-being except the person who suffers from the medical condition, as well (one would hope) one’s family and spouse.

Reflection upon the priorities of life must always be reengaged; and continuing onward with vestiges of child-like ritualistic behavior, against all sanity telling us that things will not change despite our best efforts, will only prolong the agony and the angst of life’s unfairness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is available for those Federal or Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and while continuation with one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be a laudatory goal revealing an undying sense of loyalty, it is the dying portion of our better selves which whispers the lie that ritualistic behavior can alter the course of human history within the microcosmic universe of karmic incantations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government: The Run

Stockings and watercolors do it; time, with quietude and solace of a steady march, moving with predictable sequence like the consistency of a drumbeat; and, of course, the rhythm reminiscent of cardiac health, as do joggers and concerned citizens chasing down a purse snatcher to retrieve a possession of identity.  And life, too.

Sometimes, there is a good “run” of something — a lengthy period of calm and productivity, where all of the pistons of a complex and interactive mechanism akin to a turbo engine are firing away in tandem, and life is good, fruitful and positive.  But the inevitability of a breakdown can always be around the proverbial corner; a medical condition, suffered by a Federal or Postal employee, is not merely a stoppage of such a “run”, but can be a disruptive cacophony of ceaseless interruptions, both to career and to personal contentment.

The key is to get beyond, over, or around the obstacle which lands in the middle of one’s pathway for future well-being.  The child who fails to see the watercolors running; the invention of the stockings that never run; the life that seemingly runs smoothly; all, a perspective wrought at a price of neglect or deliberate ruse.  The fact is, life always has interruptions.

A medical condition can be a major one, and when it begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may need to consider an alternate course and begin anew a run of a different sort.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is indeed a change of course.  It involves a complex bureaucratic strategy to get from point A to destination B, and the administrative obstacles are many, but not insurmountable.  And, like the verb itself, it provides many meanings for differing circumstances, but the one and central root of the process involves embracing the paradigm that life is never as easy as one thinks, and like the child who believes that he is the next Picasso in training, the run of the unpredictable always betrays the truth of our condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire