Medical Annuity after a Disability in the Federal Workplace: Formulaic writings

It is both of predictability and boredom that we seek when enjoying such genres of form and content – of the “formula” in a who-dunit, or a love story that brings together two unlikely individuals in their awkwardness and geekiness, but somehow overcomes the considerable odds and obstacles placed in their way (and we don’t ask, in a 2-hours snippet, how can so much happen to two people when not even a smidgeon of such events were faced in our entire lifetimes?) and ending with an orchestral crescendo that brings tears that raises handkerchiefs throughout the audience, which we all quickly stuff into our back pockets with embarrassing quickness when the lights are turned on.

But that formulas could be applied to real life, and not just in presentations that appear slick, without error and marketed with such efficiency that we think it is just that the “other person” is naturally good at it, and we are not.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  Formulaic writings, formulaic plays, formulaic movies, formulaic – lives?

Perhaps it exists in the fictional world of fairytales and corporate pathways where certain individuals – whether because of the family name, the tradition of old wealth, or those “connections” that the inner circle depends upon for their very survival – are groomed towards reaching the top in some predetermined formulaic manner.  But for the rest of us, our lives are more likened to the undisciplined ocean where storms come at unexpected and unpredictable moments; strong surges and wind currents destroy that which we have so carefully built; and our ship’s rudder suddenly fails to guide or lead us towards our intended destinations.

There is no formula.  We are left without a map, less a compass, and more and more without the guidance of our parents or grandparents because, they, too, have become as clueless as the rest of society.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that a medical condition has interrupted their career goals, hope for the future and dreams of security – preparing 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, may become a necessity.

Then, when one researches and looks at SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, one realizes that the questions posed are the same posed to everyone who files – and so the information requested is based upon some “formulaic” approach from the agency’s side of things; but what about the individual Federal or Postal employee’s side of it?  Is there, also, a “formulaic” approach to winning a Federal Disability Retirement case?

Like everything else in life, it always seems as if the slick advantage that the large bureaucracy possesses is overwhelmingly in favor of going against the Federal or Postal employee.  However, there is, indeed, a “formulaic” response – and that is the “laws” that govern Federal Disability Retirement.

Life in general may not always have a winning formulaic approach, but in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to at least garner the formulaic support of the laws that protect and preserve.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Application Forms: SF 3112A and the Pathway through the Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy and creativity are conceptual opposites, rarely spoken in the same sentence, and never compatible, representing always a contrast in self-contradictory terms. For, it is the former which implies the negation of the latter, or the stamping out of any hint of the former’s influence upon the latter.  Bureaucracy refers to the mundane, of repetitive standardization and compliance with mediocrity; whereas the latter embraces the unconventional and the need to push the boundaries of acceptable norms.

When the two meet, it generally means a clash of sorts, and the encounter can rarely accommodate one another.  Further, one assumes that factual implantations implicate negation of creative allowances; and so one responds accordingly when voluntarily engaging in a bureaucratic process.

Standard Forms tend to prove the point.  The limited space presented; the manner of the questions posed; the real-world questions requested to be answered; all tend towards negation of any creative inclination. But creativity can imply something beyond mere fictional attestation. Rather, it can be the compiling of a response, but with words and choice of adjectives which enhance and enliven. Coherency and cogency are in themselves creative repositories, and placed within the confines of strictures of a bureaucracy, can awaken the souls of clerks and administrative specialists who pride themselves on the efficiency of mechanical laborings.

The Applicant’s Statement of Disability OPM SF 3112A, where the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, asks specific questions concerning one’s disability or medical condition, and its impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, as well as the impact upon one’s personal life and capacity for daily living. SF 3112A is, in many ways, the key and pathway through the passageway of the greater bureaucracy.

Whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker conforms to the Standard Form 3112 itself, is the question of how one approaches success or failure.  While the questions posed may seem straightforward, the creativity behind the questions reveal a silence muted by the complexity of the statutory history, the background of multiple case-law opinions and Merit Systems Protection Board findings, which have over the years expanded upon and creatively interpreted the limits of each query posed.

SF 3112A, for the Federal employee or Postal worker who is making a Federal Disability Retirement claim, is the pathway of creativity through the bureaucracy of the benefit known as Federal Disability Retirement. It is where the meeting, or the clash, between bureaucracy and creativity occurs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Genre of the Narrative

Different genres purportedly possess internal mechanisms and tools of the trade which distinguish one art form from another; thus, fiction writers use various forms which, in the eyes of the “professionals” will elicit oohs and aahs regarding the technical beauty which heightens the art form; biographers invoke poetic license in recreating scenes and human expressions and emotions from an omniscient vantage point; then, there is the admixture of truth and fiction, of “true crime novels” which are allegedly “true” but in novelistic form, easily readable, commercially successful, and universally enjoyed — but in essence, it all comes down to good writing.  

Readability is the whole point of writing.  Yes, to remain true to the art form is important to the genre; and, yes, to be technically proficient in utilizing the mechanisms and tools of the trade engenders professional acclaim and self-aggrandizement.  But ultimately it all comes down to the ability and capacity to express what one wants to, and needs to, in order to convey to the audience the desired effect.  

So it is in Federal Disability Retirement.  For, as in the various forms of literary genres, the narrative form must be engaging, readable, succinct and streamlined.  Salacious details need not be included to get the attention of the OPM case worker.  

A FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement narrative in the form of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability should be the penultimate form of the art:  part biography, part non-fiction, part logical analysis, and certainly analogous to the true crime fiction — that is the narrative which will draw the OPM case worker into the world of the Federal or Postal Worker who is trying to persuade a bureaucrat to have a spoonful of sympathy in exchange for a cup of truth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability

Each genre retains its own internal customs, traditions and acceptable characteristics which, in their idiosyncratic ways, defines for itself why the specific genre is distinctively different from another.  Content, length, volume, and literary mechanisms may be acceptable within certain defined parameters; a recent biography by Edmund Morris attempted to utilize a literary artifice which, by most accounts, was not well-received within the genre.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must first and foremost understand the “audience” to which the Federal or Postal employee is “writing” to, and thereby custom-fit the “genre” of the writing.  

The reviewing clerks at the Office of Personnel Management have dozens, if not hundreds, of files from Federal and Postal employees.  At the First and Reconsideration stages of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, the reviewing clerks must sift through the case-file by analyzing the medical documentation submitted, and most importantly, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability as reflected in SF 3112A.  A Dickens-like autobiographical background is not needed, and will likely be ignored.  A mere listing of the medical conditions, while short and to the point, will likely be insufficient.  Thus, the old adage:  neither too hot, nor too cold.  Somewhere in the middle is the proper “genre” to apply.  

As for the specific characteristics of an effective submission, a general comment:  Stay on point; connect the dots between one’s medical conditions and the positional requirements; and don’t bore the reader.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Effective Repetition

Repetition is an effective tool in any writing forum, if the audience to whom such repetitive tools are directed, is taken into account.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the repetitive restatement of specific medical conditions, the symptoms exhibited and manifested over the years, the impact upon certain elements of both one’s positional duties and daily living activities from the medical conditions themselves, etc. — all can be effectively stated throughout the Federal Disability Retirement application itself.

For, repetition can also produce the appearance of consistency; and when the same or similar phrase or concept is repeated in different documents — in the applicant’s statement of disability; in the doctor’s narrative reports; in the Supervisor’s Statement; in the medical office notes and progress notes; such repetition reveals a consistency of terms, which reflects a reality of chronicity as to the state, severity, and nature of the medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, which is what must be proven in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

That is why the order and sequence of what to write, when to write it, and what to wait for before writing one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) is important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Impersonal File

Creative writing courses almost always fall back on an old adage:  Show, don’t tell.  Such a simple advisory truism, while trite and overly simplistic, applies in so many aspects of what constitutes effective writing — whether for fiction, journalism (is there a difference between the two?), or in Federal Disability Retirement (the latter, of course, is a completely separate genre from the former two).

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to apply all of the learned, effective tools of writing, in confronting every stage, every administrative hurdle, every step in the bureaucratic, administrative process.

In approaching a treating doctor:  remember that doctors are quite effective in compartmentalizing patients — separating a patient emotionally from the patient’s file; the cold, clinical approach of treating a medical condition without becoming “personally involved” is what a doctor is trained to do.  Thus, in obtaining the support of one’s treating doctor, it is important to break that silent wall of bifurcation, and often, simply sitting down with the doctor and explaining, talking, “personalizing”, is an important first step.

Another example:  the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  That statement is the window to OPM’s soul.  It is the means and vehicle by which and through which one persuades the Case Worker at OPM that one has a medical condition which prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job.

Writing it well is the route to success.  Showing, and not merely telling.  Old adages tend to live on forever, because the truth inherent and embedded in them continue to thrive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Showtime

In old literary adage, one should always write in a manner which “shows” to the reader an event that is happening, a conflict unfolding, or a misery felt.  Entertainers never declare to one another, “It is Tell-time”.  Instead, we are all familiar with the singular phrase, “Showtime”.  For, one can “tell” a story, state facts, convey issues, etc., but the most effective tool in evoking empathy, sympathy and understanding from the reader, the recipient or the audience, is to “show” what is occurring.

Such conceptual efficacy also applies in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  It is interesting how a focal point of an endeavor often calls for utilization of tools outside of the arena of specialty demanded; thus, it is not so much knowing administrative law which is necessary to prepare an effective narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A, both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees) — rather, it is the ability to engage in effective narrative prose.

The common literary refrains of repetitiveness, of descriptive word-usage, of choosing adjectives which flow and yet accurately describe the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s Federal or Postal job — these are all important in compiling an effective narrative of one’s medical condition and how it impacts upon one’s ability to perform one’s job.

While the doctor may present your case in a distant, clinical manner, the applicant himself/herself must evoke some semblance of understanding from the Claims Representative at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Indeed, it is “Showtime”, but the showing must be accomplished in words, and the time to touch upon is the present moment, encapsulated in time and the narrative prose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire