OPM Disability Retirement: The Process of Decision-Making

As has been previously stated in repetitive fashion, 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 understand and acknowledge the duality of the process — for it is a process, as opposed to a singular event, both as an administrative legal issue, as well as for the individual Federal or Postal employee in a personal sense.

To clarify:  As an administrative issue, it is a process which involves multiples stages of argumentation (potentially).  Yes, it would be nice if every case was decided with an approval at the First/Initial Stage of the administrative process; however, there is a purpose and a reason why there are multiple stages.  It is precisely because it was anticipated that there would be denials and appeals to such denials, that an administrative procedure for multiple stages of review and further submissions of evidence and arguments was constructed and implemented.  It is not an entitlement pursuant to a fixed date, a fixed age, or a triggering event.  Rather, it is an administrative process which must be proven, applied for, and affirmatively shown that one is eligible.

From the personal perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, the decision of “when” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is also a process, as opposed to a singular event.  There are, of course, cases where a traumatic injury or life-changing accident occurred, and such an event is the triggering moment for filing.  But for most Federal or Postal employees, the medical condition suffered is a progressively deteriorating process, and it is often difficult to determine a “date certain” where one can point to on a calendar and state, this is the day and hour when I cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of my job.

This is why there is an inherent complexity to a process, as opposed to a singular event of certitude — for, it is always the unknown and the uncertain which gives rise to the anxieties of life, and a process is indeed a period of the unknown, and a chasm of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: Last Minute Filings

Waiting until the very last moment in order to file a Federal Disability Retirement application is often an inevitable reflection of the medical condition itself; whether because the thought and act of filing contributes to the exacerbation of one’s condition, or because the severity of the medical condition impedes and presents an obstacle to proceeding, are somewhat irrelevant in the end; whichever may be the case, the fact is that the admixture of medical conditions, Statute of Limitations, and the need to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, do not cohere well, and something inevitably suffers as a consequence.  But the law is impervious to excuses of filing inaction (with some narrow and specific exceptions); and society’s view is that a limit must be imposed at some point.

Thus:  For filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must file the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits within one (1) year of being separated from Federal service.  Waiting until the last minute can have some inherent and deleterious consequences, and failing to be attuned to them can come back to haunt one at a later date.  For example: Since one has waited until the last moment to file, once a Federal Disability Retirement application is filed, there will be little to no chance of amending the application (note:  “amending” is not synonymous with “supplementing“), as one no longer has the luxury of withdrawing a Federal Disability Retirement application, amending, and refiling; for, in the meantime, the Statute of Limitations has presumably come and passed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and waiting until the last possible moment is, unfortunately, a reality reflecting the often anxiety-filled state of affairs, both for the individual and the pressure to file on time; with that being said, it is nevertheless a reality which must be faced, and handled in the best possible manner under the given circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Balance Tipper

Life requires a series of fine tuning and adjustments; of the balance between work and leisure; when children arrive, of determining priorities, of managing time and recognizing that the things which seemed important to us previously, need to take on a lesser role; of allowing for enough flexibility in order to maintain an equilibrium within a fast-paced world.  But the substantive content which requires controlling the balance of one’s life is not always that which is asked for; it is only the choosing in order to maintain the balance, which is within one’s control.

Sometimes, such choices involve an admixture of good and bad; other times, the options may be severely limited to only negative ones.  For Federal and Postal employees who are beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, there comes a critical point of making hard choices.

The balance has already been influenced negatively; the greater amount of one’s time is already being spent on managing the imposition of one’s medical condition; whether in avoiding pain, in going to doctor’s visits, in sleeping excessively, etc.  The proper balance between X and Y has already been “tipped” because of one’s medical condition.

Some other avenue of choice must be gotten, in order to re-balance the content of one’s life.

For Federal and Postal Workers, there is always the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  It is the ultimate balance tipper — in order to allow for the Federal or Postal Worker to have the restorative quietude to attend to one’s medical condition, and yet have a semblance of economic security in order to survive.

Federal Disability Retirement — a balance tipper in a world which often imposes upon our lives, where choices are limited and options narrow the substantive content of what can be done in order to maintain the proper balance in our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Need versus Necessity

Needs can be variegated, and can be satisfied partially, delayed for further fulfillment at a later time and event, or controlled by sheer will and self-discipline.  They can also depend upon the particular individual, circumstance and personality and/or character of an individual.  They can vary based upon the subjective perspectives of an individual.

Necessity, by contrast, implies an objective determination of a mandated requirement.  It is not to be questioned; it is unequivocally “needed”.  As a prerequisite for completion of a linear production line, a necessary cause, while perhaps insufficient in and of itself to satisfy the entirety of the sequence of events, is nevertheless a required X in order to even consider the completion to Y.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that the medical illness or injury impacts one’s performance, for a time — undetermined, perhaps, in the beginning of the process — Federal Disability Retirement benefits, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may merely be viewed as a need, and therefore one which may be delayed, considered, and perhaps looked upon merely as one option among others.

As the medical condition continues to progressively deteriorate, it is the seriousness of the nexus between the medical condition and one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, which ultimately begins to determine the need and transform it into a necessity.

Whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee must make that time of determination — that personal choice — of when the transformation occurs; but because Federal Disability Retirement takes on average 8 – 10 months to obtain, from the start of the process to its conclusion, it is well not to wait for the transformation from “need” to “necessity”, to be further characterized as the third step in the evolution — one of critical crisis.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Linguistic World of Mirrors

Mirrors are peculiar human inventions; they play to the vanity of men and women, while at the same time revealing the cosmetic warts and boils which remain unhidden and starkly open on display.  But linguistic mirrors take away that disadvantage of visual perception; instead, through the vehicle of words, one can create reflections of a fantasy world of make-believe, without ever having to confront the ugliness of reality.  Thus can we go through the day by surrounding ourselves with platitudes:  “It’s not that bad”; “You look good, today”; “Things will get better tomorrow”.  Linguistic mirrors avoid the direct reality of one’s reflection, and instead create a mythical world of statements bouncing back to the bearer of siphoned and filtered news.

Further, the one who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men can continue to live in a surreal world of compliments and make-believe for countless years, without suffering the consequences of objective reality.  And we can do that with medical conditions, too.  One can survive through years and years by avoiding the signals of progressive physical and cognitive deterioration.

Federal and Postal workers are quite good at this game of mirrors — that is why it often comes to a crisis point before Federal and Postal Workers consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; and that is why Supervisors and Managers are surprised; and, moreover, at least one of the reasons why performance appraisals reflect “outstanding” throughout the years of pain and debilitating conditions.  But in the end, mirrors fade, crack, and reveal the ugliness beneath the cosmetic surface; and even words begin to fail.  Pain in the human body is an innate alert system that is fail-safe, and when the medical condition begins to manifest itself to the point where one can no longer mask the symptoms, the seriousness of it all becomes apparent.

Federal Disability Retirement is at least an option for Federal and Postal Workers to consider, in order to be released from the “true picture” of one’s conditions.  There are legal criteria to meet; medical statements to obtain; narrative statements to write; but all in good time, as we see the reflection in the mirror, and apply more cosmetic means to hide the reality of our true condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Early Decisions, Later Consequences

Decisions engaged in early on, reap later consequences which often reflect the choices made in those initial steps.  This is true both in life generally, and in particularized ventures, endeavors and vocations.

That is precisely why we tell our kids to study hard; that the key to success is preparation and practice; that, on performance day, the ease with which the presentation appears reflects the extent of the behind-the-scenes effort which went into the show.

Such admonitions apply to every project we undertake, and it is no less different when one is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, for the Federal and Postal Worker.  The logical sequence of how a person puts together a Federal Disability Retirement application will be reflected both in the final submission, as well as in the results obtained.

Now, there may well be cases which are poorly compiled, yet approved without a glitch; just as there will be cases which are irrefutably argued, yet denied by the Federal Bureaucracy identified as OPM.

However, another adage which is also true, is that “the exception does not make the rule”.

What words are chosen; how the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A is formulated; what medical evidence is presented; which legal arguments are promulgated and highlighted; what collateral issues are preemptively brought up; collectively, they “matter”.

What we do today determines the course of tomorrow; what tomorrow brings, will reflect upon who we are today.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire