Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The Time to Decide

The process of decision-making comes in all forms: Of procrastination until one is forced into making one; of deliberative thoughtfulness until all logical possibilities are exhaustively analyzed and a default judgment is entered through rational elimination of available options; of basing it all upon an “instinct” or a desire; of randomly choosing based upon the belief that — as the universe itself is arbitrary and capricious, so should all matters be decided in a parallel fashion; of considering the alternatives and eliminating them based upon a gut-feeling; and multiple other nonconformist manners, often combining a multitude of various methodologies — if in fact one can even refer to “madness” as a method.

Regardless — whether of one method or another — there comes a “time” to decide, and that time is often relevant based upon additional factors to take into consideration: Others are dependent upon your decision; there is a time-limit on making a decision; certain contingencies have occurred which require a decision to be made; or, to simply let outside circumstances dictate the decision by deciding to engage in the act of a non-decision.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are struggling with the decision of whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of “timing” is often decided by the extent and severity of the ongoing medical condition itself.  The anomaly of when is the “right time” is often offset by circumstances beyond one’s control: of actions perpetrated by the Agency; of the worsening of one’s medical condition; of the exhaustion of FMLA, SL and AL and the denial of extending one’s LWOP status; and the combination of any or all of the complex interaction of pressures and stresses which impact perfect timing.

Time is an artifice of relative events; often, there is no such thing as “perfect timing”; but what we do know is that there is a time to decide, and that time is when a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Fundamentals

What does it mean when a person says, “The fundamentals remain sound”?  Is it one of those “throw-away” lines which makes one sound intelligent, but upon closer inspection, means very little?  Sort of like the misuse of the double-negative that was popularly in use, where people say, “irregardless” of this or that?

Fundamentals are important to every successful endeavor, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the “fundamentals” which must never be overlooked, but rather, to be focused upon, tweaked, considered carefully and crafted with greater perfection.

Unfortunately, many people who prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, believe (erroneously) that the mere fact that one has a “serious” medical condition is enough to satisfy the eligibility criteria for an approval from OPM.  Always remember that there is a vast difference, with a “real” distinction, between “having” a medical condition and “proving” that the medical condition one has prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

It is very easy to focus upon one’s pain, anguish and despair in dealing with a medical condition, and forget that an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is by necessity a “paper presentation” to an unknown, faceless person lost within a vast bureaucracy in Boyers, Pennsylvania, and in the process to neglect the “fundamentals” in preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

When the fundamentals are sound, the rest of it is sound; and though such “sayings” may often be thrown about without much thought put into it, it is the soundness of the fundamentals that will prove to be the effective application that gets a First-Stage approval in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Higher and lesser standards

Does anyone ever go into something, engage an activity, begin a project or initiate a hobby thinking that a “lesser standard” would be acceptable?  Or, is the “higher standard” always the option preferred? — and if we fall somewhat short of the goal intended, isn’t it better to strive towards that height of vaunted “unreachable-ness” like the lesser angels who try and climb up the ladder to heaven but fall short because of the misgivings of sins committed or blemishes of imperfections left unchanged?

One can always argue, of course, that all standards are somewhat “arbitrary”, and perhaps they are to the extent that we can always “do better”, and the self-satisfaction of reaching the pinnacle of any standard set is merely to realize that there can always be another step to take, a further goalpost to conquer, and a next and higher challenge to face.  To begin with a lesser standard is to foretell defeat before a journey is begun; whereas, to demand an unreachable standard is to despair of an idealism that cannot be fathomed.  What, then, is the “proper” standard to set?

To set it too low is to achieve mere mediocrity; to preface a too-high-a-standard is to defeat one’s advocacy before efficacy can be tested.

We, none of us, want to begin a journey with a defeatist mentality, and it is the setting of a standard — however low or high — that often determines the success or failure of any endeavor.  It is only when we “know” that a self-set standard will never be reached, cannot be attained and will never be near to the heart of our wishes and desires, that then we realize the utter futility of our own efforts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have set a high standard in their careers and employment goals, it is a difficult road to take, both mentally and/or physically, to realize and come to the conclusion that one’s professional standards can no longer be met because of a medical condition that impedes, precludes and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

No one ever sets out to reduce the standards of a life’s goal, but when outside forces such as a medical condition impact upon the standards set, the choice is to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Federal and Postal employees have always set high standards for their work ethic. Sometimes, however, it is not the higher standard that defeats, but the lesser standards of reality — such as a medical condition that comes about unexpectedly in life — that forces the necessary adjustments that remind us of our own mortality, imperfections and the gap between the higher standards we set and the truth of our own misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Those intersecting connections

We hear all the time about the shrinking world, the smaller universe, the global village – all metaphors to help and understand, to comprehend and be able to withstand within the insanity of a world that continues to intrude, intersect and impose itself upon every corner and aspect of lives lived and daily interrupted.  It is a way for people to cope with the fact that we can no longer avoid the reality of those intersecting connections from worlds, cultures and universes that make up the daily reality of our walking lives.

The newspapers globalize each and every issue; the television and cable news outlets care little for local news unless it, too has some national consequences; and so we live with the anomaly that the only time you might hear about your own hometown is if some horrific event occurs that other people in other towns might care about.  And, even when a story is reported about an event that occurs just around the corner from the news station, headquarters or whatever manner of identifying the central place where all of the equipment, studios and personnel gather to emit their airwaves of newsfeeds, they act as if it is occurring in some distant county or country, with perhaps a bit of weeping as an afterthought with a statement like, “And it makes it all the worse because it happened just in our own neighborhood!”

The world is indeed one comprised of intersecting connections, and we voluntarily allow for those connections to make our own perspectives molded into “theirs” by inviting various cable channels into our living rooms.  Do we really have a choice?  Can we just remain ignorant and ignore the reality of the global economy, the extended village and the universal concerns of the day?  How do we live with the complexities of intersecting connections, when we can barely deal with the local problems that beset us within the cocoon of our own lives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the daily ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the microcosm of intersecting connections may well be magnified to a level where it competes with what is occurring on a more global scale.

Suddenly, the Federal Agency is moving to put pressure on you – like those competing foreign companies you hear about in the world economy.  Or, the Supervisor is no longer being cordial – somewhat like the world leader who doesn’t return calls to the President.  Coworkers no longer treat you as an equal – like nations that suddenly go rogue without explanation.  You have to file a complaint – like submitting to a U.N. vote for sanctions.

We have all been groomed and prepared to think in terms of intersecting connections, but for the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes a necessity, it all comes back to a more local and personal connection: one’s health, and the need to focus upon one’s personal life.

No matter how global the world has become, never forget that it is the personal life of close connections that really only matters in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Things not likely to happen

It is not likely that tomorrow morning you will wake up and find that aliens have taken over the earth (although, if one were to read various supermarket tabloids, that has already occurred many times over, both while asleep and awake); it is not likely that you will win the lottery with that last dollar spent on running a random set of numbers (though millions each day shell out astronomical sums in the aggregate with dreams – and sometimes actual plans reflected upon – of what one will do “when” the improbable event will happen); and it is not likely that the email received the other day from some banker in Burkina Faso who wants a “trusted friend” to allow for a transfer of a cool $100 million and would allow you to keep half of it just because you happen to be the only person in the universe who has a bank account and can keep a secret, will actually honor such a request.

Nevertheless, people actually consider such fantasies, and to the detriment of those who do so with serious intent, harm themselves either by delaying what could be done, setting aside the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and turning over valuable time to endeavors not likely to happen.

Often, and unfortunately, medical conditions have that same characteristic – of things not likely to happen.  It begins by happening – of a medical condition that should not have been, or is seen to be “unfairly” targeting a particular individual, and a period of disbelief ensues where the question is, “Why me?  Why not the other guy, instead?”  Then, once the phase of acceptance comes about, one begins to adapt, compromise the levels of acceptability and quality of life, and modification of expectations surely follows soon thereafter.  Then, one hopes, prays, angrily shouts to the heavens or otherwise with quiet resignation begins to ruminate – yes, the medical condition may be unfair, but so is the lot of life we all live.

And the principle of things not likely to happen applies to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the things not likely to happen includes: The medical condition will just go away; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will just let things slide and be very understanding; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will actually accommodate your medical condition; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will find you another job at the same pay or grade; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will grant SL, AL or LWOP in unlimited amounts so that you can attend to your illness or medical condition; and the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will show empathy, sympathy and understanding and make you feel “welcomed” while you endure one of the most difficult periods of your life.  Not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire