Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: The Statement

We often hear of various events or transactions in the public arena where a “statement” will be issued, and such a conveyance of information is often prepared, pre-written, read from a piece of paper or plastered upon a teleprompter where the delivering individual merely reads from a text that has been previously written and composed.

It is like a musician who varies not from the score before him, or the player who follows the conductor’s baton with precision of a mime; to vary is to veer, where error becomes the hazard to avoid.  That initial “statement” to the listeners, the recipients, the audience, or however and whomever you want to characterize it as — why is it so important that it is conveyed, portrayed, delineated and communicated in just a “right” manner?

Is it not similar to the importance of preparing an SF 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Isn’t the SF 3112A a foundational, “first impression” statement that needs to be prepared carefully, with meticulous formulation, like a novel’s opening sentence that must captivate and draw in the reader’s attention?

Granted, the SF 3112A is answered in response to questions required to be formulated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the Federal or Postal employee to provide, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; but the limitations imposed by space and the relevance of the answers given to questions queried should not detract from the importance and significance of preparing the “Statement” well, in a preconceived and well-prepared manner.

What is the sequence?  When should it be prepared?  What content must it possess?  Should direct quotes from the medical records and narrative reports be included?  How carefully should it be annotated?  Must the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A be confined to the spaces provided?

These, and many other questions besides, should be carefully considered, and to do so, the best way to be well-prepared is to consult with an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement Application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Fundamentalist

It often evokes a negative connotation, of a rigidness and adherence to principles which refuses to concede allowances for exceptions lest the singularity of excusable violation permeate and tarnish the very paradigm of inflexibility; and in a religious context, it represents a historical movement of a “going back” or rediscovery of basic principles of faith.

But being considered a fundamentalist in a secular sense does not necessarily result in a negative implication; strict concurrence with a standard of excellence and an unwavering fealty to ensuring that basic principles are followed, can be a positive thing. Of course, that is not how the term is usually applied, and so we shy away from such labels of convenient certitude.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is considering filing 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, it is important to be a “kind of” fundamentalist — of an adherence to certain foundational principles in approaching the formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application. For, in the end, pursuance of excellence can be a “kind of” fundamentalism, and insistence upon doing something “the right way” is an element of that most basic of approaches and paradigm of beliefs.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM should be viewed as a systematic, methodological endeavor which always encapsulates three basic principles (thus, as in theological circles, the trinity of fundamentalism):  Medical reports and records manifesting an impacting medical condition; a Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A; Legal argumentation of a persuasive and logically powerful delineation.

These are the three foundations which comprise an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  And if your neighbor shouts at you for being a fundamentalist in adhering to the basic principles of disability retirement faith, point out the beam in his eye, and merely wash out the mote in yours.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Stolen Soul

Superstitions often have a grain of truth in them; otherwise, they would not have endured the test of culture, time and governance of actions in ensuring their longevity and pervasive countenance.

Aboriginal tribes and remote communities far removed from the technological modernity of this growing world; pockets of secluded peoples and those who simply shy away from the spotlight of drones like druids of yore; once, there was a belief that having a photograph taken or an image drawn constituted the stealing of a soul.  We don’t believe that.  We no longer believe such nonsense.

Such belief systems constitute an anomaly tantamount to insanity, or at the very least a level of eccentricity bordering upon an unacceptable level of non-conformity.  Indeed, instead, we have gone in the opposite direction of the extreme: many no longer visit ancient and sacred sights with a view by the naked eye, but through the lens of a video camera never to be detached from the “on” button; and we deplete and exhaust the personal “I” within the sanctity of our selves by posting the most personal of information on Facebook and other public forums for full view and entertainment, reserving nothing of a private nature.

For, in the end, the technology of the internet is merely an advanced form of the singular photograph of yore; and as the daguerreotype of yesteryear represented the technological advancement of securing frozen images in a given time, of a place cemented within the historicity of events and contexts of human occurrences, so the voluntary dissemination of information about ourselves is merely a logical extension of that loss of privacy and depletion of the soul.

The soul is not inexhaustible; and is that not why there is so much emptiness and loss of value in the world?  Of the content of information which we consider “personal” and “private”, that which concerns our medical condition tops the list.  Yet, in the context of Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will inquire, demand of, and insist upon, release of medical information beyond that which constitutes allowable breach of confidentiality, leaving aside the issue of good taste.

Of course, when the Federal or Postal employee decides 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, then the onus of proof (by the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence”) is entirely upon the Federal or Postal employee, and in that event, such submission of medical information is voluntary and must be done in order to secure the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  But before that, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often demand medical information without limits or respecting of privacy.

A response by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker should be carefully considered, lest there be a later conflict when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, often, during a time and circumstance prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the issue is one of wanting to continue to work; and, in any event, unconstrained dissemination of information of the most private nature — that of medical information — should always be carefully guarded.

In the end, releasing of medical information is like that superstitious sense held sacredly by those aboriginal tribes now lost in the deep forests of forgotten time; once, we believed that a single photograph would steal our soul, to be forever tortured in the chasms of an enemy’s grip; today, such a suspicion has been replaced with the foolhardy belief that we can give of ourselves indiscriminately, without the stolen soul suffering the agony of public scorn.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire