OPM Disability Reirement under FERS: Dylan Revisited

The British have the Beatles; America has Dylan.  Martin Scorsese’s ongoing documentaries covering the life of Bob Dylan (“No Direction Home” and “Rolling Thunder Revue”) reveals the obvious differences as well as depicting interesting tidbits of entertainment value, for those even remotely interested.

Dylan is the quintessential American — of the lone troubadour; the composite of a self-made star from multiple personalities, including Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters; and despite playing off and on with “The Band”, forever the loner — remote, distant and undefinable.

Bands come and go — The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc., and when they disband and disburse, some individually go on to similar heights of fame; but of Dylan, he has always stood apart with his soulful voice, his trance-like story-telling, and the enchanting universe of words conveyed on the airlift of music that brings one into a lyrical fantasyland.

In the end, Robert Allen Zimmerman remade himself from the outskirts of a rural town into the spotlight of musical genius over a span of a time when cultural revolutions were shaking the very foundations of a country at war.  We all yearn to be like him — if not for the fame, then for the uniqueness that becomes apparent when you listen to his voice: Not quite on beat and never able to be defined.

Whoever “Zimmerman” was, we will never know; for what we know is the folklore surrounding even the whispered utterance of “Dylan” — a name and word which provokes images, stories and memories that have cluttered the shadows of a legend like the barnacles encrusted on the underside of a drifting boat.

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 Federal or Postal job, the tragedy of the medical condition can be likened to the duality found in Dylan Revisited — that the person who is beset with the medical condition is not the same person who once forged ahead with a promising career with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for, in the end, the Dylan of today is not the Zimmerman of his past, just as the Federal or postal employee who suffers from a medical condition is not the same person as before the medical condition, and the whole point of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is to get back to a place where we can define ourselves within the uniqueness of who we are and were.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Claims: The Lost Wallet

It is a sinking feeling, a sense of foreboding, and a sudden realization of the empty back pocket that then leads to a feeling of panic.  Or of reaching and finding that the purse that is so carelessly hanging from one’s shoulder, or looped over a forearm — is not there.  It is the nonexistence of something that suddenly brings to existence the sensation of fear, emptiness, loathing — and resultant panic. Whether of the variety where the pit of one’s stomach becomes queasy, or of a disorientation of being, matters very little.

We can try and describe it, but we all recognize it without ascribing and identifying the precise word that depicts the reality of such extinguishment of existential reality: The lost wallet, the stolen purse, the sudden void of that which we have taken for granted each day; and the subsequent sense of the consequences that ensue.

It is not just the trouble of future replacements; the calls to credit card companies, the trip to the Motor Vehicle Administration, and the irreplaceable photograph tucked into the side pocket of the wallet (sorry for showing one’s age — of course, no one keeps such passport-sized photographs in a wallet, anymore, as the anachronism of such a deed has been replaced by the “saved” pictures in that ethereal “cloud” within each Smartphone so that, even if the phone itself is lost, it is never truly lost because it is forever kept in world of downloadable albums) — no, the loss is exponentially multiplied by a sense of having one’s identity violated, and of feeling that an event has occurred where something essential has been extracted from our very existence.

The lost wallet inevitably leads to a first impression of panic; but as panic is a natural reaction, it is what we do next that matters most.  And like the Federal employee or Postal worker who first realizes that he or she suffers from a medical condition, and over time, senses that the medical condition will not simply “go away”, it is the steps that follow upon the news first learned that will have the significant impact upon one’s future livelihood.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is that “next step” after the foreboding sense of reality has first been experienced.  And like the lost wallet that will need to be replaced, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is the needed replacement for one’s career; and while the replacing features may not be as good as the health one once enjoyed or as lucrative as the career one previously pursued, it is a new identity that will be needed until the lost wallet is recovered in some future image of a past relinquished.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Proper Sequence

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers seeking to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, is there a proper sequence in preparing the Standard Forms?  Does it matter if one set of forms are prepared or taken out of sequence?

Or, is the fact that the two primary sets of forms — the SF 3107 series and the SF 3112 series — are already provided in an ordered manner (i.e., for the SF 3107 series, first the “Application for Immediate Retirement”, then the Schedules A, B & C, then forms for the Agency to complete; and for the SF 3112 series, first the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, then the Supervisor’s Statement, the form for the Physician, etc.), reflective of the sequence one should complete them?

This, of course, brings up another and more important question: Would you trust the government to look out for your own best interests in completing the series of Standard Forms (i.e., SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) in the order that they want you to complete them, or should you complete them in a manner that looks after your own best interests, separate and apart from the order that the Federal Government and OPM wants you to fill them out?

There is, in the end, a proper sequence to everything, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is no different from every other kind of form and content to be completed.  The way and manner that OPM and the Federal government wants you to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily imply any nefarious intent; it is just a difference in deciding whose best interests are you looking after — your own, or OPM’s?

In the end, all of the Standard Forms (again, the SF 3107 Series and the SF 3112 Series) must all be filled out completely, and some might conclude that the order and sequence of completing them shouldn’t matter, inasmuch as they all have to be completed anyway.  But you may want to pause and reflect for a moment: Does “proper sequence” imply that the Federal Government and OPM have prepared the SF 3107 and SF 3112A for the benefit of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, or for their own convenience?

Tricks tend to trip, and the trips are not merely the destination from point A to point B, but a hidden accident waiting to happen if you don’t complete SF 3107 and SF 3112 in their proper sequence — and that means, not necessarily in the order of their appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, the issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Netherworld between Sleep and Wakefulness

There is that moment of haziness, where sleep has not yet overtaken and consciousness has not yet been fully lost, where the philosophical abyss of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or stands in relation to knowledge, truth, insight and puzzlement, and where questions abound concerning the relationship between words and the objective reality of constellations clashing amidst bursting stars and black holes.

Sleep is a realm sought after; restorative sleep, a state of being which, without explanation or cause, we accept as a necessity of life’s conundrums.  Without it, or because of a lack thereof, functionality deteriorates, awareness becomes overwhelming, and the capacity to tolerate a normal level of life’s stresses becomes an issue of sensitivity and tearful breakdowns.  Sleep brings us to the other side of darkness; wakefulness, this side of paradise.

Whether because our genetic code has not yet adapted fully through the evolutionary process of survivability, or that technology outpaces the capacity of human intelligence to withstand the constant bombardment of stimuli upon organic receptors devised merely for hunting or gathering, we may never figure out.  Regardless, many are like the sleeping dead, where the netherworld between sleep and wakefulness remain unchanged, and profound fatigue, daily exhaustion and untenable mental fogginess and loss of intellectual acuity impacts one’s daily ability and capacity to make a living.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with such an exacerbating and complex state of health, the reality of going through the day, of coming home exhausted and forlorn, yet unable to turn that profound fatigue into a period of respite and restorative sleep, is a reality faced with the concerns of being able to continue in one’s Federal or Postal career.

Sleep disorders are often secondary medical and health issues, following upon primary physical and psychiatric disabilities; but they can also be a primary basis for preparing, formulating and 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.

Whether diagnosed as Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, or a more generalized diagnosis of Sleep Dysfunction or Sleep Disorder, the impact upon one’s cognitive acuity as well as the physical exhaustion felt, which can lead to creating a hazardous workplace phenomena, the Federal or Postal employee who finds that the impact prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, should consider that the health issue itself is a valid one, and a firm basis for preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

One may, here and there, experience the phenomenon of entering that netherworld between the dark chasm of sleep and the full orientation of wakefulness, and know that drifting between one and the other is likened to the necromancy of human complexity; but when such a condition remains a constancy in one’s life, then it may be time to consider filing for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity, lest the sorcery of life’s dreamworld waves the wand which withers the soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire