Federal Disability Benefits: Agency Input

Whether, and to what extent, Federal agencies will support a Federal Medical Retirement, goes to the ultimate issues of sufficiency, necessity and relevancy.  Sufficiency is satisfied by the minimal act of completing the two primary standard forms which the agency is responsible for:  SF 3112B (the Supervisor’s Statement) and SF 3112D (Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts).

Necessity is further accomplished by processing the Federal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application if the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal employee is still on the rolls of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or even if he or she has been separated, the separation has not been for more than thirty one (31) days.  If the Federal employee (now former) or U.S. Postal worker (also now former) has been separated for more than thirty one (31) days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the individual is under FERS or CSRS. In either case, the current Federal agency’s Human Resource’s Office would still have to complete SF 3112D, and the former or current Supervisor must complete the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B). Lack of cooperation on the part of an agency or the U.S. Postal Service, once the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is separated from Federal Service, is often a problem — but, then, lack of cooperation can be a problem in any event, even if one is still with the agency.

Finally, the question of relevancy is always a problem to be encountered and confounded.  Is what the agency states on SF 3112B and/or SF 3112D helpful, significant or even relevant?  It all depends.  Some statements can be less-than, while others can remain neutral or somewhat helpful.  Relying upon one’s agency, whether current or former, to help in a Federal Disability Retirement application, beyond doing that which is sufficient or even necessary, is to run on a fool’s errand.

But then, when a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker finds it necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, through one’s agency and then ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to sufficiently reflect a choice of wisdom, and thereby the wise person has already shown a necessary discernment between the importance of priorities in life, as opposed to the irrelevant glitter of fool’s gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Agency & the Burden of Proof

In a Federal Disability Retirement case, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the burden of proving one’s medical inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, always remains with the individual Federal or Postal applicant.

Certainly, there are actions by the agency which may add to such proof (e.g., declaring that the Federal or Postal worker is “not fit for duty” will further concretize an assessment made by a third party; or initiating a separation from Federal Service based upon one’s medical inability to perform the essential elements of the job will trigger the Bruner Presumption, which then invokes a rebuttable presumption and shifts the “burden of production” (note that it is not the shifting of the “burden of proof” — a conceptual distinction important to recognize) over to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Waiting for one’s agency to act upon anything is, however, a very dangerous venture to begin with; thinking that one’s own agency will provide the proof necessary to establish one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits would not only be dangerous, but foolhardy.  For, at its most fundamental level, the fact that the very entity which makes a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application (OPM) is one which is separate and independent from the agency for which one works, creates a chasm which only further magnifies the inherent problem.

OPM pays little to no attention to what the agency does — except, perhaps, when the agency attempts to directly confront and challenge a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Otherwise, don’t look for help from one’s agency (generally speaking) when one is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; such unfounded reliance will only disappoint, at best.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Mechanization, Automation & the Lull of Conformity

Locke and Rousseau both recognized the necessity of the individual human being to enter into civil society in order to escape the theoretical “state of nature” for self-preservation, and once within, conformity to societal norms and orderly constructs became a natural force in the progressive evolution of civilization. But social order need not mandate conformity of a thoughtless drone or loss of creativity.

The term itself — “drone” — is an interesting one. For, in its general usage, it meant a sense of drudgery or monotony; or, in a specific sense, a male, stingless honeybee which produced no honey, and thus a less-than-full entity; and in more recent usage, a non-human, destructive craft, devoid of thought or moral compass.

Social conformity which gave rise to automation and industrial mechanization, has produced a populace given to thoughtless action.  Such conformity, perhaps, is useful; for in a world requiring bureaucratic patience, one is left with no other choice but to wait upon a long and onerous administrative process.

For the Federal or Postal employee who must submit to the long, bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, the conformity to standard forms, the patience required for the long wait, and the necessity to comply to the rules governing eligibility, legal standards, etc., is part and parcel of the social structure.  We are trained to comply; and with no other choice but to go to the singular Federal Agency, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to try and prevail in the most effective and efficient manner possible, inasmuch as there really is no other choice in the matter.

Locke and Rousseau were right; self-preservation requires the escape from the state of nature; what we are left with, is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the penultimate reflection of a civilized and advanced society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Problem of Conformity as a Thoughtless Process

The bureaucratization of society becomes a problem when conformity to a standardized process results in thoughtless action.  We have all seen scenes from movies, or read stories or books, of the proverbial drone-like monologue, shown in cinematographic hues in monotony, of emotionless workers who robotically stamp papers and call out, “Next!”.

To some extent, preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, requires such conformity.  The standard forms themselves (SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3107 series for FERS employees; and for both CSRS and FERS employees, SF 3112 series) require a foundation of such conformity.  And while continuation sheets and attachments are not prohibited (yes, the double-negative in grammar means that it is a positive, and you may do what is proposed), it is nevertheless constraining when one is putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.

On the other hand, standardization provides for uniformity and ease of information.  If everyone just submitted his or her own version of selective information and sent it in to OPM, there would be greater chaos than there already is at the singular agency which processes all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Thus, conformity to standardized procedures can be a good thing.  The problem, however, is when such conformity leads to thoughtlessness — and, in a Federal Disability Retirement process, one should expect to encounter such bureaucratic mindlessness.  This, too, must be dealt with; and sometimes the need to use legal authorities as a sword, and not merely as a shield, is the only way of effectuating a required response.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Approaching the Entrance to OPM’s Thought Process

The attempt to predict an opponent’s approach in an endeavor — whether in competitive sports; in debate; in an adversarial forum — is a practice which can have favorable results, or one which ends with disastrous consequences.  For the prediction itself must be based upon known factors, such as the applicable standards which the opponent will rely upon, relevant elements which will be utilized, and human, unpredictable quirks which seem to always come into play.

In approaching an opponent, it is always a good idea to study the opposition; but too much reliance upon attempting to out-maneuver the opposition can have the negative impact of taking away from valuable preparation-time one may need in order to prevail.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, many Federal and Postal applicants attempt to analyze the questions posed on the Standard Forms (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3112 series for both FERS & CSRS employees) perhaps too deeply, in attempting to “understand” the opponent — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Yes, the questions must be analyzed; yes, there is an implicit trickiness to many of the questions (especially on SF 3112A); and, yes, a cautious approach must be taken in answering the questions.  But such caution should never detract from spending the necessary time in preparing the crux and foundation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that of formulating the logical nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties which one can no longer perform.

Ultimately, the substance of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application must be given the greatest of focus and effort:  attempting to approach the opponent’s thought processes — in this case, that of the “collective” efforts of multiple individuals at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — may be an act of futility; better to spend the needed hours solidifying one’s own case than to try and understand an incomprehensible entity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: What the Agency May Say

Individuals can and do tell untruths (an euphemism for a “lie”); organizations, as a collective congregation of multiple individuals, can therefore also convey negations of truthful statements (a further euphemism, stated diplomatically to avoid the unpleasantry of a direct statement).  Of course, the justification for such factually incorrect statements is that there is a “difference of perspective” or of an opinion which is not in agreement with another’s.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the portion of a Federal Disability Retirement application which the Agency must complete — most notably the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B) and the Agency’s Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts (SF 3112D) can and most often do contain misstatements, differing perspectives and negations of untruthful statements.

They are not like the other forms which must be completed by the Agency — i.e., the checklist, the Certified Summary of Federal Service, etc., where the information provided can be compared to factually verifiable documents, statements, etc., and therefore will be constrained by objective and ascertainable facts.

Unfortunately, there is “wiggle room” on both the SF 3112B and the SF 3112D, and agencies tend to utilize the wide expansiveness of such roominess to move about.  That is why, what the agency says or might say, must be preempted as much as possible by the medical report and other documentation.  By providing as much of an airtight case prior to submission of the disability retirement packet to the agency, one increases the odds that the impact of what the agency says, will be minimal, and minimized.

Of course, there is then the further problem of the inaccuracies engaged in by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management itself — but that is another story to tell, and one which must be categorized in a department beyond “fiction”, but more akin to the genre of “fantasy” or “science fiction”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Disability Retirement & Standard Forms

Standard Forms are intended to restrain, contain and standardize; it is meant to make you believe that if you violate the “fence” around the physical form itself, or fail to answer specifically the questions “as asked”, that there will be a penalty to pay — i.e., in the case of a Federal Disability Retirement application before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is intending on filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of what to say, how much to say, and in what tone or tenor (does one presume that OPM is an “adversary”, and therefore should any submission be crafted in such a manner?  Or, should the tone be more “neutral”?  Hint:  Whatever the proper balance of tone to embrace, OPM is not one’s close relative, and should not be approached as such); and, ultimately, whether and to what extent “continuation pages” should be attached to the forms themselves.  

For FERS employees, or course, one must complete SF 3107, along with Schedules A, B & C, as well as have the Certified Summary of Federal Service completed, and if applicable, SF 3107-2, the Spousal Waiver.  For CSRS, one must complete SF 2801, and again, the Schedules A, B & C and the Certified Summary of Federal Service.  For both FERS and CSRS employees, the second set of forms — SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D & SF 3112E — must also be completed.  

For the Federal or Postal employee, it is the SF 3112A which is the most daunting, the most important, and the one which must be thoughtfully completed.  It is the first form which OPM will search for, review, analyze, compare, attack, and scrutinize, in making a decision upon one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  It is indeed a form which is “standard” in every sense of the word — in appearance; in requirement; in formatted appearance; and in the end, the level of effort and input one makes of it.  

What should one’s own “standard” be in preparing, formulating and filing the Standard Form 3112A?  Care, caution and a concern for coordinated completion.  Yes, and by the way, the undersigned writer enjoys engaging in alliteration, assonance and consonance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire