Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Necessary changes

Is it a redundancy to state it in this manner?  Is change by definition necessary, or are some alterations merely voluntary, unnecessary, or modifications that are not required but are desired by sheer want of replacing boredom with ineptitude of lackluster metamorphosis?

Evolution surely resists it; for, the incrementalism and subtle refinement favors an unchanging universe, and we see that in the natural world, where an anomaly or mutation is disfavored, shunned by others and excluded instinctively.  The albino giraffe may be a fascinating phenomena to witness, but in the wilds where blending in with the landscape in order to go unnoticed by predators lurking about is the key to the survival of not just the “fittest” — but the one who is passed by unnoticed by more powerful forces ready to pounce and devour.

Change can take on many and variegated forms — from a spectrum dividing a wide chasm of consequences, whether intended or otherwise thoughtlessly expounded — from the minor adjustment to the tumultuous overhaul of upheaval and irreversible impact.  Some changes are merely insularly internal and go unnoticed, such as a “new perspective” or taking on a different way of seeing things.

Religious conversions can take that cloak of alteration.  We may know a friend, a neighbor or a family member who lives at the same address, speaks the same way, dresses in the identical manner, but one day blurts out, “I have become X!”  Perhaps there are some residual modifications made, and some we notice, others go with a ripple, like the many pitter-patter of rain drops that fall upon the midnight ocean and no one ever notices.

Other changes come from without — imposing its impact and causal effect without any choice or say in the matter — earthquakes; deaths; wars that no one asked for; events that unfold with untold consequences that no one thought through very well.

Medical conditions are akin to the latter — of a vicissitude that occurs without the asking, with impact upon lives both minor and consequential.  It is not only a change, but necessitates changes in the lifestyle, manner and approach of the one to whom it impacts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it will often become apparent that the unnecessary (or unwanted) change to one’s health begets a necessary change that must accommodate the former.

A Federal Disability Retirement application may be a necessary change, if only to follow upon the change that has imposed itself by the very medical condition itself.

Changes — necessary or otherwise — require an adaptation, both mentally and often physically, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the penultimate necessary change that must be contemplated in a universe replete with necessary and sufficient causes beyond one’s control.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Functional architecture

It refers to those unnecessary trappings; but of course, the immediate question which follows is:  who determines necessity as opposed to aesthetic addendums otherwise of utilitarian vacuity.

The traditional approach in functional architecture is determined by the general principle that a building should be designed by the paradigmatic governance of the underlying purpose for which the structure should be constructed.  That is likely why government buildings are essentially drab and colorless, reflecting the purposive nature of a bureaucracy and administrative conduits.  The grandeur of the wealthy in pouring money into aesthetically pleasing facades, otherwise without any meaningful utilitarian basis, is a consequence of wanting to impress, as opposed to a functional capacity to reside.

In modernity, functionalism is akin to pragmatism, which is often seen as the heart and soul of this country’s success – of advancing towards the next technological innovation, accomplishing beyond the project paid for, and getting things “done” in order to calculate the worth and value of a person’s being.  At the cost of family, neighborhood, culture and normative constructs, we go for that which works, what pays and what can be sold.

Thus does the American model function on the motto of pragmatism:  Of what does it benefit a man if he cannot make a living from it?  And so the narrative goes that waves of immigrants gave up their native country, whether because of famine, wars, poverty or persecution, and traveled to a far-off foreign soil in order to carve out a living without the trappings once enjoyed.

But the concept of functional architecture can reach into other disciplines, as well – as in the composition of words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into pages of stream of consciousness.  One can, for example, add all sorts of unnecessary verbiage in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in response to the questions posited in Standard Form 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

This can get one into what is often proverbially termed as “hot water”.  For, just as the three classic goals of architecture still remain relevant today – of utility, beauty and firmness (reflecting the conceptual generalizations of use, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and structural integrity), so the same can be applied in preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application in the statements made:  Writing to the point of the Federal Disability Retirement application (utility); being comprehensible and coherent, with a purposive narrative (beauty); and, finally, firmness (maintaining the structural integrity of the narrative by building the proper linguistic foundation in formulating one’s answers on SF 3112A).

Thus, as with most things in life, functionalism does not merely apply to the discipline of architecture, but can easily be transmogrified into the complex administrative process of Federal Disability Retirement.  As the fullness of life is an admixture of interconnecting experiences, so the principles undergirding architectural integrity can teach us lessons in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Another Test

Peel an orange, and you have the fruit; skin a nut, and the unmasked food is revealed; but how does one get to the essence of a person?  Schools do it repetitively; job interviews count on it; security clearances rely upon it.  Life is one set of tests after another; and whether through formalized questions designed to reveal the extent of rote knowledge, or of more subtle encounters to discover one’s character, the attempt to unravel the essence of an individual comes in many forms, in multitudinous appearances, and in engagements which never fully define the person tested.

Some see it as merely a necessary irritant; others, as a challenge to be faced with relish; and still others, an angst to be avoided, like the proverbial plague which leaves scars of motley disfigurement to the heart of one’s soul.  Whether to avoid or to directly confront, life presents a series of challenges, and the test of relevance is not necessarily the score to achieve, but rather the responsiveness which engenders cause.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are daily “tested” because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the job requirements of the Federal or Postal employment, the issue becomes one of survival, or not.  At some point, the test itself becomes irrelevant, and must be replaced altogether.  Whether the agency views it as such — or, more appropriately, it has now turned into harassment and hostility — the basis of such testing becomes an absurdity.

That is when the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, must consider filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits.  There again, it is likened to another “test” to be faced and undertaken.  For, the bureaucratic morass which must be tolerated is inextricable entangled with the preparation, formulation, proving and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement case, where the evidence must be gathered, the test of viability of the case itself becomes of concern, and the next steps in encountering and facing the “test of life” must be faced.  Oh, but that life would refrain from the constancy of death, taxes and tests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: On the spectrum between fear and overconfidence

The “what ifs” of life tend to predominate; then, from the deep recesses of brute carnality, where evolutionary Darwinism remains wired in the DNA of a time when civilizations were yet to flourish, and where tea cups were merely in the imaginations of more genteel souls, a sense of uprightness, fortitude and strength of inner character dawns, and we walk out the door refreshed with a sense of deliberative purpose.  But it turns out that such fleeting flourishes of fortuitous firmness lasts but for a twilight, and then we desire to crawl back into the womb of our former skeletal selves.

Fear is how most of us live, despite the outward face of bravado and confidence.  We fear what others might do to us; how the economy is a mysterious force over which we have no control; of deteriorating health; of life itself.

Then, there are days when a calm sense of overconfidence prevails; without any reason or rationale, or perhaps we watched a movie or television show where a certain character manifested a bright and hopeful sunshine of unperturbed calm; but that was yesterday, and lasted but for a fortnight of winks and nods.  For the remaining days, we recognize that it was all an act; and so we live in trembling and fear.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that placement on the spectrum between fear and overconfidence is well know, recognized, and familiar as the warmth of a mother’s caress.

What the agency will do; what coworkers conspire; what the next news of the deteriorating medical condition; these all fall in favor of the “fear” side of the spectrum.  Those “other” things which call for confidence in the future over and beyond — they come in a spatter of popping grease, and make us wince with the momentary pause of a tap of reality, and then disappear.

How does one escape that spectrum of unrelenting reminders?  For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, there is always the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not merely a benefit to be gained; rather, it is an opportunity to take the next step in life, to a beyond where future career and vocation choices may allow for productivity outside of the Federal Sector.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal worker who is under FERS, CSRS or even CSRS Offset, preparing, formulating and filing for an effective OPM Disability Retirement application is the first step towards taking a turn away from the treadmill of that dreaded pinpoint of our lives, where we are stuck in the middle of the spectrum between fear and overconfidence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire