Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The sparrow

It is a bird that remains unappreciated — that generic entity which, when not identified by the wandering ornithologist, is simply referred to as a “sparrow”.  They are like the “default” bird, unassuming, pervasive, lost in the underbrush of time and history, and are taken for granted in their existence, presence and attraction — sort of like most of humanity.  One doesn’t hear the wandering bird-lover with his or her oversized binoculars strung heavily around a neck that is straining from a disc herniation from the sheer weight of the magnifying mechanism suddenly stop and declare loudly, “Look — a sparrow!”

People walk by throughout the cities of the world without ever noticing the thousands of such generically-forgotten creatures; those brown little blurs that fly about singularly or in large groups; flitting about, searching for sources of food, flooding the air with their chirping and fluttering.  But then, most of humanity is somewhat like the sparrow — in great numbers, never standing out from the rest, and merely trying to break out from the anonymity of life’s toil.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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 duties, the sense that can remain as a “sparrow” of sorts becomes less of a possibility — but not because of any unique features that have suddenly been noticed by the plumes of one’s species; rather, you have suddenly been noticed and selectively chosen precisely because of the medical condition itself.

Suddenly, you have become the narrow focus of greater observation:  Leave Restrictions are imposed; your performance is reviewed with greater interest; harassment ensues; the magnifying glass of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service is upon you.

Once upon a time, the sparrow was flying about happily unnoticed, perhaps wishing to be a peacock, not knowing how fortunate it was to remain in the abyss of anonymity.  For the Federal or Postal worker, to be noticed can have some negative effects, and it may be time to begin 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, lest the sparrow that wished to be a peacock suddenly realizes the looming shadow of a predator overhead, bearing down rapidly to end the anonymity that was lost because of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Sorrow behind the facade

How do we know a person’s sorrow?  Of other emotions, we question and retain suspicions, but why is sorrow placed on a separate plane, untouchable and abandoned as sincere despite warranted evidence to the contrary?  Of love, we question constantly — as to sincerity, whether fidelity has been maintained and preserved; of joy or happiness, daily do we self-analyze and evaluate; but of sorrow — once the tears pour forth upon the event learned and considered, there are few who doubt for fear of being tarred as the cynic who had no feelings or remorse.

There are instances — of an unnamed president who purportedly was seen joking and laughing on his way to the funeral, but suddenly turned dour and despondent in facial expression once recognition was noted of cameras filming and spectators observing; or perhaps there are relatives who are known to have hated a deceased kin, but arrived at the funeral out of obligation and duty; of those, do we suspect a less-than-genuine sorrow?  Is it because sorrow must by necessity be attached to an event — of a death, an illness, an accident, or some other tragedy that we consider must necessarily provoke the emotional turmoil that sorrow denotes?  But then, how do we explain the other emotions that are suspected of retaining a facade and a reality beneath — again, of love and happiness?

Medical conditions, especially for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, are somewhat like the sorrow behind the facade.  Few will openly question it — whether because to do so is simply impolite or impolitic — but some will suspect as to its validity, especially when self-interest is at stake.  The declaration, “Is there a malingerer within our midst?” will never be openly spoken.  For, what is the evidence — excessive use of SL, AL or LWOP; frequent doctor’s appointments; inability to maintain the level of productivity previously known for; lack of focus and concentration at meetings; inability to meet deadlines, etc.

For others, these are harbingers of irritants that delay and impact the agency as a whole; for the Federal employee or Postal worker suffering from the medical condition, they are the symptoms and signs beneath the brave facade that is maintained, in order to hide the severity of the medical condition in a valiant effort to extend one’s career.  There comes a time, however, when the reality of the medical condition catches up to the hidden truth beneath the facade, and once that point is reached, it is time to prepare, formulate and file 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.

In like manner, the sorrow behind the facade is similar to the medical condition in and around the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service — both may be real, but it is the “proving” of it before OPM that is the hard part.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Moments of Perceptual Clarity

We tend to seek that which we cannot find; apply criteria beyond rational capacity; and derive statistical results nowhere to be discovered but for quantitative input implied by imaginary output.

That single source of “meaning”; that “cause” which provides value; that lottery of life’s misgivings which fortune promised but never conveyed; and so the inheritance which Cain and Abel sought but for the love of their father and the instability which Dostoevsky described in his novels of heritage, destiny and anguish, are but filaments of our own fears and misgivings in a world which defies our limited attempts to garnish, contain and delimit.

There are moments of perceptual clarity, and then there is the rest of life.  Perhaps it appears amidst the morning fog at first dawn of light; or just before sleep overtakes, as the subconscious is allowed to enter into the rational discourse mandated by daily toil; in any event, it comes only in fleeting moments, or from the ashes of destruction and self-immolation, like the Flight of the Phoenix whom everyone else had forgotten.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in a conundrum, where life’s misgivings seem too complex and too confusing to move forward because of a medical condition which has curtailed the hopes and dreams once sought for, and attained through hard work and toil of sweat, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a reality only at the highest point of personal crisis.

That is often when the only moment of true clarity comes to the fore; and when that time comes, it is necessary to hold onto that time of self-revelation, and begin to seek the counsel and wisdom of others, in preparing an effective and compelling case in order to win the benefit awaiting, from OPM and through the Federal agency for whom you toiled and sacrificed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: The incoherent narrative

The squirrel jumped into the rabbit hole.  Then, the floods came, and Noah didn’t like the color of his shoes because they matched the starboard and not the bow, and when the rudderless drift occurred, then did the turtle finally come out from the squirrel’s nest, high atop the water’s edge. The medical conditions caused a lot of stress, and if it wasn’t for the Supervisor who constantly harasses me, I wouldn’t have filed a complaint against him, but the doctors never said I couldn’t work except when the heart attack occurred and Bessie my dog ran across the street and got hit by a car.

It is, ultimately, more than just a sequence of lettering; greater than the combination of consonants and vowels in logical arrangement; indeed, the language of the narrative must form a coherent whole.  Can a jumble of words provide the requisite narrative in order to meet the legal criteria in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Must the “Statement of Disability” as reflected on Standard Form 3112A provide a sequence of information such that it:  identifies the medical conditions suffered; informs the OPM administrative specialist of the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties of one’s officially-slotted job; and meets and addresses, whether explicitly or implicitly, the burden of proof in showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Federal or Postal employee is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

To all three questions, the answer is in the affirmative.  For, preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted through one’s agency (if the Federal or Postal employee is still employed with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated from service, not more than 31 days since the date of separation) and then to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not merely stringing together a series of words, phrases, concepts and factual truisms; and it is often the incoherent narrative which not only fails to meet the legal burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement claim, but further, is harmed by providing too much information, whether intentionally or not.

The predetermined defeat of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not necessarily denied because of the substantive incoherence of one’s statement of disability; rather, more often than not, it is the unintended divulgence of information neither necessary nor true, which often provides the fodder for the fox to further the stealth of his slyness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire