OPM Medical Retirement: Beyond Forms

Providing evidence and proving your case

Some of Plato’s works elucidate concerns which belie clarity of thought, where conceptual confusions become enmeshed with absurd abstractions and unnecessary complications beyond the parameters of linguistic capacity to provide technical comprehension; in a word, he was complicating matters.

The Republic embraced a bold insight into human nature and the political apparatus of power; some of his later works provide fodder for those who allege esotericism; for, even Aristotle quipped with ironic sarcasm the plenitude of conceptual confusions inherent in the system of Forms having an “objective” reality apart from the physical universe.  But even today, we must contend with forms — forms in the form of bureaucratic mandates.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who finds themselves in a state of necessity because of a medical condition, following the requirements of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is something which must be embraced.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is not simply a matter of filling out forms, however; it is the combination of gathering sufficient evidence such that it meets the burden of proof; of coordinating the evidence with formulating persuasive argumentation such that the law supports the evidence compiled; then, to present the whole as a coherent pathway to a successful outcome — an approval of one’s Disability Retirement claim issued by OPM.

Just as within the dusty notebooks of Plato’s lectures, the linguistic concepts of Forms can be confused with the physical manifestation of appearances within the perceived world, so the Federal and Postal employee can become confounded and confused by the modern day requirement of forms within the Leviathan of a bureaucracy; but all forms required, whether the SF 2801 series for CSRS employees, the SF 3107 forms for FERS employees, and the SF 3112 series for both CSRS and FERS employees — all merely constitute the minimal requirements.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not merely a matter of forms; it must go beyond such standard forms; and as Plato’s Republic is not merely a form of government, but a blueprint for the elite to take power, so the proper preparation and presentation on OPM’s Disability Retirement forms must follow the dictates of totalitarianism, lest one is left in the shadows of that proverbial Cave in the allegory of appearances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Three Little Pigs

We are all familiar with the fable of the anthropomorphic three little pigs and the materials used in building their respective houses.  The point of the story itself, however, concerns not the elements used, but the craftsmanship employed, and the effort expended, which reveals the underlying values and provides for fertile fodder in teaching the importance of hard work, careful application and sufficient preparatory labor in securing one’s future.

It wasn’t as if there was any justifying rationale for the first two pigs to have built such insufficient shelters; the moral lessons to be drawn can include:  laziness; lack of orientation for the future; insufficient imaginations; a desire for momentary pleasures as opposed to delayed gratification for future gains; the importance of care and craftsmanship; or, to leave it as just a good story.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lessons gleaned from the fable of the three little pigs can be replete with guiding principles:  building the foundation through the proverbial block-by-block methodology; care in the crafting of the linguistic bridge between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions impacting one’s health; deliberation and agonizingly detailed effort expended to formulate one’s Statement of Disability in SF 3112A; compilation of a sufficient legal basis and argumentation in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, etc.

For, the house that the third pig built withstood the multiple onslaught of  attempted subversion not because the adversary failed to expend sufficient effort, but because one’s own work proved worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Working Paradigm

Most doctors, attorneys, and the general public are familiar with the concept of “disability benefits”, but only in relation to the Social Security Administration.  It is rare that disability benefits are associated with, or are known to exist, separately for Federal employees or the U.S. Postal Service, in relation to a concept which is progressively unique and creatively formulated within a context of a society and a bureaucracy which is not normally know for such characteristics:  a system of disability where the disabled individual is encouraged to seek employment without being penalized for earning income by immediately terminating the disability benefits.

Yes, for Federal and Postal employees, there is the cut-off margin of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays; and, yes, if the private-sector employment is too similar in nature to the positional requirements and essential elements of the former Federal or Postal job, such parallel identity can result in a determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the former Federal employee or Postal worker is deemed medically recovered; but within those generous parameters, the paradigm upon which Federal Disability Retirement is based, is what can only be described as a “working paradigm”, precisely because, as a system of incentives, it works, and as a practical matter, it encourages Federal and Postal workers to continue to remain productive in the workforce, and to perpetuate a self-paying system, as opposed to the de-incentivized system of Social Security, which has an extremely low threshold of allowable income before terminating benefits.

OPM Disability Retirement is effective precisely because it is a working paradigm — both in a pragmatic sense, and as a metaphorical basis for building a foundation for one’s future, as opposed to being stuck in the rut of an administrative bureaucracy which fails to understand and appreciate the human instinct to remain productive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Medical Retirement: Always the Fundamentals

Whether or at what stage of the process the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker finds him/herself in, it is always essential to harken back to the fundamentals of the legal criteria to meet.

One can become sidetracked by the complexity of the process; and, indeed, the bureaucratic, procedural hoops which one must always keep in mind while maneuvering through the process, tend to obfuscate and confuse.  Bureaucracies thrive upon complexities, just as most professions do; the greater the complexity, the higher need for continuation of the employment of experts to propagate the systemically confounding process.

In engaging the process itself, the Federal and Postal employee must distinguish between procedural issues and substantive cores; the administrative steps of the “what” to do, in contrast to the substantive evidence to be submitted.  Both are equally important; for, without the former, it may never reach the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and without the latter, even if it reaches the destination point, it may fail to meet the preponderance of the evidence test and attain a level of evidentiary sufficiency to make a difference.

Whether at the Initial Stage of the process, the Reconsideration Stage, or even an appeal to the U.S.Merit Systems Protection Board, it is always essential to keep in mind that the fundamentals of the case must always be kept at the fore.

Remember:  This is a “medical” disability retirement; the conduct of others, the meanness of coworkers, the harassment encountered, and the ill-treatment received over the years; while hurtful, and perhaps the catalyst for resentment, they are not the paths to follow in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Sisyphean Drudgery

The Myth of Sisyphus is well known, both because of the philosophical essay written by Camus, as well as through the Greek mythological narrative of the condemned figure to toil in endless meaninglessness, by rolling the boulder up the hill, only to watch it go down, and to repeat the process all over again.

For Camus and the existentialist viewpoint, it is in the very act of absurdity itself that meaning and significance can be derived; for the Greek citizen of yesteryear, it was perhaps the circularity of the human condition which provided for relevance in the telling of the myth. In either extrapolation, the powerful and profound story provides for an image of consequence in this modern age of technological overload, where causes are no longer believed in, customs no longer adhered to blindly, and social constraints no longer attached by meaningful obedience.

The absurdity of daily toil has come to a fruition point, where the great expanse of information in the age of the internet now destroys any definitional meaning, either in words, relationships, or for lives and livelihoods.  Crisis points often infuse momentary meaning in meaningless and mindless midpoints; and so, at the pinnacle of balance, just as the boulder meets the midpoint of the hill and balances for a millisecond upon the hill before “deciding” to roll forward, the point of reflective relevance engulfs Sisyphus within a frozen moment of infinity.

Medical conditions often have a similar effect and impact upon a life; for, in the turmoil of trauma, one asks those reflective questions as to the mundane:  what does it all mean?  What is the point?  But perhaps such questions of eternal queries last only for a brief moment in time, before pain, fear, angst and anxiety overtake; and in this physical world where materialism and the scientific narrative prevails and predominates, getting beyond pain and through the day, only to experience insomnia and unsolicited loss of solace is not enough to attain a meaningful existence.

Are there solutions?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, there is a likening of the work performed with the Sisyphean plight of the Greek mythological figure:  the greater bureaucracy representing the scene of turmoil; the medical condition representing the task itself; and the heroic feats of the meaningless in the context of the greater significance of life, surviving medical conditions and getting beyond pain, despondency, depression and anxiety, and the exit one attempts to find in order to escape from such a condition, leads one to that moment of absurdity and balance of the boulder at the pinnacle of the hill.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is a way to attain a level of restorative capacity in order to escape the vicious circularity of the toil which only further exacerbates one’s medical condition.

While never the answer to all, obtaining OPM Disability Retirement benefits allows for one to move forward, and to progress beyond the absurd.  Otherwise, the disabled Federal employee or the injured U.S. Postal Worker may find him or herself caught in the web of another narrative put forth by another well-known existentialist philosopher, entitled, No Exit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Spare Tire

No doubt the idea of a spare tire is derived from fear: fear of the unknown, concern for the future potential possibilities; anxieties related to what ifs. With the advent of advanced technology in tire manufacturing, the probabilities of a flat tire have exponentially decreased, and perhaps with it, the need for carrying a spare tire has crossed the threshold where such concerns should be allayed entirely.

But as with shark attacks, being hit by lightening, and other such phenomena where statistical concerns should make them insignificant, it is the person who experiences the calamity which defies any such argument about probability irrelevancies. For the person bitten by a shark, he fulfills the 100% chance of a shark attack.

Statistically speaking, Federal employees and Postal workers who become derailed in their careers because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, are numerically miniscule. But when the need arises, Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for a foundational annuity, such that the Federal employee or the Postal worker can continue to maintain a livelihood and plan for the future.

It represents the spare tire “in case of”, and the very availability of it represents an employment package which looks upon the value of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker not only as a commodity for the present, but a secured interest for the future. While complex in its bureaucratic and administrative procedures, Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for Federal and Postal employees to qualify for disability benefits when needed, like the spare tire unused but ready for performance.

Thus, the next time you see a car pulled off to the side of the road with a jack lifting a quadrant of the vehicle in an abnormal fashion, it may be an appropriate reminder that while spare tires are best left unused, it is there for a pragmatic purpose, as is the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Agency Accommodation Reiterated

In most cases, the agency is unable to accommodate the individual.  By “accommodation” is often meant lessening the workload, or temporarily allowing for the medical conditions resulting in certain limitations and restrictions to be taken into account — for purposes of travel, for sustained periods of sitting, for physical aspects of the job, etc.  But such temporary light-duty allowances do not constitute a legally viable “accommodation”.  But one must always remember that, while such measures by the Agency do not constitute an accommodation under the law, and as such do not preclude a Federal or Postal employee from filing for and being eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with the Agency providing for such temporary light duty modifications of the job.  In fact, it reflects well upon the agency that it would go to such extents, even if for only a temporary period of time, in hopes that the Federal or Postal employee will be able to sufficiently recover to return to “full duty”.  

Remember that there are at least two senses of the term “accommodation” — in the layman’s sense of some temporary measures to allow the employee to continue to work; then, in the legal sense of a viable “accommodation” under the law.  Don’t confuse one with the other.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire