FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Of frauds and believers

Who is the greatest fraud of all time?  Of whom do we consider a “fraud”, and what is the criteria upon which we compare and determine the final judgment?

Certainly, many would include Bernie Madoff in that category; but what of tricksters and hoaxes that will have you believe in magical powers of levitation, bending spoons and non-invasive surgeries?  Is the greater hoax based upon the sheer number of believers, or upon the amount gained and the fervency of trust betrayed?  Do the number of believers following a cult leader count, based upon the quantifiable nature of the fraud itself, or is it the level of unquestioning belief that makes up for the lesser crowds garnered?

And what about the common fraudster — of the smiling face during times of need, but the quick stab once your worth is no longer apparent?  And of the workplace where the smiling backstabber whispers in conspiratorial glee, when once the boss listens and smirks at your every deed, replacing the accolades once passing for sincerity when all that was truly there was a Noh mask that concealed the sneer of disdain?  And what of that believer who persuades all of the others who were doubtful, but because you respected him or her, the fact that the believer lead others into the flock of deception — is that first believer also a fraudster?

And in the lonely quietude of one’s own thoughts and reflections, studies have shown that a great many people believe they themselves are fraudsters — perhaps not on the grand scale of having bilked millions, but merely that you are not whom you appear to be, and thus the empty shell within haunts in the conscience of a sleepless night.

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 employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often a sense that a “fraud” is being committed — that having to be forced to “hide” the seriousness of the medical condition at the expense of one’s health; of striving to extend one’s Federal or Postal career beyond that which is medically advisable has been a necessity; and of having that conscience in disrepair because you cannot do everything that you once were able to — these are the characteristics of the Federal employee and Postal worker who possess a high degree of conscience and work ethic.

But do not mistake and confuse the difference between “fraud” and “conscience”; for, the former has no inkling of the latter, and it is because of the latter that the Federal workforce is so effective in administering goods and services in such a wide range of ways, with so little to work with.  But when it comes time to take care of one’s health, the Federal or Postal employee who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, must take into account the cost of fraud — of being untrue to one’s self by continuing in a job which is no longer consistent with one’s health.

Now, that is the greatest fraud of all — of lying to yourself and allowing your health to deteriorate.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: The Clock

It is an interesting device.  We can try and project back to a time of its non-existence, or at least when not every household owned one.  What could it have been like?  Where the hour was guessed at by the position of the sun – or was that not even part of the thought process?  Did the sun, dawn, dusk and twilight merely present a foreboding for a different paradigm?

Certainly, minutes and seconds likely had conceptual meaninglessness, and everyone worked, played and lived for the “moment”, without great regard or concern for the next day, the following season, or a decade hence.  Ship’s captains had a greater sense of future foreboding, though not necessarily of time, but of oncoming storms or changes in the currents; farmers lived season to season, and fretted as they still do about droughts or floods that might destroy crops; but as we entered into modernity, it was the grind of the clock that set the day for the city dweller, where payment for labor earned was remitted not by the rising and setting of the sun, but by increments of hours, minutes and labor beyond the darkness of a day ended.

At what point did time entrap us into a thought-process of expectancy that destroys the joy of a living moment?

If Friday provides a needed anticipation for a weekend of rest and repose, we immediately destroy and capacity to enjoy it by looking at the clock and realizing how many hours and minutes have passed by, and further denigrate our ability to appreciate by calculating the remainder of time.  We can become obsessed with the clock – its ticking diminution by projecting the decrease; the foreboding of what is yet to come, though it is merely within our minds; and the constant checking of incremental living of a life as against the clock that rules.

Medical conditions tend to remind us of the clock; or, perhaps it is the opposite, where the clock reminds us of our mortality when we suffer from a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity, the clock can serve as both a reminder as well as an obsession of foreboding thought processes.

Yes, the clock is likely ticking in a proverbial sense in terms of the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service having the patience (does such an animal exist for either?) in trying to “work with” the medical condition (a euphemism often interpreted as, “You better become fully productive soon, or else”), but in a more real sense, the Federal or Postal employee must make a decision at some point as to the prioritizing of one’s health as opposed to the positional elements of the job which is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

By law, the Federal or Postal employee who is released, separated or terminated (yes, there is a distinction between the three, but for the Federal employee of Postal worker, not enough of significance to define them here), the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of such separation from service.  Certainly, in that instance, the clock begins to tick, and not just in a proverbial sense but in real legal terms.  One need not, however, wait for such an event to realize the clock’s significance; watching the clock as the medical condition continues to deteriorate, is reminder enough that time rules us each day whether or not we succumb to it, or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: Life’s Dispensation

It is often a word which is accompanied with the adjective, “special“, as in “special dispensation”; but a close review of such a phrase would reveal the redundancy of placing the two words together.  For, to have a dispensation is to be offered a unique situation where one is already exempted from the usual and customary rules applicable; and to insert the adjective, “special’, adds little to the exclusionary nature of the occasion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and where the medical condition is beginning to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties occupied in the Federal sector and U.S. Postal Service, it is the disability and medical condition itself which gives rise to the dispensation requested, demanded or otherwise warranted.

That is precisely why resentment, hostility and exclusion occurs as a reactionary response by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service: because special treatment outside of the normal rules of employment tend to engender such negative responses.

Filing for FMLA; requesting an accommodation in order to continue working; becoming entangled in EEO Complaints, grievances and the like — they all set you apart, and require actions outside of the normative parameters of daily relationships within the employment sector.  And that ultimate reaction by the agency, of “sticking it to the guy” even when it involves a medical condition impacting one’s employment and livelihood — one wonders, how can others be so cruel?  It is justified precisely through the psychology of the “herd mentality“, reduced to its most natural form in a single question:  “Who does that guy think he is?”

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it often becomes necessary to follow up with the ultimate dispensation of that which one’s employment offers — that of filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

It is not always the case that an employment package offers an annuity which (A) provides for continuation of insurance benefits and (B) allows one to work in a different vocation while receiving the annuity; but Federal Disability Retirement allows for both, so when the situation arises and there is a dispensation which reveals a solution to a problem, it is indeed a special circumstance which should be recognized as such, while ignoring the redundancy of life’s tautology.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Wake-up Call

It can be requested pursuant to a prior arrangement or, with today’s technology, prewired on one’s own electronic device.  Time was when there existed an employed switchboard operator sitting in front of a pock-marked surface deftly inserting plugs of a dozen or more connections simultaneously, like an octopus whose coordinated extremities swirl about under and over with cross-purposed entanglements, pulling and inserting, with headphones half dangling, calmly stating, “This is your wakeup call.  Have a good morning!”

Then, of course, there is the other, more unwelcome meaning, of a negative connotation concerning an event or occurrence which portends of that which one may have always known, but only now realizes because of the impending doom.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it may be the chronicity of the medical condition; or, the increasing outside pressures continuing to pile on, of leave-usage restrictions, suspension letters, placing you on a PIP, or the ultimate proposal of removal.

Whatever the proverbial wake-up call, it is time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.   The call itself is merely the beginning of the process; there is the entirety and complexity to undergo, including the gathering of the compendium of medical documentation, the formulation of one’s Statement of Disability and the coordinating of all of the elements of the case, and then the submission and waiting.

The bureaucratic and administrative components of the process can sometimes appear to be archaic and somewhat anachronistic; but like the switchboard operator of yesteryear, the necessity of the service is never in doubt; it is merely the apparatus of change which remains relevant, and properly, and effectively preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a mandate of action compelled by the wakeup call entitled “Life and the inevitability of change“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Those Days of Mental Clarity

One often remarks that we live for such days; when energy, motivation, clarity of mind and enthusiasm for life surges through our veins; one’s outlook is positive, the mystery of life is resolved, and no challenge is too onerous to overcome.  But then the mundane monotony of repetitive thoughtlessness returns; and life is back to the normalcy of day-to-day living.

Do we really live for such moments?  Or is it actually the opposite effect — that such days are mere reminders that living constitutes a linear course of relative quietude, interrupted by interludes of awakenings, like dreams impeded by nightmares in the solitude of self-contained solace.

Medical conditions have a similar impact; days of chronic pain, of lethargy and depression; and the cycle of becoming momentarily pain-free reminds one that there exists a plateau of health where the negation of illness or loss of wellness is the actual normative lifestyle, but where a medical condition reverses such a state of consciousness such that we adapt and come to accept a life of pain and chronic illness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daily pain and impact of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress-induced somatic disorders, as well as lesser-accepted physical conditions of Fibromyalgia, unspecified cognitive disorders, etc., can be the foundational basis of a Federal Disability Retirement claim.  OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit which is available to all Federal and Postal workers who are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, once the minimum years of Federal Service is met, and the preponderance of the evidence proves that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional requirements of the job.

Like those days of mental clarity, the necessity of filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits becomes a reality at some point in the evolution of one’s career, in the struggle to maintain sanity of health in a world which allows for chaos in this bureaucratized phenomena called the Federal system of government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Long Goodbye

The relegation to the basement office; the loss of niceties with coworkers; the negation of superlatives from higher ups; the clues become overt, blatant and uninviting.  Long goodbyes are often fertile ground for the souring of relationships forged over decades, and human interactions which reveal a perversity once thought uncommon.  Does the past count for anything, anymore?

Medical conditions and their impact are meant to evoke empathetic responses; instead, they often bring out the worst in humanity.  For Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, they portend of headaches and interruption of efficiency; they are a bother.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the growing absences, the need to attend to one’s medical conditions — all become the priority of life and living.

From the agency’s viewpoint, it is a malignancy of logistical magnitude; another problem to be solved; and the longer the goodbye, the greater the extenuating interruption.  It is this clash of interests which calls for resolution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an indicator to the agency that there is an end in sight, and once filed, it is merely a waiting game before finality of decisions is reached.  Often, the mere filing relieves the increasing pressure felt, like the encasement of boiling water which needs an outlet.

Medical conditions often require a long journey of sorts; it is the long goodbye which makes it all the more evident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire