Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Next Steps

It is always the next steps which determine the relevance and efficacy of the prior ones; a misstep can extinguish the progress made from the ones before; a stumble can irrevocably diminish the gains already made; and a fall can destroy the foundation of past steps already taken.

What to do next? We can stumble through; brashly forge forward despite unmapped territories that can harm and destroy; and we can even try and “manage” things by taking small, incremental steps, with trepidation and lacking of confidence, hoping for good things to occur despite our best wishes and hopeful optimism.  Or, we can consult with experts and specialists in order to gain a roadmap, or even hire a guide who has been down this mountain path before, and allow for the gains already garnered to account for something, instead of blindly destroying all that we worked for by forging ahead thoughtlessly like the proverbial bull in a china shop.

That is the problem with Federal and Postal employees who try and prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application without expert legal assistance: every case prepared by the person suffering from the medical condition believes his or her’s to be a “slam dunk” case — for, if the one who suffers from the medical condition prepares and submits his or her case, it is the same person “one and all” of the person experiencing the medical condition and the one who describes the very experience, such that no amount of objectivity can maintain the necessary distance between the two.

Consulting and hiring an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may not necessarily guarantee a “win”; but it does help to ensure that the next steps do not extinguish the prior years of investing in your Federal or Postal career, by making sure that the next steps mean something beyond the stumble, hesitation, or sudden fall.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The facade of happiness

There are weather-related “fronts” — of “cold fronts” and “warm fronts” bringing in the freshness of change, a sudden modulation of temperature and a gust of windy hollows echoing through valleys and down into the chill of our bones.  They change the temperature of the air around us, and often moods are impacted as well.

Then, there are also “fronts” of human characteristics — of “putting on a brave front”; of making a “frontal assault”; and of these latter, we realize that there is always something behind, like the wizard concealed by the curtain undrawn.  We all of us put on “fronts” — and like the weather fronts that fool us at first that Spring may be nigh or Winter’s discontent may be around the corner, the “brave” front may be just a put-on, just like the “frontal assault” is likely a ruse to deploy one’s forces all at once to meet the enemy head on.

Of all the fronts, it is the facade of happiness that fools the most, even one’s self, into thinking that contentment is the amassing of objects surrounding, careers advancing and problems left avoiding.  The facade of happiness works well for a season, so long as the fool who buys the bridge of smiles never lifts the veil an inch to peer into the darkness of a soul in anguish.  Happiness is a fleeting state of existence; here for a moment today, it vanishes like the spirits of yesterday’s underworld where gods were chosen to wander the earth in ashen looks of greying days.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the facade of happiness has likely been an essential tool for survival in this past year, if not longer.

It allows for the Federal or Postal worker to put on a “brave front”, to fool the others for a time — somewhat like the cold front that descends upon the south in the middle of summer to remind one that change is in the air, or the “architectural front” that gives an old building a facelift and draws people inward as an inviting new asset.

But don’t be fooled; for the facade of happiness can never hide for long the suffering beneath, and for the Federal or Postal worker, preparing a 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, is often the first real step towards an abiding and real happiness, as opposed to the fake smile that conceals beneath the facade of happiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Happiness revisited

What is it that makes people happy?  Is it constituted by generic categories (like “wealth”, “fame”, “friendships”, “popularity”, etc.), or is it specific to each individual (i.e., for Joe, it is to have sufficient time daily to become lost in reading; for Alice, the opportunity to go out with friends at least once a week; for Mary and Steve, to be in one another’s company, etc.) such that, while specific conditions can be described as the prerequisite for individual happiness, they can nonetheless be categorized into more generic forms while never losing the unique content of that which constitutes the essential ingredients for such individual happiness?

If generically-based, can it be “bottled” — i.e., advertised and sold?  Isn’t that what much of commercial advertising is all about — not the product itself, although that is the ultimate goal, but of the underlying message that by means of the product, the end will result in happiness?

Thus, teeth whiteners and dental conglomerates don’t just sell straightened teeth or gleaming smiles; rather, they sell happiness.  Otherwise, why else would everyone be smiling stupidly and pretending (for that is what actors and actresses do) that they are ecstatic in their roles?  And car insurance, life insurance, reverse mortgages and financial institutions — what are they selling but happiness through security and a sense of peace?

More importantly, should happiness ever be a goal, or is it best to allow it to remain as a byproduct and a natural consequence of a worthy life’s endeavors?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the issue of one’s happiness is always present in stark contrast to the current human condition of deteriorating health: for, misery is the flip-side of happiness, and to that old standardized testing torture we all had to undergo as school children, happiness is to health as misery is to ___?  What would be the appropriate word used to fill in the blank?  Ill-health?  Sickness?

When one’s health deteriorates, the priorities of life suddenly come into sharper focus, for health is the foundation from which all else flows. Happiness, one begins to realize, cannot be the center and foundation; it is, instead, a byproduct of good health, solid relationships and productive careers, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who begins to suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, serious consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted, reviewed by and approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Implications

Merely putting a ‘thus’ or ‘therefore’ does not create the necessary nexus between the facts proffered, the evidence presented and the conclusion declared; implications by definition require some work on the part of the audience, as the bridge not explicitly apparent must by necessity mandate mental connections to be drawn from otherwise disparate fields of facts.

How far can the law be stretched?  For so-called “originalists”, it is allegedly only the plain meaning of the text itself that can be gleaned, without any further “interpretation” beyond what is “originally intended”.  But lawyers go beyond the central meaning of legal opinions all the time; it is the job of a good attorney to stretch the application beyond what is originally meant or intended; and it is up to the next judge before whom such argumentation is tested to place limits and boundaries when the proposed stretch has gone a bridge too far.

How far, for example, can the “Bruner Argument” be made in a Federal Disability Retirement case?  Can the fact of a separation based upon “excessive absences” be used to demand of OPM that the Bruner Presumption should be applied, especially when parallel facts clearly establish that during the same time period of taking exhaustive Sick Leave and excessive LWOP, the Federal or Postal employee had multiple doctor’s appointments and was medically advised not to go to work?  Of course, arguments can always be made — but the real point is, Can one make an effective and persuasive argument?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, those conclusions by implication need to be carefully crafted.  For, while you may see the bridges connecting the two or more land masses that are otherwise separated by the rivers and tributaries, it is up to the applicant in an OPM Disability Retirement case to make explicit and obvious those implications that may otherwise be lost in the administrative morass of complexities inherent in every Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Proper Sequence

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers seeking to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, is there a proper sequence in preparing the Standard Forms?  Does it matter if one set of forms are prepared or taken out of sequence?

Or, is the fact that the two primary sets of forms — the SF 3107 series and the SF 3112 series — are already provided in an ordered manner (i.e., for the SF 3107 series, first the “Application for Immediate Retirement”, then the Schedules A, B & C, then forms for the Agency to complete; and for the SF 3112 series, first the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, then the Supervisor’s Statement, the form for the Physician, etc.), reflective of the sequence one should complete them?

This, of course, brings up another and more important question: Would you trust the government to look out for your own best interests in completing the series of Standard Forms (i.e., SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) in the order that they want you to complete them, or should you complete them in a manner that looks after your own best interests, separate and apart from the order that the Federal Government and OPM wants you to fill them out?

There is, in the end, a proper sequence to everything, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is no different from every other kind of form and content to be completed.  The way and manner that OPM and the Federal government wants you to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily imply any nefarious intent; it is just a difference in deciding whose best interests are you looking after — your own, or OPM’s?

In the end, all of the Standard Forms (again, the SF 3107 Series and the SF 3112 Series) must all be filled out completely, and some might conclude that the order and sequence of completing them shouldn’t matter, inasmuch as they all have to be completed anyway.  But you may want to pause and reflect for a moment: Does “proper sequence” imply that the Federal Government and OPM have prepared the SF 3107 and SF 3112A for the benefit of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, or for their own convenience?

Tricks tend to trip, and the trips are not merely the destination from point A to point B, but a hidden accident waiting to happen if you don’t complete SF 3107 and SF 3112 in their proper sequence — and that means, not necessarily in the order of their appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Relating negative events

Bad things come in pairs, or is it triplets?  Is there a tendency to relate and categorize in terms of color, logical sequence, similarities and characteristics?  Is the Kantian model of imposing categories upon an otherwise orderless universe the reason why we relate negative events in bunches, like grapes growing upon vines waiting to be picked?  Or do bad things happen in combinations naturally, as a law that cannot be avoided?

When we learn that others have been speaking ill of us, or of unkind statements and gossiping rumors spread about, do we not then consider the look of those around us and begin to suspect that the facial frown was directed at us, the distracted individual is not merely lost in his or her own thoughts, but is deliberately ignoring and shunning us, and even the dog that was once friendly is heard to emit a low-growling sound of unfriendly disposition?

Relating negative events is a natural response to a world that is orderless, and one that can be cruel — a perspective that is easily and readily confirmed by the uncaring attitude not just from an impervious universe, but from those who pretend to be out best friend, as well.

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, the Universal Law that dictates relating negative events becomes unavoidable: Suddenly, because you have taken too much SL and have requested FMLA, you are no longer the “golden boy” (or girl) who can be relied upon, and next comes the leave restrictions; the “Memorandum of Warning”, and then even a PIP; and what next?

Termination is the target for the future.

All the while, the “negative event” was the deterioration of one’s health, which then set into motion all of the other negative events which became related one to the other.

Bad things, unfortunately, happen in bunches, and it is important to initiate a “positive” element and infuse a “good” thing into the middle of those bunches of negative events, and preparing, formulating and filing 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, is that positive step one can take for one’s self in the morass of relating all of those negative events that seem to have occurred without your consent.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire