Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Preparations

Would you hold a dinner party without preparing?  Or attend an important meeting, host a regal gathering of accomplished celebrities or go camping in the wilds of winter’s ferocity — without making adequate preparations?

The elaborate extent of such preparations is often correlated with the importance, significance, relevance and complexity of the issue at hand, the engagement to be embraced or the event to be held.  Preparations are a vital component to the successful engagement of whatever one undertakes, and lack of it often guarantees a result of negative returns.

How does one prepare for the preparation, formulation and filing of 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?  Does one go out and ask the Human Resource Department of one’s agency, and thereby put to the winds which carry gossip about the Agency and allow the gods of the underworld to disseminate the implication that “X is filing for disability retirement”?  Do you dare test the oft-told adage in the Federal Government that “confidentiality begins with the Human Resource Office of one’s agency — and likewise, ends there”?

Or, perhaps “preparation” is merely of the ad hoc sort — of downloading the various forms (SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, at a minimum) and beginning to fill them out, and somehow sifting through the multiple instructions and packaging a Federal Disability Retirement application?

Preparation for the initiation of any worthwhile endeavor should, at a minimum, involve seeking some advice from an “expert”, and in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately filed with and decided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law should be a minimal step in such an important and consequential process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The out-of-tune band

There is something particularly annoying about a piece of music, an orchestral ensemble or a simple song that is out of synchronized perfection, or put quite simply, out of tune.

The annoyance can be traced, of course, to the origin of the discordant piece; the “band” itself, the group of musicians or the orchestra or symphony that is responsible for the unpleasant sound waves that drift through the molecular structure of the unseen world and pervades down into the refractive caverns of one’s ears, then interprets through neurons firing in order to “hear” the vibrations that are supposedly in consonance with one another such that it becomes a coherent song, piece or musical collection.

The out-of-tune band is indeed an annoyance, and we believe should be outlawed and made illegal.  Short of that, what is it about a discordant collection of individual instruments that makes it unpleasant?

Taken individually, perhaps each player of a particular instrument can play it with utmost perfection; yet, when two or more players come together, it makes for an exponentially complicated attempt at coalescence, harmonious combination and synchronized heavenliness.

Getting married – of two different people coming together and making a lifetime commitment without killing one another – is difficult enough; getting a band together and coordinating disparate sounds and vibrations and, through practice, creating music that approaches a pleasantness of sounds – now, that is what you call nigh impossible, and somewhat like marriage in the sounds of silence (sorry, but somehow one must always try and include Simon and Garfunkel’s classic; and, of course, we must ask the eternal question: What ever happened to Art Garfunkel?) that we all strive to achieve by perfection of heavenly voices.

A Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat like trying to put a band together, as well.  Coordinating all of the elements – the Statement of Disability; the medical evidence, making the legal arguments; delineating the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement packet into a coherent whole such that it does not “sound” discordant, which then hints at a trough of suspicion or insincerity, which then further leads back to an “annoyance” at the originator of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, and a likely denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – is an important step towards an uncertain outcome.

Like the out-of-tune band, the success of a Federal Disability Retirement application cannot be just “putting together” a few documents here and there and haphazardly writing one’s Statement of Disability; no, it must be put together so that there is coherence, coordination and coalescence in bringing together all of the evidence for such an endeavor to be deemed “a fine tune”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Then, forgotten

To die is forgivable; to be forgotten, not so much.  Perhaps that is why the 15-minute rule of one’s fame is so important to most people; that, to be “appreciated” in a life-long struggle just to remain relevant makes fools of us all, and the basis upon which con-men and scams continue to effectively play their course.

It is, of course, the “then” that matters – that prelude to the state of being forgotten, that defines what a person’s life was, remains, and will continue to be in the future amongst and amidst the remainder of a family, friends and acquaintances left behind.  For, the long and wide expanse before the “then” constitutes a life lived, the experiences encountered and the salacious intertwinements amassed; in short, it is what a person is remembered by which the definition of a life well lived and the cumulative amalgamation of challenges met.  Then, after all is said and done, the person is forgotten.  Oh, for a time, not entirely, perhaps.

In the painful memories left behind with family; of a legacy foretold and secured; but then, even those relatives, friends and loved ones slowly fade away into the eternal trash bin of history’s unnamed tombs, and then, forgotten.

Why else do people wave and try to get noticed when television cameras are rolling?  Or try and get that footnote published in the Guinness Book of Records?  Is the innate fear of becoming forgotten so powerful as to make fools of old men and not merely excusable because of youth yet unfettered?  Is it so important to be secured in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, in some footnote or esoteric reference that history will record, will annotate an accomplishment, an event or some memorable deed that we did; and, even if that were to happen, would not the same result occur – then, forgotten?

History is full of forgotten men and women – even those who have been recorded in the annals of relevant history.  How many battles and wars where young men just beginning the journey upon a life filled with potentiality and the first kiss of love, cuts short a future yet unlived, and instead becomes buried in the timeless echoes of a graveyard unrecognized?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who fear the dictum of “Then, forgotten”, either with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal facility, or just among the colleagues once worked with, the plain fact is that too much focus upon the “forgotten” part of the equation undermines the precursor prior to the “then” part.  There is always life after a career, and greater experiences beyond the work one has done.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should not be based upon any fear or unwillingness to “let go”; instead, it should be based upon a recognition that health and getting better is, and should always be, a priority that overrides the fear of one’s own fragile mortality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Power of Approval

Whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can have a significant impact upon a Federal Disability Retirement application is a question often asked; then, of course, there are always suspicions that certain individuals and entities may try to undermine or otherwise sabotage, out of pure animus and acrimonious low-down-ness (not a legal or technical term, by any stretch of the imagination), by going through “back-door” channels and attempting to influence or otherwise paint a portrait of perverse circumstances.

At best, agencies, individuals and entities of the Federal kind can remain neutral and harmless; at worst, they can allege unspecified and unidentifiable, nefarious circumstances of associated behaviors or conduct issues otherwise unrelated but left to the unimaginative creativity of an OPM administrative specialist.  But then, since those would all be illegal and unofficial acts of retribution and retaliation, they would never be validated nor publicly acknowledged, anyway, and so only the suspicions would remain, without verifiable evidence of ascertained capability to influence or otherwise persuade a negative determination to be reached by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

To their credit, OPM asserts complete and total independence, and refuses to allow for any influence but for the legal criteria in evaluating a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the individual is under FER, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and whether the Federal Disability Retirement application comes from the U.S. Postal Service or from one of hundreds of Federal agencies and departments across the country.

Neither a Federal agency nor the U.S. Postal Service can promise or otherwise grant a Federal Disability Retirement application to a Federal or Postal worker; only the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can do that.  Empty promises aside, whether by implication, inference or alleged influence, OPM is the only entity which can approve a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Yes, agencies can be more helpful than not (though that is rare); agencies can somewhat harm (though a Federal OPM Disability Retirement application is ultimately based upon the medical evidence gathered); and yes, agencies more often than not attempt to undermine rather than assist (despite thousands of Human Resource Specialists across the country claiming otherwise); despite all of this, it comes down to a single entity — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and no other agency — which grants or denies an approval for a Federal Disability Retirement application.  As such, beware of promises made; be cautious of settlements reached; and be dubious of claims of egomaniacal exponents of hyperbolic vituperations; they normally amount to the value of the verbal paper they are written upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112B

OPM Standard Form 3112B: Supervisor’s Statement:

Were it that managerial approaches were diverse, and that such differences in stylistic methodologies constituted a perfect tailoring of individual personality to a particular job at hand; then, in that event, efficiency would predominate, scandals of long waiting times would disappear, and Federal and Post Office Workers would never be tested in their penultimate entanglement with the requisite virtue of patience.  But this is the real world. This is not some parallel universe in which dreams are dictated by wants and desires, and satisfaction of personal goals are attained at a whim.

In the harsh reality of technological onslaughts and daily toils of repetitive boredom, supervisors are placed in positions of trust, often misfits in an universe of onerous regulatory requirements and mandates.  As in all sectors of society, both public and private, there are good ones and bad, competent and their opposite; caring and callous; cold, indifferent, or warm beyond a fault.  But because of the busy-ness of the world in which we live, being aware of, or having the time to care for, the problems of subordinates, is a rare trait.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal Medical Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the process will require the request for completion of SF 3112B, or more commonly known as the Supervisor’s Statement. For some, it will merely be a nuisance in the mere act of requesting; for others, a chaotic turmoil of sorts, filled with angst and thoughts of retribution and retaliation.

Ultimately, however, this is where standardized forms work for the benefit of Federal and Postal employees, because of the specificity of questions posed in SF 3112B.  Yes, there are blank spaces for some extemporaneous comments; yes, attachments to SF 3112B are allowed; but the most relevant queries are merely requests for box-checking, and that is where brevity is to the benefit of the Federal employee or Postal worker.

In the end, the process of filing for Federal Disability benefits through OPM is based upon the sufficiency of medical documentation, and not what a Supervisor says or leaves out in SF 3112B.  That is why an executed methodology of a coherent strategy to obtain evidentiary support is so crucial to a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee Disability Insurance benefits, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Temptation of More

It is similar to the proverbial truth of the “straw that broke the camel’s back”; or of the wise commoner who saved the king’s daughter from drowning, and who was offered a bounty of rice, to which he proposed the following: on each square of the chessboard, a doubling of the number from the previous square.  The temptation of the exponential factor is almost always unable to be resisted; that is the converse principle by which we live: by adding one (we are told), it will make our lives less complicated (so we believed).

Technology and the addition of each innovation would buy us more leisure time; work and stress would be lessened, because the salesman persuaded us that it would be so.  And so we have become accustomed, attuned, and trained to think in a linear, progressively upward trend; that the more we accumulate, the happier we will become, until one day the economics of aggregation become so burdensome that the weight of all of those additional threads of straw pile upon us with ever-growing pressures of daily living, and the salesman who sold that last gadget has walked away with the sack full of rice, content to have saved our lives (or laughing all the way to the bank with a knowing grin).

It is the conditioning of a cumulative-based society.  And, of course, when the burden is further exacerbated by a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to remain at the same purchasing power of economic viability, we are willing to sacrifice our health for the sake of more stuff.  For the Federal and Postal Workers who have dedicated their collective lives to furthering the mission of one’s agency, it is often a little more complex and complicated than just the economic issue; it is entangled with a sense of self-sacrifice, and a loyalty tending towards irrational discourse.  Perhaps this is a natural course for things; perhaps it is “the mission” which first tempted and attracted the Federal or Postal Worker to begin with.

In any event, Federal and Postal Workers fight to the end before contemplating filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, and often to the detriment of one’s own health.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there, however, for the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Whether under FERS or CSRS, it is ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

While it is an annuity which will reduce the purchasing power of the Federal or Postal employee, the question which all Federal or Postal employees must ask is the following: What is the priority of one’s life, and at what point in our lives did we come to believe that acquiring things were more important than life itself?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Differences

The weather comes upon us; as a cloudy day dominates, so a sense of darkness and foreboding can impact one’s emotional life; some days are better than others.

In the virtual world of our antiseptic lives, surrounded by such advancement of technology which separates and bifurcates; we think that we are different from other species, and indeed, a comparative analysis can be a potent and foundational argument in establishing the superiority of the human animal, as in, “Can X do Y?” “Can a chimpanzee sketch a rough draft of an architectural phenomenon like the Roman Colosseum?” (Then again, who among us could do that?).  Some would say that the titular character in Camus’ classic novel, The Stranger, Meursault, has it “right” when he attempts to ascribe blame to the heat of the day, the brightness of the sunlight, for his acts if human degeneracy.  Such an explanation is as valid as any that one can give for justifying the murder of another.

Prolonged stress can affect performance levels on jobs that require high levels of focus and concentration

Prolonged stress can affect performance levels on jobs that require high levels of focus and concentration

We tend to desire an intellectualization of our actions which somehow differentiates us from “others”, when in fact the environment impacts us no matter the extent of engagement in placing artificial walls around ourselves.

Medical conditions have a tendency to bring out the humanness in us.  This is because, when a medical condition impacts our lives, it is a final recognition that an invasive malignancy has been able to penetrate the artificial walls we have so carefully constructed, and it reminds us of our fragile, organic essence.  For Federal and Postal Workers who have been impacted by medical conditions, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to continue in one’s chosen vocation, an admission of vulnerability and mortality comes to the fore. To counter this, a change of venue is often needed, and is the required prescription in order to push against the fear and loathing which accompanies such an admission.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is often the wisest step which the Federal or Postal employee can do.  There are many stories of Federal and Postal Workers who have obtained Federal Disability Retirement benefits, who reflect back and declare that it was the smartest move of their collective lives; but then, when we are stuck in the rut of our antiseptic lives, it is often the most comfortable place to remain, and so we fight against our own self-interest.

And, indeed, in the end, that is all that the prosecutor was seeking for from Meursault — just a word, a deed, a symbol — that he was at least somewhat remorseful.  But Camus would have none of that for his character; only the stark and naked honesty, that he was no different from the surroundings of nature which enveloped him on that fateful day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire