OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The person I once knew

We all carry about that image of who we once were; or, perhaps of many of the person we once knew.  Which memory-bank do we wash upon, once the shores of present images dissipate and the lapping waves of bygone days have begun to fade, like the vestiges of old photographs submitting to time’s ravages in the decay of life’s cycles of natural degradation?

The person I once knew — was it of the boy who sat upon a beach and giggled as the foam of gentle waves sang upon the tickling bare feet?  Or the teenager who had acted like a fool and allowed for regrets to shadow one’s conscience for having been unkind to the unpopular girl who later turned into the beautiful swan and sang the merriment of forlorn days away?  Or of the young man or woman who had hopes and unlimited dreams that somehow were closeted for a future time, never to be reopened to dust them off when the opportunities had come and gone?

The person I once knew was the one who defied danger and laughed in the face of a greasy cheeseburger, but now is fearful of the next health crisis and the pain that wrings the neck of a squawking chicken.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker’s ability and capacity to continue to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is no longer important to consider the person whom once I knew, but rather, the person who will move forward into the future.

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 an indication that the greater importance of one’s future self is being recognized as opposed to the person I once knew, thus allowing for the past to be buried in favor of a future still bright with tomorrow’s promises.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Putting it all together

It is the disparate and disconnected narrative that often remains deficient — just short of the finish line and like the runner who suddenly steps upon a pothole on the road to the ticker-tape parade, the discombobulation that ensues can throw the entire coordination off, where feet become entangled and the arms fail to swing in rhythmic motion.

Have you ever watched how some runners have perfect coordination — arms swinging in cadence, the effortless motion of the legs, like the “feel” of silk upon a windy day where nothing gets entangled and everything is in perfect synchronization of timeless beauty?  Or, what of a child who has just begun to walk, trying to run — are they not all legs and arms bundled into a web of discord?

Putting things “all together” is like the runner who must coordinate breathing, arms in motion, legs in cadence and eyesight in guiding — of a perfection reached in order to arrive at a destination point called “the finish line”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to 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, the key to a successful outcome is partly based upon coordinating all of the elements into a synchronized whole — of the medical records and reports; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (as reflected on SF 3112A); of the legal arguments to be made and referenced, both as a shield (e.g., of preemptively countering any claim by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service that an “accommodation” has been provided) as well as a sword (e.g., asserting the Bruner Presumption where applicable, or the due consideration that must be given to VA Disability Ratings, etc.); and all of the other details besides.

Putting it all together” may seem like an effortless feat for an experienced runner, but for the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, who must put a Federal Disability Retirement packet all together, some assistance from an experienced “runner” — an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — might be in order.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: What we have to do

In once sense of the phrase, it denotes a duty or obligation; in another, the foundational basis of a practical, pragmatic nature – of that which we do, simply because it needs to be done in order to survive, to maintain a certain standard of living, or because we believe it is the “right” thing to do.  Each individual must decide for him or herself, of course, as to the criteria by which to determine that which we have to do, and the “what” will often be placed on a wide spectrum of moral ends that are meant to justify the means by which to proceed.

What we have to do – it is also a phrase that is said when shaking one’s head, as in the whispering to one’s self in gritting one’s teeth or biting our tongue and engaging in a soliloquy of thoughtful silence, saying, “What we have to do.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, despite the medical condition beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, it is a familiar refrain – of working through the pain, of trying to endure the paralyzing panic attacks or the heightened anxiety and depression that pervades, and to try and hide the medical condition and do what we have to do in order to economically survive – until it reaches that crisis point where the medical condition cannot be controlled, cannot be hidden, and comes bursting out like NFL players running through the tunnel from the locker rooms of one’s mind and body.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is just one of those other things that can be characterized as what we have to do.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a medical condition that begins to impede and prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the filing itself of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is what we have to do, especially if the alternative is to stay at the job or walk away with nothing, which are actually no choices at all.

What we have to do – a familiar refrain for the Federal or Postal employee, and a necessary next step if you suffer from a medical condition that impedes or prevents you from performing one or more of essential elements of your job.  After all, you’ve been doing what you have to do all of your life, and this is just one more instance of it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Hardened hearts

They are unseen, but exist; and like zombies that wander through the nighttime skies as mere shadows in a one-dimensional universe, the concealment of hardened hearts can only be kept secret for a short while.  Where does the apex begin, and the downward spiral begin?  At what point does one possess a hardened heart, and does it insidiously creep upon one without one’s knowledge, conscious thought or deliberative realization?

We fight against it; we refuse to submit to it; but life happens, disappointments abound and the subtle cravenness begins to slowly, inevitably overtake.

Hardened hearts result from the encounters with life’s misgivings, and the more the misgivings, the harder the heart hardens.  Is it mere cynicism?  Does it emanate and originate from a single encounter, or must there be multiple clashes, butting of heads and piercing of hearts before the innocence of youth transforms into a meanness of spirit?

Hatred is an emotion that festers and eats away; and like flesh-devouring predators that feel nothing about their prey, hardened hearts shrivel into a latency of unfeeling behaviors.  It is a difficult road but a necessary one to take – to resist, to fight against, and to protect the purity of one’s soul.  Hardened hearts are the result of giving up, of losing hope, and of turning one’s back upon a society that has otherwise already given up on an individual.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the onset of that condition known as “hardened hearts”, the symptoms are quite noticeable: of bitterness; of anxiousness in going to work; of the recognition that one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility does not show any loyalty towards you despite years and decades of dedicated work.

The diagnosis of a hardened heart, if the Federal or Postal employee suffers 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, may be to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In the end, hardened hearts are merely another happenstance of life’s misgivings, evidencing the cruelty of the world in which we live; but there are ways to avoid the final diagnosis of a mortality robbed of joy, and that may be by filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and “moving on” to try and save that last vestige of an innocent outlook upon life’s sunset of tears.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Once upon a time…

There are such fairytales, as well as reminiscences of a bygone era; or, when a traumatic event in one’s life bifurcates a “before” and differentiates from the “after”, such that we wanly smile and with eyes distant for yearning of a time now gone forever, we whisper to ourselves, “Once upon a time…

Old men do that; grouchy grandmothers relegated to nursing homes and old people’s enclaves; those who have variously been diagnosed with “personality disorders” or other such general umbrellas that allow for living in a previous timelessness of shallow memories; but the uniqueness of the phrase is that, for old people and other grouches, to whisper, “Once upon a time…” is to look backwards; whereas, for children, when the story begins with, “Once upon a time…” – it is forward looking, to a world of imagination and creativity.

Yes, the story itself may have the setting of a time before, but within the child’s imagination, he or she is projecting forward in the wayward paths of creative fantasies.

Then, of course, there are people who are beset with medical conditions – such as Federal or Postal workers who are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position occupied, and who whisper in a soliloquy of sorts, “Once upon a time…

Such reminiscences bifurcate a time “before” and a time “after” – where there was life before the onset of the medical condition, and the living hell after the medical condition became, and remains, a chronic state of being where pain, discomfort, inability to attain any restorative sleep, and profound exhaustion and fatigue sets in.

For that Federal or Postal worker who suffers from such a medical condition, that the Federal or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes also a kind of a “Once upon a time” moment.  For, once an OPM Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, and the Federal or Postal employee no longer needs to struggle with the essential elements of one’s job, perhaps the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant can look back and whisper, “Once upon a time…” – but like the child who states it with a forward-looking smile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Indeterminate Deterioration

Some events come with it a specific date, and even a time; others, within a span of identified moments and blocks of weeks, sometimes months; the rest, undetermined, unspecified, like the lost soul who wanders the traversing echoes of eternal reverberations left to the sifting cleansing of a foaming ocean washing and lapping, ever repeating the comforting sounds of surf and salt strolling like the footprints gone in the sands of countless castles disappeared.  But that medical conditions would conform to the science which attempts to treat, and approach one with technical precision and certitude.

When did you first notice the symptoms, the kindly doctor asks, as you scratch your head and stutter forth an incomprehensible gibberish of a response.  A similar question is posed on SF 3112A, concerning the “date” (approximate) the Federal or Postal employee became disabled from one’s position.  How does one answer such a question?  Fortunately, it asks not for a day or time, but merely the month and year, and to that extent we can be thankful for its inherent foresight.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who attempt to answer this question without much thought or reflection, be forewarned and with a hint of suspicion; trap doors abound everywhere, and while one may overstate issues like the paranoid cousin who points a telescope not at the moon and stars, but directly at the next-door neighbor’s bedroom window, it is well to consider carefully the answer to be given.

The context of intermingling meanings:  Was it during one’s tenure as a Federal or Postal employee (for those separated but contemplating filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service)?  Will it prompt the question, Does the medical condition last for a minimum of 12 months, including the time encapsulating the prognosis of the doctor?  Does it coincide with any event or issue arising at work?  Does the date identified precede any adverse action promulgated by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service?  Truth is always the guide for integrity in all cases, but the reality of a medical condition is that time is often discovered on a spectrum, where chronicity and deterioration spans over many months, and often years.

To pinpoint is to be precise; but where deterioration is progressive and indeterminate, the fading sounds of an unspecified echo which bounces from cave walls to the expansive skies beyond the realm of certainty, the date recognized may be one which floats and fades like the dust of angels left as a residue of virtue.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Balance of Information

Most administrative entanglements involve some measure of balancing.  How much information to provide; determination of that which constitutes satisfaction of the request; whether, and to what extent, the information is sufficient to complete the transaction; and other similar analytical evaluations prior to submitting the compendium of data.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers struggling to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s agency (if still on the rolls and not separated for more than 31 days), and then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (unless one has been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, but not more than 1 year, as all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be submitted within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key component and measure is the effectiveness of Standard Form 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The act of balancing begins upon an initial review of the questions posed by SF 3112A.  While other forms require basic information concerning one’s personal data and the agency for whom the Federal or Postal employee works (e.g., SF 3107 series, including Schedules A, B & C), the SF 3112A is the linchpin of it all.  Care should be taken in answering the questions; reflection upon the character and extent of the data provided; editing and review of any final submission.  Too much, or too little.

The Goldilocks principle should always be applied, and when served in just the right amount, the true test of the balance of information has been finally met.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire