Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Confidence games

We all know (or, by a certain age or stature of wisdom, should know) about the psychology behind the scam:  Of gaining one’s confidence by first including one into a select group of people who are “in the know”.

There are two primary senses to the word, aren’t there?  The first being a sense or feeling of self-assurance, as in, “He is very confident in his own abilities.”  The second, and somewhat connected, is the definition pertaining to a relationship of trust and reliance, where there exists or builds upon a sense of camaraderie and intimacy, as in: “He brought me into his confidence.”  In both cases, there develops a relationship of bonded certainty, whether in one’s self or in the connection between two or more individuals.

Thus, the “confidence” games encompass those activities or endeavors that build upon a relationship based upon trust, and engender the hapless victim to possess a sense of self-assurance that what he or she is giving up is of sacrificial value because the trust relied upon has been built on a foundation of friendship, relationships entrusted, and a shared affinity of intimacy exclusive of others.

Thus does the classic confidence game begin in a parking lot where a a cache of money is found and you are roped into becoming a select group within a conspiracy of two, or maybe three, and you are asked to put up a “deposit” of trust — then, when it is all over, you open the bag of money that you were left holding, only to find that it was merely a bundle of newspaper clippings.  Or, of more complex pyramid schemes, ranging from the simple to the incomprehensible, ending up sometimes like Bernie Madoff’s decades-long game of roping in even the most sophisticated of unweary investors.

But then, aren’t we all conditioned from a very early age to believe that “confidence” games are acceptable, and that we get on through life’s difficulties by acting a part?  Don’t we teach kids to “act self-confident”, be self-assured and walk with your head held high and play the “as if” game — as if you know what you are doing; as if you are the best qualified; as if you can have it all?

That is often the veneer we put on, and how thin the veil of confidence can be, only to be shattered like the delicate china that give off the clink-clink of refinement until the first fissure begins to show, then shatters upon the hardness of the world.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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 — it may be that your self-confidence is beginning to wear off.  As the Federal Agency or the Postal Service steps up its campaign of harassment and intimidation, the Federal or Postal worker has to deal with a double-problem:  The profound fatigue from the medical condition itself (which impacts one’s sense of self-assurance) and concurrently, the loss of self-confidence as one realizes that one’s physical or cognitive capacity to continue in the chosen career is beginning to wane.

We all play the “confidence game” — that of going through life winging it and hoping that no one else notices; but at times, when the “real game” of life suddenly imposes its presence upon us, it is time to become “real”.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who must face a real-life crisis of confidence because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that the focus of one’s efforts can be redirected upon the greater importance of one’s health and well-being, as opposed to being drawn into the parking lot schemes of further confidence games.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Trading places

Long before the 2008 debacle of economic turmoil; preceding epic movies following, of the lavish ineptitude of miscreants awash in money’s sale of souls in exchange for the temporal pleasures of limitless fantasies; when laughter could be heard yet, because the future still held some hope, there was a movie by the same title.  It was a comedy of innocence – although, the language used may still blush for some, it reveals a period long gone and no longer found in today’s society where revealing all, telling everyone and showing unabashedly have become the normative course of behavior.

Unlike the reality of Wall Street’s mechanism of manipulation, the storyline follows a fairly conventional discourse of moral constancy – of identifiable evil; revenge and retribution for wrongs committed; redemption for those whose failings resulted from unseemly characters.  Contrast that with the fictional depictions of today, some mere several decades hence:  the unjust are left unpunished, or barely so; the miscreants are bailed out from their own folly and greed; and the Mom & Pop store just around the corner is still left wondering why they were never rescued from bankruptcy, when the very ones who created the economic crisis are back at it, again.

The problem with discussing such issues on a macro-scale, of course, is that generalities invite sweeping statements of inane and excusable tendencies, whereas kitchen-table, microcosmic tales of individual narratives leave no room for such averted cover of hidden devices, where rats and other scoundrels may scurry to find convenient places to conceal their shameful misdeeds.

We often wish that we, too, could “trade places”, but only because we fail to listen to the details of troubles faded on lawns across the street where the grass appears greener, but where the internal turmoil of ghosts hidden remain veiled.

Medical conditions have a way of bringing us all back to the basics of living.  For, when one is healthy, all sorts and manner of wishing for fortunes and superficiality of life’s extras are engaged; but when a medical condition hits, all that we desire is for the boredom of good health.  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 the Federal or Postal employee’s position of formal occupation (as reflected on an SF 50 or PS Form 52), understand this concept all too well.

Trading places is all relative, especially when it comes to the basics of human happiness.  For Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, it happened that fate brought two unlikely characters together to right the wrongs of a macroeconomic system left to manipulative devices on the commodities trading floor; for the Federal and Postal employee who 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 positional duties, the desire to “trade places” is somewhat more basic – of mere good health in order to maintain a constancy of life’s pleasures taken for granted by others.

But, instead, often the best option for trading places is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Sometimes, the trade itself is a compromise on a micro-scale of lesser proportions, and not within the complex world of high finance and commodities exchanges.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Coherent Life

Coherence fails to take into the account the unexpected; moreover, a linear, systematic unfolding of events is rarely the rule, but rather the exception.  Look at nature and the traumatic tumult which follows daily — of predators and pendulums swinging between life and death, and the instability of future courses yet to be determined.

What do we make of it all?  Kant would posit that we bring to the objective world structural viewpoints in order to bring order into a chaotic world; but is rationality seen from within of any greater coherence than a world unfettered by human perspective?  Life, and more importantly for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, medical conditions and the unfolding of how a medical condition is approached, treated, proven and described, often betrays a lack of coherence in the very attempt of proving its impact upon one’s life.

Lack of linear unfolding does not necessarily defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Sometimes, we have to provide an exposition and explain the circumstances which resulted in the mayhem of confusion and the scattering of rationality.  And if you think that doctors and treatment modalities follow a systematic approach to cure and rehabilitate, you might want to rethink that view that precision of medicine as a science, as opposed to being an admixture of art and wisdom gained from experience.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, it would be nice to have the sequential ordering of coherence, in a fashion of:  A medical condition; exhaustive treatment; a clean end-point where no further medical improvement can be attained; a doctor who will be supportive in the process; a “wowing” medical narrative written with little or no solicitation; finalizing, submission and approval by OPM.

Somehow, however, the sequencing of life never quite matches to such a paradigm, and we are left with coordinating that Kantian approach of imposing what we can, where we are able to, and when we have the capacity and ability.  The coherence of life reflects a parallel universe of the circumstances which we must embrace; and, in the end, we must just deal with that which we are given, and do the best in making coherent an incoherent universe of facts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement through OPM: Major Depressive Disorder

The Internet allows for everyone to have access to information; what it does not do, is to methodologically assure the sequencing of accuracy, legitimacy, or even of relevance in the wide dissemination of “it”.  One thing is clear, however; the society as a whole has changed; but whether such alteration of human interaction has been a positive ingredient, or one which will have lasting determinants of destructive tendencies, only time will tell.

The pendulum of history swings widely and with slow, deliberative force; years ago, there was a time when the hint of psychiatric conditions resulted in the shunning of individuals; the taboo of Freudian caricatures still resided, and acceptance of its legitimacy still questioned.  Today, there is acceptance, yes, but ignorance is never erased, and pervasive opinions amounting to a level of ridicule seems to insidiously creep in, of a perspective that as every other person on the street is on prozac or some form of psychotropic medication, so the ancillary consequence of that is to denigrate the seriousness of a clinically diagnosed psychiatric condition.  If everything is something, then all somethings becomes nothing, as all somethings become equalized in the morass of everything-ness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (or a combination of that, as well as other psychiatric disorders which often link to, accompany and present co-occurrences), the lack of understanding or empathy by coworkers, and suspicions created in the workplace, become palpable.

We like to think that society has progressed to a point of an evolutionary pinnacle, but the fact is that as more information is disseminated and made available, the loss of esotericism seems to have a negative impact.  Encounters often unveil the ignorance of societal biases:  most people still hold on to the view that, if only you “pulled yourself up by the bootstraps”, that somehow you can overcome your sadness and state of malaise.  But the clinical diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is nothing like that (with attendant co-diagnoses, often, of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, etc.).

It is a malaise beyond mere episodic sadness; with overwhelming loss of value of life, and of uncontrollable sense of hopelessness and helplessness.  It is, for Federal and Postal workers, a legitimate basis for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Whatever those busybody neighbors have said or not; of those inconsequential cracks by coworkers or ignoramuses; the fact is, Major Depressive Disorder is a serious psychiatric condition of epic proportions, and one which debilitates an individual.  But there is a conceptual distinction, as always, to be made between having a medical condition, and proving that medical condition to OPM in an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

It is the latter which must be considered when preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Medical Retirement; as to the former, continued treatment with pharmacologic and therapeutic intervention is the favored path, and never to fret alone in the abyss of one’s own wisdom.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire