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

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Claims: What we value

We give lip-service about the things we claim to value.  One’s intentions often satisfy the guilt we secretly harbor, whether suppressed consciences touch upon the better half of our souls, or not.  We “say” we wish to spend more time with family members, our kids, our spouses and other kindred spirits, but then when the opportunity opens up for us to do so, we wallow in the self-pity of the internal universe we create.

Have circumstances forced upon us those intentions we have often voiced but never fulfilled?  If a medical condition forces one to remain at home, why are we not happy that we can spend more time with those whom we have previously cast aside with the words spoken but never followed through upon?

If what we value is based solely upon the words spoken, we would indeed be seen as a compendium of value-filled coupons collected over many years of savings; but as time in a bottle is merely an empty space of air filling a bubble of eternity, so words thrown about carelessly to listening ears may be too young to realize and otherwise cling to voices that reassure but never fulfill, like the wolf in sheep’s clothing that devours all who are so gullible as to disregard the elongated nose that defies belief.

In the end, what we value is proven by the actions we initiate, fulfill, embrace and confirm; and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 Federal position, it is the deterioration of one’s health that becomes the very test of that which we value.

Is one’s health important?  Does one’s career override all else?  What is the meaning of “sacrifice”, and how far must one go in proving one’s loyalty and commitment?

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, is not a judgment upon what we value; it is, instead, a reflection of how we value workers who have shown a commitment in the Federal sector and the Postal Service, by recognizing that once the eligibility criteria of 18 months of Federal Service has been completed, the family of Federal and Postal workers have a vested interest in protecting the rights of a worker who has suffered from a medical condition and deserves greater consideration than to cast them aside with nothing but the shirt on their backs, or the empty words often bandied about without meaning or value.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Just another bystander

There are primary characters, ancillary or peripheral personalities – and just another bystander.  Similarly, in personal relationships taken from a subjective “I” viewpoint, there are “close family members” (i.e., normally identified as the core within a nuclear family), “extended family”, and then there are “friends and acquaintances” — and just pure strangers.  Of course, the Internet, Facebook and other electronic devices have somewhat changed and altered the landscape of such relational directions, but we still know what it means to generally be “just another bystander”: to be out of the proverbial “loop” and perhaps observe, but otherwise uninvolved in the lives of those around, passing by or in the midst of a crisis developing.

Thus, when an accident occurs, a tragedy unfolds or a crisis develops, there are those who are referred to as “just another bystander”.  Or, if by tragic circumstances, that “bystander” becomes a victim either by happenstance or through “collateral” damage wrought upon surrounding neighborhoods, people, etc., we may refer to that person as an “innocent bystander” – as if the imputed adjective adds something more appropriate to engender empathy or description of haphazard events by which people can be randomly hurt.

Or, if intervention or interference imposes upon a situation by events unfolding, such an identification may be referred to in the past tense, as in, “He was just another bystander when event X occurred, and then he ran into the melee and helped the victims by…” In other words, by becoming “involved”, person X absolved himself by his very actions and thereby negated his prior status as a “bystander”, innocent or not.

The fact is, most of us are bystanders for most days of our lives; we walk through neighborhoods, streets and buildings inhabited by others, where others are engaging in commerce, relationships and interaction of daily living, and others, as well, are mere bystanders as they walk past us and bypassing our subjective interludes.  We expect others to maintain that status unless otherwise needed, and we retain with comfort such status in the courteous behavior towards strangers otherwise unnecessary for further interaction.  The problem becomes when we become bystanders within the role of our own lives.

For Federal and Postal employees 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, remaining a bystander when it is necessary to become an integral part in determining your own future is often a problem of self-will.  Watching the lives of others pass by is one thing; watching your own life pass by means that you are just another bystander when being a bystander is not the appropriate role to play.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the necessary next and proactive step in determining the future outcome of events unfolding. The medical condition you suffer from is already the “event”; what you do next will determine whether you are the primary character or a bystander – or, worse, an “innocent bystander” who then is referred to in the past tense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Another Test

Peel an orange, and you have the fruit; skin a nut, and the unmasked food is revealed; but how does one get to the essence of a person?  Schools do it repetitively; job interviews count on it; security clearances rely upon it.  Life is one set of tests after another; and whether through formalized questions designed to reveal the extent of rote knowledge, or of more subtle encounters to discover one’s character, the attempt to unravel the essence of an individual comes in many forms, in multitudinous appearances, and in engagements which never fully define the person tested.

Some see it as merely a necessary irritant; others, as a challenge to be faced with relish; and still others, an angst to be avoided, like the proverbial plague which leaves scars of motley disfigurement to the heart of one’s soul.  Whether to avoid or to directly confront, life presents a series of challenges, and the test of relevance is not necessarily the score to achieve, but rather the responsiveness which engenders cause.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are daily “tested” because of a medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the job requirements of the Federal or Postal employment, the issue becomes one of survival, or not.  At some point, the test itself becomes irrelevant, and must be replaced altogether.  Whether the agency views it as such — or, more appropriately, it has now turned into harassment and hostility — the basis of such testing becomes an absurdity.

That is when the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, must consider filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits.  There again, it is likened to another “test” to be faced and undertaken.  For, the bureaucratic morass which must be tolerated is inextricable entangled with the preparation, formulation, proving and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement case, where the evidence must be gathered, the test of viability of the case itself becomes of concern, and the next steps in encountering and facing the “test of life” must be faced.  Oh, but that life would refrain from the constancy of death, taxes and tests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from a Federal Position Due to a Medical Condition

To resign is often considered the last vestiges of giving up hope; somehow, it contradicts our DNA, and the resistance to it reinforces the Darwinian idea that the evolutionary drive for survival rules our choices, as determinism persists despite our best efforts to remain free.  To resign is to give in, surrender, abandon the lifelong plans and dreams for the future; it marks, for many, a decision of raising the white flag.  In life, however, sometimes the choices offered are but a few, and within that limited arena of options, the best must be taken.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal worker from performing the full panoply of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it sometimes becomes necessary to “cut the losses” and move onward to other ventures in life.

When the level of harassment becomes untenable; when the best negotiations lead to the Agency’s offer of resignation in order to keep the record “clean”; when access to one’s TSP is necessary in order to survive the long period of waiting for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to decide upon a Federal Disability Retirement application; or even when the constant “fight” is no longer worth it, or is not there within one’s self; then the only thing left is the proper characterization of such a resignation, for inclusion as a short statement on one’s SF 50 or PS Form 50.

Depending upon the particularized circumstances, a resignation is not always a surrender, but merely a regrouping in order to return to resume the fight of life on another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire