FERS Disability Retirement: The Performance Appraisal

It is the system that we have created, a monster which cannot be slain, and the machine that cannot be turned off.  We learn it from an early age — good grades are the foundation for a successful future, and if a teacher has the audacity to give you a lesser grade than what you believe you deserve, call that teacher — harass him or her; file a complaint; heck, file a lawsuit.

In the Federal employment system, performance reviews are often given out like candies — and such reviews can come back to make it appear as if there is nothing wrong.  Managers and supervisors are reluctant to give a “less than fully successful” rating, lest a grievance be filed or a headache ensues; but for the person whose performance has been suffering because of a medical condition which has begun to impact a person’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the reflection upon the record when a Federal Disability Retirement application has been filed may have to be dealt with.

The Office of Personnel Management tends to rely heavily — and unfairly — upon performance appraisals, but there is another legal standard which can be applied — that of incompatibility between one’s medical conditions and the positional elements of one’s job.

Consult with a Federal Disability Lawyer who specializes in FERS Medical Retirement Law and discuss the impact of one’s performance appraisal within the complex administrative procedure of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: The Carefree Life

Is there such a thing, or is it a fiction, a mirage, a fantasy of those who create mythologies old and new — like the Utopia of some ancient history or of immortality in a netherworld of paradise’s dream?

To live is to care; to have a carefree life is therefore to die.  The incompatibility of the two concepts coexisting is intuitively clear; but the oxymorons we create are often as a result of dreams and goals expressed out of frustration from the overwhelming nature of those cares which confront us.

Life is a series of “cares”; to be free of them is to be free of life itself; and as living means that the human drama of interacting, helping, engaging in conflict and facing daily trials and all that constitutes the “stuff” that life is made up of, so it is the one who engages it successfully, who is able to maneuver through the complexities of such messes we make of it — that is the closest we can come to in becoming “care-free”.

There are those few who, perhaps, are able to escape a good part of the daily cares of life; but then the unexpected happens, such as a medical condition which one has no control over.

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, it may be time to modify the types and numbers of the “cares” that you are confronted with.

No, there never was or is a carefree life; but obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement may at least allow for the Federal or Postal worker to at least focus your attention upon the cares which matter most — that of health.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law today and consider preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to come closer to that mythological paradise of the non-existent, carefree life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management: SF 3112C

As a “government form” it purports to provide guidance in general terms, and it is doubtful that the lack of clarity as to its purpose or utility will assist the medical professional into writing an effective report.

The plain fact is that SF 3112C is a confusing form — confusing both to the doctor or Nurse Practitioner who is presented with it, as well as to the FERS Applicant who is attempting to prepare an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.  It refers to a “position description” being attached, but fails to provide the necessary explanatory nexus between the PD and the medical opinion sought.

What part of the position description should be focused upon?  Is it the entirety of the PD, portions of it, or just the “essential elements”?  Is it relevant whether a person can work part-time, full time, or an erratic combination of both depending upon the severity of symptoms that may arise periodically?  Is SF 3112C meant to confuse, or like so many “government forms”, is the language inevitably misleading because it is (A) meant to be that way, (B) unintentionally written in an unclear manner or (C) is meant to be wholly unhelpful because OPM doesn’t want to go out of its way to help the Federal Disability Retirement applicant?  Must the SF 3112C, the “Physician’s Statement”, be used at all?

If you are still working with the Federal Agency or on the rolls of the Postal Service, or at least not separated for more than thirty one (31) days, must the prepared physician’s statement be sent directly to your H.R. Office without first being reviewed and validated by the applicant?  The form itself certainly makes it appear so, but is that really the case?

In the end, the applicant who is preparing, formulating and filing a 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, must make some initial and important determinations concerning the substance and content of the application itself.

Forms are tricky; the laws that oversee them, often vague; but if you are relying upon instructions written and formulated by the very government agency that will be making a determination on your application, you may want to first consult with an attorney who specializes in the very law that governs Federal Disability Retirement, before you begin “filling” out forms or having your doctor fill one out.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: The incoherent narrative

The squirrel jumped into the rabbit hole.  Then, the floods came, and Noah didn’t like the color of his shoes because they matched the starboard and not the bow, and when the rudderless drift occurred, then did the turtle finally come out from the squirrel’s nest, high atop the water’s edge. The medical conditions caused a lot of stress, and if it wasn’t for the Supervisor who constantly harasses me, I wouldn’t have filed a complaint against him, but the doctors never said I couldn’t work except when the heart attack occurred and Bessie my dog ran across the street and got hit by a car.

It is, ultimately, more than just a sequence of lettering; greater than the combination of consonants and vowels in logical arrangement; indeed, the language of the narrative must form a coherent whole.  Can a jumble of words provide the requisite narrative in order to meet the legal criteria in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Must the “Statement of Disability” as reflected on Standard Form 3112A provide a sequence of information such that it:  identifies the medical conditions suffered; informs the OPM administrative specialist of the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties of one’s officially-slotted job; and meets and addresses, whether explicitly or implicitly, the burden of proof in showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Federal or Postal employee is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

To all three questions, the answer is in the affirmative.  For, preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted through one’s agency (if the Federal or Postal employee is still employed with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated from service, not more than 31 days since the date of separation) and then to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not merely stringing together a series of words, phrases, concepts and factual truisms; and it is often the incoherent narrative which not only fails to meet the legal burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement claim, but further, is harmed by providing too much information, whether intentionally or not.

The predetermined defeat of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not necessarily denied because of the substantive incoherence of one’s statement of disability; rather, more often than not, it is the unintended divulgence of information neither necessary nor true, which often provides the fodder for the fox to further the stealth of his slyness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: Those Rare Moments of Clarity

They come under unexpected circumstances, in inconvenient durations, and by the twilight of moon when sleep is required but the sought-after lull of morning sunrise interrupts despite the caverns of echoing remembrances of memories once savored, but like wisps of willows floating effortlessly down valleys of dreamy cascades, we reach out to them in the middle of the night, only to grasp at the emptiness in darkness surround.

Poetry was once upon the lips of strangers, as the Elizabethan Era represented the golden age of linguistic fervor; but like all such resurgences of purported renaissance, the period lasted but for a moment in history, as epochs of fallen dinosaurs became fodder for oil slicks and Disney movies.

It is often in the very contrast of opposites that clarity comes to the fore; and thus does the mundane and the boredom of constancy do a disservice, by maintaining a semblance of normalcy and unfettered favor.  When does that moment arrive?  Often, it is in the midst of pain that we see through the hypocrisy of that solemn friendship; and in the endurance of suffering, the truth behind the facade of relational contentment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who finally come to a realization that the “mission of the agency” is not quite as important as one’s own health and well-being, it is often almost too late, but never quite so.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, due to a medical condition — whether physical, psychiatric, or a mixed emotional combination of both — which prevents them from doing so.

The problem is one of self-flagellation; of thinking that to file for Federal Disability Retirement is to somehow have let others down, become a turncoat, or have failed in the eyes of “them”, as their expectations have not been met and the crestfallen expressions demean and devalue the efforts expended thus far.

Clarity comes in small caches of catatonic canopies of cornered consciousness; when it does come, one must grab it and never let go.  Society always tries to bamboozle; but when the Federal or Postal employee faces the stark choice between the greater organism of harm, or the lesser evil in favor of one’s health and future security, that rare moment of clarity must be decided upon within a wink of time, before the door of perceptual horizons slams shut again, and you are left forever in that darkness of ignorance where shrieking gnomes are tortured by day and flesh-eating gargoyles creep about through the night.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire