Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: And the Question is …

The responsive statement often given is:  Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of merely filling out forms; if that were the case, anyone should be able to do it without an attorney.  So, as in many gameshow forums, what is the question?  Filing for regular retirement, or even early retirement, is a matter of filling out the proper and standard forms.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, while submitted to the identical agency (OPM) for “processing”, is a matter of proving one’s case.  In order to prove one’s case, one must gather the substantive evidentiary documents; compile the relevant materials; make the proper “connections” and create the “nexus”; make the compelling and relevant legal arguments; and, yes, “fill out forms”. However, this latter act of filling out standard forms, as a prerequisite, while a necessary component of the entire administrative process, is not a sufficient act which constitutes a demand for an approval.

Thus, for a regular or early retirement, one may well argue that once the forms are filled out, one has satisfied both the necessary and sufficient components of what constitutes fulfillment of all obligations required for admission into the fraternity of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants.

For Federal Disability Retirement benefits, however, the additional requirement of proof by a preponderance of the evidence must first be satisfied.  And for that, one must play the gameshow format of answering the critical, million-dollar question:  What satisfies the standard of proof in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, whether under FERS or CSRS?  The answer:  It has already been given, only in a form of negation:  Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of merely filling out forms.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Importance of Logical Sequence

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize the logical “sequencing” of the Standard government forms to be submitted.

While the SF 3107 series (including Schedules A, B & C) and SF 2801 series (for CSRS employees, and also including Schedules A, B & C) may generally request personal and professional information of a rather innocuous nature (of course, one may argue that no amount or substantive form of information provided to the Federal government should be considered as such, but that is another issue altogether), the Federal/Postal Standard Forms which both FERS and CSRS must complete — the SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, and SF 3112D (yes, I know, there is a SF 3112E, but that is merely a checklist for the Agency to fill out; although, on SF 3112E is the very justification that proves that SF 3112C is not a necessary form, but rather to be used as an intermediate vehicle in order to obtain the necessary medical documentation for a Federal Disability Retirement application) — should be done so in a proper, logical sequence.  

Obviously, if one is going to utilize the “Physician’s Statement” (SF 3112C) in order to have the doctor provide the justifying foundation for a Federal Disability Retirement application (which, incidentally, the undersigned attorney would advise against), then that should probably be the first and primary Standard government Form to begin with.  It will likely intimidate the treating doctor, and perhaps even confuse the issue; but from a logical standpoint, that would be the one to begin with.  But then, logic and sequence is not of paramount importance in the Federal government; just take a look at the fiscal mess we are in to understand such a sentiment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Form & Content

Ultimately, “forms” are just that — the skeletal underpinning which holds the “body” in a certainly recognizable structure; the “skin” of something which holds the substance underlying everything, into a workable whole.  In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is imperative that certain forms be completed (SF 3112 series for both FERS & CSRS; additionally, SF 2801 forms for CSRS & SF 3107 forms for FERS), but one must concurrently always recognize that it is the content which is placed into the forms which is of paramount importance.  The coordination of all of the content and information; the substantive basis for justifying and persuading that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS — these are the mainstay of the entire process, and while one can get “caught up” in the “proper” manner of filling out the forms, it is always the content and the coordination with all aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application which must be the focus of the potential applicant.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Standard Forms Do Not Mean “Standard Responses”

The problem with “Standard Forms” is that they often appear to solicit “standard responses”, and in a Federal Disability Retirement case under the Federal Employees Retirement Systems (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), nothing could be further from the truth.  Indeed, it is often because a Federal or Postal employee/applicant who confronts and begins to fill out SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the very “blocked” appearance of the form, and the constricting questions themselves, makes it appear as if a “standard response” is required.  Don’t be fooled.

By way of example, take a “special animal” — that of a Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Controller who must take a disqualifying medication, loses his or her medical certification from the Flight Surgeon, and thinks that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a “slam dunk”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Or, a Customs & Border Patrol Agent who goes out on stress leave, or suffers from chronic back pain.  Are there “standard responses” in filling out an Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  There are certain standard “elements” which should be considered in responding to the questions, but don’t be constricted by an appearance of “standard responses” to a “standard form”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: Standard Forms

Remember that Standard Forms are produced with the intent of having you believe that you are constrained by the questions as posed, by the space as constrained, and by the language as restricted.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  All forms, including governmental standardized forms, are merely inquisitive templates requesting information.  If the form fails to ask the proper question, or does not pose a question such that it does justice to your particular situation or problem, then you should freely ask the question you believe should be asked, on a “continuation page”, or in an addendum created by you or your attorney.  In disability retirement applications, this is especially true of Standard Form 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability).  Instead of answering only the constraining questions as posed within the framework of the form, it is often appropriate to add another page and create, and subsequently answer, relevant questions which are neither posed nor implied by the Standard Form.  This is not to say that the applicant should abuse the process by adding irrelevant questions; rather, it is to allow for the “full story” of a disability retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire