Federal Disability Benefits: Agency Input

Whether, and to what extent, Federal agencies will support a Federal Medical Retirement, goes to the ultimate issues of sufficiency, necessity and relevancy.  Sufficiency is satisfied by the minimal act of completing the two primary standard forms which the agency is responsible for:  SF 3112B (the Supervisor’s Statement) and SF 3112D (Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts).

Necessity is further accomplished by processing the Federal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application if the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal employee is still on the rolls of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or even if he or she has been separated, the separation has not been for more than thirty one (31) days.  If the Federal employee (now former) or U.S. Postal worker (also now former) has been separated for more than thirty one (31) days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application must be submitted directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the individual is under FERS or CSRS. In either case, the current Federal agency’s Human Resource’s Office would still have to complete SF 3112D, and the former or current Supervisor must complete the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B). Lack of cooperation on the part of an agency or the U.S. Postal Service, once the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is separated from Federal Service, is often a problem — but, then, lack of cooperation can be a problem in any event, even if one is still with the agency.

Finally, the question of relevancy is always a problem to be encountered and confounded.  Is what the agency states on SF 3112B and/or SF 3112D helpful, significant or even relevant?  It all depends.  Some statements can be less-than, while others can remain neutral or somewhat helpful.  Relying upon one’s agency, whether current or former, to help in a Federal Disability Retirement application, beyond doing that which is sufficient or even necessary, is to run on a fool’s errand.

But then, when a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker finds it necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, through one’s agency and then ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to sufficiently reflect a choice of wisdom, and thereby the wise person has already shown a necessary discernment between the importance of priorities in life, as opposed to the irrelevant glitter of fool’s gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Standard Forms and the Proverbial Blank Slate

The paradigm of a tabula rasa is a frightening one.  It implies a complete negation of historical context, of evolutionary influence, and therefore denies instinct, nature, and pre-conditional implications.  But clearly there are confines and parameters of behaviors, and different species of animals will act in specific ways peculiar to the individuality of the entity, while taking on certain imprinting models if surrounded by members of other species.

To assume, however, that no context exists, either in prefix or suffix form, is to deny a fundamental truth at one’s hazard in doing so.  For Federal employees and Postal workers who begin to complete the required forms for a Federal Disability Retirement application — whether the informational requirements queried in SF 3107 (or SF 2801 for CSRS individuals); or the series of SF 3112 forms which inquire into the foundational questions of one’s medical conditions, their impact upon the essential elements of the job, etc. — it is important to approach any and all such standard forms with a view towards denying the existence of a tabula rasa, or the concept of a blank slate.

Such pristine states of being do not exist, neither in nature, nor in the complex world of administrative bureaucracies.  The history of the forms, of SF 3107, SF 2801, or SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D or SF 3112E, all have a history preceding and superseding the date of the formulation and printing of such forms.  Statutory underpinnings, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board rulings, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, and expansive legal opinions, all provide a context for each question queried, and each piece of information requested.

Thus, to approach any such OPM Disability Retirement standard form as if it is merely a blank slate, is to proceed down a dark and curving road with ignorance and fail to realize that it is not a quiet, rural road with nary a car, but the Autobahn busy with high-powered vehicles testing the limits of speed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112A

OPM Standard Form 3112A: Applicant’s Statement of Disability:

The constraint of a standardized form, by its very appearance, is itself a self-evident anomaly of conformity; forms, by the very nature of their format, constrains and delimits the ability to respond.  Space is limited, and it is intended to be that way.

By mandating the completion of specific forms in an uniform, consistent, and universally standardized approach, the applicant who must complete the form must by necessity conform to the regulated approach. Further, the appearance itself often lulls the individual into a certain mindset, such that the response is constrained, limited, and by necessity of conservation of space and in attempting to answer the specific question queried, of brevity and devoid of critical details.

Bureaucracies create forms, and the regulations promulgated in the preparation and response to such forms. For the Federal and Postal employee who must by necessity file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the forms needed to be completed in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, are numerous, complex, and cumbersome.

Of the multiple forms which must be completed, the Federal and Postal employee must at some point encounter and face the most critical one of all: SF 3112A. The content of the form itself appears simple enough; the complexities inherent in the form is constituted almost by an endless array of a history of court decisions, opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as well as by OPM issuances of denials in thousands of cases.

Just by way of example, after the very first question asked upon requesting the applicant’s name, date of birth and SSN, it makes a simple but profoundly limiting statement: “We consider only the diseases and/or injuries you discuss in this application.”  That statement seems fair enough, and perhaps even reasonable.  The single word which is operatively significant, one would assume, is in the word “consider”.

But beware; for, it is the next-to-last word in the statement which is the onerous thousand-pound boulder which can fall upon the head of a Federal or Post Office Disability Retirement applicant, unless one is very, very careful. It is the word, “this”, and the consequences of such a word must be given great weight, and consideration beyond what the legal ramifications will later reveal.

Just a word of caution to the wise, for those who intend on jumping into the proverbial waters of bureaucratic complexities without first dipping a cautious toe into the lake of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Informational OPM Forms (SF 3107) versus Specific Content OPM Forms (SF 3112)

Categories are important in order to properly bifurcate, distinguish, identify and comprehend for effective satisfaction and completion. If such differentiated distinctions are not clearly understood, one can easily be lulled into responding to a specific-content question as if it is merely “informational” in nature.

Thus, for the Postal and Federal employee who is formulating responses to Standard Forms for purposes of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the sequence of preparing for completion in providing satisfactory answers is important.

OPM form SF 3107 (the “SF” stands for “standard form”) requests basic, factual information data, such as the applicant’s name, address, agency information, marital status, whether and to what extent one wants to elect survivor’s benefits, etc. The accompanying form, Schedules A, B & C, requests further information regarding military service, whether time in the military was bought back, as well as any OWCP claims previously or currently submitted or received, etc.

Then, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, again whether one is under FERS or CSRS, the accompanying SF 3112 series must be completed and filed. One’s mental status and intellectual antenna, however, should immediately be placed on high alert when encountering and engaging the SF 3112 series of OPM forms. For, in this series of Standard Forms (SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D & SF 3112E), the distinguishing features should become immediately self-evident by the very nature of the questions queried. No longer are the forms merely requesting basic information; rather, interpretive considerations must be thoughtfully engaged.

Questions concerning one’s medical conditions; what medical conditions will be considered; whether one can later supplement the listing of medical conditions if further medical developments arise; whether there is room on the form itself for a full description and, if not, can a continuation of the form be attached; the impact upon the essential elements of one’s positional duties; what those essential elements are; and multiple other similar conundrums suddenly become presented, necessitating the switch from mere “information” to one of “specific content” directed by the change in the series of OPM forms from SF 3107 to SF 3112.

Paradigm shifts were made famous by Thomas Kuhn in his historically important work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is no less important to recognize that a paradigm shift is equally important in completing OPM Disability Retirement forms. While there is no book which guides the Federal or Postal employee, such as, “The Structure of Form-Filling Revolutions”, the identification and recognition that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits requires an acuity of mind in filling out OPM forms, is an important step in reaching a successful outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS/CSRS Disability Necessary Forms: OPM SF 3112 & 3107

All Standard Forms issued by Federal agencies must be distinguished by the specific content of information requested.  Thus, for the Federal and Postal employee who desires to file for the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement, the two primary series of OPM (the acronym for the “U.S. Office of Personnel Management”) forms which must be completed are the SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series, for all Federal and Postal employees under FERS.  For those few dinosaurs who are lucky enough to be in the archaic and outmoded CSRS component, the SF 3107 forms are not used, but rather, the 2801 OPM forms must be completed.

Thus, as most Postal and Federal employees are under FERS, any discussion concerning SF 3107, without mention of SF 2801, is merely for convenience sake, and is not to deliberately exclude those under CSRS.  For both CSRS and FERS employees, the SF 3112 OPM forms are to be completed.  Whether one is in CSRS or FERS, all Federal employees and Postal Workers can file for, and be eligible to receive, Federal Disability Retirement benefits if the proper documentation, proven by a legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, is submitted.

Submission of SF 3107 is distinguished from SF 3112 by the substance of information requested, and is not duplicative of efforts expended.  SF 3107 requires basic information on the application, and must accompany OPM form 3112 (which is further broken down into alphabetical series of SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D and SF 3112E), which requests specific data on medical conditions (SF 3112A), questions from a Supervisor (SF 3112B), the opinions of the physician (SF 3112C), and any agency efforts for reassignment or accommodation of the medical condition (SF 3112D).

Whether informational or of specific content, standard forms issued by the Federal Government need to be carefully analyzed, reviewed and evaluated before completing them. While basic information requested need not require a great amount of reflection or intuitive input, specific-content requirements as represented by OPM Form 3112 (i.e., SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C and SF 3112D) should be carefully and thoughtfully formulated.

This is no longer an age where dinosaurs roam a cooling earth; the Age of Man is one of information technology and unfettered bureaucracies and, as such, the content of what one says is as important as the changing climate which made extinct the behemoths of old.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112 and SF 3107

Advice and instructions for OPM Disability Retirement Forms:

SF 3112:  In Connection With Disability Retirement Under the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System

SF 3107: Application for Immediate Retirement (Also needed by Federal and Postal Employees applying for Immediate Medical Retirement)

Standard Forms tend to require tailored responses.  That is precisely what it is meant to do.  The very appearance of a Standard Form, or of any forms provided and required by the Federal Government, is intended to specifically contain and constrain responses, as well as an attempt to target a wide range of the population of ages and education groups.  What statutes, laws and regulations were promulgated by the formulation of the form; the history behind the legislative intent of the form; the extent of court cases, issuances of judicial or executive opinions — all form a compendium of the background in the final issuance of the form itself.

That is why the simplicity of the form itself is often misleading; as with all of literature, philosophy, theology and the countless disciplines indicated by the suffix of “ology”, it is the creativity of the complex manifested by the uncomplicated form which produces an appearance of simplicity from that which is complex.  Thus are we harkened back to the age-old question of Plato’s acknowledged differentiation between “Form” and “Appearance”, or of Aristotle’s fundamental distinction between substance and accident, in describing the entity or “Being” of a thing.  Forms, whether they be government forms or Platonic entities in the ethereal world, have a similitude not only in designation, but in the reality of our complex and complicated universe.

For the Federal or the Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the initial encounter with OPM forms in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can be a daunting engagement.  The Federal or Postal Worker need not know the history of philosophy, or the references to platonic forms; but one should certainly be fully aware that there is an important distinction to be made between substance and appearance.

The initial encounter with an OPM form in preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, will bring one in contact with the SF 3107 series, as well as the SF 3112 series of forms.  Issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (thus the acronym of “OPM”), both series of SF 3107 and SF 3112 have a long history of statutory, regulatory and legislative history. The Federal and Postal employee may be unaware of such a long history in the development of SF 3107 and SF 3112A; such lack of knowledge, however, already purposes an advantage to the Federal agency, to the detriment of the Federal and Postal Worker. But then, that is the whole purpose of keeping hidden that which constitutes the reality of Being, as in the ethereal Forms identified by Plato throughout his writings, in contradistinction to the appearance of things, which rarely represents the reality of what is going on.

Thus, a word to the wise: Do not let the simplicity of SF 3107 or SF 3112 series of OPM forms mislead you into thinking that the process of obtaining Federal & Postal Disability Retirement benefits is an easy path to travel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

SF 3112

Standard Forms are a necessary part of life. Bureaucracies streamline for efficiency of services; the question of whether such efficiency is for the benefit of an applicant to a Federal agency, or to ease the workload of the agency and its employees, is ultimately a fatuous question: as common parlance would sigh with resignation, “it is what it is”.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts and ultimately prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, will be a requirement which will include completing OPM application forms. There will be the SF 3107 series of forms, as well as the SF 3112 forms. Such forms request a tremendous amount of information, both personal and of a very confidential nature.

The justification for requesting such information by the agency which will review such forms (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the later stages of a Federal Disability Retirement application, but initially through one’s own agency, including the Human Resource Office of the agency for which the Federal or Postal employee works, as well as the Supervisor of the applicant who is applying for Federal Disability benefits), is based upon a two-folded approach: The applicant who voluntarily applies for Federal Disability benefits is required to provide such information in order to prove eligibility, and such voluntariness justifies the request itself; and, secondly, there is a “need to know” such information in order to properly assess such information, based upon a preponderance of the evidence. Beyond the SF 3107 forms, the SF 3112 forms will ask for detailed information on the most personal of issues: One’s medical conditions and the impact upon employment capabilities and daily living issues; request of the Supervisor information concerning work performance; ask of the agency to assess and evaluate any capability for accommodating a medical condition; and a similar multitude of onerous, prying questions.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will require much of the Federal and Postal employee seeking a medical retirement annuity, in the very forms which allegedly “streamline” the process, and these will necessarily include SF 3107 forms and SF 3112 forms. In the end, however, when weighed comparatively against one’s health and the need to move on to a less stressful environment, the price one must pay is relatively cheap when considering the high cost of continuing in the same vein.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire