Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Proper Sequence

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers seeking to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, is there a proper sequence in preparing the Standard Forms?  Does it matter if one set of forms are prepared or taken out of sequence?

Or, is the fact that the two primary sets of forms — the SF 3107 series and the SF 3112 series — are already provided in an ordered manner (i.e., for the SF 3107 series, first the “Application for Immediate Retirement”, then the Schedules A, B & C, then forms for the Agency to complete; and for the SF 3112 series, first the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, then the Supervisor’s Statement, the form for the Physician, etc.), reflective of the sequence one should complete them?

This, of course, brings up another and more important question: Would you trust the government to look out for your own best interests in completing the series of Standard Forms (i.e., SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) in the order that they want you to complete them, or should you complete them in a manner that looks after your own best interests, separate and apart from the order that the Federal Government and OPM wants you to fill them out?

There is, in the end, a proper sequence to everything, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is no different from every other kind of form and content to be completed.  The way and manner that OPM and the Federal government wants you to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily imply any nefarious intent; it is just a difference in deciding whose best interests are you looking after — your own, or OPM’s?

In the end, all of the Standard Forms (again, the SF 3107 Series and the SF 3112 Series) must all be filled out completely, and some might conclude that the order and sequence of completing them shouldn’t matter, inasmuch as they all have to be completed anyway.  But you may want to pause and reflect for a moment: Does “proper sequence” imply that the Federal Government and OPM have prepared the SF 3107 and SF 3112A for the benefit of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, or for their own convenience?

Tricks tend to trip, and the trips are not merely the destination from point A to point B, but a hidden accident waiting to happen if you don’t complete SF 3107 and SF 3112 in their proper sequence — and that means, not necessarily in the order of their appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Moral Code lost in pragmatism

Kant is the best example, and is used often.  Of that arrogance defined by universalization of a query; and if we are willing to apply it in all circumstances, regardless of individual differences that may matter in the context of exceptions recognized, we are to adhere to that which may harm our own interests.  Why is transcendence important?  Why do philosophers insist that any “valid” moral basis possess a metaphysical foundation, transpired in order to justify a cornerstone unsullied by the meanness of common life?  Is the fact of relative significance unacceptable merely because it is subject to change?  Do we not, in daily life, have to adapt in every circumstance, all the time throughout every encounter with experiences, and is this not the very essence of survival?

We bought the posit of Plato and Aristotle – those two old Greek men who provided the foundation of Western Thought – that either (A) a transcendent Form of universalized principle must exist, or (B) that a methodological argumentation must be able to be advanced, in order to “justify” the ethical groundwork telegraphed.  That is how laws, statutes, and societal foundations have evolved – from the implicit assumption that, somehow, principles above and beyond the pragmatic are necessary.  But are they?  In a world that embraces pure materialism and the genetic predisposition of all that exists, without the inconvenience of a creator or grand inquisitor, is not the approach of pragmatism – of that which merely “works” – enough?

That is how the Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service operates these days; they care less about any “principles” of fairness in the workplace, or employment “codes” that allegedly overshadow the work ethic applied to employees, and instead, approach it with a view towards the bottom line:  Profitability.  For so many years, the Federal Government was incessantly being compared to the private sector – in terms of output, efficiency and investment-for-returns.  Such comparisons failed to recognize the obvious:  the two general entities served different purposes and needs of society, and forcing them to coalesce and reflect each other merely denigrated the essence of each.

It is not so much the attributable similarities between Plato and Aristotle which form the foundation of such thinking; rather, it is the contrasting approaches between Heraclitus and Parmenides that conform our moments of contemplative underpinnings:  between change and permanence, betwixt relativity and transcendence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often arises as to a conflicting sense between one’s “Moral Code” and the pragmatic need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.  Often, such a conflict is merely a result of muddled thinking – that, somehow, it is not “right” or “fair” to file for benefits when one is so young, or where one can still be productive, but not at the same level as before.  But that is precisely how the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is set up – to allow for a retirement from one’s particular kind or type of work, yet presenting an opportunity to remain productive in the private sector, and potentially make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.

Morality is all well and good for the elitists of our culture, but in the common world of pragmatism, we must embrace that which we are given, like breadcrumbs dusted off at the dinner table of the behemoth called, the United States Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Life Lessons

Most of us stumble through it, and somehow end up down unexpected corridors of unplanned venues; and then we have the nerve to think that we can have kids and impart wisdom we never learned, refused to lived by, and rarely listened to.  It is said that hypocrisy is the characteristic of the common farce; it just happens to infect everyone else, and never ourselves.  But there is an evolutionary determinant even in the comedy of life; it used to be that Western Philosophy would teach us to always seek out the substance of a thing, and to recognize mere attributes and appearances for what they are — recognizing that superficiality conceals the essence of Being.

Now, there are popular books which tell us that “faking it” is okay, so long as everyone else is too stupid to know it.  Then, there is our job, our careers and that vocation at which we spend the majority of our lives pursuing.  One day, we wake up, and find that the manifestation  of a medical condition makes it impossible for us to continue.

What do we do about it?  Procrastinate.  Deny.  Avoid the issue.  But reality has a way of ignoring our pleas of ignorance and avoidance.  Harassment at work; Letters Warnings; imposition of a PIP; Proposed Removal; Removal.  It is not that we did not see it coming; we just hoped that life’s lessons would make a detour around our individual circumstances.

Fortunately, however, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, there is a consolation benefit in the event that a life lesson involving a medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties as a Federal employee or U.S. Postal Service worker.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits allows for the Federal or Postal employee to have “another chance” at life’s misgivings, by providing a base annuity, allowing for work in the private sector on top of the OPM Disability Retirement annuity, and to garner a time for restorative living in order to attend to the medical conditions by retaining and maintaining one’s FEHB.

In the end, there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “Life Lessons” and “Life’s Lessons”; the former is what our parents and the juggernaut of historical inevitability tried to teach, and which we deliberately ignored; the latter is that which impacts us daily and personally, and to which we must by necessity respond.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lesson of life — whether as Life Lessons or as Life’s Lessons, is to take that stumbling former self who ended up in the corridors of the Federal Sector, and to straighten out the future course of events by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: In troves of battered grey

It is the crisis point of one’s life, and the interruption of plans, which seems to define the value of the narrative.  We tend to judge by leaps of negation; in a hurry to determine worth, we skim the beginning chapters, then rush through the middle, and read with intensive interest the last few pages and conclude the life of a character based not upon the lengthy experiences of amoral devices, but by the standards of terminal avalanches.

A short story is merely a slice of life; a novel, a jagged graph of extrapolated instances cumulatively garnered to present a coherent and systematized itinerary.  But real life is different.  Each entity is a uniqueness in and of itself; never a mere compilation of facts, nor a composite of irrational emotions; it is, instead, a story unto itself.  Like troves of battered grey, we try and open the chest of drawers and determine in an instant before we close the chapter.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact — and define — one’s worth to the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it is well to remember not to judge too harshly.  One’s worth should not be defined by any arbitrary point on a linear graph of time, nor determined by those who look disinterestedly beyond yesterday’s contribution to the “mission” of the agency.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and who need to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should never see the entrance into the steps of administrative and bureaucratic malaise as an “end” to the chapter of one’s life, but rather, still the ongoing narrative which requires further telling and editing.

When one is in the midst of turmoil, it is often difficult to see beyond; but like the troves of battered grey we encounter on a foggy night in rain-drenched clothes, we must remember that there is always the warmth of tomorrow, and sunshine of days to come yet to recall the moments of slumber when once a crisis tried to define a lifetime.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The Wonder of Functioning

The complexity of the human condition makes one wonder about the capacity, endurance and ability of this animal who has created such a dysfunctional, technologically sophisticated universe.

From genetic predetermination of uncontrollable susceptibility to behavior patterns, diseases and addictive personalities, to environmental factors which condition and influence; what we eat; the wide spectrum of tolerance (or intolerance) to stress; medication regimens which would otherwise knock out an elephant, to modern prosthetic devices which makes the Six Million Dollar Man of the 70s a mere skeleton of technological innovation; and where this post-information age of constant data and stimuli bombardment is a never-ending stream of stresses; through it all, it is a wonder that Man is able to function at all.

But functionality is a paradigm which possesses subtle distinctions despite the concealment of appearances; it is always the irony of life that, after the havoc of a murderous rampage, the little old lady next door always responds to the query of the reporter and says, “And he was such a nice young man…”

The veil of appearances; the brave face we put on; like the Noh Mask which alters expression depending upon the angle, perspective, light and vantage point of the viewer, the inner reality of turmoil in every man passing on a single street, betrays the reality of cosmetic surfaces.  And, too, that is the problem for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who wants to — nay, needs to — file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Through it all, the “others” have been playing the same “game” of enduring through concealment.  Bizarre behaviors sometimes betray; or, perhaps, it is some rumors of over-drinking; or the unexplained and unexplainable cuts and the bald spot from pulling and scratching; whatever the evidence, they can all be glossed over with a smile and a furtive glance to other and parallel universes.  But for the Federal and Postal worker who truly suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts and prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time has come when wonderment and reality clash in an intergalactic battle of proportionality and justice, where mind, body and spirit can no longer lie to the inner soul of one’s essence.  For, ultimately, it is that “soul” which hurts and suffers.

When we lie to others, it merely allows for the medical condition to fester and progressively deteriorate; when we lie to ourselves, it damages and destroys the inner character of one’s essence.  That is the epic tragedy of reality in a universe concocted with virtual devices, and therein lies the true lie of that which we desire, and it is indeed a wonder that we are able to function at all in that unending maze of cacophonous laughter we deem to be the madness of society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Those Nagging Questions

“What if” questions constantly haunt, and persistently undermine.  They are the questions which people repetitively ask of themselves; and yet, like questions in Philosophy spanning multiple millenniums, they defy answers, and merely trouble the mind.  Or, as Bertrand Russell once quipped, If such questions continue to bother, it is probably a problem of indigestion.

“What if I had done X?”  “What if I go in today and tell the Supervisor Y?”  “What if I ask for an accommodations by doing Z?”  “What if…”  The game of “what if” serves to delay and obfuscate; it kicks the proverbial can down the dusty road of oblivion, and rarely solves the concrete problem facing the individual engaged in the meaningless query.  Almost always, the solution is instead to take affirmative steps towards reaching a goal.

Experience serves to defy repetition of questions left unanswered, and the best way to satisfy the linguistic hypothetical is to act in accordance with one’s need.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the questions of “What if” may abound:  “What if I am able to recover in 6 months?”  “What if my agency fires me?”  “What if the doctor will not support me?”

Some such questions are valid; others, emanating from fear and lack of knowledge.  As gathering information is the key to satisfying questions unanswered, it is well to make inquiries and obtain facts as opposed to opinions and conjectures.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a major step in the Federal or Postal employee’s life; but the alternatives are often untenable and leaves one with an empty hand to continue asking those unanswerable questions which leave the stomach churning with fears, doubts and unresolved issues.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM as a concrete step in taking an affirmative hold of one’s life, future and undiminished aspirations.  And like grabbing a handful of sand in the dry desert of questions, to ask and query without a rudder to direct one’s efforts, is to meander through life with a blindfold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire