Federal Disability Retirement: Question and Answer

A question presumably is a tool of communication seeking a satisfactory answer; and, conversely, an answer will satisfy the query only upon addressing the specific information sought.  Thus, the question is not merely a general request for irrelevant information, and an answer is not just a sequential set of words culled together from a pool of language.  Yet, many people often act as if speaking a volume of phonetically mellifluous tones will satisfy a query; and that speaking with intonations of a question mark will invite information of relevant import.

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 understand the questions posed on the Standard government Forms in a Federal Disability Retirement application; and, similarly, one must take care in providing the proper, relevant, and satisfactory answers to the queries posed.

Questions often have a history; implied requests for information carry a weight of tested legal cases, and thus questions which seem simple on their face have been formulated based upon such case-histories.

For the Federal or Postal employee encountering the question for the first time, it is well to try and understand the vast body of historical context preceding the formulation of each question.  For, as the age-old adage still applies, those who fail to study history are apt to repeat it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Mechanization, Automation & the Lull of Conformity

Locke and Rousseau both recognized the necessity of the individual human being to enter into civil society in order to escape the theoretical “state of nature” for self-preservation, and once within, conformity to societal norms and orderly constructs became a natural force in the progressive evolution of civilization. But social order need not mandate conformity of a thoughtless drone or loss of creativity.

The term itself — “drone” — is an interesting one. For, in its general usage, it meant a sense of drudgery or monotony; or, in a specific sense, a male, stingless honeybee which produced no honey, and thus a less-than-full entity; and in more recent usage, a non-human, destructive craft, devoid of thought or moral compass.

Social conformity which gave rise to automation and industrial mechanization, has produced a populace given to thoughtless action.  Such conformity, perhaps, is useful; for in a world requiring bureaucratic patience, one is left with no other choice but to wait upon a long and onerous administrative process.

For the Federal or Postal employee who must submit to the long, bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, the conformity to standard forms, the patience required for the long wait, and the necessity to comply to the rules governing eligibility, legal standards, etc., is part and parcel of the social structure.  We are trained to comply; and with no other choice but to go to the singular Federal Agency, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to try and prevail in the most effective and efficient manner possible, inasmuch as there really is no other choice in the matter.

Locke and Rousseau were right; self-preservation requires the escape from the state of nature; what we are left with, is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the penultimate reflection of a civilized and advanced society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Problem of Conformity as a Thoughtless Process

The bureaucratization of society becomes a problem when conformity to a standardized process results in thoughtless action.  We have all seen scenes from movies, or read stories or books, of the proverbial drone-like monologue, shown in cinematographic hues in monotony, of emotionless workers who robotically stamp papers and call out, “Next!”.

To some extent, preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, requires such conformity.  The standard forms themselves (SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3107 series for FERS employees; and for both CSRS and FERS employees, SF 3112 series) require a foundation of such conformity.  And while continuation sheets and attachments are not prohibited (yes, the double-negative in grammar means that it is a positive, and you may do what is proposed), it is nevertheless constraining when one is putting together a Federal Disability Retirement application.

On the other hand, standardization provides for uniformity and ease of information.  If everyone just submitted his or her own version of selective information and sent it in to OPM, there would be greater chaos than there already is at the singular agency which processes all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Thus, conformity to standardized procedures can be a good thing.  The problem, however, is when such conformity leads to thoughtlessness — and, in a Federal Disability Retirement process, one should expect to encounter such bureaucratic mindlessness.  This, too, must be dealt with; and sometimes the need to use legal authorities as a sword, and not merely as a shield, is the only way of effectuating a required response.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C & SF 3112D

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee will be asked to complete a mountain of standard government forms.  The forms themselves appear to merely request “information”.  Don’t be fooled.  It is not mere information; it is the basis upon which OPM approves or denies a case.  

For the CSRS employee (which is becoming rarer by the hour because of the replacement of CSRS with FERS back in the mid-80s), in addition to SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C & SF 3112D (which both CSRS and FERS employees must complete), Standard Form series numbered 2801 (SF 2801), along with Schedules A, B & C must be completed.  For FERS employees, in addition to the SF 3112 series (again, SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C & SF 3112D), the Federal or Postal employee must complete SF 3107, along with Schedules A, B & C.  

These forms constitute the “nuts and bolts” of the Federal Disability Retirement application process.  Not only must “information” be provided in filling out these forms; there are “tricky” issues which must be addressed at the outset.

For example, SF 3112C is the “Physician’s Statement”, and is meant to be used in order to guide the physician into providing a detailed physician’s statement.  It is a confusing, convoluted form which often makes the doctor feel intimidated.  It is preferable to have the doctor address the elements requested on SF 3112C without actually using the 3112C.  However, if a Federal or Postal employee is unrepresented and unaware of this, then the potential disability retirement applicant may unknowingly sign the form, when it may not be in the best interest of the Federal or Postal employee to do so.  

Be aware; “information” is not a mere compilation of facts and figures; rather, information is always used — whether for, or against, something or someone.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: A Form and Its Impact

The completion of the multiple forms in a Federal Disability Retirement application can seemingly be a simple matter, upon first encounter.  The questions are fairly innocuous and straightforward.  A distinction must be immediately made, however, between the Standard Forms which merely ask for factual/personal information (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS employees), requesting name, address, agency information, date of birth, etc.

Then, there is the SF 3112 series (both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees), and specifically SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, which goes to the very heart of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, how the questions are stated; the content which is provided; the listing of the diagnosed medical conditions; the description provided of the impact of one’s medical conditions upon the positional description of the Federal or Postal employee — these will determine the future course of the Federal Disability Retirement application, its success or failure, and the potentiality for any future inquiry requested from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the form of a Medical Questionnaire, requesting an update on the medical status and disability of the Federal or Postal annuitant.

Ultimately, the preparation of a standard government form may, at first appearance, look like a simple matter.  Those things in life which “look” simple, often present the greatest of complexities.  But of course, that is the very question which Plato and Aristotle, and the entire history of Western Philosophy wrestled with:  the distinction between appearance and reality.

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