CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Complexity in the Hidden Background

To prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is seemingly an uncomplicated matter.

As one’s medical condition impacts the ability to perform one or more of the essential element of one’s job, it is up to the treating doctor to establish the nexus and provide an opinion as to the connecting bridge between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

How does one do that? Must it be comprised of a 1-to-1 ratio between job elements and medical conditions? How important and prominent are “symptoms” considered, as opposed to the mere clinical declaration of the diagnosis, in persuading the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that a particular medical condition should qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? To what extent is one’s own statement of disability, as described on Standard Form 3112A, important in establishing the foothold towards gaining an approval from OPM?

Also, what algorithm or comparative analysis does OPM use in evaluating a case, and how does one enhance the chances of success at the First Stage of the process? If denied at the First Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, does the basis of the denial (often characterized by a plethora of multiple reasons given) require a point-by-point refutation, and is the Reconsideration Division at OPM using the same standard of review, or a different application of laws in evaluating the additional evidence submitted at the next stage?

If one watches a gymnast, a ballerina, or even a mathematician at work in solving or unraveling a complex problem or exercise, one is immediately struck by the ease with which the feat is performed. But it is almost always the unseen preparation which has preceded the actual performance that sets the stage of an uncomplicated presentation.

It is that mystery of the uncomplicated, which tends to trip us all, and that is no different in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Striving for an Unobtrusive Life of Quietude

When first entering the adversarial universe of trial lawyers, a kindly but seasoned opposition who easily made foolish mincemeat out of the flustered composite of inexperience and youthful exuberance, but later approached to compliment the young whippersnapper to give some sagely advice: “You have a yellow pad. That is good. You kept looking down at it as if it was a security blanket. That is revealing”.

Whenever I see a man with a roadmap, and it is my job to disrupt the travel route from Point A to Point Z, it makes my job easier to make the opposition take some circuitous routes to force the journeying adversary onto more interesting pathways, to make him take in the sights and travel in a zig-zag manner, rather than in the straight line he desires to take. Point taken.

Revealing too much can have the negative effect of allowing the opposition to know one’s travel route; and if the purpose of one’s mission is to make miserable any goal-tending individual and preventing him or her from attaining a life of unobtrusive quietude (as is often the superficial purpose in life of Supervisors, Managers and other minor dictators who control multiple miniature fiefdoms throughout the Federal and Postal Sectors of employment), then providing an insight into one’s itinerary is like posting a copy of the newly discovered treasure map on Facebook and expecting secrecy because you clicked on a few privacy settings.

It is, indeed, a sad world in which we live; for, if the goal of most is merely to attain an unobtrusive life of quietude, the minimalism of expectation is for each to respect the privacy-space of one another. But perhaps that is asking too much of humanity.

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has interrupted the unobtrusive life of quietude, filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits through one’s agency (if one is not yet separated from Federal Service, or has been but still within 31 days of such separation) is the administrative requirement. If separated for more than 31 days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application needs to be filed directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In either event, of course, all Federal Disability Retirement applications end up at OPM.  But in so doing, timing, the extent of any prefatory information to be revealed to the agency; to whom; for what purpose; and the ultimate question: When? These are all questions and concerns which must be dealt with in a sensitive, thoughtful manner, and particularized to each situation.

Mapping out a strategy on the proverbial yellow pad is an intelligent approach to take; providing a copy of what one has prepared, to whom, when, and to what extent, will determine whether one’s journey is an unobtrusive straight line from point A to point B, or a zig-zagging line of confusions beset with multiple points of disquietude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Sequential Propriety

In many societies and cultures which still consider social protocol of applicable importance, correctness and orderly rectitude must be followed in rigorous detail.  It is the process itself which constitutes substantive relevance, and not merely the ritual itself.

Thus, for example, engaging in the details of business dealings prior to enjoying a meal, or bringing up the subject of a disputed issue during a meal or in the presence of family members, may be a violation of such social protocol as to justify irreparable severance of any future business dealings.  Sequence of actions, tested and applied over decades and centuries of norms developed through cultural screens of human institutions guided by sensitivities impacted by trial and error, retain a purpose beyond the mere folly of observable appearances scoffed at by foreigners to the cultural protocol.

For those who are unfamiliar to the importance of such subtleties, a singular breach may invite a fury of cold shoulders resulting from the rudeness of misunderstandings. For the Federal and Postal Worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is something to take note of. Not in the sense of social protocol; rather, in the lessons which can be gleaned from the importance of sequential application.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, it is important to recognize that proper sequence of compiling the evidence and presenting one’s case can be crucial in the successful filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Doing things “out of step’ can result in preemptively harming one’s own OPM Disability Retirement application.

Whether it is like the proverbial gaffes of, for example, “letting the cat out of the bag”, or “speaking out of turn”, one should always take seriously the relevance and importance of social protocol as a cultural phenomena which contains a logical basis, and is not merely a compendium of silly rules garnered to make outsiders uncomfortable; rather, proper sequence and protocol of actions often teaches us that how one performs the process itself is just as important as the end product for which we strive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: The Pragmatic Steps

The practical aspects of every process must never be overlooked.  When an issue or procedural process appears complicated, what often happens is that people get entangled in the details of such complexity and overlook the fundamentals which support the composite of such perplexing complications.

This principle of never forgetting to take care of the essentials, is no less true in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One can, for example, get entangled in the details of the legal interpretation of what constitutes a viable accommodation under the law, and whether or not the agency is able to offer such a proposal of accommodation.  And, indeed, agencies will often misinterpret and attempt to characterize actions on their part as constituting an accommodation (i.e., that they “allowed” the Federal or Postal employee to take sick leave, annual leave or LWOP to attend to his or her medical appointments — hardly a legally viable accommodation under the law, when all that was initiated was to allow the Federal or Postal employee to do that which he or she already had a legal right to do), and when that happens, it is up to the applicant and his/her Federal Disability Retirement attorney to point such mis-statements out to OPM.

The web of complications in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits can be wide and perplexing; but just as a spider must prepare the threads which connect into an intricate criss-crossing of singular threads into a composite of such threads in order to effectively catch its prey, so the Federal or Postal worker wwho contemplates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must carefully build his or her case beginning with the first, fundamental steps on the road to a solid foundation

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: An Aristotelian Approach

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has been the primary foundation for the Western paradigm of proper behavior in philosophy.  Quite distinct from his obtuse Metaphysics, the ethical framework of Aristotle takes a pragmatic, almost Confucian approach to correct behavior — balancing context, temperament, timing and correct behavior in formulating a modulated encompassment of how one should act.

As with all things in life, there must be a “balance” — and a recognition that time and relative context of affairs must be taken into consideration before one should act.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, one must similarly recognize that there is an insight into the balance of life before one can proceed with any action, whether it is an administrative action before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or before one’s own agency.

A Federal Disability Retirement application must be “proven”; as such, there is a distinction to be made between that which one “experiences”, and that which one can “prove”.

In such a context, sometimes a medical retirement packet may take some time in order to fully develop and evolve.  Doctors may not be able to be approached immediately; instead, at the right time, and in the right manner, they may be willing to provide the necessary medical and professional support in order to make one’s Federal Disability Retirement case successful and productive.

The pragmatic approach which Aristotle used in his ethics is still relevant today:  at the right time, in the proper context, and taking into consideration the temperament of others.  In this way, success can be attained by possessing an insight and wisdom into the world of human affairs.  This was the approach of Aristotle; and so it was with Confucius.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Pragmatism & Angst

Pragmatism is a peculiarly “American” brand of philosophical outlook and approach; unique because it reflects the character and personality of the general population, of looking at things not in terms of understanding it, attempting to discern the underlying essence beneath the qualities and appearances; rather, to look upon success in terms of workability.

To that extent, the European sense of “angst” is often missing in the American character, because there is amiss a sense of struggling over knowledge concerning the substance of a thing.  Such an approach brings to fore the reputation that Americans are merely celebrated merchants, coming to the marketplace to trade and barter, with nothing profound to say or add.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one can ruminate over the potentialities which lead to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application to an extent where one become paralyzed by the possibility.  At some point in the process, pragmatism must trump the angst.  Too many self-corrections can lead to immobility and paralysis of thought and action.  Perhaps there does not exist the “perfect word” or “complete sentence” which adequately describes one’s physical pain, mental confusion, or the nexus which describes how one cannot perform one’s job.  It is likely that no one at OPM will ever fully comprehend the terrible ordeal which the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant is going through.

While many are immigrants from the “old country”, the great thing about arriving to the “new country” is that the angst which once was, is now left behind.  Sometimes, it is time to become pragmatic, and simply file.  Most things can be further supplemented and amended at a later date.  That is the beauty of America — of having second chances over and over again.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Simplification of a Complex Process

It is the simple things in life which provide the greatest amount of pleasure; but simplicity often conceals the underlying complexity inherent in that which merely appears so.  

The child who first observes the vivid pictures on a computer screen has little to no understanding of the complex hardware and software network interfacing which, in the long history of computer design and evolving creation of computers, resulted in the seemingly simple result, produced by a push of a button.  Thus, the complexity behind the microchip and the human endeavor which designed, created and manufactured the product is what makes for the simplicity of the complex.  

As with all other things simple and complex, Federal Disability Retirement must be approached with caution. The questions which are required to be answered on Standard Forms (SF 3107 series for FERS applicants; SF 2801 series for CSRS applicants; SF 3112 series for both FERS and CSRS applicants) may appear quite simple in form; the content of what must be provided will necessarily require a complex interaction of thought, foresight, knowledge of the law, and carefully chosen words to provide information, argument and documented evidence which proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Federal or Postal worker is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  

To compile and produce a product which appears “simple”, from the myriad of administrative complexities, is the key to a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Simplicity betrays complexity; that which appears so, may not reveal the underlying and compound complexities which must be cautiously approached.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire