Beginning the Federal Disability Retirement Process

The Chinese proverb, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, is meant to remind us that looking at a process in its entirety can result in self-defeat even before starting, and every daunting journey must begin with the small, almost insignificant, effort of initiation.

Facing a bureaucracy and an administrative process can feel like that metaphorical journey of a thousand miles.  The multiple and complex standard forms to complete; the legal criteria to meet; the need to gather, compile and consolidate the medical documentation into a linear, coherent whole; and all of this, in the face of voluntarily reducing one’s income by applying for an annuity and having to deal with the debilitating medical condition from which one suffers.

But the successful way to approach the entire administrative process known as Federal Disability Retirement, is to bifurcate it into workable portions. The SF 3107 series (reissued in May, 2014, where previous editions are now outdated) is merely informational in nature.  It is is the SF 3112 series of forms which one must take care in preparing and formulating, and especially SF 3112A, which requests for detailed information concerning one’s medical conditions, the impact of the medical conditions upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job; and other pertinent information needed to convey compliance with a legal criteria established through many years via legal opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as well as by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Yes, it is a difficult process, and one which can be eased by legal advice and expertise. But as with all journeys, to look upon the landscape and obstacles as mere hindrances to overcome, will serve one better, than to stand at the foothills and refuse to begin the journey at all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Stuck in Time

Each of us embraces an era, a period, a slice of time with which we relate to, have fond remembrances of, or for whatever quirky reasons, possess an affinity or attachment to.   Perhaps it is the Fifties, with its stodgy reputation for conventionalism; or the radicalization of the Sixties; via music, movements, political upheavals or cultural phenomena, certain time periods seem to have a hold upon people, depending upon personalities, upbringing, backgrounds and interests.

There is nothing wrong with such creative time travels; it is a recreational endeavor of which we all engage; of watching movies, about which we read books; or even some will don a piece of clothing, such as a bow tie or a style of shoes.   Enjoying a time period can be a soothing leisure activity, often without being conscious of the affinity and connections itself; but it is when we become stuck in time, that problems arise.

That is often how a medical condition pivots a person; unexpectedly and unpreparedly, a chronic, progressively deteriorating medical condition will freeze a person’s family, career, goals and aspirations in a period of time, unable to get unstuck or have the flexibility and options necessary for forward movement or progress.

For Federal and Postal employees, the alternative of filing for and obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, allows for the potential capacity to become unstuck again.

Imaginary time travel, for purposes of recreational activities, can be an enjoyable past time; but when one becomes stuck in time involuntarily and through unforeseen circumstances, getting stuck in time becomes a pathway of unforgiving proportions which must be maneuvered out of.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Memories

Memories induce a peculiar phenomena; by expunging them, we can perhaps sidestep sadness and loss.  With them, we are left with a lasting image of who we were, who we are, and who we have become, with a hope for recovery when we have lost our “place in society”.

Illness and disability often perverts our memories; the suffering person will often have a misplaced and skewed memory of the person he or she once was.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is experiencing and undergoing the trauma of a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, it is often the pervasive memory of a time past, which continues to impede a necessary present course of action.  But before one gets to a critical point of crisis management, it is important to engage a realistic assessment of one’s present circumstances, and determine one’s future course of actions, and not be diverted by the memories of one’s past glory days.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal Workers who have the minimum eligibility criteria met (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS), and should be looked upon as part of one’s total employment benefits, to be utilized when needed.

It is a benefit which must be ultimately submitted to, and approved by, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Consider the future; let not memories of past days confound the need to take direct and proper actions today; for, in the end, there will time to reflect and remember in future days to come.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Futility of Waiting

The waiting game is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of any endeavor; for, in the end, dependence upon a third party to act, when the other person, entity or agency, may in fact never act, merely increases the sense of frustration.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) or CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System — that grand old system which some were fortunate enough to squeeze into before the mid-80s when abolition and transition to FERS occurred), Federal and Postal employees will often think that they must “wait” for their agency to act, to perform some duty, to respond, to do something… when in fact waiting normally results in further non-action.

Since the preponderance of the evidence in proving a Federal Disability Retirement case is solely upon the Federal or Postal worker who applies, it is rare that waiting for anything from one’s agency will bear any substantive fruit of any kind.  While medical conditions continue to progressively worsen, one is left waiting; while time continues to march on, one is left waiting; and while resources get depleted, and more and more SL & AL is used up, the Federal and Postal worker is left with the proverbial empty bag.

No, there is ultimately nothing that needs to be waited upon in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application.  While dreams of the future are made with the stuff of patience, it rarely includes waiting upon an agency of the Federal Government to prepare one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Better to go chase a cloud in the sky than to expect anything helpful.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Proactive Development of a Case

The problem with medical conditions is that we tend to regard them passively, as recipients of service at a restaurant, or as victims of an automobile hit-and-run.  There is some limited truth to such a perspective; for, as medical conditions come upon us without notice or invitation, we are merely recipients of a condition of that which we never asked for nor desired. But once it becomes an existential fact, and one which becomes chronic and somewhat irreversible, then the subsequent methodology of what we do with the medical condition becomes the responsibility of the bearer of such bad news.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition(s) prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, whether under FERS or CSRS, consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Passivity in life will only engender magnification of inactivity; and as one must affirmatively prove by a preponderance of the evidence one’s Federal Disability Retirement case, sitting idly by as one’s agency takes steps to increase the penalties of unsatisfactory performance via leave restrictions, a PIP, suspensions, or other adverse actions, including removal from Federal Service, is simply an ineffective way of formulating and developing one’s Federal Disability Retirement case.

Case development requires a proactive stance; inactivity will only feed upon the devastating medical condition already suffered.  Being a victim of a disease or injury once is bad enough; let not the occurrence be magnified by compounding the problem through inactivity and passivity.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Acts of Futility

It was Heidegger who observed that our everyday lives were merely distractions in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with our own mortality — a revelation too profound to contemplate, and thus we engage in meaningless and monotonous projects in order to shift our focus away from the stark reality of life and death.

It is indeed the human species which continually and perennially embraces various acts of futility, despite irrefutable evidence that such actions lead to no fruitful or purposive outcome.  But to cease such engagements would be to stop and think; and reflection would mean a forced quietude in which contemplation upon the state of one’s being would be unavoidable; and from there, the vast void of nihilism might encroach, and so perhaps resumption of purposeless, repetitive treadmill-like engagements are best for sanity and survival.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions such that one is prevented from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, however, contemplation in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a necessity which cannot be avoided.   Further, the greatest singular act of futility in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is to wait upon an agency to act; for, as agencies exist in order to appear to act with purpose, but where inaction allows for greater exigencies and justification for existence; as such, agencies rarely act, and when they do, they do so to the detriment of the Federal or Postal employee.

Thus, the hard rule should always be:  be proactive and do not wait for an agency to accommodate or otherwise assist you.  Distractions and diversions are fine in life; but when the necessity arises to attend to one’s medical needs, you need to act, and act in the best interest of one’s own being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Historical Problem

Ultimately, before the Federal or Postal Worker considers filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a number of factors need to be considered, including (but not limited to) the following:  Can I last until regular retirement?  Will continuation in the job result in further deterioration of my health?  Will my absenteeism or subpar performance result in adverse actions being initiated, including imposition of leave restrictions, a PIP, further disciplinary measures such as a suspension, or ultimately a removal?  Is waiting going to make things any better?  Do I have a doctor who will support my Federal Disability Retirement application sufficiently?

The history of most applicants who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is replete with unanswered questions and issues ignored or unaddressed.  But when the convergence of a medical condition with a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service comes to fruition, the clash and collision between appearance and performance will often force the questions to be answered.

Waiting for things to occur will normally not solve the historical problem; being proactive, directly confronting undesirable questions, and taking the necessary steps to secure one’s future — these are the foundational steps necessary for a successful Federal Disability Retirement application, and the key to age-old questions which harken back to the problem of history, so that history may not repeat itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire