Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Random Decisions

Waiting is indeed a requirement in the entire administrative process of preparing, formulating, then filing for Federal Disability Retirement Benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As this author has repeatedly noted previously, if patience is a virtue, then it necessarily follows that Federal and Postal employees must be the most virtuous of individuals, for the very act of waiting for a decision from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management mandates such a virtuous response from the Federal or Postal Worker who has filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Is there a systematic and logical basis in the sequence and order of the decisions which are being made?  Perhaps.  Stories always abound, of course, of specific instances where a Federal Disability Retirement application was approved within a very short timeframe, but without knowledge of the specifics, including whether the facts included exigent circumstances beyond everyday occurrences, one cannot make a determination as to why an “exception” to the sequence of decision-making was made, if at all.

From an outsider perspective, it appears that the sequence of decisions made by OPM is rather random.  Yes, there is somewhat of a pattern of first-in, first-out, but of course that depends upon whether or not such a pattern is based upon the assignment of a CSA number from Boyers, PA or at the entry point of being assigned to a case worker in Washington, D.C.

The randomness can be troubling; waiting is a frustrating part of the process; but beyond that, virtue can be tested beyond the limits of reasonableness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Substance versus Process

In every endeavor, there is the substance of activity, as distinguishable from the process which surrounds the activity (which is further differentiated by the issue of appearance versus substance).  The former encapsulates the essence of what the activity involves; the latter is characterized by the entirety of preparation, formulation and engagement in participating in the activity.

Thus, as there is the “actual activity” of the sport which one engages in; there is also the “process” part of it, such as paying a participant’s fee, negotiating a contract, submitting proper forms in a timely manner, etc.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is unfortunately both aspects which the Federal or Postal worker must contend with.

There is the substantive activity of preparing the application itself, with all of its attendant responsibilities of obtaining the proper medical documentation, preparing one’s statement of disability (SF 3112A); completing the Application for Immediate Retirement (SF 3107 & Schedules A, B & C for the FERS employee; SF 2801 & Schedules A, B & C for CSRS employees), as well as a multitude of other such substantive issues to be addressed.

Then, there is the “process” activity, of the long wait while the Federal Disability Retirement application winds its way through the bureaucratic maze, first through the agency, then the finance office, then to Boyers, PA for the intake processing part of it; then, forwarding it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, inasmuch as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is something which is voluntarily engaged, it is seen as a necessary evil to be subjected to both the substantive, as well as the procedural (or “process” aspect) portions of the administrative filing.  In many ways, substance and process cannot be separated or identifiably bifurcated; they come together as inseparable twins, and must be dealt with as such.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Cumulative Emergency

Most emergencies need not have been; either through preventative maintenance or attending to it through troubleshooting at regular intervals; or by cautiously identifying overt signs of oncoming problems, the vast majorities of apparent emergencies turn into the status of such urgent needs because of neglect or deliberate avoidance.  

That is not to say, however, that once an event reaches a heightened status of requiring an urgent response, that it should not be treated with the appropriate manner of alarm; rather, it is merely a recognition that most emergencies need not have become so.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the best course of action is to attempt to avoid having the entire administrative process become an emergency need.  

In order to practice containment, one must recognize the medical condition, the potential impact of the medical condition; the time when the medical condition begins to impact one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; a carefully prepared plan to initiating the needed conversation with one’s treating doctor; financial planning to weather the long and arduous bureaucratic morass; and an expectation that one’s own agency will not be supportive, for the most part, throughout the process.

Such recognition of some of the bare essentials which comprise the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement process is easier said than accomplished.  

Life rarely occurs and presents itself in neatly folded stacks of laundered clothing; instead, the more apt analogy is the pile of dirty clothes brought home in a black garbage bag by one’s college son or daughter, with the door opening, a smile on the face, and declaring, “Here, will you take care of this for me”?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Essence of the Case

Ultimately, the “essence” of a thing is defined by a multitude of characteristics; but when a query is made as to what X “is”, as opposed to what it is “not”, the attempt to describe X is almost always rendered inadequate or deficient.  It is not enough to say that X is “not A, B or C”, for it may be equally true that Y is also not A, B or C, and yet X is not identical to Y.  

When an individual asks the unanswerable question, How does one successfully apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management? — the answer cannot be formulated by delineating a list of don’ts (although that may be helpful in a great majority of cases).  Rather, the reason why such a question is untenable, aside from being too generalized a question, is that each particular case requires a different and unique set of answers.  

Yes, there are general applicability standards which one must follow (i.e., sufficient medical documentation; knowledge of the relevant laws; an understanding of the legal concepts involved, etc.).  Yes, there are standard forms to complete (SF 3107 series FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS employees; SF 3112 series for both FERS & CSRS employees) — but how they are completed, and the information provided, must be carefully formulated.  How one puts together a Federal Disability Retirement case is just as important in getting at the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, than trying to figure out the different components which make up a case.  

The “essence” of a thing is a sought-after jewel which has been an ongoing event throughout Western Philosophy, from Plato and Aristotle, to Heidegger and Husserl; it has only been in recent years that such a search has merely turned into a Wittgensteinian language game; and with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, perhaps it is proper that it has become so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Disability Retirement under CSRS & FERS: Continuing with the Medical Condition

The capacity to endure an ongoing medical condition is a testament to the human body and spirit.  That being said, however, there is a saturation point at which the Federal or Postal employee who continues to withstand the debilitating nature of a medical condition should not go beyond.  

When a doctor advises that a Federal or Postal employee should seek Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such a “flashpoint” obviously has been reached.  In all likelihood, however, the point at which the Federal or Postal employee should have stopped working, has probably been long overdue.

In preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question is often asked whether a person “should” continue to work.  That is ultimately a medical question which must be discussed between the treating doctor and the patient who is a Federal or Postal employee.

Ultimately, economic and financial decisions play a major role in making such a decision; as to the secondary question of whether the continuation will have an impact upon the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, is one which can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, depending upon the particular facts of each case.  

Generally speaking, however, the answer is “no”.  And so the enduring testament to the human body can be reinforced each day, as the Federal or Postal worker continues to endure the pain, medical condition, discomfort and progressive deterioration — contrary to the natural tendency to stop, even when we know better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Basis of the Decision

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the basis of decision-making — whether from the perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, or from the Agency in determining actions, potential actions, etc., once they learn about an employee’s intentions; and finally, the decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — can be varied and multiple; but ultimately, all such decisions come down to the validity and force of the information upon which such a decision is made.

Thus, the source and reliability of such information is what is paramount in properly influencing the decision-making process.

For the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the widespread complexity of the variegated information must be prioritized:  the extent of the support of the treating doctor; the ability to wait the process out; the financial and economic considerations; the options of whether it is even feasible to remain at a job whose duties require capabilities beyond consistency with one’s deteriorating medical condition; whether in comparison to any “early out” offer which the agency may be making (or perhaps none at all), disability retirement is the better option, etc.  From the Agency’s viewpoint, what extent of loyalty is owed?  Does the Supervisor have the discretionary fortitude to keep the employee on extended LWOP?  And many other decisions to be made.  From OPM’s viewpoint:  Are the elements of the law met?  How compelling a case is it?  And hopefully:  Is this lawyer going to be a headache for us?

Decisions of every and any kind are based upon the efficacy of the source behind such making; thus, the first and foremost basis of a good decision, is to make the best decision of gathering reliable information in order to decide the best course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire