OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance?

Whether allegiances are formed by a natural predisposition to an innate need to “belong”; or, as human beings are essentially social animals with a historical essence embracing a herd-mentality, it is a natural component within the personality, characteristic, and in-born psyche of our society that we crave a macro-personality above and beyond the micro-being of our individualism.

We give our allegiances freely, without thought, and with nary a price to be paid.  It happens naturally, within the context of our personal lives, our families, friendships, and in the employment arena.  One enters into a position, and before one is even aware of the potential consequences and pitfalls, you are deemed to be part of “that group”, under the mentorship of X, or suspected of surrendering your fealty to a particular management.

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, such unthinking loyalty occurs almost immediately upon entering the Federal sector and workforce.  But one quickly learns that such mindless fealty is a unilateral embracing of an age-old puzzle: of what benefit does one accrue, and how strong is the fealty when tested?

The Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, quickly finds that “loyalty” to the organization is a unilateral concept, and never bilateral, where the agency owes anything back to the individual Federal or Postal employee.

That is when one begins to ask the question:  To whom, and for what, do I owe such unwavering loyalty?  It is only when this question is asked, that the Federal or Postal employee begins to look out for his or her own best interests.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are available for those who find that the loyalty once relied upon is merely an empty chasm of broken promises and returned emotional items of defective goods; and the herd which once appeared to protect, is acting suspiciously like a predator in waiting.

For the Federal or Postal Worker, whether under FERS or CSRS, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not a violation of one’s fealty to the agency; such blind loyalty, one must understand, never existed, except in the creative mind of a bureaucracy which dresses in wolf’s clothing in order to lure one into the trap of self-immolation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Testing a Relationship

If the advent of a crisis is a true test of a relationship, then the satisfaction of an ongoing need in response to the crisis is the harbinger of sincerity.  Testing the relationship is often the secondary trauma one must experience in life; for, the feeling of isolation which often accompanies a crisis — that sense that no one else can fully understand the experience; that others, while empathetic words of condolences may be uttered, can always seek the refuge of their comfortable zones of privacy and go on with their lives — is further exacerbated by the island of singularity which one recognizes in the face of finding one’s self in the the human condition of crisis.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the chronicity and progressive decline of that medical condition impacts one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the testing of relationships must necessarily occur.  The test of that doctor-patient relationship, to see whether and to what extent one’s longstanding treating doctor will support the need for Federal Disability Retirement; the test of the worker-to-coworker relationship; the employer-employee relationship; they all become tested, to observe their elasticity, their durability, and their sincerity.

Fortunately, it is not one’s own agency which makes a determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application, but rather, a separate, independent agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But one’s own agency is required to complete certain portions of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and those required parts will also be a partial test.  For the Federal and Postal employee who must endure the crisis of a medical condition, Federal Disability Retirement is a process which will test many things — not the least of which will involve who were and are one’s true friends.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Treating Doctor

There is efficacy and motivational bias.  Sometimes, unintended consequences result in the coalescence of both, but where the result is unaffected by the underlying reason for acting upon an event.

In OWCP cases, the motivational bias almost always includes the intent of the Department of Labor to try and save money, and to steer the injured worker to undergo treatment (if one can call it that) and oversight with one of “the company” doctors who can quickly declare a person to be healed and ready for return to full-time duty, despite protestations of pain, discomfort and limitation of movement, all to the contrary.

It is no accident that the ever-present Worker’s Comp Nurse who infringes upon the patient-doctor relationship by imposing her presence upon each visit, agrees whole-heartedly with any such assessment of full recovery, and ignores the pleas of the patient/OWCP benefit-recipient.

By contrast, those who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, are encouraged to speak with their longstanding treating doctors, as opposed to merely going to a doctor whose motivational bias may stem from the source of one’s payment.

Treating doctors who have a long tenure of doctor-patient relationships have little underlying motivation to do anything but look out for the best interests of the patient.  If Disability Retirement is the best course, then that will be what the treating doctor will support.  It is ultimately the relationship that has been established over the many years, which makes for all the difference.  And that difference is worth its incalculable weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Physicians

Physicians are peculiar animals.  They are here to help; and from their perspective, success is measured in terms of how rarely a patient returns for further care.  The ultimate sentence of failure is to conclude that nothing further can be done for an individual, and one must therefore declare that the patient is permanently disabled.

For the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a perspective on the part of the physician is important before approaching the treating doctor with a request for a medical report.  That is why the SF 3112C is such an ineffective vehicle of communication.

Consider this:  SF 3112C is a government-prepared form; it is formulated by Federal bureaucrats; the language merely proposes generic guidelines concerning what is required — without any amendments or consideration of case-law refinements which have been promulgated over the evolution of Federal Disability Retirement laws over these many years.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the lack of bedside manners in handing to a physician a standard form.  While many physicians themselves lack adequate bedside manners, it is the epitome of bad form to thrust a pre-printed form (no pun intended) under the nose of a physician who is supposed to be treating and taking care of you, and to declaratively order, “Fill this out”.  Even an addendum of “please” will not adequately modify such an affront.

The physician-patient relationship is one based upon communication, knowledge, personal sharing, and a good bit of explaining.  Taking the time to prepare a physician is the least one should do in preparing for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Succinctly Put

In a technological age where one’s attention is diverted by multiple needs, wants and necessities, the old adage that “time is money” is merely a reflection of the commodity-based approach prevalent in our society and lives at large.

One understands that in certain geographical locations, to encounter the salutation, “Hi, how are you,” is merely a formality, and is not meant to have one pause and actually provide the historical details of the past day, week or month, leaving aside any acceptable response other than a quick, “Fine, thank you,” and to walk quickly by.

In other parts of the country, foreign or domestic, such a greeting must actually be met with a personal conversation, lest one is left to be considered rude and unneighborly.  It is precisely because time is considered a valuable and threatened commodity, that one is left with attempting to devise ways in which to “maximize” the precious but ethereal substance.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, when one approaches a medical doctor in requesting records, notes, or a rather detailed report in order to obtain support for one’s Federal Disability Retirement submission through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to explain thoroughly; to request in detail; but at the same time, to remain succinct in order to deal with the aspect of time as a commodity.

Doctors know the value of time; they tie it to life and death decisions on a daily basis, and are keenly aware of the importance of a life’s time.  To show respect for a doctor’s time is important in the very approaching of the medical personnel.  It is simply one more thing to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, whether under FERS or CSRS, for all Federal or Postal employees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Positive/Negative Approaches

The inverse of a thing can often be just as effective as the original matter; the ultimate endpoint may be the same, but stated in a different way.  

Thus, in preparing, formulating, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the preferred approach is the “positive” one, where one’s treating medical doctor will affirmatively connect the dots, create the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s Federal or Postal job, and thereby providing the foundational basis of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  

However, there are instances where the “inverse” approach, or the Negative entrance into the bureaucratic nightmare called Federal Disability Retirement, might have to be entertained.  Such an approach is a more complex process, within the context of an unwilling doctor.  It takes a thorough review of the doctor’s statements which should include, “Patient X is unable to do X, Y and Z” or “Patient A has limitations in the following areas…”  

Thereafter, of course, it is the Applicant for the Federal Disability Retirement who must (or his or her attorney, obviously) take the position description and argue the 1-to-1 correspondence between the medical condition, the limitations expressed by the treating doctor, and the positional elements which are applicable.  

In the end, if the doorway to success is achieved through either means, the efficacy of the effort is what matters, and not the pathway in getting there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Delicate Balance between Persistence, Perseverance, and Pestering

Persistence, perseverance, pestering…is it all the same?  The first of the three implies an enduring deliberation of effort, and is neutral as to whom it applies to; the second is normally in reference to the individual who is engaging in the effort; and the last carries with it a negative connotation, like a gnat who is attracted to the smell of someone’s shampoo or body odor.

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 distinguish the subtle differences between the three words applied.  For, in the end, it is not the words, but the actions which each describes, which is important for the entire administrative process.

Persistence may be appropriate for the relationship between the patient and one’s doctor, in pursuing medical treatment, and support for one’s Federal Disability Retirement application. Perseverance may be seen as a valiant character issue, for a multitude of things, including undergoing medical procedures, trying to continue to work despite medical obstacles, exhausting all avenues with an agency, etc.  Pestering, if seen from a doctor’s viewpoint, reflects an attitude which may betray a desire to support one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

There is often a delicate balance between the three, and one must be sensitive to such a balance in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire