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 The SF 3107 series (reissued in May, 2014, where previous editions are now outdated) is merely informational in nature.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

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Coordinated Steps

When a toddler first learns to walk, what is apparent in the awkward initial attempts is the lack of muscular control, coupled with an innate awareness of potential failure; and that compound look of surprise, fear and lack of comprehension when the first fall of failure occurs.  It is, in a sense, a “failure”; not for lack of trying, or of applying the elementary mechanics of “how to”.  Rather, it is precisely because the various elements must coalesce to create a tripartite approach which has not yet come to fruition:  muscle strength and control; a sense of balance; a coordination of mind and body.

Similarly, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee who first attempts to enter into the universe of administrative law, and specifically into the world of bureaucracy culminating in an encounter with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must contend with the following:  coordination of efforts.  For, in the end, the tripartite elements in a Federal Disability Retirement application must also come together:  The medical condition; one’s positional duties in the Federal sector; the nexus between the two, with a legal argument as to the impact of one upon the other.

The requirement of coordination does not cease merely because one learns to walk; it is a life-long endeavor which only becomes more sophisticated, with greater demands and requirements, upon those very members of society who continue to grow, mature, and become adults.  Those first baby steps only represented the beginning; once mastered, the universe of man, which includes all forms of technological absurdities and complex human behaviors, must be understood, incorporated, and ultimately engaged, in order to begin the process of mastering the coordination of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire