FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Relative Importance of Minutiae

Triviality is in the eye of the beholder; though, there are some aspects of certain information which almost all can agree upon to be insignificant; but in this universe of informational overload, it is often the small, precise and extended bits which make up for the connecting bridges of relevance.

For the culinary sophisticate, the fact that an octopus has four pairs of arms makes for a greater feast, and if one were to pause and consider that the loss of an arm in its flight from a fisherman’s net might be insignificant from a human standpoint, the capacity to survive in the treachery of the undersea world may depend upon that lost tentacle.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the overarching focus is usually upon the grand scheme of things — of the relative importance of the key elements which make up for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the rush to quickly put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is easy to fill out and answer the Standard Forms, especially SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, attach a compendium of medical reports and records, and hope for the best.  But it is often just as much the attention to detail — the minutiae of the little things, the world of microcosmic bits and floating information in the body of office notes and progress reports, like insignificant algae which forms as a film upon the pond’s surface, which results in the basis of a denial by a scrutinizing OPM Specialist.

Like the tentacle found in the fisherman’s net, it is only the keen eye which can tell which of the four pairs of arms it came from, except of course for the octopus, who well knows from the sensation of pain from which it derives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Dissipated Dream, Delayed

It is an enjoyment and pleasure of the highest order, and yet costs nothing; if remembered, the visual residue can be stored in the safety deposit boxes of one’s memory, “as if” it actually occurred; and retrieving the memories can be as vividly regurgitated in the virtual reality of its existence, as that of having actually been there.

Dreams, if remembered, can be as real as memories of experienced events.  No, they cannot be videotaped (at least, not yet); and the money exchanged, the actions engaged or the people we meet in the fantasy realm of our self-contained consciousness, do not translate well in the harsh reality of everyday life.  And then we open our eyes, and unless we deliberately try and remember the images so vividly splashing upon the walls of our eyelids just before the flutter of opening them, they dissipate into the ethereal universe of some mysterious universal consciousness.  But what of the other sense of a dream — that of youth’s future endeavor and plans of greatness?  Of the many places desirous of visiting, the encounter with a kindred spirit yet to be fulfilled, and the pleasures of momentary categories of accomplishments?

Medical conditions have a tendency to dissipate such dreams, to scatter them across the cold and harsh tundra of reality, and to stamp them into the frozen plains of time.  But a dissipated dream need not be destroyed; it may merely be delayed.  Federal Disability Retirement can allow for that eventuality.  What others deem to defecate, one need not accept as the final word.  No, it is not the monetary payment of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity which will burst forth with riches of dreams delayed; rather, it is the opportunity to attend to one’s medical conditions, such that the medical conditions may be somewhat resolved, the nightmare put behind, and linear progression of life’s plans restarted.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should merely be a bump on the road.  While some Federal and Postal employees may consider the entire bureaucratic process of filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to be akin to a nightmare of sorts, it is the path out of one’s rut of dreamless nights.

Dare to dream; never believe that the dream dreamed is a dissipated dream; rather, dreams of one’s subconscious, just as the childhood one of unrealistic plans for the future, should merely be a delayed embracing of that which is larger than the smallness of our fears.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Fundamentalist

It often evokes a negative connotation, of a rigidness and adherence to principles which refuses to concede allowances for exceptions lest the singularity of excusable violation permeate and tarnish the very paradigm of inflexibility; and in a religious context, it represents a historical movement of a “going back” or rediscovery of basic principles of faith.

But being considered a fundamentalist in a secular sense does not necessarily result in a negative implication; strict concurrence with a standard of excellence and an unwavering fealty to ensuring that basic principles are followed, can be a positive thing. Of course, that is not how the term is usually applied, and so we shy away from such labels of convenient certitude.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to be a “kind of” fundamentalist — of an adherence to certain foundational principles in approaching the formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application. For, in the end, pursuance of excellence can be a “kind of” fundamentalism, and insistence upon doing something “the right way” is an element of that most basic of approaches and paradigm of beliefs.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM should be viewed as a systematic, methodological endeavor which always encapsulates three basic principles (thus, as in theological circles, the trinity of fundamentalism):  Medical reports and records manifesting an impacting medical condition; a Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A; Legal argumentation of a persuasive and logically powerful delineation.

These are the three foundations which comprise an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  And if your neighbor shouts at you for being a fundamentalist in adhering to the basic principles of disability retirement faith, point out the beam in his eye, and merely wash out the mote in yours.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Cackle around Us

Often, the noise emanating and pervading is nothing more than the raucous shrieks and glass-shattering sounds like the cackle of birds; neither intelligible nor pleasant to the ear, it fails to inform, engender pleasure, nor spur substantive advancement for the intellect or one’s emotional well-being.

People talk; talk is limitless; and the louder one talks (or so the theory goes) and endures past all others, the last voice establishes the truth of the matter.  The problem in modernity is not so much the boisterousness and overpowering continuum of noise; rather, it is the inability to recognize the lesser argument, the weaker factual basis, and the mesmerizing conduit of enjoying the sound of one’s own voice.

There is, indeed, much information “out there”; the question is not one of volume, but rather of quality in the vast overload of content dissemination. When one seeks  information, how does veracity get established?  When one chooses representation, what criteria is applied?  And when one receives answers to queries put forth, where does the confirmation begin to concretize?  The world is replete with information; what parcel of it is useful; how much of it is relevant; and to what use or pragmatic application can it be devised?  In the practical world of living, the cackle of information must be sifted through in order to survive any given ordeal.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must by necessity encapsulate the issue of relevant, pertinent and substantive information.

Gathering the proper medical document; formulating an effective Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A; presenting updated and relevant legal argumentation in order to persuade OPM into approving one’s Federal Disability Retirement application; these are the criteria in the pragmatic application for sifting through the cacophony of information clutter, and it matters not whether the cackle avoided represents that originating from crows or vultures; the point is to keep from being the meal of prey, and instead to prepare one’s meal of information in the quietude of thoughtful reflection, away from the disturbances of those who seek merely to hear the sound of their own voice, as opposed to the satisfying sonata of substantive and helpful information that will actually help the Federal or Postal employee secure one’s future in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: A Day Does Not a Life Make, Nor a Decade

The tragedy of extinguishment is the failure to recognize future potentiality.  We often gauge the value of a lifetime based upon the quality of any given day.  Yet, what happens in an arbitrary period of a life, whether viewed randomly on a day, or even assessed and evaluated over a decade, will rarely reflect the comparative worth of a lifetime as analyzed on a linear continuum.

Youth is a wasted period of emergence; middle-age is often a reflection upon that wasteland of remorse; and old age brings physical and cognitive infirmities which engage in fruitless efforts of counting the remaining days.  And so does a circularity of the absurd prevail upon us.

Medical conditions merely exacerbate and are an unwelcome source of further despair.  When a medical condition impacts upon one’s “quality” of life, whether upon the ability to perform one’s positional duties

as in the Federal sector, or debilitates and prevents the physical capacity, such a condition magnifies in exponential despair the devaluing of the human condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a way of countering the valuation of a lifetime of contributions based upon a given day of despair.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, whether intentionally or unwittingly, will make disparaging judgments upon the worth of an individual once a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  But such valuations are based upon pure ignorance of witless magnitude.

For every Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, judgment on any given day does not a life make, and indeed, nor does even a decade declare the true value and worth of a person.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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