OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Was it all worth it?

It is that penultimate question – the one that has multiple cousins and unwanted siblings, illegitimate off-springs and uninvited guests, like:  What is the meaning of my life (refer to previous posts concerning Russell’s quip that such pedantic queries are often the result of indigestion)?  Did I do the right thing (such lines of interrogatories often emerge from a guilty conscience, so you might not want to ask that one)?  Did I spend enough time with my kids (almost always, “no”)?  Did I remain true to my marriage vows (sadly, according the statistical analysis, most people would have to answer in the negative)?  Have I behaved honorably throughout (it would depend upon the definition of the term, and of by-the-way, we tend to have private dictionaries defining words these days in a subjective, self-serving manner)?

“Was it all worth it” goes in so many directions, it is like the catch-all phrase or the “general aegis” over which all other questions and queries reside.  To whom?  By what measure?  In contrast to what other “it”?  And the more important one: Can we clarify and “flesh out” what the “it” refers to?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prompts a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the interrogatory itself often means that the point of “worthiness” refers to the delay and loyalty shown by the suffering Federal or Postal employee before taking the next needed steps in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Often, to the detriment of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, such a query means that you have already pushed yourself well beyond that which is actually for your own good, and while loyalty, faithfulness, hard work and such similar attributes are laudable and “example-setting” characteristics reflecting well upon the one who asks the question, the answer may be – at least from a medical perspective – formed in the negative.

For, isn’t part of the point in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application to do so before the medical condition gets to such a severe crisis point of deterioration so that there is actually a retirement to enjoy?

Remember that the standard of proof in obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement is not to reach a state of “total disability” (which is the standard in a Social Security case); rather, it is to show that the Federal or Postal employee cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position.

Thus, when you ask the question, “Was it all worth it?” – it is indeed important to know what the “it” refers to, both in the second word of the question as well as the fifth and last.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Subtle Warnings

Subtlety is not an inherent trait of the American psyche.  As pragmatism and materialism dominates the prevailing thought-process, the capacity and ability to recognize and act upon indirect signs and hints is underdeveloped and considered a disadvantage.   From recognizing the early warning signs of a medical condition, to responding to an agency’s initiation of adverse administrative proceedings, the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker is marked for his or her naive forthrightness.  Thus the recurring quip:  “Why can’t they just come right out and say it?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to recognized and act upon subtle warnings becomes a necessity crucial for survival.  Timeliness matters; planning for the future requires a thoughtful recognition of harbingers of hazards.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often like the childhood game of  “cat and mouse”.  As a game involving constant pursuit, avoidance of capture, near-misses and resumption of pursuit, staving off administrative sanctions, actions and similar initiations of contrivances by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service while the Federal or Postal employee is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is simply part and parcel of this complex process involving a burdensome bureaucracy.

Filing early for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is often the key; ignoring those subtle warning signs, both about one’s own medical condition as well as the underlying substratum of intentions as indicated by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, is to disregard the inevitability of life and its complexity of meanings.  For, in the end, that which is subtle must unravel and manifest, but it is the one who first senses the forewarning of fate who ultimately can control one’s destiny and divert from the determinism of fatalism.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Avoidance and Delay

Human beings have an uncanny capacity for avoidance.  In the greater genus of the universe we identify as the “Animal Kingdom”, where survival of the fittest determines the genetic viability of the evolutionary scales of neutral justice, avoidance means potential death, and delay constitutes a certainty for an untimely demise.  For, as thought and reflection is the pause between an event and a necessary response, so avoidance and delay is that interlude between necessity and regret.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties as a Federal Employee or a U.S. Postal Worker, the avoidance of the inevitable, and the delay for the obvious, often becomes an intransigent approach to life’s misgivings.

The act of 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, is thought of as a step of finality — an admission to one’s self that the battle has been lost, the war’s outcome has been determined, and the cards dealt must now be played, with nothing left to trade in or replace.  That is the “short view”, as colored by the perspective of avoidance and delay.  The “long view” is that there is actually life after Federal Service, and potentiality for growth beyond the U.S. Postal Service.

We become entrenched in the habits of our own making, and while filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM may seem like a step of finality, it is actually just a step in a different direction, where one can open up new avenues for a second vocation, while at the same time securing a financial future for stability and further growth.

Avoidance and delay — they are the price one may pay for the limitations imposed by our own lack of imagination, but the greater canvas of life opens up the power and creativity hidden within the deep recesses of a childhood potentiality we once held on to, but somehow let go in this journey we call “life”, which often puts us down and tramples upon the flights of a child’s wide-eyed vision of the greater universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Ritualistic Behavior

We persuade ourselves that only children play those games; of turning suddenly left, instead of right; of pretending to be asleep, only to unexpectedly open one’s eyes to test the reality of our surroundings; and other discordant acts in an effort to defy the predetermination of fate, as if the karmic principles governing the universe are subject to the vicissitudes of private thoughts.  But the anomaly of the unexpected is that, once a pattern of disjointed behavior itself becomes a monotony of the routine, the corridors of ritualistic behavior become entrenched and often prevents one from taking steps necessary to step outside of the proverbial box.

Conventional thought processes can themselves become ritualistic; thus do we believe that by neglect or avoidance, medical conditions will just “go away”; or that the increasing hostility and initiation of adverse actions by an agency will cease if we just “ignore” them; or if we just continue maintaining a semblance of competency, the incompetents will recognize and acknowledge the superiority of motives, and desist from the constancy of interruptive actions.  Such ritualistic behavior, however, has little to no impact upon the reality of the world, no more than when the child in us attempted to defy fate and the karmic gods which rule the universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the route of exit from the madness of the universe is to file 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 plain fact is, no one cares for one’s health or well-being except the person who suffers from the medical condition, as well (one would hope) one’s family and spouse.

Reflection upon the priorities of life must always be reengaged; and continuing onward with vestiges of child-like ritualistic behavior, against all sanity telling us that things will not change despite our best efforts, will only prolong the agony and the angst of life’s unfairness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is available for those Federal or Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and while continuation with one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be a laudatory goal revealing an undying sense of loyalty, it is the dying portion of our better selves which whispers the lie that ritualistic behavior can alter the course of human history within the microcosmic universe of karmic incantations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Balance of Information

Most administrative entanglements involve some measure of balancing.  How much information to provide; determination of that which constitutes satisfaction of the request; whether, and to what extent, the information is sufficient to complete the transaction; and other similar analytical evaluations prior to submitting the compendium of data.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers struggling to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s agency (if still on the rolls and not separated for more than 31 days), and then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (unless one has been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, but not more than 1 year, as all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be submitted within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key component and measure is the effectiveness of Standard Form 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The act of balancing begins upon an initial review of the questions posed by SF 3112A.  While other forms require basic information concerning one’s personal data and the agency for whom the Federal or Postal employee works (e.g., SF 3107 series, including Schedules A, B & C), the SF 3112A is the linchpin of it all.  Care should be taken in answering the questions; reflection upon the character and extent of the data provided; editing and review of any final submission.  Too much, or too little.

The Goldilocks principle should always be applied, and when served in just the right amount, the true test of the balance of information has been finally met.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire