Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Proper Sequence

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers seeking to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, is there a proper sequence in preparing the Standard Forms?  Does it matter if one set of forms are prepared or taken out of sequence?

Or, is the fact that the two primary sets of forms — the SF 3107 series and the SF 3112 series — are already provided in an ordered manner (i.e., for the SF 3107 series, first the “Application for Immediate Retirement”, then the Schedules A, B & C, then forms for the Agency to complete; and for the SF 3112 series, first the “Applicant’s Statement of Disability”, then the Supervisor’s Statement, the form for the Physician, etc.), reflective of the sequence one should complete them?

This, of course, brings up another and more important question: Would you trust the government to look out for your own best interests in completing the series of Standard Forms (i.e., SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) in the order that they want you to complete them, or should you complete them in a manner that looks after your own best interests, separate and apart from the order that the Federal Government and OPM wants you to fill them out?

There is, in the end, a proper sequence to everything, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is no different from every other kind of form and content to be completed.  The way and manner that OPM and the Federal government wants you to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application does not necessarily imply any nefarious intent; it is just a difference in deciding whose best interests are you looking after — your own, or OPM’s?

In the end, all of the Standard Forms (again, the SF 3107 Series and the SF 3112 Series) must all be filled out completely, and some might conclude that the order and sequence of completing them shouldn’t matter, inasmuch as they all have to be completed anyway.  But you may want to pause and reflect for a moment: Does “proper sequence” imply that the Federal Government and OPM have prepared the SF 3107 and SF 3112A for the benefit of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, or for their own convenience?

Tricks tend to trip, and the trips are not merely the destination from point A to point B, but a hidden accident waiting to happen if you don’t complete SF 3107 and SF 3112 in their proper sequence — and that means, not necessarily in the order of their appearance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Hub

It is the center of the universe; upon and around it, all things revolve.  The axle is attached to it; the spokes; the planets that circle about; the hub constitutes, represents and relates to all else by being the primary foundation from which all else is dependent and subservient.  And thus the phrase, “That’s the hub of it all, isn’t it?”  Or, is the idiom, “That’s the nub of it all” the true way of saying it?  If a person replaces the “h” for the “n”, and let’s say he or she has a strange inflection or accent, anyway, do we stop them and correct them?

Say two people are watching a show, and afterwards a discussion ensues as to the meaning of what one of the characters said or failed to say, and one says to the other, “That’s the hub of it all, isn’t it?”  The other turns and says, “You mean, that’s the NUB of it all, don’t you?”  The other pauses, reflects and retorts, “What’s the difference?”  Now it is the first one’s turn to pause, reflect and answer back, but what would be an appropriate answer?  While the true idiom or adage may well be the “nub” usage as opposed to the “hub” application, perhaps the other person was just being somewhat eccentric and creative.

Or, let’s say that you knew of the other person the following: When he was just a young boy, he lost his mother, whom he loved very much.  Her last words to him as she lay in bed suffering from tuberculosis was: “Now, remember Bobby, it is love — that is the … [and, here, she was overcome with a fit of uncontrollable coughing, and could not get the “n” out and instead, pulled herself together and said hoarsely] the hub of it all.”  And to this day, Bobby remembers his mother’s last words, and the slight difference of idiom used, and likes forever after to repeat the phrase, “That’s the hub of it all”.

Would you, knowing this, correct him on the misuse of the idiom?  And even if you didn’t know the history of such misusage, why correct something when the underlying meaning remains the same?  Isn’t “hub” a synonym for “nub”, and vice versa?

In life, we too often focus upon the spokes of the wheel, and not the hub; or, put another way, we walk right past the nub of a matter and become too easily distracted by tangential, irrelevant or insignificant obfuscations.  But life is too short to aim at the spokes of the matter instead of the hub, nub or essence of it all.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job, just remember that there are certain things in life that cannot be ignored — like one’s health.

If one’s health is deteriorating and the Federal or Postal job is contributing to that deterioration, what is more important?  What is the hub of the matter?  What essence of life’s priorities are more important?  Identify the nub — and proceed on to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that you can focus upon the hub or nub of the matter, which and whatever, so long as it points to the essence and not the spoke.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The chaos of life

Of masochism, there are indeed some who purport to invite the chaos of life, and actually enjoy it, relish in it and thrive in it.  Its opposite is considered monotonous, lacking of artistic content and without the excitement of unpredictability.  Yet, even those who thrive within the chaos of life will often need that period of respite, whether with a quiet moment of reflection, a night of reading beside a crackling fire, or just dozing in front of the drone of a television.

EMT personnel often require such a personality trait; firemen, law enforcement officers, and nowadays, teachers, professors and other educators, if only because the chaos that unruly and undisciplined children, teenagers and young adults bring into the classroom.

Perhaps it was a childhood upbringing; it is often said by learned psychologists that battered people tend to themselves batter upon reaching maturity, because they find solace in the comfort of that which they are familiar, and so the behaviors they learned and were imprinted upon as a child are the very patterns that are comforting; and thus does the vicious cycle of life – such as the chaos of life – recur and regenerate, only to imprint the same cycle upon the next generation.

Those who sincerely crave the very opposite – of a regularity in monotony of patterns predictable in their characteristic of non-change – are often criticized for failing to be able to “deal” with the chaos of life, and so the argument goes that those who thrive upon the chaos of life are better prepared for the vicissitudes of life’s misgivings.

Medical conditions comprise a sort of chaos of life, but whether one is “well-prepared” for it or not, it is something that must be “dealt” with.  It is, in the end, doubtful whether a person’s life prior to the entrance and introduction of a medical condition can adequately prepare one to “deal with it”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, part of the process in dealing with such a chaos of life is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

In such a case, instead of dealing with the chaos of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application yourself, you may want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in such legal matters.

In this vast universe that includes the encumbrances deemed the chaos of life, we must all make choices as to which portion of the chaos we want to personally handle; for, in the end, the chaos of life, how we handle it and what benefit accrues from it will all be determined by the outcome of the event – and for Federal and Postal employees, that outcome-based perspective is the resulting approval by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on a Federal Disability Retirement claim, where once the approval is obtained, the chaos of life may be turned into a respite of relief.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Witnessing the residue

Most of us merely witness the residue; the process itself, the events leading up to the conclusion, and “during” as opposed to the “after”, and all of the miniscule details that make up “in between” are invisible, ignored, unimportant or simply not thought of.  We see the “end product”, only, and that is how it should be.  We don’t have time to watch the apple tree grow from a seedling; for sausages to be made; for politics to be compromised; and for other people’s problems to fester.  And even if we did, what difference would it really make?

We assume much – that characters we see in movies made from “based on a true story” (whatever that means – and how much artistic liberty was taken with the details of such a “true story”, and what part is true and what is not?) productions went to the bathroom in between shooting at each other and becoming heroes; or that when children are seen, there was once love between the couple (although, that can turn out to be a wrong assumption where adoption or other arrangements have been made) even if the residue we witness shows only acrimony, bickering and constant arguing.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers preparing 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, “both sides” witness the residue – from the Federal Agency or Postal Service’s side, they witness the residue of a filing for a disability retirement, without knowing the long and arduous struggle that the employee had with the medical condition prior to coming to such a decision.  Or, for that matter, from the viewpoint of the supervisor or co-worker, such a decision may come as a complete surprise.

Conversely, from the viewpoint of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, witnessing the residue of the Federal Agency’s reaction or the co-workers and supervisors who make comments, or say anything at all, is often an interesting phenomenon for its complete lack of understanding or empathy.  They simply didn’t know, didn’t care or didn’t take the time (or all three) in showing any concern during the long struggle with the medical condition.

The key, however, in witnessing the residue, is with respect to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the Federal Agency that reviews and makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.  For OPM, it is important to formulate a concise narrative in answering the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  How much of the history; to what extent the minutiae and details of the past; and the precision of establishing the nexus between the medical condition and the job duties – these are all important in the proper preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, where witnessing the residue may be a void too important to neglect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Conspiracy of life

Tabloids lead us to suspect it; odd coincidences force us to confront it; and the amassed aggregate of life experiences allow us to consider seriously the implications of it.  Are there such deliberative interconnections that make seeming chance encounters more than the arbitrary clashes of random events, such that they are planned, coordinated and precipitated by human activity beyond mere statistical anomalies?

If the creation of the natural world can be acceptably explained by evolutionary forces without a grand designer of some relevant intelligence quotient, and if randomness can be explicated by instinctive forces based upon a genetic predisposition for survival, then certainly the conspiracy of life can be readily accepted.

Often, we dismiss and refute sequential events that “could only happen” with some modality of deliberative intent, with a dismissive declaration of, “Naw…it just couldn’t be…”   Yet, we believe in those inane, proverbial truisms, like – “When it rains, it pours”, as events seem to come in bunches, bad luck follows upon acts violating superstitious conduct defying the supernatural, and we still try and avoid making major life decisions when the stars become misaligned during a winter solstice.

And so we remain careful when coming upon the path of a black cat, or refrain from making major life decisions on those Fridays which fall upon an unlucky number; and, beyond, believe that a conspiracy of life may yet manage to subvert, pervert and preemptively undermine the dreams we dream, the fantasies we pursue and the follies we hope for.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, it is not a far stretch to conceive of, believe in and otherwise suspect a conspiracy of life – precisely because Federal fiefdoms and Postal power-centers are replete with bands of marauding rogues whose sole purpose in life is to harass, intimidate, make life miserable and force the issue of “who is boss”.

Little people with evil souls tend to congregate in places where the frustrations of a personal life spill over into the professional arena of employment contexts.  Always remember, however, the singular focus in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application:  To have it approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, if you get “drawn in” to the tangents by invitation of the conspiracy of life, you may regret the wayward course and the detour compelled by losing your way, direction and compass-driven focus that should guide you to ignore those unverified and arbitrary chance events as depicted in superimposed photographs besides outlandish editorial exclamations seen and surreptitiously viewed while standing in line at the grocery store.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Early Medical Retirement: Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders; non-restorative sleep; Sleep Apnea; Sleep dysfunctions; altogether, they can cumulatively comprise distinguishable medical disorders, but often are lumped together, and can encapsulate differing and almost opposite conditions, including idiopathic hypersomnia, major hypersomnolence disorder, insomnia, narcolepsy, and similar medical disabilities.  Often, the effects and symptoms are the major issues, resulting in profound and intractable fatigue; inability to focus or concentrate; lack of mental acuity, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from various sleep disorders and varying severity of such sleep dysfunctions, the impact can be severe and palpable.  Whether in a sedentary, cognitive-intensive position where mental acuity and focus, concentration and attention to detail are impacted; or in “safety-related” work where reliance upon full awareness, wakefulness and perceptual judgment of one’s surroundings are critical; sleep disorders can have a direct and negative impact upon the Federal or Postal worker’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the positional requirements.

Such sleep dysfunctions and sleep disorders are viable medical conditions which form a foundational basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

In past ages, people used to merely associate and dismiss daytime somnolence as mere “laziness” and lack of willpower; fortunately, we now know better, and such knowledge is reflective of a small but incremental advancement in human progression, which is always an amazing feat in this cesspool of ignorance we deem as civilization.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire