FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Application: Success

How is it measured?  What constitutes it – a subjective sensation, an objective judgment, or the loosely aligned combination of both?  Is it the quantifiable reaction of others, or the measurable amassing of possessions and the value of the gross aggregate?   Is the last one atop a proverbial hill of owning stuff what determines and adjudges the success of a person?  How does one analyze a life – at what age, in which stage of the slice, and is there a specific point on a pendulum or spectrum, or is it more of a linear continuum where specificity in a point of historical categorization should be resisted in favor of looking at a wider expanse of a ‘period’ evaluation?

We sometimes state with dismay, “Oh, what a wasted life – a bum at so young an age, into drugs, imprisoned and wasting away.”  Then, if it turns out later that the same individual became rehabilitated, worked on the “straight and narrow” proverbial path and “made a name for him/herself”, we revisit our earlier assessment and declare the individual as a paradigm of success.

Or, how about its corollary or opposite:  In youth, a paragon of defining what success means, a near-prodigy of everything hoped for:  College at the top of the class; great job; early earnings of astronomical proportions; mansion with servants by age 30; self-made billionaire (an aside and a quip, and food for thought:  a couple of decades ago, we only heard of “millionaires”; now, there are countless “billionaires”; and now we are on the verge of recognizing the first “trillionaire”; query – is it because there are such people, or is it merely the result that world-wide inflation has steadily made currency more and more worthless and depreciated, or is it a combination of both?); perfect wife, near-perfect children (2 and a half by statistical standards); and the conclusion at age 35:  Success.

Then, at age 45, divorce, the kids are mere nuisances, bankruptcy looms on the horizon and criminal prosecution for embezzlement is hinted and rumored.  Do we retract the former declaration, or do we bifurcate it by saying:  Well, he was successful for the first half of his life, not so much in the middle years, and became a bum, a criminal and a miscreant in his later years?  Is it the entirety of an individual’s life to be assessed, or sliced in neat categorizations bifurcated for convenience of excluding the negative in balancing out a person’s achievements, then defining the applicability of what “success” means by sectioning off and cordoning into parts determined by subjective prioritization?

Thus, the concept of “success” is difficult to grasp in a general sense when applied to a person’s life; as an event for targeting, however, it is often focused upon a singularity of outcome.

In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be prepared, formulated and filed by, or on behalf of, a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker, the narrow issue of success is quite an easy concept to embrace.  Success is to obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  Failure is to not receive it.  The  “middle ground” of uncertainty in coming to a conclusion is where it has been denied initially, but there are still further stages — the processing of Requesting Reconsideration, an Appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, as well as a Full Petition to the Board, and the final of all finalized steps:  an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

There, it is somewhat more reflective of life itself:  Success is still within one’s grasp, but there is still some work ahead to redeem the short-term failure in order to end up in the consequential judgment of a final assessment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Federal Disability Retirement: The Happy Warrior

The linguistic implications are multiple and rich in historical nuances, derived not merely from the combination of words but because of images from the past and residual connotations not always agreed upon but nevertheless trailing like appendages holding on for dear life to a departing conveyor of thoughts, ideas and characters.

It evokes caricatures of contrasting conditions of smiling in the face of adversity; of taking on opponents on the proverbial field of battle despite unwinnable odds, yet with an optimism unable to be undermined; and evocative shadows of withdrawn faces, like the peek behind the kabuki painted cosmetics and the space between the flesh and the Noh mask, that moment when doubt is surely to surface and a moment of realization comes about.  Behind closed doors, does “The Happy Warrior” truly smile, or is there hesitation resurfacing, but not for public consumption?

We honor and value that smiling face in the contest of adversities not our own, and disdain and discard upon the garbage heap of history those who disappoint and destroy our carefully crafted image of the warrior who reveals the felt pain and the loss of control of fear and doubt.  Perhaps it is because we ourselves can only maintain one-half of the equation, and the perfect balance between the “happy” side of yin-yang combination, in contrast to the “warrior” component, leaves us empty and without courage.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must daily put on the impassive Noh mask in order to counter the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in contending with adversity because of a medical condition, the recognition that in Noh theatre it is expected that as shadows change and perspectives alter, the expression of the Noh mask adapts and reveals character and substance beyond the original intent, may be of some comfort.

The legend of the happy warrior is just that — a residue of days past when history with its feeble memory forgot the tears shed when the transference of the reality of blood and guts to the paper description of battle and fury became lost in the mediocrity of words and wordsmiths.  Life is sometimes too real for even reality to bear.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether psychiatric, physical, or a combination of both, the daily requirement of showing “happiness” despite pain and deteriorating health, and to maintain that armor of a “warrior”, can and does come to a point of irrefutable untenability.

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 never a surrender to one side or the other of the unfair equation beset by a societal image of who we are, what we are supposed to be, or where we are meant to go.  Instead, the simple formula for the first half of the combination is:  Take care of one’s health first, and let the rest and residue scatter to cubbyholes in faraway places.

And once that has been taken care of, the second half:  Prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because one’s health is paramount in this progressively uncaring universe, and attaining a level of restorative health can only become a reality when once the armor which protected begins to show the chinks of time and deterioration, and where the component of “happy” can no longer stand alongside the “warrior” within, and it is time to move on to another day, a greater battle, and a more winnable war.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: Recalibrating the Reset Button

Preparing for life’s vicissitudes can be a daunting task.  Some never acquire the skills necessary to accommodate the winds of misdirection; others stumble through like a drunken sailor walking down fate’s gangplank, seeing the end but failing to adapt in time to prevent the calamities forewarned.  The very few somehow manage to engage the transformation, like a chameleon who responds to the surrounding environment by becoming invisible within the subtleties of life.

Change is the inevitable essence of life.  From alterations occurring from growth — from birth to adulthood, then to aging decay — to the physical universe of constant transformation; the world is represented by the various metaphors and symbols of permanence and change, of Yin and Yang, of Parmenides and Heraclitus, and in modernity, of the recalibration of the reset button.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue in his or her present career, it is precisely that fear of change which precludes one from engaging in the necessary steps required to adapt, transform, and reset.

If insanity is defined as performing acts of failure repetitively, then the world must by definition be insane, and the Federal or Postal employee who continues down the same path despite all of the headwinds and warning signs present, should be placed in a straightjacket and confined to the halls of antiseptic whitewashed rooms.  Change is always difficult; but it is a necessity of life.  It is the life spring of a vibrant community; and its opposite is a parallel universe of decay, decrepit degradation, and destructive degeneration of death and desperate deterioration (and so, why is the alliteration of negation so rampant with the letter “d”?).

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is a step in a changing direction.  It takes the Federal and Postal employee out from the insanity of repetitive failure by allowing for a recalibration of the requisite reset button, and to potentially engage in a future which leaves behind a past replete with hostility and increasingly adverse attitudes.  It secures a base annuity such that one can survive; then, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to work in the private sector and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

As change is necessary to the survival of any organism, so stagnation is the result of resistance to transformation; and like the putrid waters of stillness filled with microorganisms waiting to destroy the abdominal walls of the unsuspecting traveler, the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to recalibrate the reset button is merely waiting for the day when the external order will force the change involuntarily, as opposed to he who chooses the day, time and moment of an inevitable fate which awaits us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire