Tag Archives: FAQs and issues

The Agency’s Attempt

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of “accommodations” will necessarily surface, if only because the Agency must complete SF 3112D — the Form which is entitled, “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” (which bureaucrat came up with that title?).

Agencies will often choose the wrong box to check because they will either misread the choices or misunderstand what the statements mean.  For instance, in the third choice of Question 4, it states, “Yes, describe below the accommodation efforts made, attach supporting documentation and provide narrative analysis of any unsuccessful accommodation efforts.”  The problem with the choice itself is that the entire concept of “accommodations” has been clarified, modified, and thoroughly discussed in cases which have been brought before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and such court opinions have been issued subsequent to the original meaning of the term when the Standard Form was first issued.

But when the Agency completes the form, they will often answer the question in terms of “allowing for liberal use of sick leave” or “letting the employee refrain from doing X, Y or Z”, etc.  But allowing for temporary, light duty work does not constitute a “legal accommodation“, and thus does not go to the requested information.  In fact, the loosely-used term of “accommodation” is actually no accommodation at all.

What to do about it when it happens?  One must be discreet in how to approach it.  For most cases, the agency’s lack of understanding will have no impact at all, and it should not be responded to.  In other instances…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Materials and information on this blog are provided for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and do not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice.  For more specific information, or to discuss the specifics of your case, you may contact the author for a free, first-time phone consultation.

The Unresponsive Agency

The complaints abound; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is still way behind on its evaluation, review and decision-making process for all characters of retirements, disability retirements included. And now with all of the pressure to become more “efficient” under this current Administration, I am receiving reports from multiple sources that OPM is denying more and more FERS Disability Retirement applications.

It is a given that filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must necessarily have an expectation of a time-consuming administrative process, precisely because of the encounter with a Federal bureaucracy.

At each step of the way, OPM has become more and more unresponsive, and with new cases coming in, the length of time at every stage, and “between” stages, has been extended. The process itself contains inherent milestones of delay: from filing the entire disability retirement application to a facility in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which merely annotates the receipt of the case and inputs the case into the computer system; to thereafter sending the disability retirement application, with all of its evidentiary submissions and attachments down to Washington, D.C., where it must first await assignment to a caseworker; then, upon assignment, for the caseworker to even get to the applicant’s submission for review and evaluation. Then, of course, there is the possibility that the entire packet will be selected to be sent out for review by a contract doctor.

The delays are beyond the control of the applicant, his or her FERS Disability Retirement attorney, or the Federal agency for whom the applicant worked. It is, ultimately, an administrative process which can be tedious, time-consuming, and fraught with delays and extended periods of silence.

Patience may well be a virtue, but the unresponsive manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has handled the delays, fails to engender much confidence in a system which should be most responsive to those in greater need.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

Any articles viewed on this blog are intended to provide information only and are not intended to be legal advice.  As laws are always in a state of change, we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information.  For current updates of laws, rules, the current proposal for the elimination or replacing of the Office of Personnel Management, and to get a personalized assessment of your individual disability claim, please contact the author for a free first-time consultation.

It’s a Federal Government Issue

Representation by an attorney who is licensed in one state, of a Federal or Postal employee who lives in another state, is accomplished in a Federal Disability Retirement application precisely because it is a Federal issue and not a State issue.

If an individual has a legal issue which he or she wants advice on, which concerns an event, issue or matter which involves a particular state’s laws, then obviously an attorney from the particular state should be consulted.

In obtaining a FERS Disability Retirement annuity from the Office of Personnel Management, however, it is irrelevant whether or not the attorney is from the Federal or Postal Worker’s state. For one thing, the agency which must be directly dealt with — the Office of Personnel Management — is located in Washington, D.C. (although the initial intake office is located in Boyers, PA).  OPM is the agency which handles all Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applications under FERS, and makes both the Initial Decision in the process, as well as any decision at the Second, or Reconsideration Stage.

In this technologically-centered world of ours, everything can now be handled by telephone, fax, express mail, FedEx, UPS, email, email attachments, etc. It is more efficient this way, and further, there are not that many attorneys who specialize in the field of Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The legal articles published in this blog are intended for general information purposes only.  Reading this information or exchanging emails do not establish a lawyer-client relationship.  However, you may contact the author for a free case evaluation assessment by discussing the specifics of your case.

Confirming your Doctor’s Support

After undergoing all of the those diagnostic tests; after allowing the doctor to clinically examine, prescribe multiple medications based merely upon the say-so of the doctor; after allowing for invasive surgery; sending you to physical therapy; if the time then comes to prepare and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, it is important to confirm the strength of that “patient-doctor” relationship that has apparently been ongoing and fostered for those many months, years, and sometimes, decades.

It is not enough to get a nebulous “pat-on-the-back-sure-I’ll-support-you” sort of response, and with that, you receive a thick packet from the medical office, you open it, and inside is merely a copy of your medical records. No — “support” must be concrete and definitive. It must mean, specifically, that the doctor is willing to write an excellent medical report outlining his or her opinion in connecting your medical condition with you inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job. If it is time to file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, it is time to have a heart-to-heart talk with the treating doctor, and see how committed he or she really was and is to this “patient-doctor” relationship.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer

The information contained in this web site has been prepared by attorney Robert R. McGill, a Maryland-based Federal Disability Attorney, who represents Federal employees nationwide.  Thus, this and other posts have been written for informational purposes and is not legal advice.  It is provided only as general information which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments.

How Important is the SF 3112B Form?

It is amazing how a Supervisor’s Statement is completed.  Normally, it is completed without much thought; sometimes, it is completed with too much thought (and self-protective, CYA language concerning how much effort the agency attempted in “accommodating” the employee, when in fact little or no effort was made); more often than not, there is a last, parting shot at the employee — some unnecessary “dig” which often contradicts other portions of the statement; and, finally, every now and then, the Supervisor’s Statement is completed in the proper manner, with forethought and truthfulness.

Fortunately, the Office of Personnel Management rarely puts much weight on a Supervisor’s Statement in making a determination on a FERS Disability Retirement application — unless there is some glaring statement of a deliberate attempt to undermine the Application.  This is rare, because it is a medical disability retirement, not a Supervisor’s disability retirement — meaning, that it is the medical opinion, not the opinion of a Supervisor, which is (and should be) most important.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

The material provided in this blog has been updated from previous publications such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog and the Lawyers.com blog.

OPM & History of Medical Conditions

There is a distinction to be made between one’s medical history and an extensive discussion of workplace issues which may have contributed to a causal impetus for a medical condition.

The Office of Personnel Management is rarely interested in receiving information concerning the history or causation of a medical condition — especially from the Applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.  While the treating doctor may briefly refer to the historical genesis of a medical condition in a narrative report, it is the focus of the present-to-recent-past impact of one’s medical conditions upon the essential elements of one’s job which the Office of Personnel Management is interested in reviewing.

Again, remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “paper presentation” to an onerous, overbearing and overworked Federal bureaucracy, where one’s private affairs (the most private of all — one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s personal and professional conduct of affairs) are to be presented, received, and ultimately reviewed.

History of the inception, origin and impact of a medical condition may be peripherally relevant to the treating doctor, and it would be appropriate to include such historical background in a medical report; but for the Applicant, to delve too deeply and extensively upon such historical context may place the peripheral into a central focus where it should not be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

Information here do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions.  Material presented in this blog may or may have not been previously published in the author’s other websites including but not limiting to the Federal Disability Lawyer website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog, Federal Disability Attorney and other resources in the Internet.

Federal Employees with Preexisting Conditions

There is still some questions with respect to the relevance of preexisting medical conditions, or medical conditions which were incurred while working, or outside of the workplace, or even before being employed by the Federal Government; and the impact of such medical disabilities upon one’s right to file for disability retirement under FERS. This confusion is evident from some of the questions I have been recently asked.

Remember that preexisting medical conditions are irrelevant to filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, in most cases; the fact that an individual has been able to perform the essential elements of one’s job for many years, but comes to a point in his or her career where the medical condition has been exacerbated, or deteriorated, to the point where it begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is all that is needed to be shown.

It matters not that the medical condition “preexisted” one’s Federal service; and, indeed, many of my client’s began working with a VA disability rating, but worked successfully for a number of years, until the medical condition(s) underlying the VA disability rating worsened, or came to a point where it began to impact his or her ability to perform the job functions.

Similarly, whether or not the injury or medical disability was incurred while working or while on a skiing trip, is irrelevant.  The primary point and focus in FERS & CSRS Disability Retirements cases, is that a person has the minimum years of Federal Service (5 years for CSRS; 18 months for FERS), and during the person’s Federal Service, he or she incurred a medical condition such that it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

 

The content provided here has been updated and previously published in other websites such as the Federal Disability Lawyer, OPM Disability Retirement and/or Federal Disability Attorney blogs.