One hears much these days about the importance of forming a coalition of forces before engaging an offensive action; and, indeed, there is the old adage of having strength in numerical superiority, and the sense that a consensus of opinions and cooperation of numbers results in an increased chance of success.
Quantitative composites can mask a disarray of qualitative forces, and the security in numbers can somewhat compensate for lack of internal cohesion. But what if you are the target of a coalition of forces, albeit one that is merely bureaucratic in nature, and administrative in pragmatic application?
That is how the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker often feels, when applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS. And not only that, but the “attack” comes at one’s most vulnerable point: when a medical condition is involved.
Filing for OPM Medical Retirement benefits is tantamount to going up against a coalition force: One’s own agency; one’s own Supervisor; one’s own Human Resource department; one’s own coworkers; and then to contend with trying to obtain the proper and sufficient medical documentation in order to show eligibility and entitlement (yes, there is a distinction with a difference between the two concepts), on top of filling out the vast array of standard forms (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS and CSRS-Offset employees; SF 3112 series for all three, FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset employees).
The medical condition itself, of course, is the vital point of vulnerability, and it is as if the coalition forces are fully aware of those weak points, and attack them relentlessly. OPM Disability Retirement, the process of filing, and the agencies which make up the linear progression for filing — all together can appear to comprise a coalition of forces which, without necessarily working in coordinated concert of thought or action, can aggregately defeat an OPM Medical Retirement application.
The singular warrior of the target — the FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker — must use all of the administrative and legal tools available, in order to go up against such a behemoth of bureaucratic gargantuan proportions.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire