Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Three Little Pigs

We are all familiar with the fable of the anthropomorphic three little pigs and the materials used in building their respective houses.  The point of the story itself, however, concerns not the elements used, but the craftsmanship employed, and the effort expended, which reveals the underlying values and provides for fertile fodder in teaching the importance of hard work, careful application and sufficient preparatory labor in securing one’s future.

It wasn’t as if there was any justifying rationale for the first two pigs to have built such insufficient shelters; the moral lessons to be drawn can include:  laziness; lack of orientation for the future; insufficient imaginations; a desire for momentary pleasures as opposed to delayed gratification for future gains; the importance of care and craftsmanship; or, to leave it as just a good story.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the lessons gleaned from the fable of the three little pigs can be replete with guiding principles:  building the foundation through the proverbial block-by-block methodology; care in the crafting of the linguistic bridge between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions impacting one’s health; deliberation and agonizingly detailed effort expended to formulate one’s Statement of Disability in SF 3112A; compilation of a sufficient legal basis and argumentation in presenting one’s Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, etc.

For, the house that the third pig built withstood the multiple onslaught of  attempted subversion not because the adversary failed to expend sufficient effort, but because one’s own work proved worthwhile.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Working Paradigm

Most doctors, attorneys, and the general public are familiar with the concept of “disability benefits”, but only in relation to the Social Security Administration.  It is rare that disability benefits are associated with, or are known to exist, separately for Federal employees or the U.S. Postal Service, in relation to a concept which is progressively unique and creatively formulated within a context of a society and a bureaucracy which is not normally know for such characteristics:  a system of disability where the disabled individual is encouraged to seek employment without being penalized for earning income by immediately terminating the disability benefits.

Yes, for Federal and Postal employees, there is the cut-off margin of 80% of what one’s former position currently pays; and, yes, if the private-sector employment is too similar in nature to the positional requirements and essential elements of the former Federal or Postal job, such parallel identity can result in a determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that the former Federal employee or Postal worker is deemed medically recovered; but within those generous parameters, the paradigm upon which Federal Disability Retirement is based, is what can only be described as a “working paradigm”, precisely because, as a system of incentives, it works, and as a practical matter, it encourages Federal and Postal workers to continue to remain productive in the workforce, and to perpetuate a self-paying system, as opposed to the de-incentivized system of Social Security, which has an extremely low threshold of allowable income before terminating benefits.

OPM Disability Retirement is effective precisely because it is a working paradigm — both in a pragmatic sense, and as a metaphorical basis for building a foundation for one’s future, as opposed to being stuck in the rut of an administrative bureaucracy which fails to understand and appreciate the human instinct to remain productive.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Statement, the Stranger and the How

Paper presentations are dangerous creatures; if read by a stranger, it lacks the context of familiarity, and therefore must include enough information and detail to lay the preparatory foundation for coherence and comprehensibility; when viewed by someone known, unwarranted inferences and implications may be extrapolated, where characters and references are alleged to be fictional representations of real people, events and encounters.

The stranger’s eye views without prior preconceptions; the familiar, with an overabundance of active input; thus is the balance between objectivity and subjectivity disproportionately out of synchronization.  Sometimes, however, the inverse can be also true, and problematic, where the narrator assumes too much, or too little; where an overabundance of irrelevant information is provided in an attempt to make up for an assumed lack of contextual understanding, and in the course of such infusion of irrelevancies, the core of the purposive elements of the narration is effectively undermined.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the Statement of Disability as prepared on SF 3112A, must be approached with care, relevance, curtailed overloading of information, and with a contextual understanding of the governing laws surrounding a Federal Disability Retirement application.

It is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — an agency which knows not the applicant — which evaluates, reviews and decides upon the Federal or Postal worker filing for Medical Retirement benefits; and the statement delineated on SF 3112A must fully appreciate the fact that a stranger will be reviewing the Federal employee’s application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and, as such, how one approaches the entire administrative process, the extent of detailed information, any background to the medical conditions, the quantitative and qualitative essence of the narrative to be formulated — all must thoughtfully and with subtle provocation be employed in the tool of effective narration.

What happens in our lives as told to a stranger, and the response we receive in the form of an approval or a denial, will be determined by the Statement of Disability in SF 3112A, reviewed and decided by a Stranger at OPM, based upon how well we prove the Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Life Changes

For some, transitions constitute mere alterations with minimal reverberations; but for most, change from routine is itself a traumatic event worth resisting even at the expense of one’s own good, one’s advantage, one’s self-interest.  Stability and the status quo represent a daily habituation of life where symbolism of sameness parallels security and safety.

It may be the routine itself; and while complaints about work may abound, the complaining itself engulfs a camaraderie of a community of collectivism. But for the injured Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who begins to suffer from a condition, such that the progressively deteriorating nature of the injury or disability begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is often the forced imposition and lack of choice in the matter, which exponentially magnifies the hardship of acceptance.

Man lives by routine of daily monotony.  Economic requirements imposing a time to get up, to groom oneself, perform the toil of the day, and then to come home exhausted but satisfied that some contribution to society was made, some significance in the greater cosmos of teleological void was marked in an unnamed and unrevealed book of acknowledgments; to interrupt such a routine after years and decades of fighting for an obscure cause, is a shock of life.

To choose to change is one thing; to have the choice made for you, quite another.  And of course, acceptance of an altered life can take some time, but time is never on the side of the Federal or Postal worker who must find an alternate source of income.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits 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, is never an easy venture to undertake.  Alone, it is a lonely meandering within a confusing morass of administrative conundrums; with some guidance, it is merely a directed disruption of a disquieted life. But necessity mandated upon the Federal and Postal work often reveals an inner strength which somehow manifests itself in the sea of change, and for the Federal and Postal worker who must file for Disability Retirement from the OPM because of the imposition of a medical condition, life’s inevitable changes must be accepted in this world of shifting sands, as time marches on whether the invisible chains of stability keep secure the earthquakes felt, or yet to be experienced.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Rocking Chair and the Never-Ending Story

The myth about retirement has long receded; once upon a time, there was an idea, a concept, an ethereal potentiality, of reaching a point of quietude where reflection, dispensing of wisdom, and calm gardening and tending to the passing of time would be the status of choice; but modern life has wreaked havoc upon such a notion.

It was perhaps engendered by the character, Mose Harper (the sidekick of John Wayne) in John Ford’s, “The Searchers”, who only wanted a “rocking chair” at the end of his troubles.  But the never-ending story in these times of modernity, is that one must always claw and fight for maintaining the high standard of living which we enjoy and have become content with.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must take an early form of retirement — a Federal Disability Retirement — because of his or her ongoing medical conditions, where the medical conditions no longer allow for the continuation in one’s job because they prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of the job, the battle to first prove a Federal Disability Retirement application, then to retain and maintain it, throughout all of the complexities of the bureaucratic and administrative process, is a daily chore and toil.

First, there is the right to get it approved; then, there may be periodic Medical Questionnaires which are issued and which mandate a response; then, if Social Security Disability is approved, the offset between FERS Disability benefits and SSDI must be calculated; then, if you become employed and lose the SSDI benefit because of income, the FERS Disability annuity must be recalculated; then, at age 62, recalculation because the Federal Disability Retirement annuity effectively ends, based upon the total number of years of service, including the time one is on Federal Disability Retirement; and then the need to maintain income sources because of the reduction; and so the never-ending story continues.

Indeed, it is not from the rocking chair which the retiree tells a story, like Mose Harper must have done in his old age; rather, the modern retiree from the Federal sector, whether as a former employee of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, must tell his or her never-ending story to an empty chair with rhythmic movements to and fro absent an occupant, as the old man remains away, trying to figure out the further complexities of this age of modernity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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