Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The last Edwardian

What does it mean to be an “Edwardian”?  The reign of Edward VII was brief, but its influence is often extended to periods both before and long after in an aggregation of understanding “trends” that were noted, and often idealized.

It is a period of little interest to most Americans, except perhaps when there is some vague reference during a period of a royal scandal or a royal wedding that somehow touches the fancy across the great ocean that divides.  And despite our English “roots”, scant attention is paid to the history of England in either schoolbooks or offered curricula, except in referring to those dastardly “redcoats” who quartered themselves uninvited and had the audacity to tax its colonies without proper representation in Parliament.  Or so the memory of one’s childhood history lessons are recalled.

That period — whether one extends it some decades before, or well into the “Roaring Twenties” — actually lasted only from 1901 – 1910, but left a romanticized memory of lazy summer days, prosperity, greater involvement of women and the “common man” into the political arena, and came to symbolize the dawn of the “modern era”.  Whether such an idealized recollection actually reflected any reality of the era is open to debate.  But, then, that is what we cling to when situations worsen, isn’t it — of an idealized “before” in contrast to the stark gloom of “after”?

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, that desperate “clinging on” to one’s job may in part be attributable to the need to be that last Edwardian — of a “before” (before the onset of the medical condition) when life seemed more rewarding, when pain, discomfort or overwhelming anxiety was not only unthought of, but never occurred as an issue of consideration — who “after” the onset of the medical condition can now only recall the romantic period that once was.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not solve every problem that besets the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer consistently get to work and accomplish all that is required by the position; but it does allow the Federal or Postal employee to prioritize and focus more upon the reality of one’s current situation — one’s health — and not become entrapped in trying to be that last Edwardian.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Of persuasive effect

What does it mean to possess “of persuasive effect”?  If a person argues in a debate for endless hours, and at the end of it all, various people from the watchful audience turn aside to one another and declare, “Well, he sure was persuasive, but I’m still going to vote for the other guy” — what can such a statement mean?  If an acknowledgment of persuasion nevertheless results in an opposite conclusion, can one still maintain that there existed any degree of the very element which was supposed to modulate otherwise?

And legal precedents which must be applied — say, in a Federal Disability Retirement case, where the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is “required by law” to consider certain elements, such as under the Bruner case or the Simpkins case and subsequent case-law holdings which “mandate” that OPM consider the proffered evidence as cited by a Legal Memorandum — do they necessitate a certain outcome, or is it merely “persuasive but not determinative”, and what does that mean?  Is it that the level of persuasion was just “not enough”, and while it might have come somewhat close, it just didn’t have that final “clincher” to put it over the goal line?

And if we know beforehand that “persuasive effect” won’t necessarily result in a “determinative impact”, do we just not try at all, or is the mere possibility of “tipping the balance in one’s favor” enough to try and attempt to persuade?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, and where preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes necessary, the impact of a Legal Memorandum — prepared and submitted along with the Federal Disability Retirement “packet” — is like traveling with Google Maps guiding one into unfamiliar territory.  Without it, the reviewing “specialist” at OPM will simply be presented with a stack of information with no indexing or cover sheet.

With it, the importance of persuasive effect is there to guide the OPM reviewer into seeing what is relevant and what is not; of the legal cases that are impactful and persuasive; and of the mandated requirements in applying the proper legal criteria, and not merely of empty arguments that seemingly possess of persuasive effect, but lead to conclusions otherwise left without direction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Perfection

Can it ever be achieved?  Is our possession of it proof, as Anselm’s Ontological Argument asserts, of the existence of that which we ourselves cannot ever attain?

Perfection as a “goal” is considered “unrealistic”; as a paradigm against which we compare in order to impose a standard or paradigm of success, we often accept as a given; and, with the exception of stereotypical “Tiger Moms” and other unreasonably demanding categories of nightmarish figures unable to ever please or gratify, perfection is merely an unattainable hollow easily moveable within a spectrum of endless sights much like the proverbial movement of goal posts so-named when nearing the end.

Yet, we constantly strive for it, despite the knowledge that it is unachievable and unrealistic, declaring that the nearer we reach towards the boundaries of perfection, the closer we become as gods of lesser heavens.

The Ancients regarded certain physical characteristics as those “perfect” dimensions based upon proportionality of appearance; in modernity, we have dispensed with any such paradigms and instead have elevated acceptance and tolerance as the greater good, thereby negating hurt feelings, unattainable heights and unreachable expectations.

Perfection, as applied to a specific category such as “health”, can yet nevertheless remain relative in terms of acceptability.  Perfect health can never be maintained forever; relatively good health can be sustained for a time; and poor health, once experienced, is like a bad dream that one wishes to be awakened from, lest it turn into a nightmare that never ends.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a deteriorating, progressively chronic condition of a medical nature — one that is likely to last for a minimum of 12 months in preventing or otherwise impacting one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and 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.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement is not an admission that perfection is an unattainable goal (although we know it is); rather, that merely a particular job or career is not the “right fit” — and in the end, that is the greater perfection of all: To recognize one’s limitations, properly evaluate and assess one’s circumstances, and adjust and modify in accordance thereof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Limitless time

Does the concept even make sense, and is it theoretically possible to imagine such a state of existence?

Perhaps a cogent explanation could be properly delineated by some specialized expert in the field of Physics — of time, its limitations and whether destruction of all objects in the universe must first occur as a prerequisite to limitless time, or upon the non-being of objects, does time itself become extinct because it is dependent upon the movement of objects?  In a vacuum and void, does time retain any meaning at all?

For simpletons (like the author of this subject) who possess scant scientific knowledge, can “time” be anything more than the imposition of one’s calendar upon the limited period encountered each day?

Philosophy can ponder upon the concept of limitless time, and upon time itself; physics can more precisely delineate the theoretical constructs by mathematical calculations upon the limits of time; and literature can cast the idea of limitless time upon those summer days when waves roll lazily upon the sands of eternity and laughter of children running amidst the sand dunes may evoke the dreamless nights where the quiet hollow of relaxed sensations may pervade the scent of peace.

Then, of course, there is the reality of life — of calendars that demand; bosses that shout; production quotas that must be reached; and statutes of limitations which require that filings be met within a prescribed time frame.  Federal and Postal workers who have been separated from Federal Service, whether by resignation or termination, have up until one (1) year to file a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition during the tenure of one’s Federal or Postal career, the right to file for Federal Disability Retirement extends only during that 1-year period after separation, and as preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application needs to be submitted to OPM within such a constraint of time, abandonment of the concept of limitless time is a prerequisite — at least for this particular challenge of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Options

The telephone-recorded options are the most irritating of all, of course — for, if you hit the wrong one, or fail to remember the correct numeral identified after being offered an endless litany of alternatives, none of which quite fit what you are looking for, then you have to wait until a further option is offered to go back to the general directory in order to once again choose the option offered.

Have such recordings become more irritating as time has passed, or is it that we have become so numb to so many such encounters that we have lost patience with that metallic voice that has replaced the human one?  What is it about a recording that gets us so incensed?

Objectively, isn’t it all the same — we never “meet” the “person” anyway, whether it is a recording or a “real person” on the other end of the line: both are mere voices, but why is the automated recording so much more irritating than a live person?  Is it because we know the futility of landing a sarcastic response to the recording, as opposed to slamming our frustrations upon an individual who possesses feelings, and whose day we can potentially ruin by shouting, yelling, demeaning and spewing forth destructive epithets to and against?

In life generally, we all have them — options.  Sometimes, we are confronted with too many, and thus are left with a confounding sense of confusion.  At other times, the options are “there” somewhere, but we just don’t know them because we are too blind to the ones hidden or too stubborn to concede our ignorance.  In those instances, it is best to consult with someone who can present the options hidden, those unstated, or otherwise unknown.

In some circumstances, of course, the options available may be severely limited — as in a Federal or Postal employee suffering 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 employee’s essential job functions.  In such situations, the limited options must be considered in light of the priorities one assigns to the values one accords: How important is one’s health?  Is the deterioration of one’s health as exacerbated by the job one is remaining in important enough to continue with?  If so, perhaps disability retirement is not the “right” option.

Stay and remain; resign, walk away or get terminated and do nothing; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  The three options presented must be considered in light of one’s health, the effects upon it if one remains, and whether the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will continue to tolerate one’s excessive absences, inability to perform many of the essential functions of one’s job, etc.

When, after the options are considered, the Federal or Postal employee decides to move forward in preparing, formulating and filing 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, then it is time to consider further options as well, such as whether one wants to represent one’s self in the process, like the old adage of that person who has a fool for a client — of representing one’s self.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Detectorists

For those of you who are fans of the British series, a sad wave of goodbyes ensued after the third and apparently final season that depicted intelligent humor, a subtle sense of British irony and a deep love for human relationships above material wealth.

Simplicity and the idealized community of pastoral lifestyles amidst the bustle of the world beyond allows for the story to capture the imagination of fans and viewers.  None of the characters in the series have much or anything in common with one another — whether in profession, personality or commonly-held beliefs — except for a love of a hobby that unites their differences and quirky individualism.

Many of the references contained within conversations must be Googled in order to attain a greater appreciation; the constant references to the musical interludes of Simon & Garfunkel are easily recognized by a generation of those who grew up with the music; and the deep historical references engendered by images of an ancient past creates a sense of mystery beyond minor relevance to the emptiness felt in the way we live today.

Who would have thought that there would be of much interest in a group of misfits scanning fallow farm fields for ancient traces of Norman or Celtic residue?  Gold and similar treasures are the unspoken goal of everyone, though such dreams of ancient discoveries remain deep within the consciousness of every such hobby-seeker; and like so many such series, there will be an abiding cult-following, for we always want more: 3 seasons of watching Andy and Lance banter among the grassy knolls of the English countryside just doesn’t seem enough, and the subtle British humor demands more despite the final episode that gave satisfaction to all treasure seekers — of riches literally falling down from the heavens.

What metaphorical lessons can be gleaned from two comics of such ordinary means — is it the pastoral background?  Of a simpler life offered?  Of human relationships that might otherwise have never been forged?  Or does it abide in the idea that the true treasures we seek are hidden just beneath the surface, where such places are stepped over each and every day without their due recognition?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “life-lessons” from the Detectorists might be that clinging to those things we consider “treasures” while one’s health deteriorates may be a wrongheaded approach; and while obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity may not be the “answer” to all of the difficulties faced by the Federal or Postal employee struggling with a medical condition, it at least allows for the Federal or Postal employee — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — to focus one’s greater efforts upon regaining one’s health.

And like the detectorists who scan about for treasures beneath the surface, it may be that a more pastoral lifestyle without the stresses of the modern workplace may serve to bring about a healthier outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Hypotheticals

Why do lawyers, above most other professions, utilize the tool of hypotheticals?  What is their evidentiary value, and in what way does it help to advance the cause of one’s case?

Say, for instance, you need an architect or an engineer (yes, yes, the humor here is that in speaking about hypotheticals, we are preparing to present one), would you be at all impressed if, after describing with precision the type of product you desire to have built, or in requesting a blueprint of a model house you are interested in, the architect or the engineer presents you with a hypothetical?

What, first of all, is a ‘hypothetical’?  It is, first and foremost, a proposition of non-existence, but with components of reality that may or may not have occurred or existed except in partial or disparate forms, delineated in an attempt to make or prove a point.  It is the tool of the attorney, just as the pencil and the blueprint are the resources of the architect, and the mathematical calculations the reliance of the engineer.  Often, it is used by means of analogical content to prove a point and to enhance the evidence gathered.

Take, for example, the lawyer who defended a bank robber.  He meets his client for the first time, and the criminal defense lawyer puts up a hand in order to stop his client from speaking, and says the following: “Now, take the following hypothetical, Mr. Dillinger: A man walks into a bank and hands a note to the teller that says, ‘Give me everything in your drawers.’  Now, that man was subsequently arrested.  No cash was ever exchanged; no weapon was ever found.  The question, then, is: What was meant by the words?  Only you know.  If, by way of a hypothetical, the man meant to obtain the contents of the teller’s drawer, it might mean 10 years in prison.  If, on the other hand, the note meant to be a lewd proposal about the teller’s anatomy beneath her undergarments, it would likely be a misdemeanor offense.  Now, Mr. Dillinger, which is it?”

Now, aside from some who would view such a presentation as somewhat unethical for “suggesting”, on the part of the lawyer, which intended “meaning” the defendant possessed at the time the note was passed, such a hypothetical is intended to denote the importance of hypotheticals within the purview of “the law”.  Hypotheticals allow for individuals to see the differences in paradigms or examples; it allows for options by way of analogy.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, hypotheticals have quite likely become like unicorns and gnomes: no longer a figment of one’s imagination, but a reality that must be faced within a surreal universe of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that fails to possess the humanity necessary in dealing with a person with failing health.

Words of platitudes are often spoken; and, perhaps, here and there, you come across someone at your agency that actually cares.  But for the most part, such “caring” amounts to no more of a reality than mere hypotheticals; and when that realization comes about that the clash between hypotheticals and reality must be confronted, it is time to get down to the “nuts and bolts” and prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

And, as an aside, you may be asking, What was Mr. Dillinger’s response to the lawyer’s hypothetical? He punched the lawyer in the mouth, stood up and said, “Jeez, I ain’t no pervert!  Of course I wanted the money!”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire