Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The out-of-tune band

There is something particularly annoying about a piece of music, an orchestral ensemble or a simple song that is out of synchronized perfection, or put quite simply, out of tune.

The annoyance can be traced, of course, to the origin of the discordant piece; the “band” itself, the group of musicians or the orchestra or symphony that is responsible for the unpleasant sound waves that drift through the molecular structure of the unseen world and pervades down into the refractive caverns of one’s ears, then interprets through neurons firing in order to “hear” the vibrations that are supposedly in consonance with one another such that it becomes a coherent song, piece or musical collection.

The out-of-tune band is indeed an annoyance, and we believe should be outlawed and made illegal.  Short of that, what is it about a discordant collection of individual instruments that makes it unpleasant?

Taken individually, perhaps each player of a particular instrument can play it with utmost perfection; yet, when two or more players come together, it makes for an exponentially complicated attempt at coalescence, harmonious combination and synchronized heavenliness.

Getting married – of two different people coming together and making a lifetime commitment without killing one another – is difficult enough; getting a band together and coordinating disparate sounds and vibrations and, through practice, creating music that approaches a pleasantness of sounds – now, that is what you call nigh impossible, and somewhat like marriage in the sounds of silence (sorry, but somehow one must always try and include Simon and Garfunkel’s classic; and, of course, we must ask the eternal question: What ever happened to Art Garfunkel?) that we all strive to achieve by perfection of heavenly voices.

A Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat like trying to put a band together, as well.  Coordinating all of the elements – the Statement of Disability; the medical evidence, making the legal arguments; delineating the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement packet into a coherent whole such that it does not “sound” discordant, which then hints at a trough of suspicion or insincerity, which then further leads back to an “annoyance” at the originator of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, and a likely denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – is an important step towards an uncertain outcome.

Like the out-of-tune band, the success of a Federal Disability Retirement application cannot be just “putting together” a few documents here and there and haphazardly writing one’s Statement of Disability; no, it must be put together so that there is coherence, coordination and coalescence in bringing together all of the evidence for such an endeavor to be deemed “a fine tune”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sign Posts

Whether used as a noun or a verb, the second grammatical appendage can have multiple meanings: as a stick of lumber; as an activity placing information, warning, directional declarative or similar linguistic affirmations; and the combination of the two words can be read only within a greater contextual enlightenment depending upon what meaning is meant to be conveyed or how the inflection and accent is emphasized.

As a mere stick of lumber, it is a rather boring concept, even when attached to the first word, “sign”, precisely because the focus is upon the “post”, and so the emphasis goes directly to the sturdy piece of wood and not to the interests of the information posted.  If, on the other hand, one means to connote a different linguistic avenue – of different and varying posting of signs, then our interest is tweaked because we are immediately drawn into the various and wider universe of warnings, directions, admonishments and disseminated information useful to everyday living.

Sign posts are meant to guide, warn, betray or inform; and between the spectrum of the duality of linguistic translations, there is a natural reflection to life’s everyday humdrum itself.  For, like the analogy between information posted or merely a stick of lumber, living life is likened to a wide spectrum of activities mirroring boredom and repetitive monotony, and those instances where sudden tumult and excitement makes for an interesting day.

Being healthy can be viewed as a form of boredom; it is like the person focusing upon the stick of lumber, even if there are signs posting some warnings.  And, correlatively, when sickness and debilitating medical conditions occur, the viewpoint and perspective alters dramatically, such that the monotony of the piece of wood is now replaced with the blare of the warning, admonishment and legal declaratives, and life becomes a tumult, not merely a lapping wave but a tsunami of devastating impact.

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 the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the alteration of the perspective – whether seen as a “eureka” moment, a modified weltanschauung, or some reflective recognition of changed circumstances – the point is to shift the focus from the stick of lumber to the sign post itself: the job, the harassment, the constant antagonism and acrimony in the workplace – these are all the stick of lumber; one’s own medical condition, dealing with the doctors, the deterioration of one’s physical, emotional and mental capacity – these are the “signs”.

What we focus upon will determine the course of one’s future; and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the combination of both words as a compound concept: of recognizing the sign posts, and dealing with it accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal Employees: The bugle

Unlike its cousins, it has no valves or pitch-altering devices, but must be modified through the movement of the lips, the extent of breath exhaled and the undulating modifications of combined muscles in the lips, tongue and throat.  Perhaps from the days of riding a horse in the cavalry, where playing an instrument while charging full force ahead on a horse stumbling across rough terrain forced the instrument’s player to modulate through strain of keeping one’s self from falling; in any event, its very lack of complexity belies the simplicity of the bugle, as appearances are indeed deceiving.

Whether playing Taps in that mournful tone, or reveille in that jarring sound as the signal to awaken for morning roll call, or the charge to execute a cavalry or infantry advancement — that frightening sound to Indian tribes signifying the destruction of a culture long awaiting death – its class of variety extends well beyond most choices provided.

Trumpets of all sorts may be included in the family – from Piccolo trumpets, slide trumpets and multiple others from A to G and beyond; but the bugle stands alone in its structural simplicity and reliance upon the creativity of the holder who dares to attempt to master its range of pitches by the vocal creativity and lips pursed in controlled spurts of exhaling the intricacies of man’s attachment to inert objects to fill the air with sounds unnatural but for the beauty of music.

That range of pitches – from the morning call to awaken with energy reverberating from a cadence of jolting magnitude; to the charging rampage of a galloping horse; to the sorrowful tears of life’s end represented by the draping of a flag upon the coffin; these, in their collective entirety, depict the spectrum of life:  Of youthful exuberance; to middle-aged hope and faith; to the black veil of a life well lived; the sound of the bugle encompasses all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves in that twilight of life’s stages – somewhere beyond the youthful enthusiasm, but well before the illumination reflected by the funeral pyre – perhaps it is the sound of the bugle in the last stages of reveille, before the first note of Taps is emitted; and the medical condition has blanketed the tone, quality and loudness of the music of life, and a further stanza of a narrative interrupted must be composed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is like the bugler’s call to order, and sometimes the sound of music must be heard at the end of a piece, and a pause must be endured, before the beginning of the next.  That is the challenge and the beauty of the bugle – an instrument for all stages in the pendulum of life’s musical quality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The divided relic

If an ancient relic of sacred origins must always travel with wherever a community, a tribe or an individual must go, can its essence remain intact despite being divided into multiple forms?  Can a divided populace split into two its sacredly-held relic, whether for theological reasons of disputatious incommensurability, or simply resulting from an old-fashioned “I don’t like them anymore” conflict that has erupted into an irreconcilable fissure?  In other words, is the sacredness of the relic contained in the essence of the thing itself, or by the bonding influence of the people who view that item of antiquity with awe and frightful respect?

Whether a sacred scroll or a Bible (which, obviously, would be difficult to divide), or a crystalline object, an ancient arrow holding magical powers or an assortment of divinations empowered by a rich history of spiritual conquests — whether such relics can retain their efficacy for a community divided, might depend upon the strength of the belief itself, and the foundational reliance upon such antiquities of thought-processes.

That is, perhaps, one of the many problems of modernity; we no longer have the capacity to believe in the power of ancient relics, divided or not; and, instead, we put our faith into the predetermination of a Darwinian paradigm, where the gene pools of those who have survived merely contribute to the greater sense of invincibility within a genetically maladjusted populace of pure materialism.  Thus do we abandon all sacred rites of passage and living – of entrance into adulthood, marriage, the sacrament of forgiveness and the commodity of grace.

The divided relic does not lose its powers because of the division into pieces greedily and hastily fractured by human conflict, but because the very act itself merely reflects a broken heart no longer tethered by faith, belief, community or commonality of belonging.  No – it is because we have accepted fractured lives as a justification for dividing sacred relics, that the very sanctity of the relic itself has been diminished and sullied.

Indeed, that is what happens in the Federal sector and the U.S. Postal Service, with people and the workplace itself.  No, there are no sacred relics to be divided in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but there can be – should be – a sense of commonality of purpose and an empathy undivided such that the work and missions of the entity itself can be carried forth with a purposeful intent.  The strength of that sense of cohesion, however, is often reflected when a Federal or Postal employee is beset with a medical condition, and must file a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

If the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility responds with supportive empathy (rarely seen), then that sense of an undivided and worthy relic remains like a residue of bright hope; but, more often than not, it is the opposite effect that is seen – of a divided relic reflected in the pool of harshness and indifference revealed by human depravity, by harassment, intimidation and scorn within the community of Federal and Postal workers.

Such a state of affairs when responding to a Federal or Postal worker who is in the process of going through the administrative trials of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM is reflective of this state of modernity, where the divided relic can so heartlessly be accomplished without concern for the essence of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Trail of Tears

History is replete with the metaphor of maltreatment; it is the silent graves that cannot speak, anymore, which haunts a nation’s soul.  It is a reminder, of sorts; a way of understanding and revisiting the history and essence of a nation – of the westward expansion and the decimation and systematic thievery against a civilization that was doomed from the start.  But trails soon get overrun by either settlements or city construction; and tears quickly dry up so that the agony of a peoples once felt become a mere memory told in narratives and tales by old men and forgotten women who no longer matter.

Reservations were demarcated and a defeated populace was shuttled into forgotten corners of the world, left to sputter amongst themselves in wallowing memories of defeated battles and violated treaties; and, as modernity replaced the fading residue of an inglorious past, only the diaries and annotations of eyewitnesses maintained a memory of coherent violations otherwise set aside to make room for future time.  Does each one of us, in addition, have a trail of tears?  Do we shed them in the privacy of our scorned thoughts, left to the isolation of our own destroyed lives?

The Medicine Man of yore could not stop the onslaught of that which we deem “progress” and “modernity”; and in the end, it was modern warfare that doomed any resistance to change.  The medical doctor of today, like the appeals of yesteryear to the Great Spirit, can only stem the tide of a progressive and chronic disease; the methodology may have changed, from fasting and foreboding fortunetelling to pharmacological modalities and surgical intervention, but when a diseased body or mind continues to deteriorate despite such intercession, the personal trail of tears follows a parallel course of those we once trampled upon.

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 position, it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

There are always historical travesties, as well as personal ones.  In this world where history barely catches the fancy of those who must contend with the tides of an uncaring world, it is the personal trail of tears which is most important to each individual, and not the “grand scheme” of events which we can neither control nor foresee.

History is what it is – acts committed by ancestors, certainly, but ones which most of us could neither control nor protest against.  But that which we can determine – like the destiny of a future for a Federal or Postal worker who must contend with a medical condition that continues to debilitate and constrain – should be accomplished within the confines of the laws which predominate, lest one’s personal trail of tears begins to parallel that of a past now long forgotten.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The end of Act I, Scene I

Whether it is in some obscure off-Broadway play, or in a Shakespearean tragedy presented with lavish costumes and elaborate affectations, the end in Act I, Scene I sets the stage for the narrative following.  Yes, yes – one can argue that there are “other” scenes, acts, pivotal moments and significant slices which also formulate the argument for such commanding cohesion in a story; but that misses the point – for, if everything is relevant, then nothing is important; and if nothing is important, then it negates the pointing out of relevance itself.

The great Chekhov is the one who pointed out that, if you are going to introduce a shotgun in the first scene, then you must use it sometime, somewhere, later; otherwise, you have left the audience with a titillating artifice with no signification of purpose, thereby failing to be true and honest with your viewers and violating the sanctity of that most important of connections:  the collective belief of the audience of the constructed trust in you.

There are always pivotal moments in every life lived; of remorse and regret too burdensome to live out, or minor irritants of projects left undone and cast aside both in memory and in discourse of behavior.  We often treat the end of Act I, Scene I “as if” – and that is the mistake which the metaphor fails to embrace.  For, there are always many scenes to follow, and when we make too much of a slice of one’s life as that “pivotal” moment of despair and regret, it robs the rest of the narrative and creates a vacuum and extinguishment of life’s subsequent moments of linear significance, like the proverbial skeleton in the closet of one’s hidden past, echoing with haunting sobs of silent regrets, always pulling back into a time of past remorse, when a wider expanse of future hope still resides.

One should always keep a proper perspective, both in living a life as well as in learning of another’s; for, it cannot be that any single slice constitutes the entirety of the greater whole, and to make it so is to miss the opportunities of subsequent events by relying too heavily upon prior travesties.   To dwell on the past and to set a given moment as a sort of eureka event where an epiphany is attained is to remain forever stuck in a quick sand of self-delusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, but who – for whatever reasons of regret, remorse of affectations of reaching a seeming epiphany, and thus hesitates for fear of living that regret or remorse – the important thing to consider is that, while the end of a career may well constitute a change of present circumstances, it should merely be likened to the end of Act I, Scene I, and not the end of the play itself.

There is much to do beyond receiving a Federal Disability Retirement – one can, for instance, find a different kind of job, vocation or work in the private sector, and make up to 80% of what one’s (now former) Federal position currently pays, and continue to receive such pay on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  As such, the Federal or Postal employee should never simply pack up and go home after Act I, Scene I – as there is much left to the narrative, especially when it comes to living the real life of one’s own play.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire