Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Transformations

It is a grand concept, a larger-than-life idea and often referred to in the context of a personal “Ah-ha” moment; of transformations, we hear often enough the talk of schemes to overturn, uproot, change, alter, do a complete make-over and revolutionize this or that.

In politics, we hear about this or that “transformational” figure; of new inventions, that it will “transform” the way in which we live; and of personal moments of lives that need to be or otherwise require change, we learn that this or that person was “transformed” by this or that experience.

The truth is, there is rarely an event the lives up to the boast or infamy of such a concept, and the reason is quite simple.  Just as in life itself, the organic changes that occur in nature – of the Darwinian foundation based upon the survival of the fittest mechanism – do so in subtle, slow and incremental, mostly imperceptible ways.  Nature does not favor transformations on a grand scale; it instead cautiously approaches slight and moderate alterations, in slow and steady, incremental steps, precisely because it is weary about changing something when what has been has worked quite well, thank you.

For most people, transformations in life follow upon a parallel course and conceptual model; major overhauls are disfavored; a new route slightly altered, an addition to the family, an alteration of a minor issue, etc.  Changes of any kind can be tumultuous, precisely because regularity is what we rely upon in order to maintain a semblance of sanity within the sphere of our own influences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the medical condition itself can be a very unsettling, “transformational” experience.

Dealing with any deterioration of one’s health can be a traumatic event; to consider 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, can be a further event of transformational significance.

It would be nice if there was a more subtle, incremental alternative; but, sometimes in life, as unfortunate as it may be, a transformation of sorts is the only viable choice to make, and one should in such instances recognize that – whether against the tide of nature or not – one’s health should be the sole and transformational focus when considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The picture album

Time was, every family had a picture album – that anachronism bound carefully in a large leather book-shaped monstrosity, kept safe where dust settles and mice scurry around; taken out for occasions where boredom is accentuated and friends or neighbors have stayed long past their welcome, and so it is taken out carefully, dusted off and laboriously paged through, telling of a history for each page, each photograph laid meticulously upon the thick plaster-backboard of a person’s history.

It used to be that we all had one picture for an event – or, two at most, once Peoples Drug (for those who are old enough to remember; and that, in and of itself, was somewhat of a historical marker – when “Peoples” Drug – the drugstore of the “people”, was bought out by successive entities of greater reserve until it finally became a nondescript, boringly corporate entity under the designation of “CVS”; somehow, something was lost when the corner drugstore started in a suburb of D.C. was engulfed by mergers and corporate purchases) declared a two-for-one sale.

Of course, we all kept in safekeeping those brownish negatives that neatly fit into those thin plastic columns (i.e., thrown into a drawer based upon the sequence of receipt) – you know, the ones you hated to slide out because you could never get it back in without bending them, and somehow you suspected that they were never meant to be fit within the columns of plastic in the first place.

Somehow, there was something quaint and innocent about a picture album that only had one shot of a slice of life that told a limited tale about a person’s continuum of historical detail – by contrast, today’s Smartphone and digital chip that can hold literally thousands of photographs, and the person who is willing to show all in a public display for everyone in the universe to see, by downloading, uploading, displaying and replaying, for a person barely in his or her twenties.

The picture album is an anachronism, telling in its humility, limited access and manifesting a humble origin of consciousness.  It is a relic that bifurcates a “before” and an “after” – of a time now gone and lost forever, replaced by an after that manifests a change most of us never asked for.

To that end, the picture album is likened to a Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition.  That Federal or Postal employee suffers from a history of that which most of his or her coworkers are completely unaware of.  And like the picture album that is taken out from the dusty bookshelves of a corner closet, when the Federal or Postal employee comes to a point of needing to file 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, the reaction displayed by others is often one of boredom, lack of concern or even of interest shown in forced phoniness.  For, what others know or find out about a person’s life – even of his or her medical condition – is ultimately a private slice of life that is shared with quiet discretion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: Life’s mortgage

We all know well the concept behind it – of borrowing against the object itself, in order to “half-possess”, occupy and enjoy it presently against a future promise that it will be paid over an incremental period of time.  Sort of like life itself, or at least of one’s health.  Borrowed time; life’s mortgage; banking on a better tomorrow; relying upon a promise being kept based upon today’s favorable circumstances over a lengthy period of time well into a future we can never be certain about.

Yet, because the collateral is the object itself – normally, the house that is being mortgaged – the loaning institution actually doesn’t take any gamble at all, even if the value of the collateral plunges below the agreed-upon amount to be paid; one is still obligated, no matter what.

It is sort of like life’s challenge itself – of the promise of a promising life based upon an anticipated health that will last until the day when one is suddenly gone.  But life doesn’t always work that way, just as the mortgage, lien and promise of financial growth doesn’t quite always fold out as planned, like the scrolled blueprint that keeps trying to roll back into an obscured cylinder with each attempt to lay it flat.

Sickness occurs; health deteriorates; the 30-year mortgage that was promised at the onset of the contract signed doesn’t unfold as anticipated, and sometimes a default occurs – like the health that deteriorates and the career that must be ended.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, based upon the idea that recognizes that while a long-term commitment to a career is reasonably anticipated, there are instances where such a commitment may need to be modified in the event of failing health.  Unlike the bank’s position in a mortgage-relationship as lender-to-borrower, however, it is not quite all that one-sided.  There are options still open.

Thus, because Federal Disability Retirement requires only that a person be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position being occupied, the Federal or Postal employee is allowed to go out into the private sector and work at a job somewhat dissimilar (so long as there are “essential elements” which are not identical to the former Federal or Postal position), and make up to 80% of what the former Federal or Postal job pays currently.

For, in the end, life’s mortgage is unlike the home mortgage where the lender holds all of the proverbial cards; at least for the former, the great thing is that the reliance is upon the capacity of man’s ability, and not upon the fine print hidden within the banker’s contract.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The gathering clouds

We don’t have people saying such pithy or inane things, anymore, and the death of the metaphor is the fault of Google.  And, of course, the Weather Channel and the Smart Phone apps that give us the updated information concerning that which we can see for ourselves.

Who ever talks that way, anymore?  “The dark clouds are gathering” – a metaphor for trouble brewing, problems arising or bad people getting together to engage in no good deeds.  To which everyone whips out their Smart Phones and checks the most updated forecast, using the Weather Channel app that everyone has already downloaded onto their phones, and in unison respond: “No it’s not; today is only partly sunny, then tomorrow there is a 20% chance of rain and the temperature is…”  “No, no, no…that is not what I meant by saying that the dark clouds are gathering.  What I mean is…” And you are met with blank stares by the horde of millennials who speak a foreign language, fail to understand the generation before the Internet or Smart Phones, and don’t even own a landline.  What, is that even possible?

Time was once upon a millennium, when farmers felt the bones ache from the gathering storm; that one could sniff the winds of changed directions; and noting the behavior of rabbits, birds and the mutterings of crows in the bushes, the gathering clouds would be discerned as patterns of nature’s calling.  Technology has its place and uses, but in the end, it dulls the instincts that have survived and helped human beings to last for want of realization of a civilization lost in the silent graveyards of forgotten memories.

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 Federal or Postal job duties, the “gathering clouds” is often hinted by the behavior of coworkers, supervisors, and other agency officials; of the tone and tenor of attitudes abounding; and though the adverse action or initiation of a PIP may appear to come as a surprise, you knew it was coming long before, just as you knew that you needed to start the process of the filing a Federal Disability Retirement application long before the time made it into an urgency, or even an emergency.

The gather clouds, no matter how much we may try to stamp out the underlying instinct felt, is still the same the world around; we just have a better way of suppressing it than in countries less technologically sophisticated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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