Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: The empty plaque

Somehow, they only retain their meaning and significance if there is an ongoing recognition of current accomplishment and recent reinforcements.  Commemorative plaques may provide a historical context of one’s abilities and talents, and even reveal a shadow of a person’s former self; yet, they also magnify the contrast between what once was and the current state of difficulties one faces.

The “plaque” that is placed prominently on a wall, or occupies a conspicuous space on one’s desk, should never be a “dead” object.  For, once the plaque becomes a forgotten piece of history, as opposed to a mere intermediate interlude on the way to greater heights of accomplishments, it becomes a reminder of a past now irrelevant and unimportant.

Plaques should be the middle portion of a life still to be lived and not the final, indelible stamp of cessation.  Moreover, in modernity, the realization that accolades, fame and yesterday’s recognition mean little-to-nothing in this fast-paced universe where thanks are for a moment ago and resting upon one’s laurels will leave you behind quicker than quick, leaves one with a hollow feeling of trembling insecurities.

The empty plaque is the one you hope will carry you through when nothing much happens, even when you know it will not.

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 significance of the plaque becoming empty is quickly realized: Whatever accomplishments that were achieved yesterday is unimpressive to the Federal agency or the Postal Service; whatever loyalty you believed was forthcoming because of your loyalty given over so many years…well, don’t hold your breath.

In this world where commitment, loyalty and reliance upon plaques and other objects of recognition hold sway for barely a nod or a wink of time, it is best to begin thinking about yourself, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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, is the first step in recognizing that the empty plaque sitting on one’s desk or hanging upon the wall became empty once your usefulness to the agency or the Postal Service became compromised by the medical condition itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Just another bystander

There are primary characters, ancillary or peripheral personalities – and just another bystander.  Similarly, in personal relationships taken from a subjective “I” viewpoint, there are “close family members” (i.e., normally identified as the core within a nuclear family), “extended family”, and then there are “friends and acquaintances” — and just pure strangers.  Of course, the Internet, Facebook and other electronic devices have somewhat changed and altered the landscape of such relational directions, but we still know what it means to generally be “just another bystander”: to be out of the proverbial “loop” and perhaps observe, but otherwise uninvolved in the lives of those around, passing by or in the midst of a crisis developing.

Thus, when an accident occurs, a tragedy unfolds or a crisis develops, there are those who are referred to as “just another bystander”.  Or, if by tragic circumstances, that “bystander” becomes a victim either by happenstance or through “collateral” damage wrought upon surrounding neighborhoods, people, etc., we may refer to that person as an “innocent bystander” – as if the imputed adjective adds something more appropriate to engender empathy or description of haphazard events by which people can be randomly hurt.

Or, if intervention or interference imposes upon a situation by events unfolding, such an identification may be referred to in the past tense, as in, “He was just another bystander when event X occurred, and then he ran into the melee and helped the victims by…” In other words, by becoming “involved”, person X absolved himself by his very actions and thereby negated his prior status as a “bystander”, innocent or not.

The fact is, most of us are bystanders for most days of our lives; we walk through neighborhoods, streets and buildings inhabited by others, where others are engaging in commerce, relationships and interaction of daily living, and others, as well, are mere bystanders as they walk past us and bypassing our subjective interludes.  We expect others to maintain that status unless otherwise needed, and we retain with comfort such status in the courteous behavior towards strangers otherwise unnecessary for further interaction.  The problem becomes when we become bystanders within the role of our own lives.

For Federal and Postal employees 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, remaining a bystander when it is necessary to become an integral part in determining your own future is often a problem of self-will.  Watching the lives of others pass by is one thing; watching your own life pass by means that you are just another bystander when being a bystander is not the appropriate role to play.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the necessary next and proactive step in determining the future outcome of events unfolding. The medical condition you suffer from is already the “event”; what you do next will determine whether you are the primary character or a bystander – or, worse, an “innocent bystander” who then is referred to in the past tense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirements: The predetermined, “Let’s discuss it”

You can often tell from the eyes and the mannerism whether the opening prelude is meaningful, or predetermined to merely manipulate to an intended end.  The opening interlude which allows for the conduit of engagement:  “Let’s discuss it”; does it next encapsulate an ear which listens, or pauses which allow for conveyance of communication – or merely a diatribe of invective meant to dissuade and demean?

It is a rare character, indeed, that states and means in a coalescence of sincerity; instead, the danger signs should be evident at the outset:  The end has already been predetermined; your words are merely allowed to provide a setting of appearance, or to give you the rope in order to coil it and hang yourself.

Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing (or does that metaphor even apply, today?); there is rarely a cast of shadows without the darkness elongated, and it is indeed a rarity to find sincerity in an insincere world.  Discussion requires a prefatory contingency of openness to logical argumentation (or even emotional appeal), persuasion, dissuasive comportments, and a sense of listening.

Is there a fine line between that, and a preset paradigm of an already-established course?  Take the following hypothetical:  Some figure of authority – the “boss”, or a manager, supervisor, etc. – grants a forum for a “discussion” of the “issue” (whatever they may be), but during such an exchange it becomes readily apparent that the counterpart shows no signs of actual interest – the fidgeting, the proverbial “looking at the watch”, the furtive eyes, the yawn; all together, showing a complete disinterestedness in the process.

But something during the discussion sparks, and an unintended consequence (to paraphrase the well-worn American Lore from Adam Smith and the economic entrails of systematic chaos) suddenly rears its beautiful head; eyes sparkle; the head and chin tilt slightly back, and intelligence (which heretofore was merely a dark abyss of eternal vacuity) gleams in the eyes of the “boss”; “Now, that is an interesting proposal…” comes the refrain.

In such a scenario, was the fact that predetermination of outcome altered during the course of the foray, changed the entire episode into one which embraced a sincerity of motives?  Or, is it merely that the counterpart changed his or her mind, and “openness” to such an exchange was a farcical prelude to an otherwise meaningless exchange?  Does the mere fact of allowing for a discussion – an opportunity to voice one’s concerns or to “vent” through a diatribe of invectives – establish a sincerity of allowances, even if the original intent was otherwise left unstated?

Which brings us to the point of this exchange – for, in a 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, the thing that many Federal and Postal employees fail to realize, is that there is contained within the bureaucratic system of the administrative process, a procedure which essential does constitute a “Let’s discuss it” trigger.

For, that is precisely why there are multiple stages of the administrative process – of the “Initial Stage” in filing a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement application; then, if rejected and denied at the First Stage, a second “opportunity” of a “Let’s discuss it”, represented by a “Reconsideration Stage”, where additional medical documentation and legal argumentation can be empowered; and, then again, a “Third Stage”, where the Federal or Postal employee may disagree with OPM’s determination, and file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  Additionally, there is even a Fourth Stage – of a Petition to a panel of MSPB Judges for a legal review of the process.

Such an Administrative Procedure reveals and establishes an aversion to what most people experience, in that there is a process of listening, appealing and persuading in a Federal Disability Retirement application – something which is rarely found in the world at large, where the refrain, “Let’s discuss it”, is normally anything more than a prelude to a predetermined course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Other people’s misery

Why is it that the misery of others tends to soothe our own?  Yes, yes – we grant the common and appropriate responses of heartfelt empathy and facial frowns and perhaps even some tears; but in the end, is it because of the resulting comparative analysis – of a cold, rational and logical methodology of responsive behavior – that we appease the gods of fate in some primitive form of sacrificing others, knowing that so long as the traveling karma has not yet noticed our own plight of devious accord, we are safe for another day?

Or is there some false paradigm upon which most of us operate – that economic prosperity is based upon a limited “pie”, and we must take a set portion before it disappears, or protect the leftovers we have salvaged against the ravenous predators who seek to deprive; or that chance and statistical ascription of proportional divides mandate that there is only a predetermined reach of human misery on a macro-level, and so long as that preset number is satisfied, such tragedy of suffering will leave us untouched?

We certainly have a history of such mythological adherence; whether of man’s historical conduct by religious fervor and slaughter in the name of heavens unreached (which has still not quenched its thirsting pinnacle of folly, as current epics attest to), or in the silent quips and prayers uttered to protect ourselves from nature’s fury; we believe, somehow, that but for the grace granted by an unfathomable other, we would experience the plight of those whom we would rather avoid like the plague.  Or is it much more basic – somewhat like the epidemic which takes the life of another, and the thought is, so long as the infectious predator busily devours and destroys the next guy, you are immune to its distracted attention?

We certainly find relief, and even enjoy the consternation of discussion, in other people’s misery; to stand around and about gossiping of trials and heartaches inflicted (with the distinction appropriated that, because the point of such exchanges are meant to be “helpful”, so the difference between “malicious gossip” and what we engage in must by definition allow for the momentary lapse from decorum) upon “poor Joe” or “Aunt Emma”, all the while making sure that the concealing mask bordering upon frowns and distraught distractions would not betray the sense of relief felt that it is the “other” guy whose misery remains.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the thing that must be known and recognized at the outset is that the human need to embrace, discuss and “do something about” other people’s misery, is that the “other” person is you.  Thus, whether in a small department or a larger agency where anonymity prevails, or in a small post office or larger postal facility, the gossip which runs throughout will be like an untamed fire where no amount of extinguishers will control the spreading of it.

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, is the only way to control the discussion of that which once was the subject of another, when the “other” of other people’s misery becomes the object directed at you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Disability from Federal Employment: Predatory Pathologies

It is unnecessary to study the tendencies of other species and their internal drive to be who they are; for, it is presumed, the innate structure of their genetic makeup becomes the paradigm for self-explanatory justification, and like all conundrums of deviations from synthetic or analytic statements, the self-identity of the process itself makes it abundantly unclear.

Predators are by their very nature self-identifying; it would be a nonsensical proposition to ask the question, “Why”, in connection with the lion or cheetah that hunts and kills; or for the hawk, eagle, and even the household cat, despite their fuzzy beauty of cuteness and domesticated aplomb.  But of man, we question incessantly; of the long history of wars, cruelty, mass murders and genocide, the paradigm is one of puzzlement despite the footprints of self-explanatory consistency.

The need to act civilized in an antiseptic universe of artificial constructs jolts one back into the reality of who we are when deviations from such carefully created models shatter the very essence of our imagined parallelisms of worlds built upon virtual realities, and so we cry for such aliens who never were.  Barbarism tends to do that; and simple meanness in the workplace often shocks.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer such rude awakenings, perhaps it is because of the disconnect between what we thought we were a part of, and the reality of what is.  That “disjointedness” is often easily attributable to the “medical condition” from which one suffers, and to which everyone else points for justification of bad behavior.

For, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, where the medical condition impacts and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the focus becomes the Federal or Postal employee, and the predatory pathologies which erupt and shed their thin veneer of civilized behavior become justified because of the loss of “mission accomplishment” of the agency, or some such balderdash of scientific explanation.

The plain fact is that there are bad people in the world, and no amount of studies of predatory pathologies will help to set aside the negative behavior of people within Federal agencies or the U.S. Postal Service.

The solution for the Federal or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Let the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service worry about the “mission of the agency”; that will continue with or without you, as all bureaucracies do, just as predatory pathologies will persist despite multiple studies to the contrary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from a Federal Position Due to a Medical Condition

To resign is often considered the last vestiges of giving up hope; somehow, it contradicts our DNA, and the resistance to it reinforces the Darwinian idea that the evolutionary drive for survival rules our choices, as determinism persists despite our best efforts to remain free.  To resign is to give in, surrender, abandon the lifelong plans and dreams for the future; it marks, for many, a decision of raising the white flag.  In life, however, sometimes the choices offered are but a few, and within that limited arena of options, the best must be taken.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal worker from performing the full panoply of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it sometimes becomes necessary to “cut the losses” and move onward to other ventures in life.

When the level of harassment becomes untenable; when the best negotiations lead to the Agency’s offer of resignation in order to keep the record “clean”; when access to one’s TSP is necessary in order to survive the long period of waiting for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to decide upon a Federal Disability Retirement application; or even when the constant “fight” is no longer worth it, or is not there within one’s self; then the only thing left is the proper characterization of such a resignation, for inclusion as a short statement on one’s SF 50 or PS Form 50.

Depending upon the particularized circumstances, a resignation is not always a surrender, but merely a regrouping in order to return to resume the fight of life on another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire