Federal Employees Disability Retirement Systems: The Quarantined Mind

From early childhood, the necessity of imposing constraints and conformity produces the positive effect of a well-ordered society.  But corollary and unforeseen consequences often occur, as in the quashing of creativity and mindsets which step outside of the proverbial “box”.

The problem with people talking about thinking “outside of the box” is that such a thought process itself constitutes nothing more than mundane conventional wisdom.  Those who have considered thoughts beyond the artifice of social concordance have already done that which is widely preached, but little known.  Then, along comes a calamity or crisis, necessitating a change of lifestyle and a different manner of approaching the linear and customary manner of encountering life.  The other adage comes to mind:  necessity is the mother of invention.

Medical conditions tend to do that to people.  Suddenly, things which were taken for granted are no longer offered:  health, daily existence without pain; the capacity to formulate clarity of thought without rumination and an impending sense of doom.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who require a second chance at life’s anomaly; it allows for a base annuity in order to secure one’s future, while at the same time allowing for accrual of retirement years so that, at age 62, when the disability retirement is recalculated as regular retirement, the number of years one has been on disability retirement counts towards the total number of years of Federal Service, for recalculation purposes.

It allows for the Federal or Postal employee to seek out a private-sector job, and earn income up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays, on top of the disability annuity itself.  It thus allows and encourages the Federal and Postal worker to start a new career, to engage another vocation, and consider options beyond the original mindset of one’s career in the federal sector.

In the end, it is often our early childhood lessons which quarantined the pliant mind that leads to fear of the unknown because of changed circumstances.  To break out of the quarantined mind, sometimes takes a blessing in disguise; but then, such a statement is nothing more than another conventional saying, originating from the far recesses of another quarantined mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Epistemological Privilege and Federal Medical Retirement

The unique position of the individual in the greater world of objectivity — where the “I” dominates the subjective world but with a recognition that such a peculiar feature of the ego represents an almost insignificant, singular entity in a greater world of objects and other subjects — often results in a duality of opposing and contending, irreconcilable and incommensurable conclusions:  the centrality of a unique person, but a necessary and humbling recognition that in comparison to an infinite universe, one is merely a speck of irrelevance.

Bureaucracies tend to do that to a person.

The cold, indifferent and uncaring attitude of systematized control, requiring almost meaningless steps in order to complete a process mandated in order to achieve an end; you are merely a number to account for, in a greater administrative process of files to be audited.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the issue is how best to attempt to reconcile the need to speak about one’s self in the crucial and ever-important Statement of Disability, as required on the bureaucratic form SF 3112A, yet, at the same time convey a sense that “what” is being said is objective, scientific, and medically verifiable.

Too much of the “I” in the Statement of Disability will tend to undermine the validity of the narrative; too little of it, and it is merely a regurgitation of conveying to a disinterested individual, medical facts which fail to compel, persuade and convince.  The concept of epistemological privilege is one encompassing the unique privacy of the subjective person.  Left within that universe, it fails to reveal the impact of one’s interaction with the greater world.

But in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to recognize that remaining within the insular universe of epistemological privilege, may well undermine the efficacy of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application filed through OPM, and it is crucial, therefore, to recognize the dualism, attempt to strike the proper balance, and consider the weight of the narrative statement one must convey, including bridging the gap between one’s uniqueness in the subjective universe (the “I”), and the impact upon the greater world of objectivity (the description of one’s capacity and ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job).

Otherwise, the epistemological privilege will remain just that — lost in a world of subjectivity, and potentially to be rejected by the faceless bureaucrat in a world where you are merely one amongst many.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement from U.S. Federal Agencies: Creatures of Leviathan Proportions

Leviathan is both a mythological sea creature, as well as the title of a famous book authored by Thomas Hobbes. It represents that uncontrollable entity of gargantuan proportions, unstoppable and thoughtlessly destructive. It takes on many forms, many faces; or none at all. It is an entity of nondescript characteristic, and engulfs countless lives marked by unidentified graves.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who is lost in the bureaucratic shuffle of loss of identity, the concept of a Leviathan is both familiar, daunting and dismaying. There are countless tentacles of agencies and departments within the Federal Government, the largest of them including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Justice, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Homeland Security, and the umbrella Department of Defense, to name just some of the larger ones.

Becoming a part of the mission of those, or any of the multiple lesser ones, can be an exciting venture. But when a medical condition begins to reduce the stature of one’s potential accomplishments and contribution to the mission of an agency, it becomes easy to get lost in the very size of the agency. Most such agencies have a centralized Human Resources Department, such as a “Civilian Personnel Advisory Center”, which is another faceless and gargantuan bureaucracy.  Personalized Human Resource offices are being gobbled up by the Leviathan of so-called efficiency of centralization; the “personal touch” is left on the side of the road to bigger is better.

For the Federal employee and the Postal worker who needs to file a Federal Disability claim, it is precisely that “personal touch” which is often needed, but is lacking because of the Leviathan of modernity.  Then, of course, the very agency which makes the decision of an approval or a denial — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is itself a sea creature of sorts.  Difficult to access and even more of a problem of finding information concerning one’s case, the Leviathans of the modern-day world must be constantly battled and confronted with effective swords and shields.

When a Federal employee or Postal worker suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand the nature of the beast, and the fact that one’s own agency is merely one of many, and the modern-day David in a world of Goliaths may need more assistance than a mere handful of stones.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: The Limitation of Imagination

The imposition of one’s cultural nurturing, combined with the genetic determinism of one’s heritage, makes us who we are, and presents to the world the essence of each unique personality.  One likes to think of the infinite and limitless potentiality of each individual, and indeed, when one views with awe the artwork of Michelangelo or reads the linguistic brilliance of Shakespeare, the inspiration which such paradigms of qualitative magnitude provides as examples of what can be, leaves one with breathless wonderment.

In reality, of course, most of us live lives of trepidation, confined to contained anxieties because of the self-defeating boundaries set by a lack of imaginative fortitude.  We hear of preachings to “think outside of the box”, but once the uttered declarative is embraced, we are actually following the conventional wisdom and merely repeating that which is inside the proverbial box, only to follow the dictates of conventionality to follow the masses to go outside, when everybody and his brother has already been doing that.

Federal and Postal Workers who are hit by a medical condition, such that it forces one to consider viable alternatives and reconsider one’s career and vocation for the future, often have no choice but to step outside of the conventional box. Federal Disability Retirement for all Federal and Postal Workers, whether under FERS or CSRS, and filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, allows for that option of the human imagination going beyond the cultural or genetic determinism of one’s heritage, precisely by providing a semblance of financial security such that one can, after attending to one’s medical conditions, consider future employment options.

Federal Disability Retirement thus satisfies the foundation of human need; and it is only when the basic human needs are met, that one can then have the leisure of going beyond the limits of our own imaginations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Bureaucracy

Most people, organizations and entities do not act with deliberate ill-intentions; rather, they fail to think, and actions emanating from thoughtlessness often constitutes the negation of good.  Bureaucratization often results in the unintended consequence of negating the good; for, in following a set pattern and algorithm of administrative procedures, consideration for individual circumstances cannot be excepted.

One can argue, of course, for the positive aspects of a bureaucracy — of the equal treatment of all; of applying the same standards and criteria across the board, regardless of individual needs; and there is certainly something to be said for expunging the capacity for human favoritism.  But bias and favoritism will always pervade; it will merely take on a more insidious form.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is suffering from a medical condition such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, encountering the bureaucratic process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will become a necessary evil to confront.

The key to a successful interaction with the administrative process will be to reach beyond the faceless bureaucracy, and to make relevant one’s own particular and unique facts and circumstances.  That is a tall order to face, in the face of a faceless bureaucracy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Bureaucracy and the Objective Algorithm

On the one hand, objectivity can be viewed as a positive thing; for, with it, one is assured that all applications are treated equally, by the implementation of identical criteria across the board.  “Gut feelings”, personal beliefs, and that “sixth sense” is eliminated; and thus is fairness achieved by the equal treatment of all cases, and “exceptional circumstances” are not, and cannot be, considered.

What such an approach gains in large-scale application, however, may lose out in individual cases.  For, if experience and age accounts for anything, it should allow for decisions made outside of the mainstream of thought, based upon those very factors which make up the difference — wisdom from years of engaging in a particular endeavor.

The problem with the bureaucratization of a process is precisely that it fails to allow for exceptions; but concomitantly, it is precisely those unique circumstances which cry out for a carved-out exception.  In a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there are always cases where all of the facts and circumstances reveal eligibility; but in applying the mathematical (and thoughtless) algorithm of criteria-based analysis, there may be something missing.  Perhaps the doctor would not, or could not, say exactly X; or the test results revealed nothing particularly significant.

In some ways, the medical conditions identified as Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome represent such scenarios.  In those instances, it is important to descriptively convey the human narrative in a particularly poignant manner.

The administrative bureaucracy is here to remain among us; to rise above the level of thoughtless application of a criteria, however, one must creatively encourage the phoenix to rise from the ashes of boredom, and span its wings to include those others who deserve the benefits of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A Different Approach

Insanity is sometimes defined as the repetition of behavior despite evidence to the contrary.  But if that is the accepted definition of insanity, most individuals would qualify and fit into the description.  For, security of habitual repetitiveness is what often drives the individual, and the common adage of trying to “think outside of the proverbial box” is something which is not natural to man.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the repetition of OPM’s template, applied to hundreds, if not thousands, of denial letters to Federal and Postal employee applications for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, often requires a “different approach”.

Individuals who attempt to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity without legal representation engage in the process at a stark disadvantage:  they leave the third rail — the legal argumentation — with a void.  For, whether the original application itself, or a response to a denial and engagement at the Reconsideration Stage, or an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — being “inside” or “outside” the box, or taking a conventional approach as opposed to a “different” approach, the three rails of success must always include the medical documentation, the facts pertaining to one’s positional duties, and the legal basis for an approval.

Different approaches are fine; but regardless of which approach one takes, one must always have the foundational approach left intact, in order to build the (also proverbial) house on a solid footing, lest it fall and blow away as a house of cards.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire