Help with OPM Disability Retirement: Wintertime flowers

What do you tell a young child who tries to plant seeds in the fall, and when asked about the activity, responds, “I want flowers for the winter and am planting them now so that they will bloom by the time the cold comes”?

Do you: (A). Laugh and tell the child that he or she is being foolish, (B) Explain to the child that flowers don’t bloom in the wintertime, (C) Direct them to the proper plants that will produce the intended effect or (D) Let the child discover for him or herself as to whether such an effort will have any positive results?

Clearly, options A and B would not assist the child in learning and advancing one’s knowledge of the world (Answer B, while generally the case, ignores the greater effort required in explaining that some flowers do, indeed, thrive in the dead of winter or, alternatively, that this particular region is not conducive to certain plants); and choice D, while perhaps allowing for a greater lesson to be learned — may instead attain the wisdom of the harsh reality of the world through explanation and discussion.

Explanation and a proper understanding of the circumstances, context and limitations of one’s activities in light of the surrounding universe is the key to gaining wisdom and knowledge.

Given that, Choice C would obviously be the “best” option towards greater understanding.  Thus, it is not merely the vacuum within which what one is doing that matters; rather, it is the effective interaction between one’s activities with the greater world beyond that produces a balanced comprehension of one’s place in the universe, how one can be effective and even influential.

Camellias are wintertime flowers that continue to thrive despite the harshness of the environment; whatever the genetic make-up that allows it to remain in bloom while others wither or die, their hardiness in environments others hibernate from and shun is a testament to the reality that, indeed, there are such things as wintertime flowers.

That is sometimes a difficult reality and lesson to learn — for we too often categorize times of our lives in similar ways: In extremes where it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job, it is important to understand that the end of a Federal or Postal career does not necessarily mean that it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

There can be life even in the wintertime of one’s career; for, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the individual to work in the private sector, the state, county or municipal job, and continue to receive the OPM Disability Retirement annuity, so long as you remain under 80% of what a person’s former Federal Salary pays, and to the extent that it is medically justifiable that there is a distinction between the former Federal job and the non-Federal job.

Like wintertime flowers, you just have to find the right circumstances in order to thrive in the season of your 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

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The change is in us

We wake up each morning expecting the world to have remained unaltered during the night; yet, as Hume’s argument concerning causality would have us believe, there is no necessary connection we have identified or conceptually ascertained, but merely our imagination anticipating and projecting into the future, such that stability of the universe around us pervades in a constancy of regularity.

The surroundings remain familiar; the coffee machine is of the same make as when we left it the night before; even the dogs appear unchanged, ready to obey and begin the day in the fashion that canines are accustomed to.  Perhaps you bump into an object before turning on the lights, and you find that someone in the household has shifted it from where you last saw it.  You resolve to inquire about it later in the day, or are immediately satisfied that “X must have left it” and therefore the “mystery” is solved.  Never does it enter your mind that the world, in its own power of intended shifting, moved without direct causal intervention.  You step into the bathroom and look in the mirror, where the same features stare back.

Yet, what may be different, what results in a subtle but perceivable alteration, is not the world reflected on the wall behind, but the compendium of complex emotions, memories, thought-processes and cognitive intuitions having rested through the night, and now are awakened to perceive, judge, analyze and evaluate in the wakefulness of the moment.

It is us that changes.

As Kant pointed out, we bring human structures of perceptual constructs to the inert world which pervades and surrounds.  The universe we invade and occupy often remains constant, and in that rhythm of regularity, we find solace in a methodological quietude.  Yes, cars whiz by and honk their horns, and birds chirp in the early morning dawn, but such movement has already been anticipated and entered into the equation of our consciousness.  It is only if buildings move, like earthquakes responding to the tectonic shifts of unseen caverns, when we panic within the world of regularity we have created.

But then, sometimes, the outside force touches upon us directly, and that is when the peace and quiet of constancy becomes disturbed.

Medical conditions tend to do that — for they have a duality of existence.  It is a change “out there”, somewhere whether visible, as in a physical injury of open wounds, or “in there”, whether as an unseen pain correlated by a diagnostic test, or even a psychiatric condition which pervades and progressively debilitates.  But the duality exists precisely because the “there” is also part of the self which recognizes the change.

The change is not only “in us”, it is us.

And it is often that very duality of alteration which thus requires a further change in abutting against the unchanging and impervious universe around us.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, this realization that one’s own Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is unwilling to change, to accommodate or to transform in response to the medical condition, is a knowledge which is gained often through the harsh reality of confrontation and harassment.  For such Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who come to this realization, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a consideration which must be seriously entertained.

It is, for many, a realization likened to “growing up” in a world which is often cold, uncaring and unconcerned.

As agencies are behemoths which reflect the character of a society, so it should not be surprising that Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service are not entities which respond well to change.  For, in the end, we must always recognize that the most significant change in the history of shifting burdens does not occur in the textbooks of time, but closer to the heart of every individual, and it is not change in the “other” which calls forth the earthquakes resulting in tsunamis, but it is the change in us, as it is change which is us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Avoiding the Pedantic Prophet

Doomsayers are everywhere, and in every generation and region of thoughtful pronouncements, prophets foretelling of anticipated events await to ring the ears of those who desire future confirmation of that which was already expected.

Beyond the general prophesy of future events, however, is the one who focuses upon minutiae and details irrelevant to the greater paradigm of events.  It is like the man who was informed that major surgery would be necessary, and oh, by the way, the scalpel to be used is made by a German manufacturer whose great uncle was related to Lord Byron.  Interesting tidbits may be relevant in limited circumstances; one should avoid the pedantic repetition of facts, events and details which detract from the main theme of a narrative.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, part of the process must involve the preparation of a Statement of Disability as required by completion of Standard Form 3112A.  Certainly, details can be important; but a meandering rambling of peripheral issues detracting from the centrality and essence of one’s case, can not only become a self-undermining proposition, but annoying as well.

Begin the narrative with the focus upon the condition, then build upon that with reverberating ripples of riveting prose of significance and tactile tenses entailing direct links to positional requirements.  For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a person’s story, told in narrative form, as a paper presentation to OPM which must be singularly focused, coherent and comprehensively conveyed.

When the world is foretold of coming to an end, one does not want to know the color and make of the undergarment to be worn by your neighbor; at best, it distracts; at worst, it may well reveal a privacy concern you did not want to stomach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire