Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Waves of Misfortune

Metaphors allow us to understand our circumstances; by relating the circumstance to the natural world around us, we feel a greater kinship when, in all other aspects of our lives, we have tried to alienate ourselves and artificially separate our lives from the origins of our own existence.  Similes, of course, always contain the comparative contrast that allows for a space between that which is compared and the reality of “what is”.

Thus, to say that “X is like Y” is quite different from saying that “X is Y”, even though we know in both instances that X is not Y, and that is precisely why we assert that there is a likeness between X and Y (because “likeness” is not the same as “sameness”) and also why we declare X to be Y even though they are not one and the same.  Thus is there a difference between “Waves of misfortune” (a metaphor) and “Misfortune are like waves” (a simile).

The comparative preposition creates a once-removed parallelism (simile), whereas the metaphor makes no doubt of the mirror image of one with the other.

Medical conditions are more like metaphors (here, we are utilizing a simile to describe a metaphor); there is no space or removal between the situations being compared.  To have a medical condition is not “like” something else; rather, it is the reality of one’s existence.  It is through metaphors, however, as well as similes that we describe the symptoms to our doctors and others, to try and help them understand what it is like to be in constant pain, to be depressed, to be profoundly fatigued.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition necessitates preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it must be understood that the Federal Disability Retirement “package” is a paper presentation to OPM, and thus must by necessity use both metaphors and similes in order to persuade OPM of having met the legal criteria of a FERS Disability Retirement application.

The “waves of misfortune” must be described persuasively, lest they become a metaphor for failure in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application that results in a denial as opposed to an approval.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: The Promise

Can you make a promise to yourself?  What would that look like?  Would it be valid and binding?  If not, how would we “prove” it?  Perhaps in a similar manner as Karl Popper’s “falsification” approach — of being able to come up with conditions under which a theory or a posited application can be “falsified”?

Take the following hypothetical: A man sits in a cafe and is clearly upset; perhaps he makes unconscious heaving sounds, and tears stream down his face.  A friend of his happens to visit the cafe, enters, sees his friend in distress and sits down at the same table, uninvited.  “What’s the matter?” the friend asks out of concern.  Hesitant but clearly wanting to share his feelings, the individual queried answers, “I broke a promise, and I feel really terrible about it.”  Pausing — for, despite being his friend, this particular person has a reputation for exaggeration and overstatement — he forges onward bravely and asks him to “share” his story, believing that empathy is the better part of valor.  “Well, I made a promise that… [and the reader can fill in the blank following the ellipses].  And I broke it.”  The friend, concerned and puzzled, asks: “And who did you make the promise to?”  The distraught Person A looks up, tears still streaming down his face and states calmly, “To myself, of course.”

Can such emotional turmoil remain commensurate with the fact of a broken promise made to one’s self?  Can a unilateral promise be binding, or can it be broken with as much ease as the creation of it in the first place?

We all make promises to ourselves, and perhaps an argument can be made that the very essence of “character” and “integrity” is revealed in how scrupulously one abides by those promises made and kept by and to one’s self — even if others don’t know about it.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the promises made, thought of, kept or broken may make a long list in a cruel world of treachery and misstatements.  Perhaps you made a promise to yourself that you would make the Federal Service into your lifelong career; or, perhaps it has to do with not wanting to “give up”.  Whatever the promise, life intervenes and we all have to adapt to the changes of tumultuous circumstances.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS is never a broken promise, no matter the soliloquy spoken or thought left unspoken; rather, like the friend who comes into the cafe to give some comfort, it is a reminder that there are choices and options in life that may be a better fit than to remain miserable with a job that is no longer consistent with your medical conditions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Preparing the case

For some reason, Federal and Postal workers who “prepare” and submit a Federal Disability Retirement application, do so without much thought as to what is entailed by the entire process.

They will often rely upon what the “Human Resource Office” tells them — of forms to fill out, what form to give to the doctor, the form to give to the supervisor, etc., and will spend more time trying to figure out the confusing life insurance form than in preparing the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) or the legal precedents that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law — and then, when it gets denied at the Initial Stage of the process and the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant goes back to the H.R. “Specialist” and asks, “Well, what do I do now?”, the response is: “That is not our problem; that’s a problem you have to deal with.”

Accountability is not known to be a commonly recognized characteristic in a Human Resource Office, and while there are never any guarantees in life, in any sector or endeavor, at a minimum, when one is being “assisted” and guided through an administrative process, it is important to know whether or not whoever you are relying upon will see you through to the end.

Why the Federal or Postal employee who begins the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application does so without the same care, scrutiny and comprehensive approach as one does in “other” legal cases, is a puzzle.

Federal Disability Retirement — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — is as complex a case as any other, and should be approached with the same intensity, technical application and expertise as a patent and trademark case, or a complicated medical malpractice filing.  For, a Federal Disability Retirement case involves every aspect of any other type of complex litigation — of the proper medical evidence to gather; of meeting the established legal standard in order to meet the burden of proof; of citing the relevant legal precedents in order to persuade the reviewer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and presenting a compelling description to a “jury” at OPM that one has met the nexus between “having a medical condition” and the inconsistency inherent with the positional duties required, etc.

In the end, preparing the case for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application involves greater complexity than what the layman can normally account for, and as the fine print in those television commercials state involving sporty vehicles maneuvering at high speeds, you may not want to try this on your own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Reality and poetry

A woman sits on a park bench surrounded by the concrete giants of looming buildings and antiseptic structures overhanging and overshadowing all but the remnants of nature’s detritus, with the cooing pigeons that bob their heads back and forth as they meander about in the contrast between reality and poetry.

And she has a book in her hands.  It is a book of poetry.  Who the author is; what the verses metaphorically narrate; how the images impact the quiet reader; these are not so important as the oxymoron of life’s misgivings:  A city; the overwhelming coercion of modernity’s dominance and encroachment into nature’s receding and dying reserve; and what we hang on to is a book of poetry that reminds us that beauty is now relegated to printed pages of verses that attempt to remind of beauty now forever lost.

No, let us not romanticize the allegory of a past life never existent, such as Rousseau’s “state of nature” where man in a skimpy loincloth walks about communing with nature’s resolve; instead, the reality that man has lost any connection to his surroundings, and is now lost forever in the virtual world of smartphones, computers, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Texting.

The tactile experiences of our individual encounters with the objective world is now merely the touch of a screen, and feel of glass, metal and plastic, and the pigeons we feed with such joy and excitement from park-benches manufactured with recycled materials so that we can “feel good” about the environment that we have abandoned.  And so we are left with the reality of our lives, and the poetry that we always try and bring into it, if not merely to remind us that there is more to it all than work, weekends and fleeting thoughts of wayward moments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an additional reality – of a medical condition that impacts his or her life in significant ways – the third component is not a mere irrelevancy that complicates, but often becomes the focal point of joining both reality and poetry.  Medical conditions have the disturbing element of reminding us of priorities in life.  Reality, as we often experience it, is to merely live, make a living, survive and continue in the repetitive monotony of somehow reaching the proverbial “end” – retirement, nursing home, sickness and death.

Poetry is what allows for the suffering of reality to be manageable and somehow tolerable; it is not just a verse in a book or a line that rhymes, but the enjoyment of moments with loved ones and those times when everything else becomes “worthwhile” because of it.  But then, there is the complication of a medical condition – that which jolts us into wakefulness of a reality that makes it painful and unacceptable.  What is the road forth?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition now makes even work at the Federal agency or Postal facility intolerable, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is at least a path to be considered.  It is a long, arduous and difficult road that must wind its way through the U.S. Office or Personnel Management, but the choices are limited, and surely, you never want to abandon the poetry of life, and be left with only the reality of the medical condition?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, the issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire