OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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 job, initiation and submission of 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, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Losses

How many losses must one accumulate before being deemed a “loser”?

Was it just yesterday that Cal Ripken, Jr. won with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983, after a mere couple of years in the minors, but with that World Series ring on his finger, would then see decades of losses mount as a result of poor decisions in trading players, acquiring “has beens” and being in the unfortunate AL East where the Yankees and the Red Sox seem always to vie for the top tier of the elect?

Can a team win a World Series one year, then go on for thirty-plus years without ever winning one again, and yet be deemed “a winner”?  Or, can one always pause, give a grin, and say, “Yeah, but we were winners in 1983!”

Does one win wipe out an avalanche of losses such that the singularity of glory negates the overwhelming statistical significance of unending disappointments?  Or, what of the person who once had a promising career, but through a series of unfortunate circumstances considered by most to be no fault of his or her own, cannot quite achieve that level of promises dreamed of but never materialized?

Do we, in our own minds, create conditions which are impossible to attain, and then deem those unreachable goals as “losses” despite the artificial nature of the criteria imposed?  Do losses mount and exponentially aggregate because failure seeks after failure, and somehow the subsequent one is a natural consequence, inevitably by inherent nature, of the previous one?

Does bad luck come in bunches because of some Law of Nature, or is it just in our imagination that it seems so?  Are much of losses artificially created — i.e., we set the proverbial “goal post” in our own minds, then miss the metaphorical field goal and become despondent over the “loss” created within our own imagination within contextual circumstances fantasized that have no connection to objective reality?

For Federal and 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 job, that sense of “loss” can be an admixture of both objective reality and subjective, artificial creations.

The medical condition itself is an “objective” loss; but the Agency or the Postal Service’s efforts to compound the adversarial circumstances can be created in an ad hoc manner, where there are no rules or criteria to follow except upon the whim of the supervisor or the department’s reactionary intuition.  The interruption to one’s career; the constant struggle with a chronic medical condition; of being forced to deal with deteriorating health — these are all real “losses”.

On the other hand, adversarial initiations by one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these, too, are “real” losses, though artificially created and unnecessary, in many instances.

Both must be dealt with when preparing, formulating and filing a 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 — but the fact that one must “deal with” so many “losses” does not, in the end, make one a loser.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Poverty of One’s Soul

The locus of one’s soul has been much debated throughout the history of Philosophy; Descartes, of course, took the incommodious step of actually identifying the central point, but left some “wiggle room” by declaring it merely as the “principal seat of the soul” (is there a secondary, back-seat area for the soul, as well?), but of course, the French can be excused for such seemingly drunken issuances of localities, when belief in supposedly impenetrable defenses can provide for a mirage of security.

The question itself is non-sensical, if one pauses for a moment of reflection.  For, as the soul is not part of the physical universe, to ascribe to it a point of defined location is to misunderstand the conceptual paradigm itself.  Rather, it is the state of the soul which is of greater relevance, and whether enlivened, invigorated, or impoverished.  What deadens the soul?  From Plato to Scruton, the argument can be made that music is an important component in the cultivation or demise of soulful activity.  Repetition of meaningless and monotonous actions, engaged like Camus’ Sisyphus, can also inflict harm; but even he, along with other French existentialists, found meaning in the absurd.

Medical conditions, obviously, can have a profound impact and effect upon the soul.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the relationship between “meaning” and “employment” can remain the single most significant obstacle to 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.

For, it is often fear of the future and the unknown elements which pervade the dark recesses of nightmares abounding in the subconscious of one’s mind, deep in the caverns of sleep, or interrupted, non-restorative slumber, where childhood visions of dancing daisies and carefree summers have long been replaced by the reality of adulthood, ogres and goblins as real today as when the child once watched with innocent eyes; it is from those vestiges that grown men weep and feel the tiny droplets of fear, and we call them “insecurities”.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is indeed a large step into the unknown.  Poverty, let alone poverty of one’s soul, is a fear of real proportions in these uncertain economic times; but in the end, one’s health should be the priority of ultimate concern, precisely because health engenders the continuing viability of the soul, and for the Federal or Postal worker who fears for one’s future, to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a positive step towards securing a safety net to further prevent the impoverishment of the soul, whether located in the pineal gland, or in the ethereal universe of a childhood summer long gone and lost in the innocence of daisies returned to the bosom of the earth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Compartmentalizing

It may well be another evolutionary vestige to have the capacity to divide, separate, pigeonhole and compartmentalize; otherwise, the extreme bombardment of visual and auditory stimuli would be overwhelming, and perhaps untenable to one’s ability to process the volume and extent of the information needed to receive, analyze and comprehend.

What is relevant; what must be immediately attended and responded to; which sets can be procrastinated; where does this bit of data go to?  In this world of information technology, perhaps the human animal is best suited to amass and bifurcate into seamless paradigms of perceptual pinholes for proper processing.  But, of course, as with all things advantageous, there are elements of negative consequences.

For those who have limited capacity to effectively engage in such endeavors; and for those who suffer from medical conditions which limit and reduce such capacity.  Medical conditions tend to lower the tolerance for stress; and in this world of fast-paced technology, there is little room for empathy for those who cannot maintain the maddening spectrum of timeless busy-ness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the inability to withstand the level of stress is often the turning point of making the proper decision in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Some may whisper that he or she is no longer able to “hack it” in the real world; others may simply sneer or snicker with purposeless pride of pernicious penchant for punishing pointedness.  But the reality is that there is almost always an intimate connection between stress, the capacity to tolerate stress, and health.

Health involves man’s ability to compartmentalize; and whether through the evolutionary mechanism of survival of the fittest, where those who became best at separating the relevant from the unimportant; or just because those who are able to bifurcate and comprehend happen to parallel the course of history in developing the complexities of the information age; whatever the reasons, the time of ultimate compartmentalizing comes in the self-recognition that it may be necessary to identify the source of one’s deteriorating health, and to allow that to be the impetus and compelling reason to begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire