Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: Know Thyself

As to the familiar saying — of “knowing one’s self” — what can it possibly mean?  The saying, “Know thyself”, was inscribed on various temples in Ancient Egypt and was known to be one of the Delphic maxims.

Socrates, of course, taught a variation of the statement, contending that the “unexamined life is not worth living” — but the question which immediately comes to the fore is: At what point do we examine ourselves?  Is it a daily, continuous engagement?  Do we wait until we reach various stages of our lives before proposing such an examination?

For most of us, we don’t have the time or energy that Socrates had — of constantly stirring up trouble and pestering and peppering this person or that with questions that are meant to confound, confuse, irritate and provoke; and to examine one’s life is to constantly ask questions which we may know not the answers to.

Is it the questioning itself which is so important (one might posit that such an approach to life is precisely what Socrates himself believed)?  Were the questions posed by Socrates actually answerable, or were they just rhetorical flourishes meant to undermine the accepted, normative conclusions of the day?

To that extent — of questions without necessarily expecting any definitive answers — perhaps if Socrates were to appear in this age, he would be overjoyed with the way in which we live today: of therapy accepted as the modality of self-examination; of the explosion of “self-help” books and the payment-for-services of “life coaches” and “experts” on “living”.

Ultimately, “knowing thyself” is an endeavor that has no boundaries and cannot expect definitive answers, precisely because the “self” is an ever-expanding phenomena and “knowing” is never a static activity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is preventing the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the maxim of “Know Thyself” is an important element in making a decision concerning Federal Disability Retirement.

You must know what your job is; what your physical or mental capabilities are; and whether you can continue on in the job that you hold.  Further, it is the maxim itself which should lead you to consult with a Federal Disability Retirement Attorney, that is, a lawyer who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, in the end, to know thyself is to gather knowledge from all sources in an effort to “know” and to clarify the boundaries of “thyself”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Thinking Straight

Why “straight” as opposed to curved or in a zig-zag manner?  Who first thought that it was preferable, desirable, and even “smarter” to “think straight” as opposed to a thought process which involves a greater complexity of circuitous routes?

Is the origin based upon a metaphor or an analogy — that, because the shortest distance from Point A to Destination B must by geometric necessity involve a straight line, and therefore one may extrapolate from such a mathematical truth that the thinking-process which yields the best results is compromised of a similar metric: Of a direct and non-convoluted form of cognitive input, without the wavering lines and complicated conundrums involved in any form other than a straight line?

Yet, the process of “thinking” itself is often one that must include reflection upon multiple and endless variables: What if this happens?  What about such-and-such circumstances?  What about conditionals and unknown factors, and how will it end up if X fails to materialize or Y begins to dominate?  What about the principle contained in Occam’s Razor?  Is that the analogy that prevails upon the concept of “thinking straight”?

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, the question as to whether you should consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS should, indeed, be based upon “straight thinking”, and the process of “thinking straight” should generally apply.

However, as Federal Disability Retirement Law is a complex administrative process that involves multiple facets that intersect with the Federal Agency, the Human Resource Office, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and complexities involving accommodations, potential reassignment issues, etc., the fact that a straight line may exist between the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application and the approval or denial by OPM of that application, does not make it any simpler.

Complexity is a fact of life.  To simplify things, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to make sure that “straight thinking” is achieved by thinking straight, and that should come from advice and counsel which gives you the right direction on how to get from Point A to Destination B.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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 & Postal Disability Retirement: Season’s end

The cyclical nature of the seasons provides for comfort in its monotony of regularity; we are subject to nature more than we realize, and the onset of the next season means the end of one, the beginning of another and the endless cycle of repetitive regularity.

That concept, in and of itself, is a strange one, is it not?  Of “repetitive regularity”; for, can “regularity” encompass a series of elements without repetition?  And, is not repetition itself the foundation of regularity?  Is there a distinction with a difference to be made?

If a person goes to the same coffee shop every day, at the same hour, and orders the same cup of coffee each and every day of his life, we would describe that person as being a “regular”.  Further, we might describe what he does as “repetitive”, and thus would say of him: “He engages in an act of repetitive regularity”.

That perspective would be a fairly accurate one from an objective, outsider’s viewpoint.  But what about from the subjective perspective – from the person himself who goes to that same coffee shop each and every day?  He might say: “No, it is not repetitive, because each cup of coffee, to me, is a brand new one, just as each day I wake up is a new day; and, besides, I might wake up one day and go to a different coffee shop, and then you would not consider me to be a ‘regular’.”

Would such a statement be accurate?  Would it be truthful?  And what about the short time-frame within which we assign so quickly the label of “regular”?  From an omniscient viewpoint, would doing X for a month, a year – or even a decade – properly constitute “regularity”, when eternity is the standard by which it is being judged?

A season’s end and the next one’s beginning can certainly be considered as repetitive regularity; for, that is often what we rely upon as a security of comfort, in the very knowing of the next one coming. That is the insidious impact of a medical condition, is it not?  That it creates uncertainty, and suddenly repetitive regularity is no longer guaranteed, as if the season’s end may be its last.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 duties, the medical condition itself may be likened to the season’s end.

Fortunately, there is the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, however, and that may, as well, be likened to the repetitive regularity of a season’s end – only, it is the onset of the “next season”, and that is some comfort upon which to take refuge, like the flock of geese that fly south for the warmer climate of tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Fear and Trembling

The reference, of course, is to the major philosophical contribution by Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish Philosopher; and his title is a further extrapolation from the Bible.  It is an investigation of the test placed upon Abraham to make of his son, Isaac, the sacrificial lamb as a testament of his faith and obedience.

Whether one is religious or not, the value of such an investigation cannot be disregarded.  Such a test and endurance; how far Abraham was willing to go; were there indications of behavior which revealed hesitancy; did doubt ever enter into his mind; is obedience to faith ever justified when it seems to overpower fundamental moral considerations; does the author of moral uprightness have the right to violate the very laws of issuance (similar to the theological conundrum, Can God create a rock heavier than He can lift, and if not, does that not undermine the very definition of omnipotence?); what emotional turmoil was Abraham wrestling with, and what of fear and trembling?

These are mere surface questions which Kierkegaard attempts to encounter; the fact that most of society fails or ignores to consider, is a reflection of the state of our own being.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts (A) one’s own health and livelihood, and (B) the capacity and ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the issue of fear and trembling should hit close to home.  Fear is attributable to the uncertainty of one’s future; trembling concerns the state of persecution one experiences at the hands of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Kierkegaard leaves no stone unturned in his rapacious search for truth; for the Federal or Postal employee, even a surface scratching of what Kierkegaard questioned, can be of relevance in moving forward.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may not seem like entering the lofty towers of ivory perspectives as presupposed by Kierkegaard’s work; but it is in the end a pragmatic decision of fortitude which secures one’s future and allows for the stresses of our times to be set aside, deliberately, purposefully, and with regard for one’s own life and being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Life’s Work

There is, then, the job or career we undertake (the distinction between the two is often lost, and depends in large part upon a multiplicity of factors, including length of commitment, opportunity within a given field for growth and advancement; whether any qualifications, certifications or professional degrees are required, etc.); and then, the conditions and context of participating in a greater culture of our choosing, including where we live, with whom we live, what social circles we expand into; as well as how we interact with the extended community surrounding us, and whether we even decide to abide by the rules, laws and limitations imposed by society.

The former constitutes the work we engage during our lifetimes; the latter, the macro-aspect of the work generally confronted during a lifetime.  We often confuse the two.  The conundrum and internal turmoil comes about because so much of the latter often depends upon the success of the former.  Without the wealth amassed through the work of labor, we become limited in the choices we have in the work of living; thus do some choose a life of crime or cheating, as a means of shortcutting and supplementing the former for the latter.  And when the work of labor is cut short, or somehow interrupted, one realizes the impact upon the greater work of life, and must adjust accordingly.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s work or career, the choice to leave the Federal sector is a difficult one, and not just because of the financial considerations which reverberate upon the greater work of living.  Often, the choice to file 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 paused for reflection, procrastination and further delay, because the two concentric circles of life have overlapped to such an exponential degree that one cannot easily be bifurcated from the other.

One’s work of labor involved the social circle; it intersected with the greater percentage of daily living; the meaning and teleological motivation was commingled; even some of the neighbors work in the same neighborhood, just down the street, in our town (yes, it is an unabashed reference to Thornton Wilder’s famous play), or perhaps even next door; so, how can I face a change from the work of labor, without confronting the greater vicissitude in the work of life? But then, there is that medical condition, and it is always the interrupting reality of the medical condition which must, by necessity, be focused upon.

Better to make decisions now, when one has the option to do so concerning the work of labor, lest the limitations are imposed by others, which then can have irreparable consequential reverberations upon the greater work of living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire