Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Responsibility

What is it about the ascription of such a word, that there can be a direct correlation or, if taken in a different context, some mere connection but no causality?  We can say of a person, “He is responsible for X”, and yet never have directly encountered X or (if a person) never even have met X.

Thus of monsters and thugs throughout history, for instance, we might say that “Stalin was responsible for 20 million deaths, at least,” or that Mao was “responsible” for a 100 million peasants dying during the late 50s; or, of course, of ascribing to Hitler the countless millions; and, so that we don’t leave out other “responsible” monsters of history, of Pol Pot, Idi Amin and many others besides, though we cannot link a causality that would pass Hume’s skeptical test of anything more than events following one upon another, we nevertheless accept that all such political figures were “responsible” for the deaths of millions.

What is the criteria in coming to such a conclusion?  Is it a negative proposition — that if X had the power or position to prevent such events from occurring, then Responsibility-Y can be ascribed?  Or must it be a positive declaration: If X engaged in Acts A, B and C, then Responsibility-Y can be attributable to Individual-W; and further, if only Acts A & B, but not C, then less so; and if only Act A, but not B & C, even less so?

Responsibility”, of course, is a malleable and transitive concept; it can change with the contextual winds of opinion, historical perspective and a cultural shift of viewpoints.  Look at how we approach our Founding Fathers — of responsibility for the slave issue in the United States, but somehow excusing each if (A) any one of them willed that they would be freed upon their deaths, (B) that one was “personally” against the issue but for economic, practical reasons were “forced” to go along or (C) they treated them “kindly” and “responsibly” (here, we have a double-meaning of the term, for such an individual was both “responsible” as well as being ascribed the “responsibility” of being a slave owner).

Or, look at the manner in which America treated Native Americans — of a genocidal history no less cruel than Mao’s starvation of the peasantry; and yet, because of such grand concepts as “manifest destiny” and the depiction of an entire populace as “uncivilized”, we can avert “responsibility” by distancing the causal agents; and the greater distance between the agents, the less we ascribe responsibility.

On a lesser scale, what about work?  If work suffers and there is no reason for it but laziness and lack of attention, we ascribe “responsibility”.  But what if a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — is that Federal or Postal employee “responsible”?

The short answer is a “no” — and that is recognized by “the Law”, in statutes, regulations and case-laws cumulatively aggregated under the conceptual aegis of “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  It is precisely because society recognizes that a medical condition itself — and not the individual — is directly responsible for one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, that Federal disability retirement exists as a benefit to pursue.

But it cannot be accessed until and unless there is an affirmative step taken by the Federal or Postal employee, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  That is where “responsibility” comes into play as a direct causal link — of initiating the steps and actually filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Illness

It is the pause button rendered by the universe, often without warning, without invitation and unwelcomed by all.  Is it the gods laughing in the heavenly seclusion, as wanton children playing with the mortality of souls unrequited, as matches in the hands of mischievous hearts undisciplined by law, life or empathy?

Then comes the triteness of wisdom, yet true but too late: “Oh, what a blessing health is”; “Is there a lesson to be learned?”; “Why me?”.  Is this the crisis of life that is merely an obstacle to overcome, or the long road towards a progressive decline where mortality is not just tested, but revealed as the weak link in the proverbial chain of man-to-gods-to the theology of our own creation?

Illness comes like that unwitting thief in the dead of night, but unlike the burglar who tries to remain silent but for creaking floors and unoiled passageways, it comes without concern for being revealed.  Does the universe test – or remain impervious like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, where perfection attracts all towards its essence and destroys everything that attempts to escape?  Who determines the criteria of such a test?  What constitutes a “passing grade” as opposed to a failure in its mere attempt?  Is the evaluation contained within the strength of one’s own character, and what results in a declaration of “success” as opposed to the failure of everyday lives?

If it is truly a test of character, then Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers certainly get enough of it to collectively get a passing grade.  Yes, fortunately, there is the option of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, but for almost all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the reality is that such a step is the last option chosen.

It is not so much that the benefit reaped from a Federal Disability Retirement is so miserly as to not make it worthwhile; no, to a great extent, the annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay, then 40% every year thereafter until recalculation at age 62 is generous enough to survive upon, especially when the alternative is to remain and kill oneself, resign and walk away with nothing, or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and, in conjunction with the ability to go out into the private sector and be able to make (on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity) up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays – it can lead to an acceptable level of financial security.

Ultimately, however, it is a truism that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers wait until the final possible moment before making the decision to file a Federal Disability Retirement, often allowing the illness to debilitate beyond the point of reasonable acceptance.  That, in and of itself, is a character test, and one that makes the illness itself of secondary concern, when one’s health should be given the highest priority, lest we allow the gods of wanton carelessness to have the last laugh.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Age

It is only that proverbial “state of mind” for those it does not impact; then, when reality sets in, the decrepit bones and uncooperative muscles, inability to will the stamina to rise to the occasion, and the creaking temerity of organs unable to muster the vitality of even a decade ago, we submit to the currency of our own destiny.

We can scoff at it; deny it; attempt to defy its residual consequences; and even remain indifferent to its effects; but in the end, mortality demands a say in the matter, and age is like the ravages of time and the echoes of a haunting flaw:  inescapable and unwavering, it creeps up and declares its prominence at the head of the table.  Some feel the effects well before the standard time; others attempt to revolt and rebel until the impervious universe indifferent to human incantations of defiant ineffectiveness simply ignores the pleas of hopeless tumult.

Age comes upon us like that undeniable thief in the night, burglarizing the last remaining hope and hint of a better tomorrow.  Of course, the connotation can be twofold or more:  Of the linear quantification from birth to the present, counting in solar years and seasons of rotational inevitability; or, it can denote a state of moving beyond the halfway point and into the pendulum swing of destiny evidencing man’s mortality.  There are, of course, other meanings – of a certain epoch or period; uses like, “coming of age” or applying it to various methodological interests in placement within a period of history.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating preparing 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, the relevance of the term is multitudinous:  Age in terms of eligibility towards regular retirement; how old, but more importantly, can one continue until retirement age, or will the ravages of time, medical conditions and deteriorating workplace environment lead one to such a decrepit state that to continue on would merely evoke a devastation of any future hope of enjoying retirement at all?

For, when the stated age of one’s linear presence in this universe is far less advanced than how one feels “health-wise”, and the hollow look of hopelessness prevails where the future is merely a black hole of bleakness, another turn of pain and suffering, and no amount of “positive-thinking” will brighten an otherwise dismal perspective, then what would be the point of continuing to struggle just to meet the linear statement of age, but have no joy left to reap its benefits promised?

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, is an option to consider, when age cannot be prolonged to meet the eligibility requirements for regular retirement, and the body, mind and soul are screaming out that one’s career has come to a point where age is no longer a factor in considering whether or not the essential elements of one’s positional duties can be met – instead, the proverbial dawn of an age forthcoming requires that something must give, but age is simply an echoless march of time that hears not such cries of rebellion or protest.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Messy lives

In those Eisenhower years with residual trails into the following decade, we had those perfect television paradigms – of “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father knows best” and “My Three Sons”, while the world around began its transformational process.

Hollywood decided much later that they needed to be at the forefront, leading social change and forcing cultural avant-garde transitions even if merely experimental and questionable for any positive good.  That decision is in stark contrast to the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s, where the staid and stodgy traditionalism of television series barely reflected the reality of the deconstructionism occurring in real time.

Somehow, those old sitcoms provided a paradigm of perfect lives and traditionalism that secured hope for the rest of us; for, the reality is that, like Dutch’s childhood and the rest of us, we grew up with messy lives, and paid the price for the rest of time to try and correct it and match it as against the paradigms of a reality that never was.

Medieval theological arguments always include the notion that, we would never have an idea of perfection unless there was some entity in the objective world that matched such a concept.  It is merely an extension of Plato’s argument for Forms, where the particulars in the physical world are mere imperfections striving to compare to the ultimate conceptual constructs of inviolable Forms.

That is often the problem with comparisons and arguments by extension; they make of our lives unsatisfying, precisely because we can never meet the expectations of others, let alone those we construct in our own minds.  That is why medical conditions can be so insidious; we possess and carry around with us those Platonic Forms of perfection, and when the reality of a medical condition prevents us from completing the career, the project, the lives we believe we were meant to live, the dispossessing trauma of realizing that we fell short results in a despondency because we set up paradigms of expectations that never were.

The question often left unanswered is:  What are the values involved?  What do we believe in?  What constitutes reality, as opposed to a fantasy based upon unrealistic expectations?  Isn’t “health” the priority of life?

If so, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s position, is the next logical step based in a reality-basis of an imperfect life.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fact that medical conditions further add to messy lives is no matter; we all have messy lives, and whatever fantasies we held on to when we enjoyed those old favorites, ignoring the problem never solved anything, and perfection should always be left to Platonic Forms in the dialogues of angels whispering among the heavenly orbs that remain hidden in the esoteric pages of those theological arguments long shelved in the monasteries of libraries long forgotten in the dusty bins of rotting books.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Preparation subverting the moment

“Seize the moment” (or the day) – isn’t that the mantra of modernity?  Never let consequences or the hurt of others delay the enigmatic pleasures of bodily delights.  Forget results; ignore preparatory steps, as that would waste valuable time otherwise left for delectable dalliances.  If modernity has translated “worth” and “value” in terms of present moments of existential delights, then the greater heightening of each event of ecstasy experienced in the “now” of every life should be exponentially enhanced at every opportunity available and presented.

Technology has only further advanced the aversion to planning and foresight; for, the conversation quieted when memory once required of reflection and racking of remembrances is now quickly replaced by a button push that Google immediately answers.  “Now” is ever more the gratification never to be delayed.  Modernity and  youth have been its unfortunate byproduct, where any notion of  preparation constitutes a delay of that instant gratification.

But life has a tendency to create tumult and intervene with a dose of reality, and medical conditions exponentially show us that the moment left without delay requires greater reflection and contemplation – and this is especially so with Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

“Seizing the moment” and quickly putting together a Federal Disability Retirement packet when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s position, is likely not the best approach in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  Not in all cases does preparation subvert the moment; often, in life, the “moment” requires preparation, as well as a thoughtful course of planning and reflective methodology of formulating a strategy for the future.

Modernity has invented some great contraptions; technology has saved time (or so they keep saying) and replaced human capacity with easing of burdens.  In the end, however, it is up to the planner to plan, and the Federal or Postal employee to seize that “moment” and project it into a plan for a better tomorrow, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire