OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: The Kettle’s Whistle

Why do we invent such irritating devices?  When the jarring whistle of the kettle’s boil screeches to gain our attention, is it precisely for that reason — in order to remind us that there is water boiling, that a fire or burner is causing it, and that you cannot just leave it like allowing for the needle on a record-player to turn endlessly upon a music-less disc with soft scratches upon a rotation that is going nowhere (ah, those days when music was truly enjoyed!).

Are noises created to always reflect the reality of its source?  Does the sound of the waives match the soft lapping of the ocean’s beauty, just as the raging storm’s fury mirrors the torrent of rain and thunder?  When first a child hears the sound of a distant train, and only later sees the monstrosity that forms the engine and the caboose, does he or she reflect, “Well, that certainly didn’t turn out to be what I thought” —? Similarly, does pain match the warning of a body’s injury?  Does a voice that sounds purring parallel the gruffness of a wrestler’s weight?

If the kettle’s whistle is meant to irritate and to alarm, it is doing its job; and the kettle that fails to so whistle is one that has lost its purpose and utility, even though it still boils as well as the next one purchased in replacement of the one which lost its capacity to irritate.

Medical conditions are like that, as well — of the capacity to alarm, to trigger warnings, to possess a reason thereof.  We resist it; of the voice that says that change needs to be forthcoming.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees 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 his or her Federal or Postal job, it may be that the kettle’s whistle is warning of an impending need — of a change.

Getting up, taking the kettle off of the burner and stopping the whistle is akin to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS: For, in the end, the kettle’s whistle is merely the warning we needed, prompting us to act when all around us are indicators that what once was can no longer be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: The gods of modernity

Each era has its false gods — of Greek ones that explained the mysteries underlying the universe; of religions that conquered by the sword; of Philosophers and Kings who ruled with an iron fist; of Freud, Psychoanalysis and other ghosts in the machine; and in modernity, of youth and the cult of the young, and perhaps of the authors of self-help books who have cornered the market on wisdom replaced.

The gods of modernity are different from those of a generation ago; the “I” and the “me” that pervades on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; of the perfect “me” who takes selfies at every opportunity to reinforce and remind of the hollowness of the gods we make of ourselves; and in the end, the loneliness that one is left with when the screen is shut down and one is left with the reality of facing one’s self in the loneliness of a perception that cannot be faced in the mirror of one’s own reflection.

And of the other gods of reality: Perfection in perception.  But what happens if perception must encounter reality?  That is often the problem with a medical condition — for, medical conditions remind us of the ugliness of the world around: of mortality, vulnerability, and the loss of societal empathy for all things imperfect.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows one to be “perfect” in the workplace, and where the essential elements of one’s job can no longer be met, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that the focus of one’s life can be redirected in order to regain one’s health.

The gods of modernity — of a career, of never-ending competence and productivity in one’s Federal or Postal job — must be replaced with a revaluation of what is truly important in life: Health, sanity, and some semblance of caring.  And while securing a FERS Disability Retirement annuity may not be the answer to all of life’s ills, it will at least secure a future in order to focus upon getting better, and perhaps reorienting one’s focus upon a future that may be different and better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The mistakes we make

There are those who make it their life’s goal not to have remorse for decisions made; but is that truly a worthwhile achievement?  At the end of it all, is there a special space on the unwritten tombstone that lists the mistakes avoided, the embarrassments averted, and the admissions of deficiencies concealed?  Is that not where much of Shakespearean web of deceits are constructed from – of attempting to cover up the insufficiencies otherwise already apparent in the foreboding appearances we attempt to portray?

Tenuously though we approach the daily chasms of darkened pitfalls menacingly threatening each day of our daily lives, we refuse to admit, fail to recognize or are too weak in the egocentric falsities of fragile souls to merely utter the simple words that allow for expiation of our weaknesses and quickly move on:  “Sorry, I made a mistake”.

No, instead, the complex rationale, the justifications of convoluted sequences of condition precedents that fall upon the next as dominoes of perfectly aligned decoys; and the blame then shifts upon an eternal direction of fingers pointing one to the next, until there is no one left except for that proverbial last figure on the totem pole, who cares not because he or she is the runt forgotten or the brunt of everyone’s joke and display of pure human meanness.

But at what cost do we avoid admitting the mistakes we make?  Of what layers of calluses formed, souls injured and responsibility averted, until the unquantifiable element becomes so saddled with a guilty conscience no longer able to feel, to be human, to rise above the bestiality of man’s base instincts?

The mistakes we make often harm another, but those we do not admit to, diminish the essence of who we are, what we are capable of, and always forestalls the capacity to grow.

As in any process that is complex, preparing 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, can have a pathway full of difficult decisions and a complicated morass of complex legal precedents, statutory obstacles and sheer obstructions of meandering deliberations.

The mistakes we make can haunt us with consequences difficult to reverse, and in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is one of the rare instances in which he who makes the fewest errors, likely will win.  Mistakes in this area of law can range from the innocent and inadvertent, to the meandering blunders that lead to a denial from OPM.  It is often not enough to avoid a mistake in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; indeed, it is the blatant mistakes we make without the guidance of wisdom and experience that determines the future course of events, as in life in general.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Avoiding emotional identification

We all do it, to one extent or another; doctors who deal with terminal children or relegated to the emergency floors; patients who must see the foreboding grief in the eyes of family members who have been told; psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who listen “objectively” to the turmoil and trauma of other lives; the capacity for human compartmentalism is nearly inexhaustible.

Does the horse who listens to the cab driver in the brilliant short story, “Misery” (or often subtitled as, “Grief” or “To whom shall I tell my grief?”), by Anton Chekhov, have a choice in the matter?  Well, you say, the horse cannot understand the linguistic intricacies of the story told!  And, yet, we designate dogs and other animals as therapeutic breeds capable of soothing the wounded and scarred psyche of our neighbors…  The flip side of such a capacity, of course, leads to human cruelty beyond mere animalistic behavior, where the caverns of barbarism know no bounds.

The murderous son can torture in the name of the State by day, and sit with his mother at the dinner table and weep with genuine sorrow over the arthritic pain felt by infirmity and old age; and the boy who remembers the love of his mother may singe the wings of insects with pyrotechnic delight as mere gaggles of laughter unhinged by a warped conscience.  But, you say, insects and the lower order of animals don’t have “feelings” in the same way we do!  What does that statement truly mean, but merely to justify an act which — if otherwise directed at a fellow human being — would border on the criminal?

Bifurcation of lives lived is an important survival component for the health of the human psyche.  To identify with a suffering soul on an intellectual level allows for comprehension and understanding; to do so on a par at an emotional level merely subsumes one into the other, and negates the capacity to provide wisdom or advice.  That is why, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a FERS, CSRS or CSRS employee, whether in a Postal capacity or as a non-Postal, Federal employee, it is important to recognize that if a Federal or Postal employee prepares the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A without representation, the subject and object of such preparation are one and the same, and therefore collectively engages in an activity of emotional identification which is difficult to avoid.  For, the person of whom the Statement of Disability is written, is the same person who is the author of the narrative on SF 3112A.

Is there a danger to be avoided?  Isn’t there an advantage in conveying the feelings by the same person who experiences the trauma and medical condition?  If objectivity is defined, in part, at least, as a reasoned perspective from multiple sides of an issue or fact, then the greater distance ensconced between the subject discussed and the narrator empowered, will allow for the attainment of that position of elevated perception.

Certainly, that is how the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing your case — by avoiding emotional identification, and trying to sort through the pain, suffering and legal implications of the Federal Disability Retirement application, hopefully prepared and formulated in as objective a manner as humanly possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and 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.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Agency: Alliances

Meritocracies are built upon an ideal of competency; quickly, however, as reality creeps into the ineffable truth of what actually occurs, people tend to fall back upon the comfort zones of unspoken alliances, allowing for protective measures tantamount to the nuclear paradigm of mutually assured destruction in saving one’s own skin.

The person who goes to work with quiet competency believes that hard work and incremental contribution will ultimately win out the day; the hardy laughs outside of the office echoing down the hallway with vague reverberations of mirthless camaraderie; the social events invited with a mere pop-of-the-head mention in passing by, but quickly with the added disclaimer of, “Oh, it won’t be much fun, but you’re certainly invited,” as if you are offered a discount coupon which needs only to be cut out and brought with you, but no scissors are provided and tearing such conveniences outside of the dotted line is considered in bad taste; and the Monday recounting of the get-togethers with back-slapping tales of associations forged and assuredly irrelevant to the work at hand, but somehow those quiet stares held for a moment too long between unspoken alliances concretized in what once was described as backroom deals filled with cigar smoke and consideration exchanged under poker tables, comes back to haunt in subtle ways in misdeeds of unaccounted time.

When a crisis hits the fan, favoritism is always denied, despite the facts which betray the truth.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must consider preparing for another vocation because the one presently positioned is no long viable, resulting from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it often becomes evidence that the leeway given for approving FMLA in the meantime, or liberal leave policies, redistribution of workloads in order to temporarily accommodate or suspend many of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, is based not upon laws, regulations or those pesky statutes of alleged protective shrouds proudly declared by politicians from both sides “of the aisle”; rather, it is as it always has been — upon the feudal fiefdoms of alliances forged upon meritless applications of weekend romps.

The payment for hard work is the salary one receives; the “extras” depend upon the discount coupons one has discarded over those many years.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time to consider preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is when the medical condition begins to impact and prevent one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job; and when the afterthought of alliances left unattended results in regrets of unquantified good-will, one should remember that meritocracy is best judged in the faces of a family spent with, and not in the empty beer cans of remorse and despair.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire