Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Orchestration

The quality of a piece of music is defined by sound and silence.  It is the former which is focused upon by most individuals; it is the importance of the latter which is ignored, precisely because the negation of X is never recognized as X until and unless its existence is suddenly lacking.  Silence — that momentary pause which allows for sound to pass by in waves of sonorous beauty — is the untouched beach combed by the lapping waves of quietude.

The orchestration of combining each entrance of every instrument, at the precise moment, preceded by pauses of silence, and tapped by the conductor with precision and sensitivity, is the core of a brilliant musical performance. But orchestration embraces such beauty of composition in all walks of life — from the predator silently creeping to pounce upon its prey in the footprints upon grounds which give way with a flicker of silence or sound, allowing for alerting the victim or not; to the composition of a breathtaking novel in coordinating characters, scenes and descriptive metaphors; the ability to coordinate the complexity of singularities into a cohesive whole is the art of orchestration.

And so it is in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal Worker is under FERS or CSRS. Federal Disability Retirement may seem to be a purely administrative endeavor which has no connection to the beauty of musical orchestration; but it is in the cohesive adherence of law, statement of facts, and procedural preparedness, that the invisible thread of creativity must come to the fore.

One’s Statement of Disability, standing without the law, is insufficient; the argument of the law, without the medical foundation prepared, is merely a hollow voice of reason; and the lack of creating a bridge between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements and essential elements of one’s job, leaves an abandoned castle surrounded by a dangerous moat.

Metaphor is a key to understanding complexities of life; for the Federal and Postal Worker who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS through OPM, the orchestration of life’s complexities may require a conductor who guides the instruments toward a successful outcome in the preparation, formulating and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: A Bridge Too Far

It is an indelible comment in history, marking a failure of calculations resulting in catastrophic consequences in the unwise attempt to quickly end the war.  As a tactical consideration, the attempt to outflank German defenses by securing key bridges in order to isolate the enemy, constituted a brilliant idea; in practical application, the unconfirmed attribution of the comment that the Allied Forces may be going “a bridge too far” proved to be the very downfall of such a bold military strategy.

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

M-2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge under construction across the Po River near Ostiglia (National Archives)

Bridges represent vital and necessary supply lines between two entities, organizations, populations, and even ideas.  They allow for the free flow of supplies and communication; they constitute the “lifeline” between two otherwise disparate groups.  It is such a bridge, or “nexus”, which is similarly of great importance in all formulations of Federal Disability Retirement applications. For the Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing to submit a Federal Disability Retirement application through one’s agency (if still employed by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, or otherwise separated but not more than 31 days since the effective date of separation), and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, making sure that the “bridge” between one’s medical condition and the impact upon the positional duties of one’s job is a vital and necessary part of the process.

Like physical bridges which connect various populations, the nexus which brings together the Federal Disability Retirement application in a FERS or CSRS submission, will determine the very persuasiveness of one’s presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  A bridge which is inadequate will fail to establish that the medical condition impacts one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position; and one which overextends itself may raise red flags of overreaching and exaggeration, undermined by a Supervisor’s Statement or the Agency’s contention that they have attempted to accommodate an individual to a legally viable degree.

While a 1-to-1 ratio of a medical condition-to-an-essential element is unnecessary in establishing eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits (see my multiple articles on the Henderson case), nevertheless, a linguistic construction of an adequate bridge between the two must be firmly established.

In the end, as with the Allied attempt to swiftly conclude the war resulted in the unnecessary cost of human lives, so one must take care in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, such that one does not go “a bridge too far” in making one’s case in a Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Development

Aristotle speaks often in terms of the spectrum between potentialities and actualization, revealing the philosophical concerns surrounding man’s ability to discern reality from appearances, scientific certitude as distinguished from mere opinions; and, in the end, the capacity to bifurcate truth from falsity. As Pre-Socratic philosophy brought out the problems of an ever-changing world, with Heraclitus and Parmenides as two classic examples of the focus of inquiry, so the underlying and common thread remains even with us today: How, in an ever-changing universe, do we attain some semblance of static certainty?

Anxiety during the development or waiting periods

Anxiety and stress during the development or waiting periods.

Medical conditions tend to bring to the fore a sudden change which is not merely problematic, but impacting upon all sectors and areas of one’s life. The quietude of the normal and mundane is suddenly turned upside down; that which we relied upon, and for which we worked so hard to achieve, are all suddenly in a state of disarray and disruption.

As certainty is the harbinger of security, so constant flux remains the loosened bolt which potentially unhinges such security. That is why, for Federal and Postal employees who are in the “development” stage of either preparing, formulating or in the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS or, in the long and arduous “waiting” stage in anticipation of a decision to be rendered by OPM, a constant sense of anxiety and angst prevails, precisely because the lack of certitude in bringing about stability is presently ever-pervasive in one’s thoughts. Perspectives are important in the quest for truth.

Both Plato and Aristotle recognized the subjective factor of perceptual idiosyncrasies amongst species.  Development of a case for Federal and Postal Workers who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, will continue to remain in a state of flux, uncertainty, and insecurity. And like the metaphorical river into which Heraclitus walks, revealing the constancy of change and stream of flux, until a decision is rendered by OPM, life remains a metaphor for development into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Pre-planned Life

Planning is part of our culture; from birth, to plan for old age; from the first entrance into a career, to consider the options for retirement funding; from the days of schooling, to determine the course of one’s career; and multiple intermediate pre-planning considerations, often mundane in nature, such as what to eat for dinner, how many children to have, where to live, etc.  Whether animals plan for the day, and to what extent, may be debated; what cannot be disputed is the extent and complexity in comparison to the pre-planning engaged in by Man.

But life rarely follows along the neat and uninterrupted course of a plan determined days, months or years prior; instead, the hiccups of life are what make for interesting interludes of unexpected turns and twists.  The proverbial nest egg may not have developed as quickly; one’s expectations of career goals may not have blossomed; a child may have come unplanned; or a lost puppy may have appeared at one’s doorstep.

Medical conditions are somewhat like those interruptions of interludes; they may not be as pleasant as some other hiccups, but they are realities which people have to deal with.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a situation where medical conditions prevent them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to undertake two preliminary steps:  An assessment of the medical condition and whether it is likely to resolve within a year or less; if not, to investigate and become informed about Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.

One of the elements which must be shown is that one’s medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  This can normally be easily accomplished by a doctor who can provide a prognosis fairly early on in the process.

And perhaps a third step:  A recognition that lives rarely travel along a pre-planned route, no matter what you were taught to believe, and more than that, that the value of one’s life should not be reflected by veering into the unknown.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Gov. and USPS Disability Retirement: Expectations

Expectations are peculiar anticipatory states of being; based upon an accurate assessment of factual considerations, they can comport with a true sense of reality; dependent upon an unrealistic foundation of pure desire and want, it can lead to a devastating loss of trust.  In order to avoid unrealistic expectations, it is necessary to evaluate and assess, as much as possible, facts from past experience, objective present circumstances, and projection of fairly accurate intuitions for the future.

For Federal and Postal workers contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, a realistic expectation as to all aspects and corridors of the benefit itself is necessary in order to survive the entirety of the administrative and bureaucratic ordeal.

From evaluating the strength of one’s medical support, to the ability to convey a persuasive argument and case to an agency which reviews tens of thousands of Federal Disability Retirement cases; from a realistic timeframe of the entire process from start to finish; to financial considerations and future earnings potential and whether one can work in another job or vocation.  All such considerations should be evaluated and discussed.

In the end, however, the Federal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement benefits often is confronted with limited choices: to continue working under the same conditions, that is, doing with the same tasks in the same Federal occupation (normally not an option, and that is why Federal Disability Retirement is considered in the first place); to walk away without filing for disability retirement benefits (almost never an option — self-evidently so); or filing for disability retirement benefits (the necessary option, and why it is being considered in the first place).

It is the expectations which often dismay, however, and it is a good idea to keep that animal in a cage of realistic assessments.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Medical Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Those Important First Steps

It is often the period of initial preparation of a process which is important in setting a solid foundation for the insurmountable security and solidity of a case. That truism is arrived at through retrospective reflection; but when one is frantically attempting to reach the end-goal, the frenzy of trying to get there is the very problem which derails a case.

When the Federal or Postal employee finds that a medical condition impacts and prevents one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and further, that the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service is beginning to voice “grumblings” about one’s performance, to include excessive use of SL or LWOP; or, worse, one finds that a PIP has been issued, and one is thus subjected to the microscopic assessment of one’s work, including the number of times you use the restroom — panic sets in.

But quickly compiling a volume of medical records and hastily submitting a Federal Disability Retirement packet through one’s Human Resources office is the wrong approach.  For, ultimately, it is not one’s own agency which has anything to do with a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, it is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a completely separate agency, which renders a decision on all Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

That is why preparing the initial steps in compiling a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application is crucial; it will determine the later consequences of success or failure.  Thus the age-old adage:  Penny wise but pound foolish; or more aptly, get your ducks in a row early.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire