FERS Disability Retirement: The Garden of One’s Mind

The metaphor has been used often enough; whether it enhances or enlightens one’s knowledge of one’s self is of dubious prospects.  The physical, objective entity identified as a “garden” is simple enough in being defined: it must include some plants and soil; perhaps a few rocks or boulders to enhance the natural contours of the landscape; and a person who “tends” to the garden — i.e., a “gardener”.

Can there be wild gardens without a gardener?  In other words, can you walk through a forest and come upon a clearing where there are flowers and various plant lives, and declare, “Oh, what a beautiful garden!”?  Similarly, can a person who lives in an apartment who has a collection of potted plants have the “right” to say to someone, “You should come and admire my garden sometime.”?

Purists may object to the application of the term “garden” to either of those described scenes, but a looser definition is still widely accepted in this modern age where malleability of language is a given.  Then, of course, there is the “stretching” of language’s boundaries by applying the metaphor of a “Garden of one’s Mind”.

What can it mean?  It often refers to the state of one’s mind: Of whether one has allowed for too much neglect and has failed to “prune” the overgrowth or let the weeds overtake; of failing to replenish the soil or allowed by disease and decay to overshadow.

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, the concept encapsulated in the metaphor of the garden is appropriate.

For, like the untended garden, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition must apply the same principles as the gardener who must begin to prune and replenish: decisions about the next steps, of what to cut out or whether one can leave things as they are; these are all contained in the metaphor within the Garden of One’s Mind, and it may be a first step to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before making important decisions like career changes and leaving the Federal government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: These Holidays

Do We dread, or welcome them?  Is it a season to which we look forward, or hope that they will quickly fade into memories best left forgotten?  Is it to endure, tolerate, give a plastic smile to, or do we guffaw uproariously where our hearts flutter with sincere flushes of joyful tears?

On the other hand, must our emotions always be bifurcated into extremes of disjunctives?  Must it be “Either/Or” (to borrow Kierkegaard’s Title to his opus magnum)?  Can it not be some compromised “middle ground” where we enjoy certain parts of it, tolerate with indifference others, and leave the rest to the ash heaps of eternal drawers shuttering away in memories unrevealed?

The “Holidays” are a time of bustle; and though we complain of the “commercialism” of the modern era, we refrain and restrain ourselves because we know that, to do so is to be tagged a “Scrooge”; and so we quietly acquiesce, “go with the flow” and smile wanly as the world decorates itself in preparation for a single day in a time of multiple troubles.

But in the end, isn’t it nice to “make-believe?”  For, there are always the tomorrows and the day after; the day before, and other times of mundane and common occurrences, and to celebrate one out of all of those “others”, even if tomorrow brings back the reality of tumults and memories of better yesterdays — still, through it all, it is nice to gather around and sing a Christmas carol, to light a candle, to bow in prayer for thanks and wishes.

In the end, it is — after all — these Holidays that matter not because the world says so, but because we have an excuse to be with family, friends, hug and laugh, if only for a day in remembrance of these holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: The time of purpose

Does purpose always guide?  Or do we sometimes work on automatic pilot — without thought, working our way through a morass of repetition merely because that is the way we have always done things and it is more comfortable to continue on that same path?  What does it mean to live without a purpose, or even to live with one?  Are we more motivated; does initiative power the inertness within, like steroids or extra fuel added where the flickering flame is about to be extinguished but suddenly someone pours a cupful of gasoline upon the embers of a dying bonfire and “poof!” — purpose places us back on track?

Are there “times of purpose” as opposed to a lack thereof — like seasons that come and go in repetitive rhythms that we are quite familiar with — and during those times when we know the “why” for which we live, it makes it that much easier to get though the day?

Seasons come and go; the rhythm of a life is often impacted by the circumstances that we find ourselves in; and whether we “have” a purpose — as in possessing a clear path or vision forward, or retaining a certain goal or perspective on the “why” of what we are doing — or not, there are those who believe in a higher order of teleological framework where there is an objective reality that guides the course of all human activities and events.

Whether there is such a higher order or not is the Question of the Ages; of theological debates and one’s place in the wider universe; these are all great issues and questions pondered by greater minds, but when the voices of certitude and preaching become silent and the conversation wanes into the late evening, it is only the lonely voice of the individual and the soliloquy of quiet thoughtfulness that remains — and it then comes down to:  What is this time of purpose for me?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is likely that the very consideration that one’s career and livelihood may be lost, will begin to drive the time of purpose.

Before the medical condition, the time of purpose involved one’s career and work; with the onset of the medical condition, the time of purpose encompassed getting back one’s health; and now, where it becomes clear that the medical condition and the Federal or Postal job are no longer consistent or compatible, the time of purpose must involve preparing, formulating and filing 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.  For, the time of purpose is driven by the circumstances that change and surround us, and one’s health is a significant life-event to compel that time of purpose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Perilous times

It can refer to the particular or the general, interchangeably almost without thought.  To refer to these “perilous times” is to ascribe to a particular period, an epoch or an era, an acknowledgment that the surrounding days and months are unique from all other timeframes of perceived dangers and tumultuous upheavals.  Or, it can be quite personal — where one describes specific circumstances concerning one’s own life, one’s situation and the peculiarities of a life otherwise undisturbed by circumstances that stand out.

There is that expansive “we” form that can distinguish between the particular and the general, as in, “We live in perilous times.”  Or, one can personalize it and declare to a friend in confidence, “I live in a state of peril” or “My life reflects these perilous times.”  The latter, of course, implies both the particular and the general by including not only the personal aspect of one’s upheaval but the generality of the historical context within which we all walk about.  Perilous times, indeed.

Medical conditions tend to specifically impact individuals in this way — for, in the particular, it hits upon us as a crisis of quality.  How we have lived; the lifestyle we have chosen; the priorities of what constitutes “worthiness”; all of these are challenged by a medical condition that begins to insidiously eat away at our body, our mind, our spirit.

Whether by intrusion of pain or something within us that no longer “works” normally; of private functions that have become worn out, or perhaps it is the memory, mental capacity or ability to cope with daily stresses; but of whatever origin or outcome, we look about for cures and comfort and often find none but some palliative form in a pill or a surgery that fails to correct.  Times become perilous because of circumstances beyond our control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, perilous times often require perilous choices, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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, becomes a necessary next step in attempting to forestall the inevitable results of these very times that we deem to be perilous, whether in a particular sense or in a more generalized historical context.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Attorney

OPM Disability Retirement: The Wake-up Call

It can be requested pursuant to a prior arrangement or, with today’s technology, prewired on one’s own electronic device.  Time was when there existed an employed switchboard operator sitting in front of a pock-marked surface deftly inserting plugs of a dozen or more connections simultaneously, like an octopus whose coordinated extremities swirl about under and over with cross-purposed entanglements, pulling and inserting, with headphones half dangling, calmly stating, “This is your wakeup call.  Have a good morning!”

Then, of course, there is the other, more unwelcome meaning, of a negative connotation concerning an event or occurrence which portends of that which one may have always known, but only now realizes because of the impending doom.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it may be the chronicity of the medical condition; or, the increasing outside pressures continuing to pile on, of leave-usage restrictions, suspension letters, placing you on a PIP, or the ultimate proposal of removal.

Whatever the proverbial wake-up call, it is time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.   The call itself is merely the beginning of the process; there is the entirety and complexity to undergo, including the gathering of the compendium of medical documentation, the formulation of one’s Statement of Disability and the coordinating of all of the elements of the case, and then the submission and waiting.

The bureaucratic and administrative components of the process can sometimes appear to be archaic and somewhat anachronistic; but like the switchboard operator of yesteryear, the necessity of the service is never in doubt; it is merely the apparatus of change which remains relevant, and properly, and effectively preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a mandate of action compelled by the wakeup call entitled “Life and the inevitability of change“.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Adrenal Fatigue

One need not be officially diagnosed with Addison’s Disease in order to incur the wrath and ravages of adrenal insufficiency.

Life’s multiplicity of compounding and complex stresses; exhaustion beyond merely feeling “run down” or otherwise out of synchronized balance from everyday feelings of adequacy; a sense of profound fatigue, where cognitive dysfunctions develop, and where symptoms of falling asleep at meetings, where the world appears at times to become a distant echo chamber and what others view as a normal pace appear in dizzying fashion of incomprehensible clatter of distractions; and where visual disturbances occur systematically as one attempts to view the computer screen and perform work which, in previous times, was merely mundane and monotonous, but now requires an effort beyond sheer force of will.

Does modernity and technological stress contribute to medical conditions which may have no name, and often defies pigeonholing because of the mysteries of the human body and psyche?  A broken arm is easy to identify, and normally just as correctable; a cervical or lumbar disc degeneration, perhaps a bit more complex, but often manageable; chronic pain, but for a parallelism between objective testing and pain points, sometimes an anomaly; psychiatric conditions, of greater mystery which has become too often a pharmacological corridor for treatment modalities; but where profound and intractable fatigue more often than not is beyond the capacity to be diagnosed.

However one characterizes it — of adrenal fatigue, insufficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, or other designations of type; it is ultimately the reality of the daily toil and turmoil with which the patient must contend.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience such a state of physical and psychiatric condition, 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, may be the best and only alternative available.

In the end, adrenal fatigue may be more than an endocrine imbalance; there is often a complex component where multiple medical conditions ravage the body and mind, and as with so many issues in law and life, there is a vast chasm between having a medical condition, being properly treated for the condition, and proving one’s medical condition in law such that one can be found eligible for Federal & Postal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Fatigue, whether of the adrenal kind or of resulting impact from a lifetime of stresses, is a basis for Federal OPM Disability Retirement; attending to the condition should always be the first order of business; proving it, the second and subsequent thereafter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire