Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Higher and lesser standards

Does anyone ever go into something, engage an activity, begin a project or initiate a hobby thinking that a “lesser standard” would be acceptable?  Or, is the “higher standard” always the option preferred? — and if we fall somewhat short of the goal intended, isn’t it better to strive towards that height of vaunted “unreachable-ness” like the lesser angels who try and climb up the ladder to heaven but fall short because of the misgivings of sins committed or blemishes of imperfections left unchanged?

One can always argue, of course, that all standards are somewhat “arbitrary”, and perhaps they are to the extent that we can always “do better”, and the self-satisfaction of reaching the pinnacle of any standard set is merely to realize that there can always be another step to take, a further goalpost to conquer, and a next and higher challenge to face.  To begin with a lesser standard is to foretell defeat before a journey is begun; whereas, to demand an unreachable standard is to despair of an idealism that cannot be fathomed.  What, then, is the “proper” standard to set?

To set it too low is to achieve mere mediocrity; to preface a too-high-a-standard is to defeat one’s advocacy before efficacy can be tested.

We, none of us, want to begin a journey with a defeatist mentality, and it is the setting of a standard — however low or high — that often determines the success or failure of any endeavor.  It is only when we “know” that a self-set standard will never be reached, cannot be attained and will never be near to the heart of our wishes and desires, that then we realize the utter futility of our own efforts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have set a high standard in their careers and employment goals, it is a difficult road to take, both mentally and/or physically, to realize and come to the conclusion that one’s professional standards can no longer be met because of a medical condition that impedes, precludes and prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

No one ever sets out to reduce the standards of a life’s goal, but when outside forces such as a medical condition impact upon the standards set, the choice is to prepare, formulate and file 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.

Federal and Postal employees have always set high standards for their work ethic. Sometimes, however, it is not the higher standard that defeats, but the lesser standards of reality — such as a medical condition that comes about unexpectedly in life — that forces the necessary adjustments that remind us of our own mortality, imperfections and the gap between the higher standards we set and the truth of our own misgivings.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Balance of Information

Most administrative entanglements involve some measure of balancing.  How much information to provide; determination of that which constitutes satisfaction of the request; whether, and to what extent, the information is sufficient to complete the transaction; and other similar analytical evaluations prior to submitting the compendium of data.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers struggling to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s agency (if still on the rolls and not separated for more than 31 days), and then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (unless one has been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, but not more than 1 year, as all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be submitted within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key component and measure is the effectiveness of Standard Form 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The act of balancing begins upon an initial review of the questions posed by SF 3112A.  While other forms require basic information concerning one’s personal data and the agency for whom the Federal or Postal employee works (e.g., SF 3107 series, including Schedules A, B & C), the SF 3112A is the linchpin of it all.  Care should be taken in answering the questions; reflection upon the character and extent of the data provided; editing and review of any final submission.  Too much, or too little.

The Goldilocks principle should always be applied, and when served in just the right amount, the true test of the balance of information has been finally met.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Fishes, Streams, Rivers and Ponds

They are, in the end, interconnected; yet the conceptual distinctions allow for separateness, such that we can value each independently.  And much of the waterways which filter throughout the ecosystem remain invisible and underground, via caverns and unconfined aquifers; but that which we see with the naked eye, we assume to be the reality of the entirety of that which we hold to encompass the universe of our existence.

Thus does Berkeley’s doctrine simply contained in the phrase, “Esse est percipi” retain a kernel of truth, but forever vulnerable to ridicule if misunderstood in the context of linguistic philosophy.  What is perceived is, indeed, the universe of one’s contextual concerns; but we all recognize that objects exist outside of the perceptual periphery of our immediate perspective.

Thus do fishes, streams, rivers and ponds exist beyond our vision of direct perception; but even upon encountering them,  we recognize that the depth of each, the variety of living organisms, and the corridors of natural flowing underground worlds reach well beyond that which we see.  The complexity of human beings comprise an entity of a similar nature, such that depth, encounters and unknowable reaches could easily be conversed and replaced as fungible goods and translated words.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to become a problem at work, it is precisely this puzzle of being replaceable which often irks the ego.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often viewed as giving up or giving in; when, in fact, the truth of the matter is that it is a means of attending to the importance of one’s health and well-being.  But others in the agency and the U.S. Postal Service often view the potential Federal Disability Retiree as “that person” with a label and a superficial concoction of societal designation.

It is that limited encounter and confrontation which shows the lack of depth of certain people, while everyone wants others to know that, past the fishes, streams, rivers and ponds which one may see upon meeting the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is extenuating further, a vast depth of subterranean interest and an ocean of personality which others never cared to inquire about, and of which no one may ever know once the door closes and the quietude of life continues beyond.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law: How Does One Know the Age?

It cannot be by counting wrinkles, or the number of gray hairs; for, some people never develop them, and in any event, new methodologies of plastic surgery, hair dyes and other cosmetic creativities can easily override such superficial eruptions of telltale signs.  Photographs can no longer be evidence of aging, for airbrushing and digital modifications can dispense with such irritating characteristics.

But when there is a personal encounter, how can one judge, and fairly and accurately assess?  Is it the eyes?  That “window to one’s soul” — does it reveal a depth of depravity over time, such that the hollowness revealed in innocence at an early age is replaced by a coldness and cynicism of reflective hurts?  And of the greater age — of this epoch, the generation and historicity of time; how does one know it, too?  Older generations tend to cling to the past, and it is through that prism of past time that the present is viewed, the future foreseen; but does such a perspective differ from those who are young and never experienced the discomfort of lack? And medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to continue a career — how does one know?  The subtlety of warnings can be non-decipherable when asked to describe in words.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, it is fairly early on that one has a sense of where one’s career will be going.  Doctors can talk about surgical intervention and medical regimens and their supposed efficacy in treating a condition; but in the end, the Federal or Postal employee who experiences the medical condition itself, knows in one’s proverbial “heart of hearts” whether the Federal or Postal employee will be able to continue in one’s career.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a process which is daunting, and thereby delay of diligence is often a factor which is merely engaged despite having known for some time.  It is like guessing the age — whether of another person, or of the historicity of being a stranger in a strange land — it is the subtlety of telltale signs which reveals the future course of an already-determined process of inevitability.  And like aging itself, the fight we pretend to engage is merely an act of futility, and we know it; we just don’t want to look in the mirror and face it, lest those lines of time show us who we are, what we did, and where we are going.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Medical Retirement: Always the Fundamentals

Whether or at what stage of the process the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker finds him/herself in, it is always essential to harken back to the fundamentals of the legal criteria to meet.

One can become sidetracked by the complexity of the process; and, indeed, the bureaucratic, procedural hoops which one must always keep in mind while maneuvering through the process, tend to obfuscate and confuse.  Bureaucracies thrive upon complexities, just as most professions do; the greater the complexity, the higher need for continuation of the employment of experts to propagate the systemically confounding process.

In engaging the process itself, the Federal and Postal employee must distinguish between procedural issues and substantive cores; the administrative steps of the “what” to do, in contrast to the substantive evidence to be submitted.  Both are equally important; for, without the former, it may never reach the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and without the latter, even if it reaches the destination point, it may fail to meet the preponderance of the evidence test and attain a level of evidentiary sufficiency to make a difference.

Whether at the Initial Stage of the process, the Reconsideration Stage, or even an appeal to the U.S.Merit Systems Protection Board, it is always essential to keep in mind that the fundamentals of the case must always be kept at the fore.

Remember:  This is a “medical” disability retirement; the conduct of others, the meanness of coworkers, the harassment encountered, and the ill-treatment received over the years; while hurtful, and perhaps the catalyst for resentment, they are not the paths to follow in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS, or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire