OPM Disability Retirement: “Doing the best we can”

Sometimes, it may be a true statement; at others, it may merely turn out to be a throwaway line that is cast about to deceive a decoy into the mix.  What is the objective criteria in determining the truth of the statement?

If a young lad is failing in school and the parents contemplate some form of incentivized punishment, does the mother who relents and says, “But he is doing the best he can” have any credibility?  Or, does the filial affection shown and the inability to disbelieve the large and pitiful eyes looking back with tears rolling down his cheeks, pleading and saying, “But mommy, I’m doing the best I can!” — does it make it true?

How does one determine and separate out the complex structures of truth, objectivity, human emotions and the arena of subjective elements all contained within the bastion of a single declarative sentence?

Or of another hypothetical: Of a man or woman who is disabled and clearly struggling, but doing everything he or she can do to extend one’s career — overcompensating by working twice as hard, twice the time expended, and three times the effort normally required; does the declarative sentence, “He/she is doing the best he/she can!” mean anything?

There are, of course, differing perspectives — to whom the declarative sentence is being addressed and the one who issues the statement, and the chasm between the two often indicates the loyalties ensconced, the self-interest concealed or otherwise left unstated, and the group-think attachments that cannot be disregarded.  That is the problem of the futile treadmill — no matter how much more effort you expend, it gets you nowhere.

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 his or her Postal or Federal job, “doing the best we can” may actually mean something — but likely only to you, and not to the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

The plain fact is that the “rate of return” on the expenditures invested will never maintain any semblance of comity or balance.  For, the very extraordinary efforts being expended are more indicators to the Federal Agency and the U.S. Postal Service that you are no longer “normal”, and people tend to have that herd instinct and group-think affinity where anything out of the preconceived norm cannot be accepted.

“Doing the best we can” — is it enough?  Likely, not.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will not betray the thought behind the declaration; for, in the end, who are you trying to please?  If it is the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, you are doing a disservice not only to your own health, but to the truth of the declarative sentence itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sign Posts

Whether used as a noun or a verb, the second grammatical appendage can have multiple meanings: as a stick of lumber; as an activity placing information, warning, directional declarative or similar linguistic affirmations; and the combination of the two words can be read only within a greater contextual enlightenment depending upon what meaning is meant to be conveyed or how the inflection and accent is emphasized.

As a mere stick of lumber, it is a rather boring concept, even when attached to the first word, “sign”, precisely because the focus is upon the “post”, and so the emphasis goes directly to the sturdy piece of wood and not to the interests of the information posted.  If, on the other hand, one means to connote a different linguistic avenue – of different and varying posting of signs, then our interest is tweaked because we are immediately drawn into the various and wider universe of warnings, directions, admonishments and disseminated information useful to everyday living.

Sign posts are meant to guide, warn, betray or inform; and between the spectrum of the duality of linguistic translations, there is a natural reflection to life’s everyday humdrum itself.  For, like the analogy between information posted or merely a stick of lumber, living life is likened to a wide spectrum of activities mirroring boredom and repetitive monotony, and those instances where sudden tumult and excitement makes for an interesting day.

Being healthy can be viewed as a form of boredom; it is like the person focusing upon the stick of lumber, even if there are signs posting some warnings.  And, correlatively, when sickness and debilitating medical conditions occur, the viewpoint and perspective alters dramatically, such that the monotony of the piece of wood is now replaced with the blare of the warning, admonishment and legal declaratives, and life becomes a tumult, not merely a lapping wave but a tsunami of devastating impact.

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 the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the alteration of the perspective – whether seen as a “eureka” moment, a modified weltanschauung, or some reflective recognition of changed circumstances – the point is to shift the focus from the stick of lumber to the sign post itself: the job, the harassment, the constant antagonism and acrimony in the workplace – these are all the stick of lumber; one’s own medical condition, dealing with the doctors, the deterioration of one’s physical, emotional and mental capacity – these are the “signs”.

What we focus upon will determine the course of one’s future; and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the combination of both words as a compound concept: of recognizing the sign posts, and dealing with it accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: If not X, then at least Y

Many such contingent annotations are in the form of:  If not illegal, then at least unethical; or, if not unethical, then at least lacking of propriety, etc.  It is the pathway to a lesser acceptance, where the focus of one’s aspiration is lowered because of the inevitability of discovering that evidence insufficient will be uncovered.  Thus can one go on ad infinitum in various but similar forms:  If not happiness, then at least some semblance of contentment; if not a soul mate, then at least someone to share my experiences with, etc.

But what if that “replacement” standard turns out to be less than acceptable over time, through duration of toleration, and during cold nights when boredom no longer excites in playing pinochle while the kids are asleep?  Or, if the infractions and constant infringements persist with no end in sight, and no appropriate definition of a violation such that there are penalties to be ascribed and consequences to be felt?  Do we then accept an even lesser paradigm, and if so, how do we know that such diminution and diminishment of acceptance won’t again be averted and avoided?  Thus, do we assert:  If not X, then at least Y; but if Y doesn’t work out, then at least Z; and so on?  When first one submits to the acceptance of a lesser standard, the proverbial horserace has already been lost.

In negotiations, in contractual disputes, in attempting to come to terms, etc., the sign first evidenced of conceding the lesser standard is the first indicator that the slippery-slope has just begun.   There are instances, of course, where the opposite is true, as well, except that we can rarely discern beneath the surface appearances.  That is what Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, must face and accept daily – the conflict between an aspirational paradigm of hope, and the reality of daily pain and anguish.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee, we have:  If there is lesser pain today, perhaps I can last through the day; If I show that I am productive this week, then maybe the supervisor will just leave me alone, etc.  As if, “lasting through the day”, or just “being left alone” for a week, a day, an hour, etc., are acceptable standards for living life?  That is why abandonment of all prior paradigms must often be employed in the journey of life, career and fortitude of endurance; we tend to cling on to categories of an “ought” no longer applicable.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who can no longer endure the acceptance of the lesser standard when there is an alternative to the constant suffering and persistent harassment at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, fortunately, there is the ongoing benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  Even for that, the road is still difficult and arduous, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that determines all disability retirement applications, does not merely “hand out” the benefit.  Like everything else in life, it must be fought for.

But, then, the Federal or Postal worker who fights for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit can retrospectively declare:  “If not the constant and daily struggle, then at least an annuity to secure my future” – the “exception” to the rule, where the lesser is in fact the greater, but is not always apparently so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Hardship Retirement under FERS or CSRS: Life’s Patchwork

Repetition and regularity provides a semblance of orderliness; somehow, patterns in life remain relevant to sanity and stability, and it is the disordered patchwork which creates havoc for want of consistency.  There are those who seek regularity, and are criticized for embracing boredom; then, the one who constantly lives on the edge, where being fired and not knowing the future of tomorrow is handled with a mere shrug and an attitude of libertine disregard.

Most of us live in the middle of extremes; that is why, in reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, no extent of profundity is discovered; the median between two extremes is what most of us naturally seek, anyway.  And we appropriate a sense of comfort and security by presuming that others are somewhat like us; to that extent, Kant is probably right in his philosophical belief that we impose structure and order into a universe which is essentially chaotic, in an effort to maintain an internal phenomenology of coherence and comprehension.

Every now and again, however, interrupting forces disrupt the quietude of life’s fortune, and misgivings begin to define those territories we thought had already been conquered, where the savages had been beaten down and the goblins had all been captured.  How we manage crisis; what manner of internal fortitude becomes tested; and what mettle of essence to which we may succumb; these are all questions which we would rather avoid.

It is the contending dialectical forces that are represented by the “Peter Principle” as opposed to the “Dilbert Principle“, by which most of us must endure; where, the former is quickly dampened by cynicism of actual experience, and the latter is always confirmed daily by encounters with a surrealism called “life”.  Life is, indeed, a patchwork of sorts; of different people, coming from a variety of experiences — and yet boringly similar and predictable.  Eccentricities have already been tested and stamped out, contained, restrained and trained into oblivion through the system called, “the public schools” — where uniqueness of thought is curtailed via the pecking order of peer pressure and standardized testing.

Then, of course, there is the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker — caught in a bureaucracy in which competency and creativity are rarely acknowledged as the avenue for advancement in an administratively hostile universe.  When the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker suddenly finds himself or herself facing the dilemma of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in a chosen career because it prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — then, it is time to consider 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.

For, in the end, life’s patchwork must by necessity and self-definition reflect the complexity of the world around us; yes, we seek out the “middle ground” — that boring stability of repetitive humdrum of life — while recognizing that the extremes are there for a reason; and while it may not be for us, it exists and always presents a threat.  The key is to avoid it, or even depart from it; as escapism allows only for momentary gratification, and the pattern of life’s patchwork must be sought in the future discourse of our collective sighs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Of Karl Popper’s ‘World 3’

Karl Popper’s division of the world into three clean segments of definable universes was, on the one hand, quite controversial — especially as the esoteric world of philosophy had been steadily ‘progressing‘ towards pure materialism and scientism; and yet, on the other, self-evident to almost a simplistic, tautological fault.  Perhaps that is the very implication of profundity: it is that which appears so basic and elementary as to presuppose idiocy, but containing such inherent complexity as to remain beyond the reach of most.

In simple terms, the division of the world followed the classic lines of human history and linear development of evolutionary concordance: ‘World 1’ referred to the physical universe surrounding us; ‘World 2’, the purely psychological make-up of human beings, with a special concern to Popper concerning the internal pain and anguish which we feel; and of ‘World 3’ — that universe which is the subject of this short blog, the aggregate of human products and man’s creative injection into the world, comprised of art, literature, cars, buildings, customs and normative behavior, including dress, style, fashion, etc.

There is, of course, inevitable interaction and intersecting between the bifurcated ‘worlds’ — for example, a book of literature (say, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye) would be both an object existing in ‘World 1’ as well as a product of human creativity from ‘World 3’. But note the peculiarity of the overlap, which makes for a unique phenomenological observation: Say you had 2 copies of the book, but one which was published in January, 2015, and another with the stated date of July, 1951.  Consider further the added element that in the latter edition, a scribble appears, which happens to be the autograph of the author.

From the perspective of Popper’s ‘World 1’, both objects would appear to be essentially identical — with the former intact, and the latter somewhat damaged because of the graffiti defiling a clean page.  However, from the vantage point of the person who possesses and ‘owns’ (a concept which would clearly belong to Popper’s ‘World 3’, as well) the autographed object, a sudden recognition of value, wealth and uniqueness would immediately attach — leaving aside intersecting points with ‘World 2’ involving envy, jealousy, awe and disbelief (which would be shared by the undersigned writer).  Thus do the various and variegated ‘worlds’ of Karl Popper posit for our study, agreement/disagreement, and further reflection.

Such division and segmentation of worlds and universes are often proposed merely for esoteric and pedantic purposes; of ivory tower conceptual constructs which have little to do with the day-to-day lives of ordinary human beings who struggle to make a living, maneuver through the complexity of the world, and attempt to survive the manipulative machinations of a society governed by microcosms of powerful but unnamed sources of evil and collusion.  But there is a recognizable worth and value to some of us, for pointing out the existence and demarcation of artifice as opposed to the natural environment from whence we came.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such a bifurcation of the universe into clean segments of definable compartments, is to recognize that the complexity of the administrative and bureaucratic process encapsulating the entirety and aggregation of the process cumulatively entitled, “Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset”, is ultimately a product of Popper’s ‘World 3’, and not merely a nightmare emanating from the deep recesses of our troubled psychosis self-contained in ‘World 2’, but of an intersection between the universe of madness created by our own desire to further separate ourselves from the simplicity of ‘World 1’, from whence we came.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.

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