Federal Disability Retirement: Thought versus thoughtless

Does the former have an advantage over the latter?  Our tendency is to think so — as in, “Being a thoughtful person is better than being a thoughtless person.  And, in any event, it is always better to think about things than not to.”

Really?  Does reality bear such a thought out, and does thinking about something as opposed to its opposite — not thinking about it — gain any advantage?  Does Man’s biological advancement through evolutionary selectivity of genetic dominance necessarily favor those who engage in the activity of “thinking” over those who do not?

Take the following hypothetical: An individual must make a “serious” decision — i.e., perhaps about one’s future, career, marriage, etc.  He is told to “take some time to think about it”, and does so dutifully.  He speaks with others; does some reading; mulls over and “reflects” upon the issue; takes out a yellow-pad and writes the columns, “Pros” and “Cons”, and after days, weeks, perhaps even months, comes to a decision.  Within a couple of years of making the decision, he realizes that he has made a fatal error.

Now, the counterexample: Same scenario, but in response, the individual says, “Naw, I don’t need to think about it.  I just go on what my gut tells me.”  He goes out, parties, avoids “thinking” about it, and the next morning makes that “important” decision.  He remains happy with the decision made for the remainder of his life.  So, the obvious query: What advantage did one have over the other, and what fruitful outcome resulted from “thought” versus “thoughtlessness”?

Yet, we persistently hear the phrase, “I should have thought about it,” or “I should have given it more thought” — always implying that, had further reflection been accorded, had additional wisdom been sought, or multiples of contemplation allowed, ergo a different result would have been achieved.

The error in the logic of such thinking is that one assumes a necessary connection between “result” and the activity of “thinking”, when in fact it is the very activity itself which retains a value in and of itself.  “Thought,” “thinking” and “thoughtfulness” are activities which have a value by themselves.  The satisfaction of a result-oriented, retrospective according of value based upon an outcome achieved is to place the value upon the wrong end.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are “thinking” and engaging in “thoughts” about preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there comes a time when a “decision” must be made.  “Thoughtfulness” is an activity worth engaging in, regardless of the outcome of the activity itself.

In engaging such an activity, it may be worthwhile to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — if only to consider the evolutionary advantages in thinking about thoughtful activities as opposed to the thoughtless decisions made by an unthinking thoughtlessness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: A breach of instinct

What if? that fragile balance that exists in nature, seen when squirrels scrounge about in search of roots and nuts, moving within the tranquil space besides cardinals, woodpeckers, rabbits and robins abounding when, suddenly, birds attack the rabbits and squirrels, and in turn, the rabbits and squirrels chase one another and attempt to catch and devour the birds, and the mayhem that follows goes on for an unceasing eternity.

Of course, such a scene is not “nature” in its nakedness, but a scene from a suburban backyard, whereas in the true “state of nature”, in the distant woodlands not easily traversed by the human eye (are there such places, anymore?), such scenes of predatory confrontation held by a tentative and tacit agreement of abeyance may occur daily. Or, in those National Geographic scenes, where there is a quietude of implied ceasefire in birds standing atop the backs of hippos and rhinos pecking away calmly at whatever delectable insects abound, and their sturdy underlings happily go about their business – what if, suddenly, the hippo or rhino turns around and with a swift lunge of its massive neck, grabs that bird and devours it whole?

Was there a breach of an implied or tacit agreement, a breach of instinct, or both? When such “agreements” develop within a slow, steady and evolutionary process, over a period of time imperceptible but for the peace and tranquility it creates, and everyone is perfectly content with the circumstances ensconced by tradition and the state of current affairs, what leads to the breach, what are the consequences and is there blame to be spread about?

What if a rogue animal one day just declares to itself, “The hell with this; I was never a party to this agreement, and so I shall do as I please” – what then? Is it not true that no true “breach” has been committed, as the parties were never official signatories to the agreement, explicit, implicit, tacit or otherwise? Who determines that there ever existed such an agreement, anyway, and where is it written in the “rules of order” that certain sequence of decorum must be followed?

That is, of course, the crux of the matter; for, what is the retort of those who have no ethical or moral compass, but to sneer with the declarative, “Show me where it is written!”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the presumption is that tacit or implied standards of conduct is often tested at the outset, both by the Federal agency or Postal Service, and even by OPM.

You rely upon the rules, but the Agency may completely ignore them. If you are a Postal employee, this is to be expected.

Yes, there are laws, but so long as silence governs the assertion of rights denied, a breach of instinct becomes the rule of law and the depiction by Locke and Rousseau of that “State of Nature” devolving into a “State of War” can become a contentious state of affairs unless, in the very process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant asserts the legal precedents controlling and constraining the fragile balance that restrains a breach of instinct.

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

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement: Excision & Expiation

Sometimes, the former must be engaged in order to save the whole, lest the lesser segment spreads to infect the greater; while in different circumstances, of contexts involving spiritual offenses, the latter may suffice through acceptable acts of contrition or penance paid through rote words of sincere atonements.  In other instances, the act of the latter may account for the former, while the satisfaction through the former may be sufficient to complete the latter.

Excision is to surgically sever and remove, and then to discard and alienate from the body of which it was once a part; while expiation is to similarly remove, but which can still remain as a part of one’s history of misdeeds.  Both are acts engaged in for purposes of atonement beyond the present state of existential negativity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who, despite the ongoing flagellation compounded by one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service upon the aggregation of negativity impounded through one’s deteriorating medical condition, continue to endure the proverbial adage that when it rains, it pours, consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In many ways, filing for Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to the duality of acts involving excision and expiation; for, like the former, approval of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity by OPM results in a separation from that very body of which the Federal or Postal employee was once a part of; and like the latter, it resolves the ongoing conflict and struggle between the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, and the Federal entity or the U.S. Postal Service, in terms of work left undone, dissatisfaction because of lost time, excessive use of Sick Leave, or exhaustion of FMLA benefits, etc.

From the perspective of the Federal agency or the Post Office, excision is the preferred methodology, as the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can then replace the separated employee with someone else.

From the perspective of the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, the approval of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit amounts to an expiation of sorts, as rendering a benefit to make it all worthwhile, for the years of dedicated service and sacrifice given, and a recognition that those achievements and accomplishments have not been for naught, despite what the last remaining years where deteriorating health and progressively debilitating medical conditions wrought upon one’s reputation and employment relationships.

Excision and expiation; they are the dual forms of atonement for the Federal or Postal employee who takes the affirmative steps in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, when it becomes apparent that loss of physical or mental capacity in the face of impending health conditions is not a basis for surrendering to the inevitable vicissitudes of what life brings to the fore of man’s future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employees Disability Retirement Benefits: Weather and the Prognosis

Prognostication of weather, beyond a day (or sometimes a couple of hours) can be treacherous and self-defeating.  With enhanced computer networks which reevaluate information as it is fed with information concerning patterns of predictability, shifting atmospheric changes and spectrums of barometric alterations; cumulatively, a pie in the face is preferable despite advanced technologies allowing for respectable predictability.

Similarly, the medical field is expected to provide predictions of future events and as-yet unforeseen consequences.  Because medicine is considered a “science”, the level of accuracy is required beyond mere witch’s brew, or the spell of waved wand cast upon an unsuspecting eye.  Thus do doctors engage in percentages and probabilities; of mortality, X-percentage, give or take a few months, based upon studies delineated in some obscure journal presumably respected and hidden in the esoteric towers of ivory bastions.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the requirement for Federal and Postal employees includes information that the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months (from the date of filing for Federal Disability Retirement).  Persistent and prevalent misinterpretation of this requirement pervades; one often hears the belief that the Federal or Postal employee must be away from work, or otherwise incapacitated, for that period of 12 months before filing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The requirement is merely one which denotes a prognosis or prediction, no more than what the medical field can predict and what the weather can portend.  It merely means that a Federal or Postal employee who suffers 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 positional duties, will be so prevented and impacted for a minimum of 12 months.

Any doctor worth his or her salt can provide a prognosis of how long the medical condition will last, and whether or not such a prognosis is as accurate as the 10-day forecast promulgated by weather entities is often irrelevant.  For, in the end, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from the medical condition and who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, knows in his or her “heart of hearts” how long the medical condition will last, whether it is for a day or a season, or a lifetime of chronicity requiring longterm care and treatment.

As one’s own body, mind and soul rarely mistakes the shifting changes of life, so the weather and prognosis of one’s own health can be established through the experience of pain, agony, and the pounding of deterioration perpetrated upon the vulnerability of a mortal being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Levels of Argumentation in OPM Disability Retirement

In a perfect universe, logic should prevail and the superior argument would be identified, recognized and accepted.  In a less-than-perfect universe (the state in which we unfortunately find ourselves), pragmatic factors involving power, authority, competency and non-substantive, peripheral issues must always be considered, and incorporated accordingly.  In the “unofficial rules” of argumentative methodology, three elements must be present:  (A) The ability and capacity to recognize a superior argument, (B) the willingness to concede one’s own inferiority of the proffer, and (C) acceptance of one in replacement of the other, which is to admit and submit.

In modernity, however, loudness and persistence, even without a basis in systematic logic, will often prevail, and one need not accede to a different position so long as ownership of the microphone or loudspeaker is never contested.  Which brings us to the pragmatic realities of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and the denials issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  First, it is important to recognize that all denials of Federal Disability Retirement applications by OPM “sound like” they are based upon “the law”.  They are meant to appear that way.  But are they?  If read too carefully, the internal inconsistencies, the lack of logic, and the repetitive nature of declarative conclusions without any supporting methodological argumentation will be quite evident.

How should one approach and rebut such a decision?  Does each and every point brought out by the “administrative specialist” need to be addressed, or just the “main points“?  Should the rebuttal arguments form the basis of the step-following the Reconsideration Stage of the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board?  Are there any repercussions for not addressing each of the “points” delineated in a denial by OPM?

These, and many other questions, should be addressed by a Federal lawyer who is experienced in handling OPM Medical Retirement applications through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as some Federal or Postal employees attempt to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the aid, guidance, counsel and assistance of an OPM Disability attorney, when a denial of the Initial Stage is received from OPM, more extensive analysis and “corrective” efforts may be required.

And those three elements of argumentative methodologies discussed herein, are they relevant to the process?  Perhaps.  But OPM is a powerful and large bureaucracy which holds the future security of Federal and Postal employees in their hands, and a denial by OPM must be taken seriously, both in substantive form and qualitative content.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Human Perfection

Human perfection, it would appear, can be achieved.  How?  Simply by altering the definition of terms and utilizing the malleability of language, the short attention-span of historical memory, and the capacity of people to fool themselves.  It is the methodology of “moving the goal posts” once the opposing team comes within striking vicinity of scoring in a game; instead of tinkering with the substance of the issue, we merely change the rules of application.

Such actions certainly reveal the disconnect between language and reality, where the former reflects the gymnastics of linguistic flexibility without direct connection to the latter, and where the latter can continue to remain unchanged despite the radicalization of the former.  It is the universe of Orwellian reality, where one may declaratively assert the truth despite empirical evidence to the contrary.  But there are limits to such an approach.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the progressively deteriorating nature of the diagnosed medical condition, in and of itself, is just such a limiting factor.  Try as one might, you cannot “fake it”, or even if you can (for a time or a season), the nagging reality of the chronic and pervasive immediacy of pain, debilitating symptoms, and overwhelming fatigue tends to make irrelevant such attempts of avoidance, neglect and attempted pigeonholing of the medical condition itself.

Language is ultimately meant to connect the objective world with the capacity to communicate through the insular subjectivity of thoughts, responses and feelings; instead, in modernity, it is too often used to validate the subjective universe of narcissistic egoism.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has come to a point where language can no longer redeem the reality of one’s medical condition, consideration needs to be given for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  The Federal or Postal employee can only use the malleability of language only for so long; and just as perfection is never truly achieved just because we say it has, so the mere fact that the Federal or Postal employee asserts that the reality of the medical condition will “just go away”, doesn’t make it so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire