OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Who we are

That is a rather presumptuous title, one might declare; for, it is always the “we” that others presume to know, as opposed to limiting the declarative within the restrictive confines of one’s self, family and surrounding community.

What is the great equalizer that allows for the collective plural pronoun?  Is it television (i.e., do “we” all watch the same shows and thus form a conglomerate of a universal consciousness)?  There was once a time when one could argue that a unity of convention existed — especially harkening back to the days when there were essentially 3 networks to choose from, and where all three were similar in content, thought and approach.

In modernity, is it the Internet?  But the worldwide “web’ is too diverse to narrowly formulate a cumulative effect of similar normative beliefs.

Perhaps that is why society in general is so diverse and fractured; where even a simple consensus amidst a small community cannot be reached, and how geographic differences have become exponentially and irreversibly altered and separated from one another.

Who are we?  Yes, the inversion substitution of the second word with the third makes the declarative into a query, and changes the entire subject matter.  It is, perhaps, both a statement and a question, and neither make sense, anymore.  And so we are left with a singular voice — of a monologue and an aside, or as in a play, a soliloquy, where the character asks the universal question, Who am I?  Am I the collective consciousness of my direct descendent, and does that have meaningfulness, anymore?  Why do we seek answers by purchasing and sending away “DNA kits”, as if the spiral spectrum of cellular anomalies would be able to answer the question which haunts us all?

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 potential loss of one’s identity within the community of Federal and Postal workers is often the step that is difficult to take.

One’s identity, purpose, drive and dreams are often bundled up into an inseparable conglomeration of work and identity, and to separate from that self-identification is often a difficult venture to undertake.  But the danger, of course, is that you may be forcibly separated if you do not take the steps necessary to protect your identity.

The Agency will ultimately terminate you, and the harassment because you have taken too much Sick Leave, Annual Leave, FMLA or LWOP is inevitable.  Better that you file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits and retain a semblance of who you are, lest the Federal Agency or the Postal Service does that to you unilaterally, leaving you with the question, Who do they think they are?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The need to belong

Is there?

The brashness of youth in the misplaced arena of self-confidence when one first encounters the reality of the world after being sequestered in schools, from High School to College, but yet to be tested by the reality of the surrounding world; and so the young person says thoughtlessly: “I don’t need anyone; I will go it alone.”  And so the story goes: and like Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, of little boy blue’s father who never had time to belong because he was always too busy; but then, we feel most comfortable in situations of familiarity, though we may deny it.

The need to belong is not a peculiarly human need; it is shared by most other species, although there appear to be exceptions within the subset of every species, where the loner presents with contentment, and even an antagonism towards the collective community.

Is it fear that compels the desire, or an innate sense of wanting to belong (a more positive characteristic than fear)?  Can the need be quashed and dismissed, set aside and disregarded as mere convention to be ignored and diminished?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is it the loss of community that often makes one pause — i.e., the need to belong?

Certainly, the camaraderie and being “part of the team” — though one may scoff at the very idea — allowed for one’s identity to thrive within the community of Federal or Postal workers; and identity-tied-to-career and work is an important component in belonging to anything, for everyone.  Yet, the medical condition itself is the very element that separated and excluded in the first place; the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service is the “community” that begins to shun, to exclude, to make an outcast of the Federal or Postal employee, and that is almost an inevitability that must be faced.

At some point, that “community” called the Federal Agency or the Postal Service begins to lose its patience, and begins to restrict the use of Sick Leave or LWOP; or, when the FMLA runs out, a “demand” to return to work, to maintain a regular work schedule, etc., is imposed.

Unfortunately, the “need to belong” has to be a two-way street: The desire to belong on the part of the Federal or Postal worker, and the comity of interests shown by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.  When one or the other begins to wane or vanish altogether, it is time to file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits and to look for other communities in which to satisfy the need to belong.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The inconspicuous individual

Some cannot fathom that role; anonymity in modernity is replaced with the trolling Internet personality; for, there, where one can allow for multiple personalities, schizophrenia and megalomania to rule and manifest, the instinct of the aggressive dominates.  What is it about Facebook, Forums and Fortuitous Forays into Freedom’s Foundation that vanquishes modesty in the face of hiding behind the curtain of anonymity?

There is a conceptual distinction to be made between the inconspicuous individual who desires to remain in the background and enjoy the role of observant but inactive participant, and those who act with modesty and decorum by all appearances, but beneath seethe with the acrimony of jealousy, envy and inadequacy who then utilizes the power of impersonation and trolls the Internet to ridicule, criticize, harass and intimidate.

Traditional discussion and debate required four components:  (1) An unspoken concurrence to engage in the exchange of ideas within a context of gentlemanly decorum and behavior of self-restraint (i.e., in more modern parlance, to not take things personally); (2) To listen without interruption when another is speaking; (3) To understand and apply the rules of logic when positing an idea or introducing a conceptual paradigm; and (4) To recognize a superior argument to one’s own, and submit/admit to it gracefully.

There is, moreover, a fifth element that is never addressed, because it is one that used to be accepted by everyone:  Don’t raise your voice, as it is the quality of the idea pursued and not the excessive volume of debate that matters, and recognize that not everyone is of equal intellectual capacity, such that silence is sometime preferable to a mouth opened merely to make sounds.

Do any of those traditional “rules” apply today?  Are there, in modernity, those who win medals for bravery, or championships in the sports arena, without a subsequent ride upon the lecture circuit, the television appearance and the book-deal that demands an advance of remuneration?  Is there, in short, the existence of the inconspicuous individual in this day and age?

Perhaps modesty is an outmoded concept; humility, a dead characteristic of arcane quality destroyed with the diminishing influence of religiosity; and as empowerment has been replaced by the tortured utterances of the shouting voices on the Internet, so the extinction of the inconspicuous individual is a reality in today’s cackle of overriding voices.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts, prevents and interrupts the ability and capacity of the Federal or Postal employee to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the ability to remain inconspicuous is something that is sought after, but unfortunately, unable to be maintained.  In the context of suffering from a medical condition, the desire to remain inconspicuous (i.e., staying “under the radar”, so to speak proverbially) is that rarity of modernity, but a necessity by compulsion; for, the alternative is to become a target of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Thus, the word of advice from this lawyer is that, in the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the better time to inform one’s Supervisor, Manager or the Agency in general, is “later” rather than sooner, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise; lest, of course, you desire the accelerated extinction to occur for that dying breed identified as the inconspicuous individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Broken Promises

It is a surprise that we are constantly surprised by them.  Why should we be?  Do we elevate man to such a pinnacle of virtue as the angels who look down upon us with remorseful eyes?  Are there more of them today, like shattered mirrors or destroyed lives littering the highways of hopeful futures stretching out into a path of devastated backdrops in the history of unknown commoners who lay quietly in the tombs that speak not but in haunting whispers in muted graveyards long abandoned with the silence of church bells that no longer toll?

Promises are but linguistic constructs that are controlled by the good intentions of those who make them, and restricted by the constraints of social virtues that no longer exist, have been modified, disavowed and have now been deemed archaic in this modernity of relative moral standards.

Once upon a time (or so the fairytale goes), a handshake, a nod, a single word without the written confirmation, the 10-page fax to declare a deal made, or the fine-print of agreements incomprehensible – they constituted the affirmation of man’s purity of intent, motivation and virtuous underbelly unseen but for the flight of angels touching and tugging upon our conscience when evil forces attempted to lead us astray.

Now, we have found the power of linguistic elasticity.  It is no longer a “lie”, and perhaps it was always known, just as Eve realized the cunning of justification, persuasive argumentation and methodological coercion; no, broken promises no longer exist – instead, it is a mutual “misunderstanding”, failure of minds to meet, or just plain wrong-headedness on the part of the one who relied upon a promise made.

No one really believes anyone else’s handshake, anymore – and, in any event, who shakes hands these days?  What can it mean but a mere vestige of an arcane eccentricity that needs be relegated to those rustic movies where granddad and obscure relatives and neighbors would jump from frame-to-frame in old movies where a wave to the camera was the memorabilia to preserve, now replaced by thousands of Selfies stored in electronic devices neither for posterity nor discretion of family enjoyment, but for self-aggrandizement and public display for prurient intentions.

Like granddad’s smile that once reassured as the solid Rock of Gibraltar, promises don’t mean anything, anymore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who think that assurances of accommodating medical conditions because, somehow, laws are in place that provide for that, think about it for a moment:  Without the laws, would a promise mean anything?  Further, do the laws really protect, or are they also just linguistic modalities easily manipulated?  Fortunately, however, laws can work both ways, and Federal Disability Retirement Law operates in favor of Federal and Postal employees with a standard of proof geared towards an approval – of a preponderance of the evidence.

No, the promises made by Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service may not amount to much, and the heap of junk piles left behind by broken promises may litter the once-beautiful landscape of arcane handshakes in years past, but the availability of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits remains a reality for those Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that there is now an incompatibility between one’s medical conditions and the performance of one’s essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Knowing where to stop

In life, it is often just as important in knowing where one is going, as it is to recognizing where to stop.  We all know the individual with “a mission” – always self-confident, never tentative, and rarely pausing to catch one’s breath except to regain one’s composure before blindly forging ahead with uninterrupted fortitude and resolve.  Military men and women are like that; born leaders and megalomaniacs follow suit; and only the timid bear the brunt of being pushed aside and trampled upon.  Overreaching is a problem in a society that knows only excess and limitless pleasure.  In the midst of being human, we forget our own humanity.

In the history of Philosophy, Rationalism has been usurped by Idealism; the latter, superseded by the reality of human depravity, and science the victor in the tension between theology and pragmatism.  In the end, Darwinian declarations of equality among the species have come to prevail, and in the post-Existential era of seeking merely pleasure above purpose, and the more modern parlance of embracing the “Happiness Principle” – where one’s minute-by-second assessment of one’s emotional quotient has trumped obligation, duty, convention and rational essence of an Aristotelian definition of Man – we now have no boundaries, no social conventions of constraints, and so long as we can avoid violating the basic laws that govern our society, we can do what we want.

In such a state, society and civilization, how can we know where to stop?  If everything is okay to do, how do we determine that which may harm ourselves, or otherwise breach the boundaries of decency and what it means to be human?  If all species are of equal value, then what worth is there in having humanity?  How do we know where to stop?  This applies, as well, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Often not knowing all the current laws that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law, the initiating applicant will proceed forth and barrel ahead like Military men and women and born leaders, without first consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about OPM Disability Retirement Law.  For, never underestimate the underlying principles behind questions posed on a Federal Disability Retirement application – especially as it relates to one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s official position.

SF 3112A can be a landmine of sorts, and while it is well and good to proceed in a forthright and affirmative manner, it is equally as important in knowing where to stop, as it is in realizing the direction the Federal or Postal employee must go in order to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Our narrative of discourse

Do we all carry about multiple narratives within?  Perhaps, one for public consumption; another, for family gatherings; yet another the edited version only for the ears of the young and uninitiated; and perhaps more, depending upon the audience, the susceptibility to believe, and the necessity for coherence as opposed to self-promotion and puffing up?

How about those “Service experiences” – where we get carried away in exaggerating the feats of bravery and encounters with the enemy?  How many politicians have been driven from office for telling a slight (or even not so slight) deviation from the “truth” in reenacting wartime stories and narratives of consummate manliness and Stallone-like fearless feats?  “Oh, the DD 214 doesn’t even begin to tell what I had to go through…”  Or even of high school days of athletic prowess and academic achievement in college; if only transcripts would remain silent in the archives of shrouded mystery in safekeeping for secrecy.

We do, each of us, carry multiple narratives of discourse, often dependent upon the audience we encounter and the susceptibility of suspending disbelief and the receptiveness to our meanderings.  So, why is it that we often fail to conform to the change of necessity, when it counts most?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, involves providing a narrative discourse in response to specific questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

This is the moment when truth must push aside exaggeration, and where some specificity of delineation must be attended.  The “nexus” or “bridge” between one’s Federal or Postal position and the impact by one’s medical condition must be established, and the targeted audience (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – not your own agency, your supervisor or anyone related thereto) must always be kept in mind.

In the end, our narrative of discourse that we carry about in our own minds has always been about revealing some part of ourselves to an audience receptive to specific needs, and preparing an effective SF 3112A is no different from that perspective, and must be kept in mind when composing the narrative of discourse in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire