OPM Disability Retirement: Further Reflections on Accommodations

Because the term “accommodations” is rarely understood in its technical and legal sense, there is often the danger of a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to “shoot one’s self in the foot” in the very use of the term — or in checking certain boxes on the application form (specifically, SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability), and further, there is the added danger that the Agency, in completing a Supervisor’s Statement or the SF 3112D, will mis-apply and mis-state the import, significance or relevance of any actions taken in attempting to assist the Federal or Postal employee.

Indeed, in a Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B) there are many instances in which the Supervisor completing the form will contradict him/herself when it comes to the issue of accommodations.  Moreover, the applicant him/herself will often mis-state the issue of accommodations on SF 3112A.

The term “accommodations” has a very narrow definition, and must be used and applied to the advantage of the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Additionally, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the Office of Personnel Management also (whether deliberately or by chance) uses the very misuse (by the Applicant) of the term to its advantage.  In all cases, the term “accommodations” must be used and referred to carefully, technically, and with full insight of all of its consequences in the use or misuse of the word.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Paradigm Shifts and the Federal Employee Disability Retirement System, an Option That Was Always There

Paradigms are meant to shift.  A non-shifting paradigm means that there is an inherent and entrenched belief system which refuses to accommodate changes.  Certain principles can retain such intractable resistance; deeply-held systems based upon historical convention, customs and cultural foundations should never be discarded without a rational basis; but to hold on to a set of beliefs without a foundational methodology of defending the very core of a system, is to merely do something out of habit.  And that is the point, isn’t it?  Actions based upon habit for habit’s sake, are mere thoughtless and unjustified movements.

Work often becomes such an unprovoked endeavor; for, to engage in mindless, repetitive modalities, provides a semblance of security and safeguards.  Then, when a medical condition interrupts one’s life, you begin to miss the mundane.  For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the yearning for that time before when the monotony of repetitive work provided the assurance of routine and repose, begins to magnify with exponential significance.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, should always be an option.  If one pauses because the paradigm which one operates under has become intractable and entrenched, it is time to consider a paradigm shift.  It is not only in science that paradigm shifts are necessary; and, indeed, Thomas Kuhn’s contribution to the historical perspective of scientific progression has taught us much, both as to disciplines, as well as for individuals.

The shifting of one’s own paradigm may be the first important shift in making a proper decision concerning the preparatory steps in filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement; and that is the key, both in science, and in one’s own personal life and endeavors.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Consciousness and the Linguistic Divide

Throughout the wide expanse of Western Philosophical debates, the tension of truth has always been the subtle, often unspoken, surreptitious thread underlying the waging war of words.  As the writing of history is left to the victors, so the linguistic divide between truth and falsity belongs to the mastery of words. The modern subtext to the greater debate encapsulates consciousness and whether the wholeness of one’s being can be adequately described in scientific terms comprised of physically-oriented language — i.e., synapses, cells and serotonin levels.

Can one adequately capture the wholeness of a person, and the uniqueness of the individual, by the expungement of non-objective language and transference and translation of reductionism to physically-oriented descriptions?  And what of Ryle’s perennial problem of that “ghost in the machine“?  Of course, Dennett would explain away the issue of consciousness by a series of component divides — of sectional surgeries which, in their individual pieces, would reveal the lack of the greater elements beyond the individual parts.  But in the end, does the adoption of such science-based language adequately present a true picture of man?

On a human level, in every society, the problem is seen in how agencies and organizations view and treat individuals with medical problems.  For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, the issue of being “lesser” than coworkers becomes a problem of actions, how we view our fellow man, and the greater linguistic divide which impacts treatment of individuals.  Language is important in capturing the fantasy of fulfillment.  It is the seed of creativity.  Reduction of language and expungement into mere metabolic processes will ultimately dehumanize society, and equate maltreatment with mere surgical precision.

Federal and Postal Workers who confront the issue of daily abuse in the workplace because of a medical condition suffered, recognize how insensitive conglomerates can be.  For the Federal and Postal Worker who has come to a point where one’s agency no longer views him or her in the wholeness of one’s being and the worth of being a productive individual, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is an option to consider, and to take one’s abilities and capabilities elsewhere to another vocation.

History is replete with man’s capacity to dehumanize; language is the key to expunging the very humanity which society possesses in the treatment of individuals; and in the end, consciousness is the last bastion of unexplained beauty in the greater linguistic divide of social conscience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Complexity in the Hidden Background

To prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is seemingly an uncomplicated matter.

As one’s medical condition impacts the ability to perform one or more of the essential element of one’s job, it is up to the treating doctor to establish the nexus and provide an opinion as to the connecting bridge between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

How does one do that? Must it be comprised of a 1-to-1 ratio between job elements and medical conditions? How important and prominent are “symptoms” considered, as opposed to the mere clinical declaration of the diagnosis, in persuading the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that a particular medical condition should qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? To what extent is one’s own statement of disability, as described on Standard Form 3112A, important in establishing the foothold towards gaining an approval from OPM?

Also, what algorithm or comparative analysis does OPM use in evaluating a case, and how does one enhance the chances of success at the First Stage of the process? If denied at the First Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, does the basis of the denial (often characterized by a plethora of multiple reasons given) require a point-by-point refutation, and is the Reconsideration Division at OPM using the same standard of review, or a different application of laws in evaluating the additional evidence submitted at the next stage?

If one watches a gymnast, a ballerina, or even a mathematician at work in solving or unraveling a complex problem or exercise, one is immediately struck by the ease with which the feat is performed. But it is almost always the unseen preparation which has preceded the actual performance that sets the stage of an uncomplicated presentation.

It is that mystery of the uncomplicated, which tends to trip us all, and that is no different in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Pruning Mechanism

It is one of life’s anomalies that plants flourish and thrive with targeted pruning; too much dismembering, and the sap of life can wither; too little, and the nutrients required for new growth will be diverted to wasted areas of decay, thereby allowing for greater susceptibility to disease. As animals cannot regenerate new appendages (with some variable exceptions), so pruning of limbs is not recommended. But the term itself can imply metaphorical contents — of leaving behind and cutting off ties which harm; of terminating associations which contribute to the decline of one’s health.

The complexity of medical conditions will often bring to the fore questions of causation and exacerbations; and while stress is an inherent factor in almost every employment arena, and further, is not normally recommended in a Federal Disability Retirement application to be focused upon (see previous articles on work-place stress resulting in “situational disabilities“, which can defeat a Federal Disability Retirement application), nevertheless, it is an issue which any Federal or Postal employee contemplating preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, should consider carefully, seriously, and with deliberate intent.

It is ultimately the U.S. Office of Personnel Management which reviews, approves or denies all Federal Disability Retirement applications for Federal and Postal employees under FERS or CSRS; thus, unless one works for OPM, it is an agency separate from one’s own employing agency.

It is that agency — one’s own — which always must be considered for “pruning”. For, while the central issue in all Federal Disability Retirement applications is the nexus, or “bridge”, between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job; still, it is often a prudent thought to consider that “burning” one’s bridge is the penultimate act leading to a fruitful “pruning” — a mechanism sought in a metaphorical manner, to redirect life’s nutrients into more productive tissues for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Fragrance of Fear

One rarely associates fear with fragrance; perhaps with a malodorous scent, mixed with angst and perspiring anxieties just before flight; but, no, fragrance is generally linked to perfumes and similarly heightened pleasantries which enhance the attraction of attention.  But to dictators and emperors of insignificant fiefdoms, fear emits a sweet fragrance, one inviting sadistic responses and enlivening a meanness awoken by the subtle aroma of vulnerability and susceptibility.

Medical conditions invite fear; fear within the individual suffering from the injury or disability, for the future, for the pain and suffering associated with the diagnosis and prognosis; fear from without, expressed by loved ones and those whose associations can be counted within the circle of friends, family, and close acquaintances.  Beyond the normal parameters described, however, the ethereal fragrance of fear is caught by the olfactory nerves of predatory consciences awaiting the whiff of anticipated anxieties; as an evolutionary conduit to survival, it serves also to invite the unintended to exacerbated difficulties of life.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from medical conditions, whether of a physical or psychiatric nature matters not, the progressive deterioration and manifestation of the medical condition engenders a proportional heightening of fear; fear, in turn, further impacts one’s inability to perform the full functions of one’s job; and failure revealed at one’s Federal or Postal employment tends to invite a hostile work environment, bringing out the worst in people.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, is an option which the Federal or Postal employee should always consider, when once the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Such a step is often the only pragmatic option to attain the needed context of restorative health, and to quash the fears which envelope and accompany the crisis. For, it is often the fragrance of fear which wafts through the still air and invites the things that go bump in the night, and where washing one’s hands clean is the single best route, as opposed to dousing one with perfumes, scented soaps and smelling salts, only to exacerbate the greater troubles of multiplied turbulences.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire