Federal Disability Retirement from the OPM: Expectations

What are they?  Is it something that we place upon ourselves, or merely the burden of what others have said?  Are there implied ones as opposed to direct and blunt ones?  Do they scar and damage throughout our lives, based upon the haunting sense of what we believe our parents demanded?  Are expectations the cumulative juncture caught between our own dreams, the demands of parents, and what we believe society considers success or failure?

Do we carry them about without an awareness of their influence, forgotten in the closets of our memories until psychoanalytical triggers suddenly bring them to the fore and where we suddenly blurt out, “Oh, yes, that is where it all comes from!”  And what happens when reality blunders upon expectations and the two conflict within the agony of our lives — do we (or more appropriately put, can we) abandon them and leave them behind in the ash heaps of discarded disappointments?

And when do we become “smart enough” to realize that the old vestiges of expectations need to be reevaluated and prioritized, and not allowed to remain as haunting voices that we no longer remember from whence they came, but remain as unwanted guests within the subconscious purview of our daily existence?

Expectations — we all have them; but of priorities in our lives, we rarely reorganize them in order to meet the present needs of our complex lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job and position, it may be time to re-prioritize those expectations that one has about one’s career, one’s future, one’s…life.

Expectations can be a positive force — of placing demands that spur one towards heights previously unimaginable; but that which is a positive force can turn upon itself and become a negative influence, especially when the check of reality fails to make one realize that priorities must be reassessed based upon the changing circumstances that life itself brings about.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of one’s deteriorating health may not be what one ever “expected” — but, then, all expectations have always been conditional in the sense that the demands made depended upon circumstances remaining the same.  When circumstances change, expectations must similarly adapt.

Preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may seem like a lowering of one’s expectations; yet, as it was always conditional upon the state of one’s health, a concomitant alteration of one’s expectations must meet the reality of one’s changed circumstances.

That is the reality of life’s lesson: Prioritize — health, family, career and the changing levels of expectations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The identity of choice

In the end, do we?  That is — do we have a choice when it comes to our identity?  Of course, in this day and age where word-play has become completely malleable, and where Truth and Falsity rarely matter except when tested against the exigencies of the objective universe (i.e., as when crossing a street and someone says, “Be careful, a bus is coming”, and you suddenly realize that the truth or falsity of such a statement can actually have real-life consequences), the question becomes: How does one define one’s use of the word, “identity”?  Is it based upon the aggregation of objective and subjective statements, beliefs, opinions and perspectives?

In other words, are we merely the compendium of cumulative voices based upon: Our birth certificate; the driver’s license in our wallets; the memories retained by our parents, grandparents and relatives; how our friends view us; what our spouses believe us to be; what the neighborhood dogs recalls from sniffing at our feet — the cumulative aggregation of all of such factors?  Is who we are — our “identity” — different from who we believe we are?  If everyone believes X to be such-and-such but X believes himself to be a secret agent working for a mysterious foreign entity, what (or who) determines the reality of our identity?  Or, is “identity” based upon the collective perspective of a community that “knows” that individual?  Can we “choose’ our identity, and if so, completely or only partially?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue to work in one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often a concomitant “identity crisis” that accompanies the medical condition.  No longer are you the stellar worker for the Federal Agency; no longer are you the reliable provider who slogs through the daily toil as a Postal employee; instead, your identity is one of having a medical condition that limits, prevents, subverts or otherwise alters the way in which you live.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement becomes an alternative that must be chosen, and that “choice” may alter who you are and what others may think about you.  But in the end, you do have a choice: The essence of who you are remains always within; the identity of choice is not altered merely because you file for a benefit that must be pursued because of a medical condition that was incurred through no fault of your own; and anyone who thinks otherwise never knew you to begin with.  For, in the end, the identity of choice was and remains always within the purview and power within each of us; we just didn’t know it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Night wanderings

Ever open your eyes in the middle of the night and, instead of falling quickly back to sleep, allow for the eyes to wander across the silent room where others are still and asleep — the dog on the floor (or perhaps curled at the foot of the bed where human warmth has gathered for the pure comfort serving the creature) and the partner beside; the quiet glow of the digital numbers in bold red reflection; the pictures on the walls — though you “know” what they depict, the shadows hide them, and yet you believe you “see” them because familiarity arouses the imagination even in darkness; and the squeezing sense of silence so overpowering that you wonder about the universe at large and who, like yourself, is awakened by silence itself?

It is in those moments that, just before the panic of realization sets in that tomorrow is just a few hours away, we realize that mortality is a condition we must face; that the child’s imagination cannot revisit yesterday’s remorse; and the saddest of all truisms: For the most part, this is a cruel and uncaring universe.  Where do such thoughts originate?  Is it just the dream-world when sleep battles with sanity and one’s night wanderings will not suppress the bustle of the day’s meanderings?

Perhaps clarity comes in the wake of slumber’s twilight; whatever the phenomenon, night wanderings bring one into the netherworld of the “in-between”, where reality is not quite recognized and a dream is not ever fulfilled.  That is the type of experience that the Federal and Postal worker experiences when confronted with a medical condition that impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position: not quite in the reality of the world’s harshness, not yet tested by the Agency’s or Postal Service’s full force of cruelty and uncaring.

Will they put me on a PIP?  Will they require a “Fitness for Duty” evaluation?  What happens when my FMLA is exhausted?  Will the agency just cut me off?

It becomes clear at some point that the Federal Agency and the Postal Service are not there as a friend or colleague looking out for your bests interests, and that you must initiate the process of looking out for yourself by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Those night wanderings often have the advantage of giving clarity to a reality beset with the quietude of pure silence, but then morning arrives and the clash of the day’s reality awakens within us the cruelty of the world around.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Mortality averted

Does it occur when the body is entombed?  Or, perhaps, like children who play “king of the hill”, the exhilarating feeling that overwhelms when once you are alone on top of the hill, unchallenged, identified as the winner of a game otherwise known to be silly but at least for the moment, a sense of immortality, where mortality is averted for a day, a second, a moment or in likened eternity.

Is the “winner” of life he/she who has the most toys at the end?  Is that why old men divorce their best friends after 30 years of marriage, only to remarry immediately to a person some generation or more younger, so that mortality can be averted?  Is there unequivocal, scientific proof that fad diets, working out at gyms, avoiding dangerous leisure activities like bungee jumping without making sure that the cord is shorter than the distance between Point A and the chasm’s end below — do any or all of these ensure mortality to be averted (surely, not the last of the series implicated, although the exhilaration felt just before the cord strains to restrain must bring about a rush of sensation before the concept of causality is tested for the last time)?

Do we surround ourselves with things that last beyond the days of antiquity only to remind ourselves that some things in life do, indeed, remain beyond the time of our own demise? Why do people write out wills and instructions detailing post-death affairs, knowing that we will not be present to oversee the execution of our wishes?

It is, indeed, a puzzle — of transporting ourselves in consciousness to a time beyond and planning for a moment when we are no longer here; yet, to race furiously during our lifetimes to make sure that others have some semblance of a memory of our existence.  How many tombstones lay fallow in graveyards just around the corner, unvisited, untended and forgotten, except in echoing whispers of yesteryear’s cousins who once stole the golden chalice of mortality’s laughter?  And what about the middle ground — that time of illness and deteriorating health, when we are reminded that mortality is, indeed, just around the corner, and the not-so gentle nudge that pulls us in that direction?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 the Federal or Postal job, the mortality to be averted is the constant pain, suffering or debilitating episodes that make for life’s misery to continue, and it may be time to avert mortality’s nudging reminder by preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, if only to temporarily escape from the daily grind that reminds you that your deteriorating health is no longer compatible with the positional requirements of your Federal or Postal job.

In the end, mortality cannot be completely averted, but in the meantime, enjoyment of the remaining days is the best that one can hope for and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a small step towards achieving that goal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Hope springs

“Eternal”, of course, is the ending and attachment that most would declare if asked to fill in the blank.  How many of us know of the origin of the statement, what it means, from whence it comes (yes, yes, a Google search is only one finger button away)?  It is often an afterthought – a “throw-away” line that one scatters about in response to someone else’s statement about “hoping to do X” or having “hope that X will happen”.

The reactionary response that is commonly stated is, “Well, of course hope springs eternal.”   The origin of the saying comes from Alexander Pope’s work, “An Essay on Man”, where he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

What was he referring to?  It could be interpreted in many ways – of a reference to a life hereafter and the reason for living, struggling and being tormented in this life, with a view towards an eternal reward; or, that so long as there is hope, things will change for the better if you just stick around long enough.

Without hope, the devastation of life’s turmoil may never allow for a person to get beyond this day; it is with hope that is kept in the human breast that the eternal promise of a better tomorrow becomes possible; for, otherwise there is just fatalism to look forward to, or as Pope stated, a state of existence where “Man never is”.

The word-pictures evoked from Pope’s work are beautifully put, and provide images that allows for multiple interpretations.  The word “springs” is a carefully chosen word, for it gives the idea both of calm (as in the tranquility of a running spring) as well as a jump forward (as in “spring forward”), and thus establishes multiple meanings when tied to the reference point of “hope”.

Hope, ultimately, is the ingredient that allows for life to live for a future yet undetermined and yet to be defined.  That is what is important for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  For, what other hope is there than Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

As the ongoing medical condition and the deteriorating aspect of the medical condition begins to squeeze out any hope left; and the impact it is having on one’s career and future starts to question the viability of any hope to be had; it is hope from X to Y – i.e., a future with a difference – that allows for hope to foster and thrive.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes that hope in continuing in one’s job is no longer a reality, it becomes important to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because hope springs eternal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The inchoate life

The problem is often the perspective, and not the reality.  Somehow, human beings walk about this earth with the expectation that fulfillment is in the “now” and development is merely something ascribed to babies, yogurt and African nations on a far away continent of timeless immaturity.  Potentiality; the consistency of growth; and, even in old age, despite the deterioration and degeneration of cellular expansion, our lives represent an inchoate and rudimentary structure such that we have to constantly strive to grow.

Yet, somehow, we mistakenly believe in so many fictions; that the senior prom is the fulfillment of all things important; that graduation from college represents the pinnacle of our education except for those few who go on to graduate schools (which is now more common than even a decade before because of the intense economic challenges and competition); that the present job is the treadmill upon which success or failure reflects; and that, in old age, decrepitude and endless agony awaits us all.

All of us, in the end, are imperfectly formed and in the constant process of becoming formulated; yet, by our impatience and desire for fulfillment, we deny the very existence of the part-existence of our very Being.  And so we cry out in protest when a medical condition hits us and prevents us from being or doing that which we believe we were destined for; and like the shrill screams of hungry coyote in the wind-swept plains of a desolate landscape, we dream in solitude as the howls of time obscure the pain of suffering.

What dreams we once held; the journey from form to content; the need to accomplish, excel and fulfill; these are all human characteristics which bring out the best in us.  But reality is also a discourse where interruptions and interludes occur, and the reality is that most of us never fulfill the potential of our lives, and that is okay, especially when the circumstances intervening are beyond that which we have the ability or capacity to control. The inchoate life is seen throughout the many unmarked graves and tombstones lying in quietude of silent anonymity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who realize that careers chosen, dreams yet unfulfilled and goals unachieved, the medical conditions that interrupt are merely reminders to us all that the inchoate life cannot be avoided.  Priorities must be set; a different path may be required.

Preparing, formulating and 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, is merely another step in the many steps of a Chinese proverb, and the inchoate life is just another movement, a stir and a wrinkle in so many lives yet to reach the completeness of a destiny still to call in the wilds of a lone wolf speaking to the full moon of purposeful lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Care to Perfection

At what point does one ascend from mere care, to perfection of accomplishment?  Is it when we determine that which matters to us most – i.e., where self-interest intersects with talent otherwise left unfulfilled?  Or, through maturity of purpose and a self-realization that perfection is preferable to a lesser kindling of care, does one simply “buck up” and seek to embrace a higher order of accomplishments?

Perfection is an impossible standard to attain; care, a reasonably easy one, because time, effort and struggled attempts compensate for any lack of natural talent.  Words themselves tend to camouflage the lack of perfection by care, for a lengthy dissertation of seeming interest and a cauldron mixed by questions of curiosity comprise evidence of “caring”.  But while perfection should always be reserved for the Pope, heavenly orbs and Platonic Forms otherwise unreachable by mortal hands and untalented mediocrity – which incudes the vast multitude of the ordinary folk that populate this earth – it is a goal worth trying to achieve.

This presents a particularly unique problem for Federal and Postal employees who are considering 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, when a medical condition dominates, the natural inclination is to quickly put together an assembled Federal Disability Retirement packet based upon mere care, but nowhere near perfection, when the very viewing bureaucratic body (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is often applying a higher standard than even what the law requires.

We are not saying, here, that any Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed should attain any level of perfection; rather, that when the applicant who prepares his or her own Federal Disability Retirement application is the identical person who suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is always very difficult to get beyond the standard of mere care, and will never be able to objectively strive towards a semblance of perfection.  Perfection as a standard is never meant to be attained, but merely to be striven for; and as a corollary, care is not to be acquiesced to without a pathway towards perfection.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management applies the standard of law that it is mandated to enforce, but in its zealous defense of the entire Disability Retirement system, it often goes beyond mere care, and applies the shadow of perfection upon unwary applicants.  What can be done about it?  Nothing, except to make sure that in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and submitting it to OPM, be aware that care may not be enough; rather, striving for the higher order of care – that of perfection – may be the requirement for the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire