OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Pleasure & the ascetic

The two concepts are often thought to be antithetical, from opposing philosophical frameworks and inconsistent in their expending of energies to achieve.  Of the latter, it connotes self-discipline and an aversion, if not outright refusal and avoidance, of any indulgences that are implied by the former.  The former, of course, is what most of us strive for — if not openly, then surreptitiously while denying that it is one’s singular goal.

Pleasure in its excesses can be harmful, of course, just as too much of anything can lead to self-immolation through abundance and gluttony.  Both, however, have something in common: they are like two sides of the same coin, where life doesn’t allow for the existence of one without the recognition of the other.

Thus: Being cannot be distinguished without Nothingness (e.g., it is because there is the “nothingness” of space between the bookshelf and the wall that you can differentiate between the two entities); life cannot be identified without its opposite —death, or inertness; wealth is created in contradistinction to poverty, or lack thereof; a smile can be recognized, but so can a frown; and so forth and so on.

What the ascetic fails to realize is that the extreme of self-indulgence in striving for pleasurable activities need not be the only methodology of interacting with this world; there are more moderate ways of living than the pure rejection of all pleasure.  Conversely, the one who strives only for pleasure — i.e., pleasure as the sole motivator in one’s life and goal-seeking — fails to realize that its corollary — pain — is a necessary posit, and if not rearing its ugly head presently, will do so sometime in the near future.

Pain is an existential reality of life, just as pleasure is the rare interlude that we all seek, and it is the ascetic who has realized that life’s pleasurable moments will often follow with a period of pain, as the reason why some seek to limit the pain by denying all pleasure.  That is why monastic orders come into being, and why Zen Buddhism founds its roots in the denial of reality in order to deal with pain — all because pleasure could not be ultimately achieved without the pain that accompanies.

That is the reality that Federal and Postal employees come to realize when a medical condition begins to prevent one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Suddenly, those “pleasures” that were once taken for granted — of a health body; of a mind that has focus, concentration, and mental acuity to multi-task on a daily, sustained basis — begin to wither and wane.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a necessity, and when one is forced to take that necessary step, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

For, in the end, neither pleasure nor the ascetic have grasped the true point of living a worthwhile life; as worth is determined by the priorities ones sets in the course of existing, one’s health should thus be a major element to achieve within every web of goals set, whether in striving for pleasure or regarding the ascetic who renounced it for the sake of a mistaken belief.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Our place in the world

One morning, we wake up and go into the backyard or, perhaps if one is living in an apartment, simply observe some trees or a little oasis of nature — a park; a clump of bushes situated in a grove of lawns coalescing; or just a singular mulberry tree that has grappled upon a cracked corner of the concrete jungle where some soil has erupted, surviving in the middle of a desert of the city’s impervious view; and a bird sits and sings.

We don’t think about the bird:  Does it know where its place is in the world?  Did it struggle as a young bird-ling to find its place, to “fit in”, to be “unique” and thus “special”?  No — it is just us humans who engage in that sort of thinking — of the awkward youth who tries to find his or her place in the universe; of going through those difficult years finding one’s place, one’s niche, and one’s solace in the troubled waters of one’s soul.

Are those merely foolish thoughts of a young person — do we all eventually grow out of it and return to the level of cynicism and conclude that it’s all bosh, and there is no such thing as one’s “place” in this cold and impersonal universe?  It is a safe haven, is it not, to remain as one’s father and forefather’s placement offered, and not have to think about one’s place independently and separately?

To that extent, birds and others who merely survive based upon instinct and thoughtless intuitiveness possess a survival advantage over those who must search and become affirmed:  There is no need to find one’s place, for that has already been pre-determined from generations ago.  Then, in later life, what does one do when one has lost one’s identity?  If you never searched for it to begin with, will it feel as a “loss” if you lose something you never attained in your own right in the first place?

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 position, part of the fear, angst and anxiety in initiating and proceeding with the process of Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the loss of our place in the world.  For, that career that you worked so hard to sustain — whether in an administrative field, a technical niche or as an expert in this or that elite vocation — may have to either come to an end, or become modified to accommodate your medical conditions.

Your “place in the world” may become upended, and that is often a fear that must be confronted.  But like the hummingbird that seeks the nectar of life’s offerings, if health is not the first priority that makes it all worthwhile, then you’ve likely mistaken which priorities need to be first in line, lest you mistakenly think that your Federal Agency or the Postal Service will help you in the never-ending quest for one’s place in the world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Fear and trepidation

The first may lead to the second; the second, exacerbating the first, may establish a vicious cycle where fear is feeding the trepidation and the trepidation continues to exponentially increase the fear because non-action only expands the tension that grows without containment or restriction.  It is, indeed, a conundrum of paralysis; and the will to change, alter or modify necessitates action, but action cannot come before fear is vanquished and trepidation is overcome.

This is a dysfunctional society.  There is a lack of stability, and perhaps the instability is as a result of the greater freedoms and liberties enjoyed.  But where a culture and society are founded upon unfettered liberty, there must be some internal mechanism that contains the extent of choices offered and the pathways opened.

Once upon a time, ice cream flavors numbered within the fingers of a hand, or perhaps both hands; but once the Pandora’s box of alternatives was unleashed, the paralysis that follows betrays the fragile nature of a human psyche.  Fear and trepidation go hand-in-hand precisely because it is an insular, self-contained cycle of self-immolation feeding each upon the other.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her job, it is understandable that fear and trepidation continue to paralyze any movement away from a career that has been invested with such high costs.  The choices here, however, are limited. You can stay put; walk away and abandon; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is the last option which is normally the most viable, the most vibrant and the one to pursue because it protects and preserves the future security of one’s livelihood.

Do not let fear and trepidation paralyze and overwhelm; a consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is often the first best step in moving forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Medical Incapacity: The boxes in Standard Forms

For some forms, it is a convenience to have a restrictive, limited “box” in which to put the “x” into, or maybe the needed “Not Applicable”; others, however, try and contain a limited narrative and force succinctness into the standardization of answers.  That is all well and good, and perhaps from a bureaucratic standpoint and perspective, the conformity of forms and the mandatory “answers within a box” makes for streamlining of paperwork.

The reality, however, is that some questions cannot be answered — and more importantly, should not — within the proposed space allocated, and so you have two (2) choices: decrease the font size in order to fit a greater substance of the narrative within the provided box, or attach a continuation sheet despite no indication in the standard forms for allowance of such cheekiness of presumptuous creativity.

How does one identify which Standard Form should be prepared and completed within the confines of standardization, and which ones should not?   First, a conceptual identification should be applied: Which ones are merely “informational” that request only singular answers, and which forms make queries that compel for narrative answers?  Once that initial, identifying bifurcation is made, then the next step is to determine whether an adequate and sufficient response can be stated within the “box” provided within the font-size allowing for regular eyesight that does not require extraordinary magnification, or if a continuation sheet is necessary.

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, certain Standard Forms are merely informational — for example, the SF 3107 series which asks for basic, factual information.  Then, of course, there is the SF 3112 series, and especially SF 31112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker under FERS, who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the greater mistake has often been to quickly annotate within the boxes provided a swift “jotting down” of the medical conditions one “feels” — as if the body parts providing temporary sensations for a given day, or even the lack thereof, will sufficiently satisfy the eligibility requirements that must be met in order to become approved for a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Make no mistake about it: there can be dire legal consequences if SF 3112A is not completed properly and sufficiently.  And always remember the philosophical dictum: That which is necessary may not be necessarily sufficient, and that which is sufficient may not be sufficiently necessary.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire