Medical Separation from Federal Government Employment: The Life of Clichés

Use of cliches allows for minimal effort of expression; the very loss of originality, of benefit derived from utterances overused but generally understood, and the utter dependence upon past acceptance of declarative thoughts without needing to consider the applicability of the conceptual connotation — these allow for laziness to wander throughout a thoughtless platitude.

The aggregate of a linguistic universe, however, is one thing; to live a life of cliches beyond merely stating the obvious, is to embrace, engage and ultimate believe in them.  “Life’s lottery has left me bankrupt”; “This is merely the quiet before the storm“; “All is fair in love and war”; “The writing is on the wall”; and as the heuristic methodology is forever forsaken, the thoughts one expresses become molded into the very character of one’s life and manner of living, with the consequential quietude of a static and emotionless construct, leading ultimately to a negation of that which defines what it means to be human.

The automaton of life’s requirements tend to beat down the creativity we are born with; as we were once “diamonds in the rough”, so the long journey of difficulties faced throughout the trials of daily toil, incrementally and insidiously wear upon us, until one day we look in the mirror and the reflection reveals eyes which stare back in a vacuum of human suffering not known in those days of former innocence.

Once, we laughed in the company of our siblings as the ocean waves rolled over the fragile sand castles we built without fear of impending doom, and not knowing was a vanguard of happiness, where delight in one another was yet unconsumed by the worries of economic turmoil and complexity of adulthood; until we somehow “grew up”, lost our sense of direction and compass of fortitude, and slowly allowed the heavy atmosphere of fear, trepidation and anxieties of living overwhelm us.  We became a walking cliche.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must face the reality of such a situation, especially when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes more and more of an urgent requirement.  Working for a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is in and of itself a challenge; what with the pressures of budgetary cutbacks and insistence upon squeezing blood out of a stone (there we go again), it becomes all the more unbearable when a medical condition is introduced into the equation.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service may sometimes seem like waving the proverbial white flag of surrender; but, often, that is the only alternative left, unless the Federal or Postal employee wants to become the modern-day version of a walking zombie, devoid of any real life left to live.

Ultimately, all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be decided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether submitted first through one’s Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service (for those Federal or Postal employees not yet separated from service, or not for more than 31 days), and it is often a daunting administrative process full of bureaucratic pitfalls.  But the alternative is to merely live a life of cliches, where you must never lose track of time, and filing in the nick of time is important, lest you fail to be as clever as a fox, but hopefully, where all is well that ends well.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Alliteration of Life

Cathartic calamities caused creatively cannot cooperatively contain characteristic contents clearly coordinated contumaciously.  Sometimes, the insistence upon form can result in the nonsensical loss of clarity in substance; life often reflects the absurdities we establish by convention and societal imposition, and we pay the price for it.

Life is like being a letter in a series of alliterative words; we are helpless in being attached, but cannot dissociate ourselves, separate one’s self, or otherwise excise the offending aspect.  We are forever wedded like the proverbial two peas in a pod, with an incessant but futile search for a seam to burst out.  The problem, too, is that it may all sound proper and profound; but beneath the surface of consonant melodies and mellifluous motions of letters harkening back with pleasantries of sound, sight and solace, the reality of it is that the emperor with no clothes needs to be called out, lest the closeted secrets remain dormant.

Medical conditions tend to make of life an alliteration of sorts; squeezed between the implanted word in front and crushed by the one behind, we are left without choices in being a pawn in the cycle of life’s fate.  Like the word that sounds melodious as it rolls off the tongue of the creator, we keep trying to fit in despite the absurdity of the substance and content.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a metaphor of life is well-known.  Despite being stripped of dignity and design, the Federal or Postal worker suffering from a medical condition is treated as half-human, half-worth and half-baked.  They are relegated to the corner office, the basement of windowless reserves, and raked over the proverbial coals to perform menial tasks meant to humiliate and defeat.  But it all “sounds nice” — the courageous attempts by the agency to accommodate; the superficial empathy shown by supervisors and managers; it is all meant to soothe.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often seen as just another daunting task, an obstacle placed in front of the already-stretched limits of the Federal or Postal employee; but then, what choices are there?

Like the alliterative words caught between others just because of the consonant attached, the Federal or Postal worker with a medical condition represents the alliteration of life, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely another reflection in the pond of life, provided productively as previous payment portending possible potentialities progressively purchased.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Systemic Problems

When the residual impact of a crisis goes well beyond cosmetic concerns, the usual and customary description is that the “cause” involves “systemic” problems.  Such foundational fissures can occur both in organizations, as well as in individuals.

For Federal agencies, it may require a need for new leadership, or a restructuring of internal chains of command, and sometimes even outside intervention.  More often than not, a call for greater funding is demanded; then, once approved, we walk away as if the problem has been fixed, until the next crisis calls our attention.

For individuals, the systemic problems can involve a medical condition.  Symptoms are normally mere warning signs portending of greater dangers; like organizational eruptions of systemic concerns, individual crisis of systemic proportions often result from neglect, procrastination and deliberate avoidance of the issue.  But medical problems have a tendency and nature of not going away; they are stubborn invaders, like the hordes of barbarians from epochs past, who keep whittling away at the weakest points of an individual’s immune system.  Then, when the medical condition progressively deteriorates until the spectrum of symptoms exceeds a threshold of toleration, suddenly, a crisis develops.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has reached that point, where the symptoms are no longer superficial, but prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, then it is time to begin 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, time is of the essence, as the administrative process must meander its way through a complex system of bureaucratic morass, and the timeline is often of importance in securing the future of a Federal or Postal employee.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is an arduous, lengthy task, and one which is a tool against a systemic problem; for, in the end, the best fight against an invading army is to utilize the elements of the marauders themselves, and this is true in medicine, in law, as well as in individual and organizational restructuring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Out to Pasture

There is a natural proclivity by the previous generation to resist the transference of authority before its designated time; the conflict arises not as to the inevitability of such change, but rather as to the appropriate context, procedural mechanisms instituted, and the care and sensitivity manifested.  And that is often the crux of the matter, is it not?

The brashness and lack of diplomacy and propriety; the insensitive nature of youth in trying to take over before paying one’s proper dues; and a sense that the young are owed something, without paying the necessary price through sweat and toil.  And the older generation?  From the perspective of the young, they are often seen as intractable, unable to face the reality of the inevitability of generational transfer; the ideas once seen as new and innovative are mere fodder for laughter and scorn.

Such treatment of those on their “way out” are often given similar application for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who show a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Such employees are viewed as those being “put out to pasture”, and as something less than human, partial in their worth, lacking of completeness, and needing to be shoved aside to make room for the healthy and fully productive.

Resentment often reigns; the insensitivity of the approach of agencies in their bureaucratic indifference is often what prevails; and once the exit is complete, those who were once the warriors and conquerors of yesteryear, are mere vestiges of forgotten remembrances of dissipating dew.

Always remember, however, that there is another perspective than the one which is left behind.  For the Federal or Postal employee who is put out to pasture by one’s agency, there is new ground to break, fresh challenges to embrace.  The pasture that one enters need not be the same one that the former agency considers; it is the one which the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuitant plows for himself, and whatever the thoughts and scornful mutterings of that agency left behind, they now have no control over the future of the Federal or Postal employee who has the freedom to follow the pasture of his or her limitless dreams.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Avoiding the Pedantic Prophet

Doomsayers are everywhere, and in every generation and region of thoughtful pronouncements, prophets foretelling of anticipated events await to ring the ears of those who desire future confirmation of that which was already expected.

Beyond the general prophesy of future events, however, is the one who focuses upon minutiae and details irrelevant to the greater paradigm of events.  It is like the man who was informed that major surgery would be necessary, and oh, by the way, the scalpel to be used is made by a German manufacturer whose great uncle was related to Lord Byron.  Interesting tidbits may be relevant in limited circumstances; one should avoid the pedantic repetition of facts, events and details which detract from the main theme of a narrative.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, part of the process must involve the preparation of a Statement of Disability as required by completion of Standard Form 3112A.  Certainly, details can be important; but a meandering rambling of peripheral issues detracting from the centrality and essence of one’s case, can not only become a self-undermining proposition, but annoying as well.

Begin the narrative with the focus upon the condition, then build upon that with reverberating ripples of riveting prose of significance and tactile tenses entailing direct links to positional requirements.  For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a person’s story, told in narrative form, as a paper presentation to OPM which must be singularly focused, coherent and comprehensively conveyed.

When the world is foretold of coming to an end, one does not want to know the color and make of the undergarment to be worn by your neighbor; at best, it distracts; at worst, it may well reveal a privacy concern you did not want to stomach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Making the Legal Argument

Legal arguments are merely a subset of ordinary ones; as variations of the facetious quip goes, if the facts are not on the lawyer’s side, then he will argue the law; if the law is not, he will argue the facts; if neither, then he will attempt to confound and obfuscate both.

By sequence of logical argumentation, it is self-evident that “facts” must be the first order of presentation; then, persuasive discussions concerning those facts, forming and molding a given perspective (for there is surely a distinction to be made between that which “is” and that which “is seen” by a particular individual, bringing in the subjective component of interpretation and conveyance of information); and only after the facts have bespoken should persuasive efforts follow; and then, the legal argument to be made.

Thereafter, the question of how aggressive a legal argument; of pounding like a hammer, or the subtle tap of the constant but insistent drumbeat, guiding the listener with a roadmap as to why a decision should be made pursuant to persuasive force, or threats of further legal action.

For the Federal and Postal worker who is trying to have a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, the art of persuasion, the effective use of legal argumentation, and the delineation of factual roadmaps must be coordinated with the utmost of care.  Administrative processes are often replete with frustrating procedures to follow, and it is a dangerous endeavor to allow for one’s frustration to erupt when dealing with a bureaucracy which is rarely responsive, and normally unaffected by the most dire of circumstances.

Thus, in sequence of logical argumentation: The facts as portrayed in as objective a manner as possible; the interpretation of the facts, such that the subjective perspective is insightfully applied, but without the overuse of the “I’ or “me”; argumentation; then, and only then, the applicability of the law.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered to all Federal and Postal employees who meet the minimum eligibility requirements of time in Federal Service, age and a level of medical evidence which must be carefully and thoughtfully presented.

As such, for the Federal or Postal worker who intends on filing for the benefit of OPM Disability Retirement, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, the art of factual and legal argumentation must be presented with persuasive force, often like the slow dripping of an unconstrained faucet, as opposed to the break of a dam.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Rocking Chair and the Never-Ending Story

The myth about retirement has long receded; once upon a time, there was an idea, a concept, an ethereal potentiality, of reaching a point of quietude where reflection, dispensing of wisdom, and calm gardening and tending to the passing of time would be the status of choice; but modern life has wreaked havoc upon such a notion.

It was perhaps engendered by the character, Mose Harper (the sidekick of John Wayne) in John Ford’s, “The Searchers”, who only wanted a “rocking chair” at the end of his troubles.  But the never-ending story in these times of modernity, is that one must always claw and fight for maintaining the high standard of living which we enjoy and have become content with.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must take an early form of retirement — a Federal Disability Retirement — because of his or her ongoing medical conditions, where the medical conditions no longer allow for the continuation in one’s job because they prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of the job, the battle to first prove a Federal Disability Retirement application, then to retain and maintain it, throughout all of the complexities of the bureaucratic and administrative process, is a daily chore and toil.

First, there is the right to get it approved; then, there may be periodic Medical Questionnaires which are issued and which mandate a response; then, if Social Security Disability is approved, the offset between FERS Disability benefits and SSDI must be calculated; then, if you become employed and lose the SSDI benefit because of income, the FERS Disability annuity must be recalculated; then, at age 62, recalculation because the Federal Disability Retirement annuity effectively ends, based upon the total number of years of service, including the time one is on Federal Disability Retirement; and then the need to maintain income sources because of the reduction; and so the never-ending story continues.

Indeed, it is not from the rocking chair which the retiree tells a story, like Mose Harper must have done in his old age; rather, the modern retiree from the Federal sector, whether as a former employee of a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, must tell his or her never-ending story to an empty chair with rhythmic movements to and fro absent an occupant, as the old man remains away, trying to figure out the further complexities of this age of modernity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Reconsiderations & Additional Medical Information

The denial comes in the mail; it is a further delay, a negation of prior efforts; for many, it undermines and constitutes a condemnation of sorts, and a refusal of an affirmation sought in places and from people where none is offered.  It is, after all, another piece of correspondence which negates the negative:  the medical condition itself and the loss of one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, represented the first foundation of negation; now, a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management merely confirms, via a second negation, the loss of positive forces inherent in failure and Federal bureaucracies.

But all things in life must be kept in their proper perspective, and a reaction of disproportionate magnitude must be kept in check; life is often a series of mishaps; yes, it just seems that such unfortunate events happen to certain individuals, and as the old adage goes, when it rains, it pours.  Once the initial shock of the denial is withstood, then the trepidation and cautious perusal, followed by an obsessively careful scrutiny, of the reasons for the denial issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is engaged; but the futility of such efforts will become apparent.

The monotony and disinterested voice behind the volume of verbiage and almost bellicose verbosity becomes more than apparent: either the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management did not read the medical file or, more likely, selectively chose to extrapolate statements and findings out of context in order to justify the denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At this Second Stage of the process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it matters not what the words say with respect to the denial issued by OPM; the file is immediately transferred to a general, unassigned file, awaiting further instructions from the person to whom the denial has been issued:  if left unanswered, the file will disappear within the cauldrons of bureaucratic warehouses; if a Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, then it will ultimately be assigned to someone in the Reconsideration Division at OPM; but, in either case, it is no longer the responsibility of the OPM representative who issued the denial, and no amount of phone calls, venting or sending of additional information to that person will make a whit of difference, until (a) the Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, and (b) the Federal or Postal employee addresses some of the concerns brought up in the denial itself.

The Reconsideration process itself is fraught with dangers and potential pitfalls; it confirms that perhaps the Federal or Postal employee should have sought the advice, counsel and guidance of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, but moreover, as most mistakes are correctable, it may be a wise avenue of choice to seek legal assistance, finally.

In any event, time factors must be considered, and the time lost today by extension of a denial, further confirms the oldest adage of all, that being penny wise is to be pound foolish,  a saying that is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but can be traced to those earlier.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire