Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Conversations

What is a conversation?  Or, is it an empirical phenomenon that — only when we are in the middle of it — we know as we experience it, but otherwise is undefinable?  If there are 5 people in a room but only 1 is doing the talking, is a conversation ongoing?  Must there be a “back and forth” give and take, or must something more be involved?  If the same 5 people are in the same room, and all of them are talking all at once, does that rise to the level of a conversation?  Does interruption and talking over one another undermine the definition?

What if there is extraordinary politeness — of each waiting his and her turn — and where no one interrupts, there is a pause between each discourse and a civility beyond mere lack of rudeness, but upon listening, one realizes that each one of the individuals is speaking about a completely different topic, and there is no interaction or even acknowledgment that anyone is listening to anyone else — does this all of a sudden undermine the concept of what is occurring?

This is an Age of Discord — of intractable positions taken, where the foundations that once formed the Age of Reason have been decimated and we are left with empty voices of loud vehemence, hollow in content but roaring in volume.  Truth, objectivity, logic and rational methodology — the very essence of discourse and conversation — have been hollowed out and cast aside.

It is now in camps of “us” against “them”, but the singular missing component that has devastated the capacity to have a conversation is the one that no one ever talks about: The ability to recognize and admit that someone else’s argument is superior to one’s own.

When was the last time you heard someone say: “Hey, that argument is quite good and persuasive.  I think you are right.”?  Instead, it is the familiar refrain: “That’s just your opinion.”  And as the volume of decibels increases, the content of substance proportionately and precipitously falls.

There are, of course, various levels of conversations, but one level is clear: Listen to the other side.  This also includes reading, recognizing and understanding the applicable statutes in an administrative process in order to meet all of the elements of the burden of proof.  Being intransigent and stubborn are qualities that makes one feel empowered, but concurrently, are often self-defeating.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it all begins with knowledge — of the statutes, the case-law and the precedents that apply.

We may all have to concede that the Age of Conversations is over; what we may be left with is a process where, at the very least, one must listen and try to learn.

Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process which is never simple, and must be approached with knowledge, tenacity and an ear to listening to what is needed in order to meet the eligibility requirements.  Having a medical condition is a start, but it is not enough.  And like conversations that may have started but puttered out without fanfare, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will take more than talking about how we “feel”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Best/Worst Case Scenario

It is a procedural approach, and those who engage in it often have the greater talents akin to science, engineering, mathematics and symbolic logic.  It is the person who views every contingency in terms of best and worse case scenarios before deciding upon a determined course of action.

But how accurate is the “best” and the “worst”?  How can one determine if the informational input that is “fed” into the substance of that which will result in the output of what is described as the “best” and the “worst” is accurate enough to make it even worthwhile?  Does a gambler enter into a casino and make such assessments? Of thinking to him/herself in terms of: If I place X amount on the table and lost it all, what is the best case scenario, and what is the worst?  When a person begins a career, does he or she begin life with the same approach?  How about marriage?  Or having children?  Or, is it more likely that such an application really has a very limited impact, and should be used sparingly in the daily events of life’s encounters?  Is that a false set of alternatives precisely because there are many incremental and relevant “in-betweens” that may determine one’s course of action?

Perhaps the picture painted of the “best” scenario of outcome determinatives need not be the basis for one’s decision, and even the “worst” case scenario need not be the minimum standard or quality of life that we would accept, but somewhere in between or just shy of that extreme cliff that we have described?  Perhaps they are false alternatives when we present it in that light, with only those two extremes of alternative realities to consider?

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers 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 the Federal or Postal employee’s job with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application does not need to be based upon false alternatives presented, but should instead be based upon a pragmatic step towards recognizing the reality of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s capacity and ability to continue in a job or career that may be detrimental to one’s health, and proceed based upon the totality of factors considered – but primarily with a view towards safeguarding one’s health.

Health is that “other factor” that tips the balance of what is the best or worst case scenario; for, in the end, there is no scenario at all without one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Redshirt

In athletic parlance, it refers to an individual and a status, allowing for a fifth year of eligibility when the rules mandate a restriction to a four-year period.  The word itself is quite malleable, and reflects well the technicality involved in avoiding the direct letter of the language.  Being a redshirt (noun), a redshirt freshman (adjective) or redshirted in his first year (verb) reveals to us the capacity of language to jump like grammatical forms of hopscotching that amazes and intrigues; and the cautionary prelude to a wink-and-a-nod is prefaced with, “You are being too literal”.

It only proves the point, doesn’t it — of the age-old adage that rules are created with the intent of being broken; or, at least bent in order to fit?  For, once such rules were imposed in order to allow for “fairness” in collegiate sports, the “legal technicians” (i.e., lawyers) went immediately to work upon coming up with novel interpretations, strategies for avoidance, and advice to extend beyond what the limitations allowed.

“Redshirting” was one of the devised methodologies – of allowing for everything up to the critical line of demarcation:  that of playing in a game itself.  Thus, the redshirt can practice with the team throughout that entire year of eligibility, but such actions do not count; the redshirted freshman can attend classes, be a full-fledged partner in the “college life”, and yet his participation is not marked against him or her; and to be redshirted in that year of eligibility allows for growth, maturity, advancement in development – all without “using up” a year of eligibility by being sacked a hundred times during the season and becoming a shattered soul devoid of self-confidence and losing assurance of one’s talents and skills.

It is, within the athletic community of college consortiums, a brilliant strategy to deftly avoid the burden of rules; for the greater society, it reflects the essence of what is wrong, precisely because it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the literal language of the rules.  Yet, that is true of almost everything in life, is it not?

Careful study; identifying the loopholes; then initiating the strategy to maneuver around landmines and obstacles.  Is it any different than a hunting party tracking a prey, sniffing out the signs of predatory confirmation and taking in information and adapting accordingly?  Rules, regulations and laws may well be designed, initially, at least, to address a specific problem; and, out of the cauldron of an enacted statutes, comes multiple other problems and issues because of the malleability of words and imprecise linguistic pauses.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  It is a necessary prerequisite to identify the legal language of eligibility; define the issues; identify whether or not the Federal or Postal employee considering such an option “fits into” the legal criteria circumscribed; then to proceed to “redshirt” one’s own situation and devise a methodology for eligibility.

Compiling the evidence, formulating the proper narrative, and presenting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can thus be likened to the redshirting of a freshman – in order to extend one’s life beyond the debilitating medical conditions otherwise shortening the career of a promising Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employees Disability Retirement Systems (FERS/CSRS): Of the parsimonious panderer

Somehow, merely doing your work just isn’t good enough; allies must be accumulated; alliances must be forged; outsiders, enemies and loners must be harassed, intimidated and crucified; suspicion is always cast upon the forces of neutrality, and homage paid is the quid pro quo of worldly advantage.

We tend to think that the manner in which prison systems naturally tend towards animalistic behavior of fiefdoms, savagery and community of gangs merely reflects a sociological consequence of a passing academic interest, without recognizing that the same applies in our daily lives.  One cannot merely go to work, do an excellent job and mind one’s own business; there are always dark forces beyond, awaiting and lurking, conniving to entrap and ensnare.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the magnification and exponential pressure of prior failures in becoming “one of us” begins to manifest itself in so many ways.

For the Federal or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the U.S. Postal Service or the Federal agency, two problems begin to surface:  First, dealing with the medical condition itself; and Second, dealing with management, supervisors, and even fellow coworkers.

It is an unfortunate truism that pandering not only works, but works too well; and if, in the course of one’s career, one has been parsimonious in the arena of pandering to others, the price to be paid is often the harshness of refusing to join and pay the membership of the panderer’s club.

But, then, the price for possessing integrity has always been the wounded pride of the lying predator, and when the parsimonious panderer awakens the abyss of human conscience by having a need for sympathy or empathy, the herd mentality of the world around will surely respond in ways predictable, by devouring the likes of a wounded prey such as the Federal or Postal employee who needs to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire