Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Authentication

There is a process and means by which it is accomplished — as in authenticating a painting or an antique piece of furniture, jewelry, etc.; of an autograph or handwritten letter (although, many will say that in the field of forensic sciences, handwritten analysis is far from reaching a vaunted level of precision or reliability); of a pet’s pedigree or even of a person’s right to have access to sensitive information, etc.

Authentication is thus a process of verification, of identifying X as being Not-Y in many instances, where exclusion by elimination of other possibilities results in the declaration of the genuineness of the person or thing declared to be so.

When applied to an object, it inspects and compares against other objects within a historical context, style, peculiar features of an artisan’s eccentricities, period-characteristics and signature features, etc.  When applied to an individual, it may take into account physical features as well (appearance; finger prints; voice matching; DNA sample, etc.), but could also encompass questions posed and answers given, and depending upon the comparison to known archives of historical background checks made against statements previously provided, deem that an “authentication” has been reached concerning the “true” identity of an individual, akin to declaring that a painting previously unverified is in fact a product of this or that “Master”, or that an antique furniture piece was the craftsmanship of some famous cabinetmaker during the Jeffersonian Renaissance period or from some pop-culture minimalist timeframe during the early Sixties, etc.

The process of “authentication”, of course, can be distinguished from whether or not an individual is living an “authentic life”, as well, and here, the meanings become somewhat muddled and divided.  One can be “authenticated” and be allowed access to sensitive banking information, be allowed to use a credit card, write a check, etc., and still live an inauthentic life (e.g., act like someone you are not, present yourself as a “family man” despite all the while committing multiple affairs; live a double or triple or even a quadruple life and deceive everyone around, etc.).

The process in reaching a conclusion as to whether a person is living an authentic or inauthentic life is somewhat different from “authenticating” a person.  For, to engage in the former analysis, it is normally done for the most part as a self-analysis (i.e., only the person who is living an inauthentic life can know for certain whether it is so or not), whereas the methodology imposed of “authenticating” a period-piece or an individual (the latter) is by applying a more objective standard of comparative review.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual issues of “authentication” and “authentic living” come to the fore, precisely because the Federal or Postal employee becomes forced into behaving in rather inauthentic ways.

Hiding the medical condition; trying desperately to work through the debilitating symptoms and maintaining an appearance of normalcy; and all the while trying to force a consistency between one’s capacity and the watchful eyes of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these are the elements that challenge the authenticity of one’s life.

Living an authentic life under normal circumstances is difficult enough; trying to authenticate one’s capacity to continue “as is” in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition makes it all the more challenging.  It may be that 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, is the only way forward in forging an authentic pathway away from an inauthentic morass that the medical condition has forced upon you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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