Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The problem perspective

Does “positive thinking” actually work?  Or, is it one of those pithy approaches to life, where the “throwaway” line is used to dismiss unpleasantries and negative influences that might otherwise disprove the obvious — that life is difficult enough without listening to the difficulties of others?  Then, there is the “problem perspective” — of seeing everything as a problem as opposed to a solution or opportunity, and to see the world as a glass half-empty in contradistinction to a half-full universe.

Objectively, of course, both descriptions reflect the same objective reality; the contention is that “how” we view the world (i.e., our subjective perspective upon the world around us) influences the manner in which we approach the objective world in deliberating, solving, resolving, tackling problems, embracing situations, etc.

The “problem perspective” describes a person who sees everything from the vantage point of a problem.  It is all well and good, of course, to speak about having a “positive” frame of mind when things are going well; it is when actual, objective problems and difficulties arise in one’s life, that the “real test” of whether “positive thinking” works comes into question.

Objectively, of course, one could argue that, whether one possesses a “positive” mindset, a “negative” perspective, or a somewhat neutral approach, the outside world (that “noumenal” universe that Kant referred to) cares not a twit about what we “think” (i.e., the phenomenal universe that Kant distinguished — the one that we actually have access to) about it — for, it still exists whether we have a positive, negative or neutral perspective, anyway.

It is when the objective world impinges upon the subjective perspective with an undeniable negation of the positive — as in, a medical condition that debilitates and makes for a painful existence, whether physically or cognitively — that the test of whether a “positive” outlook works, or whether a “negative” perspective makes a difference, tests our daily 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 Federal or Postal job, the approach one takes may indeed make a difference with a real distinction.  Yes, the end of one’s Federal or Postal career may be coming; and, yet, the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service may well move to terminate you based upon your growing inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job.

In the end, such a “problem perspective” is a very real one, and becomes a problem precisely because there is a combination of both the “objective” world (the medical condition itself) and the “subjective” one (what to do about it; the next steps to be taken; the decision to be made, etc.).

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not only be the best “next step” to take — it may be the “only” one in the sense that all other options are undesirable: to stay and suffer; to resign and walk away without doing anything; or to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In the end, all “problem perspectives” need a positive solution, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is the best and positive solution for a Federal or Postal employee needing to resolve the problem perspective where one’s medical condition no longer allows for the fulfillment of all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Analogies

It is the greater concept often developed through metaphors and similes; but to the extent they are now of use depends largely upon the shared cultural context within which we live.  If Classical literature is no longer the common thread of meaningful discourse, can references to them in creating analogies work?  To share that a person’s tragedy is more Shakespeare than Milton, or that the individual’s circumstances remind one more akin to The Road to Wigan Pier than Brideshead Revisited, can such conversations take on a relevant pathway if the intellectual divide fails to be crossed?

You can, of course, always Google and quickly get the quick rundown of the literary reference through electronic Spark Notes, or some other venue of shortcutting the arduous endeavor reserved in former times; but even that may reveal an inadequacy that cannot be overcome.  For, of what part of the book or author is being referred to?  Is it any particular play or poem, or the entirety of the work itself?  Is it any specific character or scene?

Some philosophers have posited that, by and large, we comprehend and make sense of the objective world through the use of analogies, built upon by metaphors and similes; for, language itself is a conglomerate of such literary devices.  To face the universe purely for survival’s sake is to forego the need for imposing the ordering through language; animals do not require it, but in the most rudimentary of mechanisms that advance warning signs and preemptive communications; it is only in the arena of human constructs where categorical imperatives need to be assigned in order to filter the world into more palatable and circumscribed entities for processing the complexities we have created.

Analogies thus communicate through the medium of shared conceptual constructs, where we draw in the recipient and spectator, the audience of our targeted comparisons, by relating a shared, known and familiar encapsulation of linguistic constructs.  It is only when the strangeness of the metaphor, the unfamiliarity of the reference, creates further puzzlement and loss of connection, that problems occur and relationships become fissures of language games gone awry.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees 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 positional duties, the applicability of providing a foundational construct of relating one’s story to an “administrative specialist” at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often involve – and require – analogies by default.

Use them sparingly; utilize discretion; and, in writing up one’s narrative in response to the questions posed on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), remember that this is not the time, the context or the best place to try out radical, untested metaphors, similes or analogies.

Thus, while those who have read Orwell’s work, The Road to Wigan Pier, as well as Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, may find a clever and appropriate place in one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability to make some brilliant literary reference, it may be more prudent to stick to the medical facts and incorporate those supportive documents in dealing with analogies of life, health, and the nexus between the latter and one’s Federal or Postal job duties.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire