Federal Disability Retirement: The difficult good-bye

It is always difficult to say good-bye.  Whether of a long duration, or with a quick ending to an already fast-deteriorating relationship, the good-bye that brings sorrow, tears and a sense of unease is the one that once was never thought of.

Separating from loved ones; the end of a stay that may have begun with trepidation, hesitation or even loathing, but which turned out to be an embracing of past memories forgotten, revitalizing conversations and enlivening moments of collective reflections; or even of a chance encounter with someone, or with the lengthy last moments with a bedridden relative who wants the warmth of human contact nearby before departing into the netherworld through gates of wandering souls.

Whatever the circumstances, the good-byes we fear, the ones we think will be a relief, and even those that turned out to end merely with a half-hearted wave of the hand — it is the difficult good-bye that echoes within the hollow of one’s mind, squeezing between schedules full and memories touching upon a conscience that will not abide.

Careers have good-byes, as well, and not just between people; for it is the career that defines so much of who we are.  It is never just the “what do you do for a living” part of it, but the title that comes with it, the identity that is attached to it, the camaraderie that accompanies it and the past memories that haunt one; these are the cementing tributaries that form one’s personhood.

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 job, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the difficult good-bye is the one that separates the Federal or Postal employee from the Federal Agency or the Postal Facility — not necessarily because of the circumstances compelled by the medical conditions themselves (although that is admittedly difficult enough), but often because the job itself was and has been an integral part of one’s life, livelihood and identity, and because any change in one’s routine is hard enough.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is essentially saying good-bye to a good chunk of one’s daily routine of life and living — of spending about 50% or more of one’s life (including preparing for the day, commuting, doing work-related emails and similar activities, etc.) — and thus will be, even under the best of circumstances, a difficult separation and departing.

But always remember that the difficult good-bye is the one that retains an abiding meaningfulness within the souls of worthwhile characters, which then forms the seeds of hope for a future yet untold, as opposed to the half-hearted wave of the hand that dismisses so casually that we remember not even which hand with which we waved good-bye.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Counting the days

Do we count the days when vacations lapse within the final hours and minutes, when in the beginning sunsets were timeless moments of restful hours yet to come?  What anticipation of worry-less days, and of looking forward to sleeping in, letting one’s guard down and the muscles relaxing from the tensions of anxiety-filled build-ups: No emails (at least for a few days, maybe…until the thought begins to intrude, then grow, then overwhelm, of the accumulation of those hundreds sitting there waiting…waiting…), no phone calls, no need for the greatest necessity in modernity — the ability and capacity to multitask.

The days began with lazy hours and hazy minds; of the sleepiness still caught between eyelids barely opened, and thoughts of the rat-race still barely behind.  It takes days just to unwind, and just when you begin to relax, it dawns on you that you are already counting the days when summer is over, the kids are back to school, and even the commercials on television are already pushing to get those supplies that are blaring with fanfare of sales and super-sales.

Do lions in the wild count the days?  Do the salmon as they fight to go upstream relinquish the solitude of mindless numbers?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition forces one to count not just the days when vacation is at hand, but every hour, every day, every week because survival to the end of the week is the mode of existence, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, counting the days is nothing but a clear indication that the numbered days are shrinking exponentially, and lost with the sequence of each count is the unalterable truth that days counted are days lost, especially when one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Monday’s Startle

There is not much that needs to be said about Mondays.  The standard response to, “So, how is your day going?” is quickly understood with the response of, “It’s Monday”.  What is it about the first work-day of the week that brings about the startle of life?  Is that why the traditional week’s cycle begins from Sunday-to-Saturday, because we want to avoid the memory of a week beginning so disastrously?

Do we dread work so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the expectation of the day following the day off becomes so anticipated with angst and considerations of impending disasters, that what we come to expect we impose our will upon the universe such that reality follows our fears and imagination?  Or, is it that there is an across-the-board truce that comes about without a word of acknowledgment — shortly after the close of business on Friday afternoon — when everyone heaves a sigh of relief, goes into the weekend, and everyone follows the protocol of no longer bothering one another?

How did we come to that unspoken rule — you know, the one where emails suddenly become reduced in volume (except by those with OCD who increase the length and number because of the unresponsiveness of the previously-sent dozen or so), phone calls are put on hold and the furious activity of keyboard punching and looking about anxiously at the clock-that-never-moves — where suddenly a peaceful calm descends like a spirit from on high above the clouds, the white flag of a temporary truce is reached without anyone saying a word, week after week, month after month, year in and year out?

It is reported that such unspoken occurrences were common during every war — our own Civil War, the two World Wars (but not in the more recent ones in Southeast Asia and the Middle East), where ceasefires were embraced around Holy Holidays and some Sundays without any need for negotiated settlements, but with merely a wave and a smile.

Then, Monday’s startle comes with a roar.  Whether because it remains such a contrast against the quietude of the day before, or merely the release of pent-up energy allowed to aggregate over the 2 days of respite and restoration, one may never quite comprehend.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition which necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Monday’s startle is often a chronic condition because of the inability to escape from the anxiety of the medical condition itself over the weekend, Holidays or summer months.

Monday’s startle can be survived, for the most part, precisely because of Saturday’s respite and Sunday’s quietude; but when every day of the week and weekend results in the same angst as Monday’s startle, it is likely time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to focus upon one’s health, lest Monday’s startle turns into an endless stream of red flags replacing the white ones of truce where such flags are warning signs of an impending condition that only gets worse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing 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, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Dreams quashed

It has a ring of finality to it, a tone of termination, a quake of unequivocal endings; to extinguish, to suppress or to stamp out; it is often used as an example of some authoritative juggernaut putting down and out a rebellion by some wayward bandits; and so when it is conjoined and combined with another word – one that denotes hope for the future, a flicker of light for something positive – that has a positive connotation, it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, or a compound concept that cancels out one another.

The first word allows for a future hope and anticipation of things yet to come; the second, a denial of the first, a negation of that which one lives for.  Dreams quashed is an admission of defeat where once victory was in hand; a resignation to the reality where warmth of hope yet remained; and a bowing to a reality where the subjective universe perhaps allowed for thoughts beyond that which the objective world would dictate.

The compound concept of dreams quashed, when applied to a young soul just starting out in life, is perhaps a tragedy; as one gets older and reaches towards the dusk of life, or of the old man in a rocking chair rocking the finals days of breath away into the sunset, perhaps less so.  Yet, for everyone, whether young, old or in-between, dreams constitute the fiber of life’s worth, the filament that connects between despair and a will to move forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede and block the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the recognition that a career may be coming to an end, and anticipation of that “dream job” one finally obtained after college, and the realization that the camaraderie of working on a team, of having a unified purpose and a singular mission that always moved towards the future, to fulfill mini-dreams and projects that leaped into the beyond such that tomorrow was worth living and the next day was an anticipated victory of some proportions, perhaps microscopically relative to the greater universe, but nonetheless a platform that reflected upon one’s self-worth; these constitute those very “dreams” that appear to be in danger of being “quashed”.

Sometimes, however, the dreams of yesteryear need to be adjusted, such that it is not truly a quashing, but merely a modification.

Federal Disability Retirement is a recognition not of a dream quashed, but of a priority realized – that health is not always a given in life, and that which we took for granted was never to be freely accepted, but a gift received by a token of one’s sense of mortality.  Dreams quashed are merely hopes deceived, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to merely delay the inevitability of another dream revived but perhaps left forgotten in the rush to make a living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Then, forgotten

To die is forgivable; to be forgotten, not so much.  Perhaps that is why the 15-minute rule of one’s fame is so important to most people; that, to be “appreciated” in a life-long struggle just to remain relevant makes fools of us all, and the basis upon which con-men and scams continue to effectively play their course.

It is, of course, the “then” that matters – that prelude to the state of being forgotten, that defines what a person’s life was, remains, and will continue to be in the future amongst and amidst the remainder of a family, friends and acquaintances left behind.  For, the long and wide expanse before the “then” constitutes a life lived, the experiences encountered and the salacious intertwinements amassed; in short, it is what a person is remembered by which the definition of a life well lived and the cumulative amalgamation of challenges met.  Then, after all is said and done, the person is forgotten.  Oh, for a time, not entirely, perhaps.

In the painful memories left behind with family; of a legacy foretold and secured; but then, even those relatives, friends and loved ones slowly fade away into the eternal trash bin of history’s unnamed tombs, and then, forgotten.

Why else do people wave and try to get noticed when television cameras are rolling?  Or try and get that footnote published in the Guinness Book of Records?  Is the innate fear of becoming forgotten so powerful as to make fools of old men and not merely excusable because of youth yet unfettered?  Is it so important to be secured in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, in some footnote or esoteric reference that history will record, will annotate an accomplishment, an event or some memorable deed that we did; and, even if that were to happen, would not the same result occur – then, forgotten?

History is full of forgotten men and women – even those who have been recorded in the annals of relevant history.  How many battles and wars where young men just beginning the journey upon a life filled with potentiality and the first kiss of love, cuts short a future yet unlived, and instead becomes buried in the timeless echoes of a graveyard unrecognized?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who fear the dictum of “Then, forgotten”, either with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal facility, or just among the colleagues once worked with, the plain fact is that too much focus upon the “forgotten” part of the equation undermines the precursor prior to the “then” part.  There is always life after a career, and greater experiences beyond the work one has done.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should not be based upon any fear or unwillingness to “let go”; instead, it should be based upon a recognition that health and getting better is, and should always be, a priority that overrides the fear of one’s own fragile mortality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: Junkyards

It is the latter in the compound word which is left forgotten and unnoticed, precisely because of the screaming blare represented by the former, demanding attention by the sheer nature and character of its breaching sensibilities, like the spoiled cousin refusing to abide by the conventions imposed upon uninvited visitors and customs curtailing unwanted guests.

Once, before time forgotten and memories untarnished, the landscape was perhaps a pasture green with wildflowers and vegetation overgrown; then, a possessor who perhaps put up a fence to demarcate the beauty by identifying acquisition, tending to the weeds, creating a vegetable garden here, building a house over there, and all the while trying to maintain the beauty and solitude of a picturesque scene of pastoral quietude.

Initial intentions are rarely malevolent; it is time, circumstances and disrepair of incremental decay which, in their unnoticed aggregation of cumulative disregard, suddenly fall upon us like a tidal wave of gloom.  Perhaps it began more with the invention, creation and abundance of implements and industrial tools; or just the defect of human essence and the inherent laziness of the species.

An automobile which refused to throttle one early morning can certainly become the foundation of that linguistic pose at the forefront of the compound; later, a refrigerator where the condenser fan or the compressor, or some other such component which refused to make the proper sounds and conduct itself in a manner befitting cold air in the heat of a summer day, suddenly gives out, and what do you do with a monstrosity taking up valuable space within the limited dimensions of a cramped kitchen?

And thus, over time, where once the carefully tended landscape of pristine greenery unscathed by the clutter of unwanted debris, begins to dominate, as do most creations of human refuse.  The detritus of discarded wreckage scattered in the afterthought of one’s castle, as represented by the backyard of a home, is telling of a lengthy history of accumulation, decisions, riffraff of rubble unwanted — sort of like the history of human experiences comprised of emotional baggage gathered and garnered.

The outer reflects the inner, and the essence which expands within the soul of a tormented individual requires release and revelation, if only for a fortnight before an exponential explosion of psychic need claws to escape from the restraining membrane throughout.  Ugliness begs for concealment and a veil of hope; and so the grass and weeds which grow to cover the rusting wreckage in a junkyard of despair, often parallels the anguished inner being of the one who cries silently in hollows where no one can hear, or is unwilling to listen.

Junkyards are interesting case studies of the history of individual lives, otherwise undiscovered except perhaps by archaeologists who mistake an ancient site for a bevy of linear rationality.  But it is often the forgotten part of the junkyard which remains unnoticed — that of the inner component of man, left untended to and forgotten for fear of releasing the box which Pandora was entrusted with, containing all of the evils of the world, and what more to consign but the turmoils of human emotion and psychological scars, otherwise camouflaged by smiles and entreaties of normative concealment?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition — whether physical, emotional or mental — the junkyards most concerning are comprised of the illness and pain hidden from full view, perhaps left in the rear and avoided by others, which burdens the soul beyond capacity to endure.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often merely a first step in the process of clearing out the debris which accumulated over a lifetime of attempting to conceal and contain; for, in the end, the Federal or Postal worker who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is at a point in his or her life, when the wreckage mounting in the unseen privacy of junkyards left unattended, requires help to haul those heavy components of human detritus away, and in the process, a forgotten jewel carelessly discarded in a time once known with laughter in the pasture of one’s past, may again be discovered for future joy and hope.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire