FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Art of the Story

There is the subject itself, and then there is the art of the subject thus identified.  At some point in every civilization, the academic study of a subject becomes pedantically necessary, and a “cottage” industry developed.

Once upon a time, the “story” was an important and inseparable component of a culture; the storyteller was the keeper of the village’s identity, the protector of its essence where mythology and folklore provided meaning, relevance and its self-knowledge of who one was, where one came from, and what the whole purpose of existence meant.  Without The Story, people wandered off despondent, lost, and without a teleological force to hold the unit of peoples together within a coherent whole.

Then, writing came along and as the technological tools of the craft disseminated to other and wider cultural arenas, the shared ideas and adventures of each culture became better known, and assimilated by each over and within others.  The “Art” of the story became the study of it — of what constituted an effective story; what made people laugh, cry, and the erudite articles that explained that which was once obvious and self-evident.  Categorization and specialization soon follows; whether as it becomes more sophisticated or intellectually advanced as a reflection of it, or merely because complexity follows upon a self-satisfaction of what we deem as “progress”, who will ever know?

The “Art” of the story somehow came into being — of the study of a once human need began around a campfire where a village told of its origins, now relegated to the halls of academic “science” where dissection, analysis and discussions ensue.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a “story” about a medical condition that is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Art of the Story becomes a necessary form of application, because SF 3112A —Applicant’s Statement of Disability — requires not only the telling of one’s story about the medical condition, the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s job duties, and how it has dominated all aspects of one’s professional and personal life, but beyond: it must comply with and meet the legal eligibility criteria by a preponderance of the evidence, thus forcing the Federal and Postal employee to go beyond the story itself, and to be fully aware that the Art of the Story has more to do with the proper and effective presentation of it, than the story itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The shaken confidence

Tree limbs can be shaken; hands can shake, evidencing some agreement or initial salutation of a wordless sort, or even accompanied by some utterances; and the earth can shake as the subterranean tectonic shifts invisible and otherwise unnoticed, which then can result in tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The shaken confidence can take many forms; and the forms themselves cannot so easily be identified.  It presumes, first of all, that there was “confidence” to begin with, lest that which is shaken could not possibly have occurred unless it preexisted the loss of it.  Yet, too often, the evidence of its very existence is merely the lack of any contrary characteristic — i.e., a negation that fails to manifest existence and thus cannot actually be proven.  Of a person who walks about without any noticeable trace of lack — do we say of him or her, “He has confidence’?  Or is it just the one who has an overabundance of it, who struts around like a proud peacock or a rooster who takes no guff of whom we attribute “overconfidence’?

In normal discourse we just assume that, unless there are indications to the contrary, everyone who stands and walks amidst and among us possess some level of “confidence” or, in more particularized form, of “self-confidence”.  What are the events or issues that “shake” it, and what can an attribution of such an event mean?  Perhaps it is triggered by some tragic source — a trauma of a very personal nature, of death or an accident, perhaps; or can it be by mere utterance of words, of a berating boss or an insensitive spouse?  Or, how about a realization that one’s presumed immortality is simply not so?

None of us believe in immortality — at least, not in the sense that we will live forever walking about this earth.  Yet, until an event “reminds” us of our mortality, we take it for granted that life goes on as the day before, and the day before that; and so the concept of immortality resides by avoidance or ignorance, until something “reminds” us that, indeed, mortality is the nature of life, and flesh is by each instance and in incremental subtlety progressively deteriorating within the microscopic cells of slow degeneration.  And of a medical condition — can it be the source of the shaken confidence?

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 — the shaken confidence resulting from the progressively deteriorating medical condition is just as real as the earth that trembles and groans from tectonic shifts that moves and crumbles the structural integrity of high engineering feats.

Federal Disability Retirement is often not a choice made in confidence, but from a lack thereof; for, a medical condition cannot be viewed within a vacuum of a mere diagnosis that can be surgically extracted; rather, a medical condition is a sequence of aggregated tragedies — of the medical condition itself; the symptoms which result; the impact upon one’s personal and professional life; of the effect upon family and friends; of the triggers upon one’s psyche as well as the physical pain and mental anguish experienced.

In short, the shaken confidence of the one who used to walk about the earth as if you owned it, and 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 simply the first step in regaining that “shaken confidence” that was once a day before in a time now long forgotten presumed to have always been there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Meaningful turns

How many turns do we make on any given day?  Not just actual ones, like those turns while driving a car, but figurative ones, as well.  If a person approaches you and asks, “Did you make the right turn?” — what is the response?  Is there a “right” answer?  Is there a relationship in the English language between the terms “right”, “left” and the physical attributes we possess?

If a person tells of another, “He’s way out in left field,” is that because we attribute the term “left” with residues of the negative?  And, how did the terms “left” and “right”, when referred to in politics, come to have a meaning of equivalency?  Was the fact that right-hand dominance was historically preferred to left-handedness, to the extent that teachers once used to punish those students who naturally attempted to utilize their left hands in handwriting, drawing, etc., account for the linguistic dominance and preference given to the term “right” as opposed to “left”.

Do we understand the concept with greater presumption when a person says, “He made a left turn and got lost,” even if the person actually made a right turn and found himself in an unfamiliar neighborhood?  And what of “meaningful” turns – are there such things, as opposed to spurious and meaningless ones?  How often we confuse and conflate language with figurative speech and objective facts; and then we wonder why most people wander through life with confusion, puzzlement and an inability to cope.

Russell and the entire contingent of British linguistic philosophers, of course, attempted to relegate all of the problems of philosophy to a confusion with language – and, of course, only the British, with their history of Shakespeare and the sophistication of language, its proper usage and correctness of applicability could possess the arrogance of making such an argument.

But back to “meaningful turns” – in one sense, in the “real world”, every turn is meaningful to the extent that we turn and proceed towards a destination of intended resolve.  But in the figurative sense, it refers to the steps we take in mapping out consequential decisions.

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 the Federal or Postal worker’s position and duties, the “meaningful turn” that one must consider should by necessity ask many questions:  How long can I continue in this job?  What are the consequences of my staying, both to my health as well as from the Agency’s perspective?  How long before my agency realizes that I am not capable of doing all of the essential elements of my job?  Will my excessive use of SL, AL or LWOP become a problem with the agency?  And what about my health?

These are just a series of beginning questions on the long road towards making one of the meaningful turns that confront the Federal or Postal employee in the quest for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Of other’s misery

It may give one a sense of short-term satisfaction; sort of like Chinese carry-out, it satisfies for an hour or so, then seems to lose its efficacy for fulfillment.  Whereas, there are other foods that tend to last for greater time; and so it is with receiving news or information of other’s misery.  It certainly allows for a comparison of sorts; of tilting balances imagined, or even for contrasting accomplishments forsaken, dreams yet unfulfilled or misery unabated.

Of other’s misery – we condescend, conceal our delight and contend that we care and “feel terribly”; in other words, we sit and do nothing about it, even if we were able to.  Oh, we give the proper lip-service, of course: “How terrible”; “What a shame”; “What can one do?”  But all the while, inside, we whisper in soliloquys that harbor those feelings of secretive annoyances that say, “Thank goodness it is the other guy,” and begin to take an inventory of relief and comparative analysis of how best to take advantage of the situation.

Is that too cynical a viewpoint?  Does Machiavelli live within all of us?  Perhaps not to the extent described.  Then, what of other’s misery?  At a minimum, it provides a contrast and places us in a state of reality that says, Maybe our situation is not so bad after all.  Contentment by contrast of balancing the misery of others, however, is no way to live.

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 the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to preparing a successful and effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not by comparing the content of other’s misery, but by a direct creation of a nexus between one’s own medical condition and the essential elements of one’s position description.

Forget the instinctively wrong-headed approach of asking, “Well, does X-medical condition qualify if so-and-so had the same condition and was still able to work?” Or: “There are others more bad off than I am, so…”  So what?  Federal Disability Retirement is a specific legal basis that requires specificity as to individual circumstances.  It is irrelevant as to issues of other’s misery; it is one’s own that one must focus upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Life can change in a day

A wise person once quipped that, If you don’t like the weather in this area, wait a day and it’ll come around.  The greater meaning of such a kernel of wisdom, of course, is that it is a microcosm of a wider reflection concerning life itself; wait long enough – sometimes a week, a month, a year, or a few years – and circumstance have a tendency to alter the course of one’s life and therefore one’s perspective.

Life can, indeed, change in a day; one day, you are happily drifting along, believing that nothing could be better; and the next, a calamity ensues, the human experience becomes a “topsy-turvy” matter and suddenly sours upon the smiling demeanor we carried just a moment before.

Or, one may begin the day in a negative and foul mood, but something changes, alters, moderates and impacts, and we come home despite the turmoil of work and daily problems with a smile on our face, and when asked “what is wrong?” (as opposed to, “What is right?”), we smile distantly and refer to the sunshine, the weather, the flower smelled on the road home, or that Frost-like metaphor of having taken the road less traveled on the way there.

Or, perhaps it is the simple recognition that there is more to life than one’s own narrow perspective, that suddenly creates the change in the day of one’s life.

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 positional duties as assigned, the idea that life can change in a day is as real as the sun rises and is expected to rise.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a long, complex and bureaucratically difficult process, and often the process itself can be a defeating proposition as one awaits for a positive decision.  A denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can have a devastating impact, and a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage can have a further deleterious effect.

With each decision, life can “change” in a day.

On the other hand, an approval effectuated from OPM can also have that same effect – of a change in one’s life, all in a day.  That is the ultimate goal – change, but in a “positive” sense; for, to remain static is to become an inert substance, and life, if anything, is a continuum of constant flux and change, like the weather that can never be correctly forecasted, and the life that can never be accurately predicted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: VERAs

With spring comes the rumors of love, furtive dalliances, clandestine consummation and intrepid interludes; as well as the potential for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority for Federal and Postal employees.  What the latter (known under the acronym of VERA) has to do with the multiple listings of the former (rumors of love, furtive dalliances, etc.) is anyone’s guess; perhaps there is no connection at all or, more likely, the cognitive comparisons we make have to do with offers of change, adventure, and a need to evaluate the impact of all of the above upon the security of one’s future.

The devil, as in all things, is in the details.  Whether a VERA is accepted or not should be based upon the incentivized offer; and it is often the short term gain (a large enough sum of cash “up front” in order to make it attractive), like the adrenaline-flowing excitement propelled by a romantic interlude, which compels the Federal and Postal worker to accept the VERA.

Be not fooled; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Worker is proposing a VERA not out of the kindness of their abundant hearts; rather, it is to streamline, strip and effectively make skeletal the overburdened bureaucracy of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.  But the question, as applicable to all VERAs (as well as to romantic dalliances) is, Is it good for your future?

If the Federal or Postal worker must accept a VERA, the underlying reason and rationale is often because he or she can no longer continue in the job anyway; and, to make the point ever more poignant, that foundational reason for an inability to continue often involves a medical condition.  That being the case, it would be wise to evaluate and compare the short-term gain potentially attained through a VERA, as opposed to a long-term security of purposes accessed through filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Both a VERA and a Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Both are ways to discontinue the present set of circumstances the Federal and Postal employee finds him/herself in.  The VERA, however, is a plan of self-indulgent action proposed for the benefit of the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Federal Disability Retirement is a course of determination based upon the best-interests of one’s health and well-being.  And, like clandestine romances engaged in behind the locked doors of distant roadside motels, the VERA may merely be a response to a mid-life crisis leading to an emptiness in one’s soul once the excitement has passed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Quality of Input

We often forget that the quality, validity and accuracy of conclusions produced by computers will depend upon the input of information provided.  Thus, predictability of future weather forecasts are contingent upon present information selected, and the computational analysis resulting in the future paradigm is founded upon current constructs, analyzed through the cumulative data previously provided, with a dash of witch’s brew and a genuflection of hope.  In other words, the trash produced results from the trash collected; a rather self-evident tautology of sorts.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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, the issue of what information to provide, the amount of documentation, the precise wording selected, and the cumulative historical and current data introduced, will determine the statistical ratio of increased chance of success versus the possibility of an initial denial.

Receiving a denial from OPM is a down heartening experience, to put it mildly.  Expectations are that the subjective pain or psychiatric stresses which one experiences, will immediately be recognized and become translated into a societal benefit through a monetary annuity, especially as Federal Disability Retirement is an employment benefit offered for all FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset employees in the Federal system, and upon proof and sufficient information and documentation provided, one becomes eligible for the benefit.

The difference between preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, on the one hand, and computational analysis of information in other sectors of information processing, on the other, is that an intermediate human factor is present.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are reviewed, scrutinized and evaluated for sufficiency by someone at OPM, and it is this very human element which remains the “X factor” in all Federal OPM Disability Retirement applications.  What can be done about it?  It is simply a reality which must be taken into account, processed and accounted for.  While bureaucratic and ultimately a rather depersonalized process, it is nevertheless an administrative system which must be faced.

It is as old as the ageless adage of yore, attributed to Isaac Newton:  What goes up must come down; or, what information is provided, is the basis of conclusions reached, and it is the quality of information in culling together a Federal Disability Retirement application which is paramount in achieving success.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire