OPM Disability Retirement Help: The Man from Mars

It is a strangeness that cannot be avoided.  Sort of like Thomas Nagel’s famous philosophical essay, “What is it like to be a bat — for a bat?”  It is the “for a bat” that makes all of the difference; for, as Nagel himself pointed out, it is easy to imagine what it is like to be a bat — i.e., have wings, fly in the dark of night, screech, eat bugs, etc.  However, the uniqueness of actually being another creature — of having a separate and distinct perspective from that of a human, man-centered purview — is something that we will never be able to achieve.

Others, like those in Daniel Dennett’s camp, counter that there is no Searle-like “ghost in the machine”, and that consciousness is merely comprised by the aggregate of the neurological connections that make up the human body, and there is nothing metaphysical beyond the physical, no “trans” or “meta” existence beyond the firing of neurons and wired transmitters — in other words, the uniqueness of an individual is nothing beyond what we see and experience.

The cynic, of course, would look at the neanderthal that we have become, where we stare into our Smartphones like zombies and laugh uproariously as the crudest of jokes, and nod in agreement.  But what of the experiences of the extraterrestrial — does that shed any further light upon the issue?

Take, for example, the concepts explored in works like, The Man who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie, or Robert Heinlein’s story of science fiction, “Stranger in a Strange Land” — where an alien culture and perspective meets with the consciousness of the banality found on earth; is it any different than when Native Americans first saw the ships appear upon the horizon of the Americas?  What is the natural response of the Man from Mars, and what is our response when confronted by an alienation of cultures, processes or foreign encounters?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the strangeness of the experience itself is often daunting, at least in two or three ways: First, the medical condition itself is a phenomena that is alien, where previously the Federal or Postal employee was a healthy, vibrant individual.  Second, the fact that the Federal or Postal employee cannot “do it all” is another foreign concept that one has to adjust to, and that is often difficult enough.  And Third, the experience of meeting adversity and sensing a negative reaction by one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Facility one works at — that, too, is a foreign and alien experience, where before the Federal or Postal employee felt like he or she was a member of that “team”, and now the treatment accorded is one likened to a plague or infectious disease.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether he Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often an experience likened to the Man from Mars — and because of this, the Federal or Postal employee who needs to consider Federal Disability Retirement might want to consult with a tour guide, otherwise known as an attorney who specializes in the attractive sights on Mars and within the purview of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: Confused confusion

Why confuse the confused?  Why confuse further the confusion that already confused even the least of the confused?  Why add to the confusion when the confused are confused enough as it is, and when confusion should be relieved by less confusion instead of confusing everyone further by adding to the confusion?

Life is confusing enough, and it is amidst the confusion of life’s state of perennial confusion that we seek relief from the confusing state of affairs, but which often leads to further confusion because we ourselves are confused.

It all began in childhood when first we entered the ice cream shop and had to choose between vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors — and we turned to our parents wanting all three, or one of them, or perhaps two out of three, and we admitted mournfully, “Mom, I’m confused.”  Then, the next summer, we stepped in line and looked up at the offerings, and there were 3 more flavors added — of caramel-something-or-another, chocolate mint and peach; and from thence forward, choices for unlimited quantities of alternatives offered bombarded our sensibilities and overloaded the limited circuitry of life’s options.

Then, of course, there was the “fax machine” that began it all — not having to have to wait for the snail mail to carry back and forth the correspondence that was being typed first on a manual typewriter, then an electric one, then a “word processor”, then a tabletop computer, then a laptop, and then the smartphone and beyond — where every written piece of memorialization could be instantly received, to be further replaced by emails, attachments to emails, shared documents and instantaneous transmissions through the netherworld of constant connectivity; and we wonder, are we any clearer within our lives than before the confused confusion we experience today?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who believe that the Federal Disability Retirement process is a rather confusing administrative morass, such a belief would not be unfounded.

The complexity of the process — of what meets and constitutes the “preponderance of the evidence” test; of the multiple and various case-law precedents that determine and define the eligibility criteria for a successful Federal Disability Retirement application; to the confusing language contained in SF 3112C that will supposedly “guide” the treating doctors into providing the necessary medical information in order to successfully meet the eligibility criteria — all of it is inherently and purposefully complex and confusing.  How does one cut through the thickets of confusion?

To begin with, confusion is sometimes confused with complexity; and though they share some characteristics, the difference between the two is that while one possesses inherent elements which may lead to confusion, the other (confusion) is not necessarily defined by them.

Federal Disability Retirement is a complex administrative process, and the confusing elements within the process can lead to later complications unless clarified at the early stages.  To do so — i.e., to clarify the confusions and simplify the complexities — the Federal or Postal employee may want to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in that complex and confusing area of law identified as “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement from OPM: The warmth of a thought

Does it even make sense to cross over between tactile-based sensations and conceptual transmissions?  We’ve heard variations of that muddle — of how a thought brings warmth to one’s body; meaning, thereby, that there is a causal connection between a thought and a subsequent sensation, as in, “I was sitting there one evening thinking about my childhood, sitting on my grandfather’s lap when a secure feeling of warmth overcame me”.

In such an instance, we realize the cause-and-effect consequences at play — of a thought that leads to a sensation, where mind-to-body interaction is “proven” by the symbiotic relationships and coherence of and between the two.

David Hume, ever the doubter and cynic, would likely have argued (beyond a mere declaration of dismissiveness in saying, “Bosh!” with a distinctive Scottish accent) that no necessary connection between the thought and the sensation has occurred, any more than the sequence of one following upon another.  Yet, we all believe that there is some sort of a connection, whether directly causal or otherwise.

Thus do we accept the descriptive custom when a mystery write speaks about the “cold chill” that ran up the victim’s spine just before the killer put his hands around the woman’s throat — a clear indication that observation following upon a thought resulted in a tactile sensation.  But the subtle distinction made here — not of a thought that brings about a sensation, but the “warmth of a thought”, is a somewhat slight variation of the causal connection.  Not that the thought itself links to a consequential sensation, or that there is a causal linkage between thought and tactile phenomena, but that the two are one and the same — of the very sensation within, of and encasing and encapsulating the thought itself.

In other words, the thought itself is the warmth, and the warmth is the thought, such that the “of” is not a causal consequence brought about by a sequence of X-following-upon-Y, but the space between concept and sensation doesn’t even exist.  It is somewhat like the difference between the following 2 sentences: “The discontent in winter” and “The winter of discontent”.  Is there a distinction with a difference?

Linguistic subtleties abound only within the ivory towers of academicians; for the rest of us, such separateness of meanings rarely impact with significance or relevance (ah, now that is the rub, isn’t it — to argue over the difference between “significance” and “relevance”?).  The warmth of a thought — can the tactile sensation be separated from the conceptual construct?

It is like the medical condition that a Federal or Postal employee suffers from — the one (or many such ones) that begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Can the medical condition itself ever be separated from the life that one lives?

Others talk about “it” as if the “it” (the medical condition) is some other entity or stranger, but for the suffering Federal or Postal employee, the “it” is part and parcel of the life itself.  That is why, for a Federal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to be clear, elucidating and coherent in writing up one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A when making one’s “case” for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to approve a Federal Disability Retirement Application — for, when the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from a medical condition and is in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the warmth of a thought is the same as the suffering felt and the anxiety one is left with for a future yet uncertain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Ends and beginnings

It is the linear manner in which we perceive the world; of straight lines as opposed to circular figures; of two points or perhaps three, then again lines of intersection and connecting the dots, instead of arcs that waver and detour beyond the directional certainty of point A to Point B and beyond.  “Ends” we recognize by the symphony that crescendos and the credits that scroll down and display the accomplishments unto the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants”; or, at least when the black screen declares, “The End”.

And of beginnings?  Other than the first breath taken, the consummation of love’s forlorn initial encounters and the memories of childhoods harkening back to hazy summer evenings that may be real or mixed with what was told about you when you were young; perhaps beginnings can never be ascertained with as much certainty as the endings that suddenly come upon us.

We tend to bifurcate our lives with straight and intersecting lines; “Here is when X happened”; “Over there, that is when Y began.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who began their careers with the hopes and dreams of all who enter the workforce, full of vigor and enthusiasm, coopted by the “mission of the agency” or the team spirit reinforced by the accolades given in performance reviews, bonuses granted and promotions within sight of tomorrow – the slow deterioration of a medical condition can come to one’s realization as a devastating recognition that an “end” is coming, without the concomitant accompaniment of the clear “beginning” to follow.

Where does something “end”, and something else “begin”?

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management because the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position is indeed an “end” of sorts, but it must also be viewed as an important “beginning”.

It is the beginning of attending to the priorities of life; of starting to focus upon one’s health and well-being; of recognizing that others at the Federal agency or the Postal service have seen the “end” of your career.

Yet, perspectives matter, and how we view things do make a difference, and it is the “beginnings” that come after the “end” that matters.  For, the “Assistant to the Assistant director of Operational Assistants” hopefully did not end his or her career with that final credit noted at the end of that B-rated movie; hopefully, he became the director of Operational Assistants, or perhaps the director himself or herself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The Soul’s need for silence

If the world was merely one constant clatter, would we be able to stand the din of life?  Just as existence needs nothingness in order to have the separation of meaningful discourse, and as sentences need grammatical pauses (except in the cases of Faulkner and Joyce, perhaps), so the soul requires silence in the face of difficulties uninterrupted.

Medical conditions create havoc in lives; at first, perhaps just an annoyance or a nuisance, and the natural inclination is to rely upon the past that we know, and how – in remembrance of youthful vigor and quick rebounding and recuperation by mere strength and steely reserve – we were always able to ignore the pain, get past the turmoil and move beyond the anxious feelings of panic and depressive symptoms.  “It will pass,” we tell ourselves.  But then the long-view sets in; it is not merely a passing season, nor even a brief interlude of a cold north wind.

Instead, like the clinging vine that keeps coming back despite digging and chopping at the base of its roots, the chronic nature of the medical condition tells us that, as the unwelcomed uncle or aunt who has no other home and stays with you “just for a little while”, you cannot get beyond the season of pain and the intercession of turmoil.  It becomes a constancy, a persistence, a monotony of unsettled disquietude.  It is as if the soul’s search for silence finds only a din of unending noises as you search behind door after door for a room where relief and quietude may long for a bit of peace.

Souls need silence; silence allows for the interruption from din and darkness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from the dual attacks brought on by a medical condition – of increasing workplace harassment as well as the loss of the soul’s quietude and peace – there comes a time when preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes as necessary from a medical standpoint, as it is for the soul’s inner health.

Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end – a recognition that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to produce at the level of acceptability, and a tolerance for allowing that same Federal or Postal employee to “move on” so that a basic retirement annuity can be obtained, and yet remain productive for the future in the private sector, where the (now former) Federal or Postal employee may make up to 80% of what one’s former job currently pays, on top of the amount of Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

It is also the allowance and recognition of another important factor – that the soul’s need for silence is a necessary component in the midst of din and darkness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire