Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The elixir of life

Is the substance we expunge necessarily the opposite of the positive?  Does the mere fact of expiation denote that which is unwanted, or merely no longer of utility?

In ancient times, an elixir was considered to be a substance of great desirability; it possessed multiple meanings, including a reference to that substance which was used in alchemy to alter base-metals into the gleaming riches of the natural order found deep beneath the chasms of the earth – gold.  Or, alternatively, it meant the potion or mysterious concoction that prolonged and extended life into an eternity of ecstasy; and in other definitions, a curative medicine that attended to all diseases, corrected every malady felt and balanced the unbalanced humors within the human body.

A further meaning has encompassed the concept of an essential principle – that core of something that provides an Aristotelian connection of all first causes such that when one discovers and comprehends the elixir of life, one has attained a pinnacle of wisdom next to the gods who otherwise mock the foolishness of human suffering and striving.  But back to the original query: What about the waste that is squeezed from the substance we desire – of human detritus, urine, scatological excretions and the leftovers of those thought to be unproductive; are they not necessary in that, without the capacity to expiate, it would rot within the cavities of the human tissue and destroy the very fabric that retains them?

We often fail, at the expense and detriment of our own thoughtlessness, to consider an inversion category of the original posit; we accept, at face value, that human functions of expiation and riddance constitutes just that – of throwing away, expunging, extricating and discarding – as a categorization we simplify into elementary concepts: what we consume and embrace is “good”, and that which we expiate is “bad”.

Thus do we build toilets in unassuming locations within a residence; outhouses are just that – some dilapidated structure constructed away from the home, and somewhat upwind from the wind currents that carry the daily odors of life’s contrariness.  But is that the proper way to view things?  Should we not, instead, liken our activities to that which a messianic proverb once elicited: How we treat the least among us reflects the true character of our inner nature?

Inversion thinking is a process that is too often overlooked, and because of this, we often walk through life passing by opportunities and gifts otherwise there to be accepted.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for one to continue with the present course of a Federal or Postal career, it was once believed that the elixir of life was intricately wrapped up in continuing the Federal or Postal job because it allowed for a certain career, standard of living and measure of self-worth.

This is where inversion thinking needs to be considered.  For, at what cost, and what price to be paid?

Preparing 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 often a necessary step in order to attain a level of continence such that the proper balance and focus can be reached – of one’s health, as opposed to continuing in a job that has become harmful; of separating from Federal Service or the Postal facility in order to escape from the daily harassment of somehow being “lesser” because of one’s medical condition; and all of the other garbage that is thrown at the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.

For, the elixir of life is not always that substance we thought was the pathway to a mythological fountain of youth, but an inversion of that thought – of removing, as opposed to taking more on; of separating, in contradistinction to enduring the pain; and of expiating, in contrast to accepting.

Sincerely,

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.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Substance and Process

In any bureaucratic, lengthy administrative process, one can become embroiled in the procedural aspects of an endeavor, and overlook the substantive elements which form the foundation of any case.  Conversely, one can make the mistake of approaching a case and declare to one’s self, “This is so obviously a good case,” and take shortcuts in the process of putting together an effective and persuasive case.

Either approach is one fraught with grave errors, and for Federal employees and Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Medical benefits, first through one’s own agency (if still on the rolls of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated, for not more than 31 days), and ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, Pennsylvania (directly, if the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker has been separated from Federal service for more than 31 days), it is important to keep the balance between the substance of a case, and the process of the case.

Substantive issues involve everything from the factual, informational content required on all standard forms (SF 3107, along with Schedules A, B & C, and the required attachment of one’s DD 214 showing prior active military service; SF 2801 for CSRS employees; and the substantive content of the description of one’s medical conditions to be considered, as required in SF 3112A, etc.), as well as the medical documentation needed to provide the evidentiary support for one’s case.

“Process” issues involve the timeframe in filing a case, the administrative procedures of where the disability application must be submitted through, as well as the myriad of sequential steps required for satisfaction of accommodation issues with one’s agency.

Substance and process — they are the necessary sides of a single, inseparable currency of an administrative reality known as Federal OPM Disability Retirement, and both must be attended to in order to reach the heights of efficacy mandated for a successful outcome in the preparation, formulation and submission of an OPM Medical Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

SF 3112B

OPM Standard Form 3112B: Supervisor’s Statement:

Were it that managerial approaches were diverse, and that such differences in stylistic methodologies constituted a perfect tailoring of individual personality to a particular job at hand; then, in that event, efficiency would predominate, scandals of long waiting times would disappear, and Federal and Post Office Workers would never be tested in their penultimate entanglement with the requisite virtue of patience.  But this is the real world. This is not some parallel universe in which dreams are dictated by wants and desires, and satisfaction of personal goals are attained at a whim.

In the harsh reality of technological onslaughts and daily toils of repetitive boredom, supervisors are placed in positions of trust, often misfits in an universe of onerous regulatory requirements and mandates.  As in all sectors of society, both public and private, there are good ones and bad, competent and their opposite; caring and callous; cold, indifferent, or warm beyond a fault.  But because of the busy-ness of the world in which we live, being aware of, or having the time to care for, the problems of subordinates, is a rare trait.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates filing for Federal Medical Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the process will require the request for completion of SF 3112B, or more commonly known as the Supervisor’s Statement. For some, it will merely be a nuisance in the mere act of requesting; for others, a chaotic turmoil of sorts, filled with angst and thoughts of retribution and retaliation.

Ultimately, however, this is where standardized forms work for the benefit of Federal and Postal employees, because of the specificity of questions posed in SF 3112B.  Yes, there are blank spaces for some extemporaneous comments; yes, attachments to SF 3112B are allowed; but the most relevant queries are merely requests for box-checking, and that is where brevity is to the benefit of the Federal employee or Postal worker.

In the end, the process of filing for Federal Disability benefits through OPM is based upon the sufficiency of medical documentation, and not what a Supervisor says or leaves out in SF 3112B.  That is why an executed methodology of a coherent strategy to obtain evidentiary support is so crucial to a successful outcome in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Employee Disability Insurance benefits, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS.

 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Creativity Is Important In the Applicant’s Statement

It is important to creatively inter-weave facts, feelings, medical impact, symptoms and conditions into a persuasive Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It should not be overly emotional; it should not be voluminously long; it should not be preachy; it should not be written as a doctor would write it.  It is the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, and it should be from the Applicant’s perspective; but as with every writing, the “audience” to whom anything is written, must always be kept in mind.  Remember that the audience is a reviewing Office of Personnel Management representative — one who is evaluating, analyzing, and making a decision upon the application for disability retirement. 

Of course the independent attachment of medical documentation will be persuasive; of course a review of the position description will have an impact; and of course the analysis of comparing the medical condition with the type of job one has will be scrutinized and will be relevant.  It is the applicant’s statement of disability, however, which will most often be the determining factor.  That is why such a statement must creatively weave all of the various aspects of a disability retirement application — facts, emotions, job impact, medical impact, doctor’s statement, personal statement, impact statement — all in a bundle, all inter-weaving, all in a persuasive, creative description.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Viewing the Office of Personnel Management

Agencies are “like” people; they are “organic” organizations (a redundancy?), and as a corporate-like entity, they respond and react as people do:  cerebrally, emotionally, reactively, angrily, etc.  If one views an agency in this way — treating the entity as one would a person — then you will often get the same or similar results as when dealing with your brother, a spouse, or a neighbor.  And, indeed, as a logical approach, this only makes sense, because agencies and organizations are made up of people. 

Thus, when filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is often important to think of “incentives” in approaching the Office of Personnel Management, to make every effort to have a carrot/stick approach in filing a disability retirement application.  The “stick” part of it, of course, is the law — the threat of making sure that OPM knows that you will be willing to go the full course — to the Merit Systems Protection Board, to the Full Board Appeal, to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  If OPM denies your case and they get it reversed at the appellate level, it makes them “look bad”.  That is the stick to hold over them — the force of the law.  The carrot part of it is to streamline it and make it as easy as possible by obtaining a clear and concise medical report.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Can the Agency Accommodate You?

The term “accommodations” continues to be a highly misused one.  There is the general conceptual application, as when an agency attempts to do something to help a Federal or Postal employee by “allowing” for “light duty”, or allowing one to work at a reduced schedule, or to take sick leave, annual leave, or Leave Without Pay.  But such actions (as kindhearted as they might be intended) do not constitute a legal accommodation under disability retirement rules, statutes, laws or case-law. 

To legally accommodate someone must always mean that the agency does something, provides something, or creates something of a permanent nature, such that it allows you to perform the essential elements of your job.  Temporary measures, or allowing you to take time off, does not allow you to perform the essential elements of your job — instead, it merely allows you take time away from being able to do your job.  Remember, on the other hand, that there is nothing wrong with your Agency doing these things to “help you out”.  It simply does not constitute, or rise to the level of, an “accommodation” under the law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire