FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees 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 to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Leaving that legacy behind

We hear about it from ‘high-end achievers’; and every President now builds large temples to themselves, like some Greek gods with immortal canopies and call them “libraries” for the common minion to think that it is like those warm and fuzzy buildings we once visited in order to escape the ravages of our sordid childhoods.

Perhaps it is the realization of that which has come back to haunt us:  Darwinism, pure materialism, and the abandonment of faith in hobbits, gnomes and angels from beyond, that leaves us with the stark nakedness of our own mortality, and the need to fulfill that vacancy by building lasting memorials that only crumble with the decadence of time.

The traditional definition connoted a lasting gift by an ancestor, where history, lineage and human relationships provided a context of meaningful inheritance, and not merely as a tombstone to admire.  The wider, secondary meaning refers to any accomplishment or lasting residue of one’s self constructed to remain beyond a temporal season, or until that next great ego tears it down and replaces it with an image made in a reflecting pool of self-aggrandizement.

We all have a desire and a need to leave a legacy; whether a memento gifted through countless generations, or a memory of multi-generational gatherings for an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and perhaps nothing more than some pearls of wisdom handed down from a rocking chair worn by the vanished paint on the floorboards of time.

Even then; as value is rarely attached to memories invoked, people either hock the wares on eBay or the local pawn shop, and convert it into cash, where the societal glee for power is defined by paying bills and possessing goods.  Do people inscribe books and hand them down as a legacy left behind?  Or have they been replaced with electronic tablets and kindle versions where even the monks of Tibet answer to the melody of a smartphone?

Legacies are overvalued, or so we are told; and those who leave them for others to judge, never stick around to witness the lasting or temporal effects of residual emotional consequences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition “forces” one to cut short one’s career and vocation by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the pull that holds one back and makes one pause, an artificial and wholly unfounded sense that one hasn’t “completed the mission” and the legacy that would be left is not quite up to par?

Such thoughts invoke a false sense of values.  For, in the end, it is one’s health that should be of paramount concern, and not what is left behind.

In Federal agencies and U.S. Postal facilities all across the country, that legacy left behind is often nothing more than the shattered lives who clung too long and waited beyond the point of medical necessity, when in fact the true legacy to leave behind is a focus upon one’s health in order to move forward into the next phase of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Under the clump of olive trees

There are certain phrases that turn one’s attention, and daydreams of exotic lands and foreign places become projected onto one’s imagination, like camels, Arabian nights and sand dunes in faraway corners.  But, then, reality imposes itself; such places probably exist a few miles hence; those distant lands are now war-torn and deemed by the State Department to be forbidden avenues for sightseers and tourists in cut-off shorts and Hawaiian Shirts (did you know that the latter are apparently “back in style” – as if they ever were?), with warnings and cautionary predictions where officialdom has already evacuated the premises.

The soft snore from a picturesque scene:  the shepherd with a crooked walking stick, the flock grazing in the near distance; a straw hat edged slightly over the forehead, an arm lazily twisted behind as a pillow against the rocky surface; under the cluster of the olive trees, where a partial shadow allows for the coolness in the heat of midday slumber.  Or, what of a child’s delight in fairytales and picture-books, of Arabian nights with camels chewing silently while tents alight with shadows from within reveal the soft mutterings of foreign tongues, yearning for the delectable offerings sizzling atop the burning fires glowing in the star-filled twilight of the vast ocean of sand dunes and shadows.

Of course, those days of yonder years are now gone forever.  There are no scenes of picturesque quietude; in modernity, every corner of the earth has already been visited; the Himalayan monk sits with earphones and scans the images of Facebook and the world he abandoned for prayer, meditation and enlightenment; and that herd of camels has now been replaced by hooded terrorists lurking to kidnap and maim.  Yet, we all retain and preserve those images of quietude and peaceful reserve; in an insane world, a virtual universe of sanity is necessary, even if non-existence must be acknowledged and admitted to.

For each of us, perhaps it constitutes a minor variation:  becoming lost in a sports league; watching movies in regularity of escaping; a hobby in the cavern of one’s garage; physical labor or forlorn love with strangers; this is a society which requires distraction.  Or, as Heidegger puts it, varying projects in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with Nothingness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition creates a working hell at work, what comprises the image of resting under a clump of olive trees?  Certainly, not the daily grind and antagonism experienced by supervisors, managers and coworkers who disallow any meaningful contribution because of the limitations imposed by the medical condition itself; and, certainly not the enduring of pain and anguish implemented by the constant fight against the illness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pathway, for many Federal and Postal employees, to a state where one can attend to, and focus upon, caring for one’s self.  OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the employment package for all Federal and Postal employees, and utilization of it requires a proper formulating, preparation and filing through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to prove one’s entitlement to it.  It is a “means” to an “end”; and the means provide for a pathway outside of the daily pain and suffering which defines one’s life; the “end” is that virtual image we all strive for – to lay one’s head upon a comforting pasture under the clump of olive trees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Catching with a net

Have you ever tried catching multiple entities with a net?  Whether more than one butterfly, or goldfishes in a pond, or even debris floating at the skimming water’s edge, the act of scooping, trapping and encircling with the tool of a net requires dexterity and unique hand-eye coordination.  Then, the one first caught escapes, and the frustration of gain-versus-loss ensues.  Is it greed which continues to compel despite the persistence of loss and diminishing return, or sheer stubbornness that we somehow battle against our own interests even when further escape occurs?

Ever the frustration of observing those once caught and get away, and chasing after those very ones we just enmeshed and caged within the netting of this ingenious deployment; and yet we insist.

How does that translate into a specific personality, or the manner in which we carry on in our daily lives?  Is going out and catching butterflies with a net the perfect methodology of determining a prospective employee’s “fit or unfit” personality and character for an organization?  Does it reveal a side of the person – for example, in the financial sector, or investment banking, if a person approaches the task by catching one, stopping, putting the insect or other entity into a bottle with pre-bored holes for oxygen, then proceeding in a sequential manner and attending to catching the next one, etc., does that tell of a prefatory commensurateness with careful investment strategies?

Or, take the very opposite, where the task is to catch 10 moving entities, and instead of stopping after each one, the future employment prospect goes about madly racing through the tall fields of grass furiously attempting to net the quota of requested numbers, despite imposing no time-frame in the completion of such a task – does that necessarily reveal a personality of lesser caution, of a person who may be rash and imprudent?  Does one revelation of acting in a particular context unmask a parallel semblance of reality in another, or do the specific circumstances themselves confine and define within a marginalized mirror?

Whether transferable or not, the imagery and metaphor of a person attempting to catch multiple entities with a single net, shows a side of human life which can be both comical as well as compelling.  For, as a reflection of parallel circumstances, it is somewhat indicative of the Federal or Postal employee who must begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Like the person handed the net, the Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, must make a pragmatic determination as to the diminishing returns recognized in continuing in the same repetitive venture of living.  At some point, there comes a flash of realization that the same acts cannot continue without something else giving – and whether that “giving” is the butterfly which escapes, or one’s deteriorating health further and progressively becoming destroyed – is the flashpoint of reality revealing itself in compelling a decision for today, and no longer procrastinated for some unknown time in a future left insecure.

And like the butterfly which escapes to be free for another day, the Federal or Postal employee who cannot perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties must by necessity attempt to free him or herself from the medical condition in order to reach that place in life where pain, misery, and the sense of being “caged” will no longer apply.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Life’s Satire

There is a subtle distinction between satire and comedy; as the latter is intended directly to evoke laughter, in whatever manner possible (though, of course, there are comedies which provoke guffaws of loud, unconstrained and boisterous mirth, as opposed to the delicious chuckle, and a spectrum of multiple layers in between), the former can be dead serious, in leveling commentaries and sharp criticism upon political or social misfortunes.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have contended with the bureaucracy of their own agency, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can be more akin to a satire, than a comedic episode of a tumultuous interlude.  Medical conditions are no laughing matter; but the process of coming to the realization that one’s own agency or the U.S. Postal Service will not do anything to accommodate one’s medical condition, despite a history of years and decades of dedicated service, is but a satire of sorts.

Then, the administrative headaches inherent in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is like a running commentary upon the satirical process which began when first we became a Federal or Postal worker.

Viewing a satire while seated as an observing audience, can be a pleasant experience. Identifying one’s self as one of the actors in the play, is what is most disturbing. But when the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, becomes both the spectator as well as the player, the scene itself takes on aspects of another turn: for, as dreams allow for the dreamer to sometimes recognize that one is dreaming, so the elevation of a dream into a nightmare can be identified as short-lived and merely to be endured until one is awakened from the slumber of a tragedy, yet unfolding, still to be determined as to the outcome of the satire of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Lose a Kite

It is that loss of innocence; of a childhood cut and let go, a bifurcation of sorts, where the fluttering tail fades into the misty distance of time past, eternity unfulfilled, and the present moment shattered by a loss not valued by economic standards, but by the negation of that which was, will never be again, and won’t be coming back. The loss of anything is valued by the attachment of human passion, the trembling fear of future consequences known and yet to be determined, and the expectation of a hope left as a residue of hard work and toil.

Do we remember that loss of a kite, at a critical moment in time when the champion of winds clapped and cheered as we controlled the destiny of an artifice so flimsy in manufactured quality and yet defying the aerodynamic laws of the greater universe?  Neither the Law of Newtonian physics nor the quantum theories compromising Einstein’s theoretical constructs could defy the persistence of levitational determination, coupled with a coil of thread in the stubby little hands of a child, with but a tug and a pull; and then, suddenly, it was gone.

Is not the future of an adult like that fleeting moment? What a qualitative difference a day may make; when once free of pain, then to experience the excruciating agony of debilitating onset; or where rationality and promise set the course for future happiness, only to be overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Life is tough; but when a medical condition intervenes and tears apart the very fabric of living, that compromised life becomes almost an unbearable mesh of a twisted cathartic of impenetrable jungles of psychological, physical and emotional turmoils. For many, there is no escape, and that snap of a thin reed which left the child’s hand empty of promise, is all that remains.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have the minimum years of service under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often the best — if not the only — recourse out of a madness undeterred. Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees as part of one’s compensation package, and allows a person to stop working, receive what amounts to a lifetime annuity, while accruing more years in building towards a final retirement converted from disability retirement to regular retirement at age 62; and all the while, to live upon that rehabilitative plateau in order to attend to one’s health and well-being.

For, when a Federal or Postal worker is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the choices become stark and limited: To continue in pain and agony; to walk away with nothing to show for one’s efforts and toil; or to file for Federal Disability benefits.

It is like the child who once felt the pleasure of life through the flight of a kite, only to experience the tenuous reed of promise when the snap of the thread leaves the twirling object uncontrolled and uncontrollable, left to the nuances of turmoil and trauma; but to move on is to forge a different path, with the echoes of regret howling in the memories of our childhood consciousness, never to be regained but for a semblance of fated warmth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire