FERS Disability Retirement: Universal Specialization

The world didn’t just become bifurcated over-night; it then shattered into a thousand universal parts, and each required a specialization where subsections of the primary subject became sliced into lesser wholes, the parts of smaller parts, until no one now knows how to do anything without the specialized aid of the specialist in the department of specialization.

The fractured world has become one of micro-competence, where once the jack-of-all-trades individual was needed in order to run a farm, feed a family, be a doctor to the animals, as well as work as a carpenter, plumber (oh, we forgot — outhouses were used back then, with nary a trace of indoor plumbing, so strike that), and the all-around “MacGyver” guy from the 1980s series where ordinary items were easily transformed into extraordinary problem-solving implements.

Overspecialization of a society leads to alienation; taken to the extreme, it makes into each of us incompetents to even turn on the faucet.  Marx would have been aghast — for, no longer is the assembly-line factory worker alienated from the work he or she works upon by not feeling the accomplishment of the “finished” product, but moreover, doesn’t even know the purpose beyond the 4 screws that are drilled into the monstrosity because of overspecialization.

Is the world a better place because we comprehend less of the pie that constitutes the whole, and is our knowledge of it any greater merely because dissemination of information is available via the Internet?  The two are somehow connected, are they not?

Somehow, there must be some mathematical formula involved, something akin to: The Greater the X, the Lesser the Y, when factors 1, 2 & 3 interface with exponential diminution of T minus Z. Complexity, in the end, often induces greater specialization, and unfortunately that is true in the field of Federal Disability Retirement Law.  “Local Lawyers” are rarely knowledgeable enough to represent Federal or Postal employees in an OPM Disability Retirement application.

The various Stages in the process of Federal Disability Retirement Law require precise and targeted responses; and for the Federal or Postal employee preparing to “put together” a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS, it is not the right time to be the “MacGyver” type of guy; it is best to consult with a Specialist in Federal Medical Retirement Law, and prepare well for the fractured road ahead where universal specialization is a necessity in a world where horse and buggy are no longer existent except on faraway farms in Pennsylvania or other scattered places where the Amish retain the “old ways”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: The unsolvable dilemma

Most of us live linear lives.  It is a characteristic of Western Civilization that the thought-processes involve a sequential, step-by-step, logical extension and advancement.

Much has been said about this approach, in contrast to an “Eastern” philosophical methodology, where there is a “circular” mind-set that often involves the complexities of reincarnation, capacity to assimilate inconsistent, incommensurate and seemingly incompatible belief-systems – and, indeed, to even describe the “other” as a “methodology” is an oxymoron of unfair proportions, for it is more of an amalgamation of acceptance without hesitation – like the symbiosis of Shinto and Zen Buddhism in Japanese culture.

Such an approach – of a straight line from Point A to Destination X – that reflects the essence of the Western culture, including Continental Europe, the British linguistic solutions and the U.S. pragmatism that dominates, leaves us with an emptiness when we encounter and engage the unsolvable dilemma.  Perhaps that is the primary deficit in “our” approach, as opposed to the “other” one.  For, in attempting to think always in a linear fashion, we become frustrated when the solution cannot be figured out or otherwise consummated.

A problem left unsolved is one that we consider to be a failure of sorts, because the pragmatism of Western thought requires that all problems have solutions; it is a paradigm that has been ingrained in the DNA of our very being and essence.  But life doesn’t quite work in that way, does it?  There are unsolvable problems – where we just have to accept what “is” and move on with the deficit of a solution.

Medical conditions comprise one such class of such unsolvable issues.  We like to think that the “science” of medicine provides for a cure through complex and technologically modern treatment modalities for every identification of diagnosed maladies; but it quickly becomes obvious that many medical conditions simply do not have a linear resolution.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the linear approach of Western Civilization often will not work.  There is an incompatible friction that quickly arises between the Federal agency and the Postal facility, and the Federal employee and Postal worker.

Often, the only “solution” is an exit via filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted for consideration ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Does it “solve” the problem?  Not really.  For the Federal or Postal employee, the medical condition continues with him or her after separation from the Federal workforce; and for the agency or the Postal facility, the loss of a formerly valuable and productive employee invested in for those many years, cannot easily be replaced.

But getting a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a compromise of sorts; it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to seek other opportunities in the private sector, and to attend to the medical conditions with greater focus; and for the Federal agency and Postal facility, it allows for employment of another, more healthier worker who can fulfill all of the essential elements of the job.  Nevertheless, it remains an “unsolvable dilemma”, to be relegated to the “Eastern” approach, and leaving a void to the “Western” perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Natural empathy

Is there such a thing, or do we just fake it even when we do not naturally “feel” it?  If the official, technical definition fails to make the distinction between “feeling” and “understanding”, does it not discount the differentiation of the traditional bifurcation – that of rational capacity as opposed to part of one’s emotional quotient?

Further, if it is merely an emotion, do some have a greater capacity because of a genetic predisposition, while others at a minimal level acquired through accident of birth, and thus can one be held responsible for merely being who we are?  On the other hand, if it has a closer affinity to an “understanding” one possesses, then can it not be cultivated and enhanced, and therefore within the purview of an educational system that includes “empathy instruction”?

How would one “teach” empathy?  Would you present slide shows of unfortunate events, and by instructional imprinting, have the teacher or headmaster unravel with emotional turmoil and manifest tears of sorrow, and hope that the students will by some mysterious osmosis embrace that capacity to experience such travails “as if” one were in the other’s shoes?  And, what do we mean when we attribute empathy as a “natural” course of human characteristic – is it counterintuitive to the distinction made of its opposite, of an “artificial” construct?

In Darwinian parlance, of course, there is little room for Natural empathy – the weak merely dilute the sacrosanct genetic pool of the strong and those fit to survive, and time wasted in trying to protect the weak or to understand those less fortunate will only succumb to the inevitable devouring by prey otherwise in waiting.

In the “civilization” of the human animal, there are certainly historical instances of unexplainable natural empathy, but whether there was always even therein a hidden agenda, a personal motivation, or a self-centered glint of purpose, we shall never know.  The naïve will posit that natural empathy is central to the human character; the cynic, that it is neither natural nor a tendency discovered in any species known, but just another societal construct forced upon the strong as part of the social contract to defend the weak.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the health condition has resulted in testing the natural empathy of coworkers, supervisors and managers at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, there may well be a division and diversity of opinions on the matter.

Whether natural or artificial, unfortunate events do indeed test the capacity of human character, and when the Federal or Postal employee prepares a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the uncaring and impervious attitudes of those encountered along the long and arduous process in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can indeed test the attitudes of a generation yet to experience the cruelty of an otherwise imperfect universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire