Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: Know Thyself

As to the familiar saying — of “knowing one’s self” — what can it possibly mean?  The saying, “Know thyself”, was inscribed on various temples in Ancient Egypt and was known to be one of the Delphic maxims.

Socrates, of course, taught a variation of the statement, contending that the “unexamined life is not worth living” — but the question which immediately comes to the fore is: At what point do we examine ourselves?  Is it a daily, continuous engagement?  Do we wait until we reach various stages of our lives before proposing such an examination?

For most of us, we don’t have the time or energy that Socrates had — of constantly stirring up trouble and pestering and peppering this person or that with questions that are meant to confound, confuse, irritate and provoke; and to examine one’s life is to constantly ask questions which we may know not the answers to.

Is it the questioning itself which is so important (one might posit that such an approach to life is precisely what Socrates himself believed)?  Were the questions posed by Socrates actually answerable, or were they just rhetorical flourishes meant to undermine the accepted, normative conclusions of the day?

To that extent — of questions without necessarily expecting any definitive answers — perhaps if Socrates were to appear in this age, he would be overjoyed with the way in which we live today: of therapy accepted as the modality of self-examination; of the explosion of “self-help” books and the payment-for-services of “life coaches” and “experts” on “living”.

Ultimately, “knowing thyself” is an endeavor that has no boundaries and cannot expect definitive answers, precisely because the “self” is an ever-expanding phenomena and “knowing” is never a static activity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is preventing the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the maxim of “Know Thyself” is an important element in making a decision concerning Federal Disability Retirement.

You must know what your job is; what your physical or mental capabilities are; and whether you can continue on in the job that you hold.  Further, it is the maxim itself which should lead you to consult with a Federal Disability Retirement Attorney, that is, a lawyer who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, in the end, to know thyself is to gather knowledge from all sources in an effort to “know” and to clarify the boundaries of “thyself”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The fatigue of hiding

That’s the rub, isn’t it — that we spend so much energy trying to conceal it, that by the time the truth comes out, we don’t even care, anymore, and are often glad for the revelation and the blessing of not having to mask it any longer?  Whatever the “it” is that we attempt to conceal, hide, ignore of otherwise fail to reveal, the fatigue of hiding it, the constant commerce engaged in bartering for more time, avoiding a direct encounter or otherwise trying desperately to veil the truth, leaves us exhausted and spent.

Is it, on the other hand, like a John Le Carre novel, where the secret that everyone is attempting to protect is already known by all powers, but the constant struggle to maintain its confidentiality is more for appearance’s sake, and not because of the vital information underlying the apparent need to conceal?

The fatigue of hiding is indeed the exhausting effort being expended for what is otherwise known, or more importantly, wasted upon the known when the value of concealing is far surpassed by the toil engaged.  Medical conditions tend to do that — whether in trying to conceal it from ourselves by downplaying and minimizing the pain and loss of flexion, motion, movement or other numbness of feeling involved, or by attempting to hide it from others, such as employers, family or even friends who show some modicum of concern.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are trying desperately to cling on to their jobs in the Federal Sector or the U.S. Postal service, the fatigue of hiding can be overwhelming.  The factual state of affairs often defeats the continuing attempt to minimize and hide: the extent of LWOP having been used; FMLA already exhausted, and it isn’t even a new quarter; the piles of work being left unattended; and those furtive glances that are no longer established through suspicions of whispers and gossip, but clear rumblings of a Federal Agency that is moving to reprimand, warn, place on a PIP or propose removal based upon non-attendance or excessive use of Sick Leave; these are all clear indicators that the fatigue of hiding can no longer be further delayed.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee believes that the future still holds some hope for remaining at the Federal or Postal job, is an important first step in acknowledging that the fatigue of hiding has come to a critical juncture that necessitates a step beyond hiding it — it is the time of reckoning where the effort wasted upon concealment needs now to be turned into a positive step towards securing one’s future by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, so that the fatigue of hiding can be turned back into that productive person of greater vitality you once were, and of whom everyone else once knew.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Sad stories

Is sadness relative?  Are there sad stories that are so sad that even the ones that were considered sad prior to the sadder story being told, somehow nullify the lesser sad stories and make them into not sad stories?  Do we, after hearing the sadder tale, turn to the first story teller and say, “Yours was not so sad, after all, and in fact you have it pretty good”?

If a person tells of having just buried his mother, and you ask, “How old was she?”  He responds, “She was 95”.  Then, someone else says, “I just had to bury my 5 year old daughter.”  There would be a dead silence, would there not?  Surely, we say to ourselves, the death of a person who had a long life is not nearly as sad as the ending of one so tender in years, and as death is merely a part of life, there is something inherently sadder about the child’s life ending than that of a person who had a long life?

Both represent a life ended, but it is the knowledge that the former had fulfilled the natural course of a life while the latter was the victim of an early tragedy, unnaturally ended and interrupted for all of its promise, hope and anticipation for the future – surely, there is a qualitative difference between the two sad tales?

Or of someone who was recently fired from a job and is desperately trying to seek new employment; say that person is looking through the want-ads in the employment section (yes, yes, that is entirely outdated nowadays with special apps for resume-sharing and online submissions, etc.), and in the course of searching, reads a story about a far-off country where war, famine and general devastation are ongoing, and discovers with interest a sub-story about a family that is homeless and is being hunted down by enemies, etc.  Does one at that point straighten one’s posture and declare, “Wow, even though I am jobless, I have it pretty good in comparison to that family in country X”?

Yet, if sadness is relative, does that necessarily negate the sad tale completely, or does it merely reduce its impact and value until another comparative judgment is made?  Do we go and search out a less sad tale after debunking the sadness of one’s own with a sadder tale, in order to “restore” the sadness of our own?  Or, does each sadness remain a sadness in isolation regardless of the comparative sadness to another’s?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the sadness of that medical condition becomes such and to an extent where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sadness aside, every tale of ending a career is a sadness in and of itself, but the key to getting beyond any such sadness rests in the next steps, not in the footsteps of one’s past or those of others, but in getting good legal advice and moving on into the next phase of one’s future.  Anything else would, whether in comparison to another’s sadness or not, be the truly sad tale of sadness defined.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The phony smile

We have all seen it; the question is, how is it recognizable?

Well, one way is by the contrasting identification with other features of the human façade.  Here, Plato’s attributed observation that the eyes are the window to one’s soul, is that comparative characteristic that reveals the veil of the phony smile that uncovers more than words will tell.

It is that disarming act that defies sincerity but only is manifested when it is too late; of the knife that stabs one in the proverbial back just after the smile has been issued, like a letter that arrives with such anticipation of joy and yearning, only to begin with the proverbial warning, “Dear John”.

The phony smile is well known; it is perverse and pervasive throughout literature.

“Did you see that smile?”

“Oh, I can’t stand that person – what a phony!”

The eyes – did you get a look at the cold stare as he smiled?

“Yes, he smiled, but those teeth that bared could have cut your heart in two!”

And so the phony smile has made its way through the analogs of time, truth and tempestuous and temperamental tumults, but has survived precisely because it is a smile that phoniness cannot always be certain to be questioned.  It is, as with words in insincere voices, the action that follows that determines the validity of the smile itself.

The analogy for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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 the Federal or Postal position, is in the way the Federal agency or the Postal facility treats the Federal or Postal employee when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

The “smile” is what the Federal agency or Postal Service promises; the contrast to the “eyes” that tell of the sincerity is defined by what they actually do; and the determination that the former was “phony” is when they proceed to stab you in the back.  That is when preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, needs to be initiated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The best we can do

We enter into a race; we finish in the bottom third.  We take a course for advancement of learning; we barely pass the final exam.  We often ask ourselves throughout the montage of life’s challenges:  Is that the best we can do?  Sometimes, the answer is a quiet but simple, “Yes”; at other points, perhaps it is a time for reassessment and revamping of the approach, the methodology, and even the key ingredients of who we are.

Self-congratulatory utterances and inane emptiness of self-esteeming servitude has often been described as the enemy of modernity.  The best we can do is always achieved if, after every project completed or half-heartedly attempted, the punctuations that follow are repetitively predictable:  “Good job!”; “Attaboy!”; “Fabulous”; and other such interjections of enthusiastic expressions.  But that misses the point – both for the spectator who cheers on, and the participant who must endure the consequences of such emptiness devoid of fortitude.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits because of a medical condition which has worsened, become exacerbated, or otherwise has reach a point where it prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, must often contend with the “concern” of performance reviews and ratings which have remained stellar throughout one’s Federal or Postal career.

That is often a misleading and inconsequential concern.  Here is why:  the system itself consists of a duality of misleading indicators – from the “agency’s” viewpoint, it has been set up so that the least amount of acrimony and confrontation is “best” for everyone, because camaraderie and passing everyone through with flying marks is encourage for the cohesion of the greater unit; and from the Federal employee’s viewpoint, he or she has silently attempted to endure the pain, suffering and debilitating conditions without complaining, for fear that he or she would be “thought less of” by coworkers, supervisors, managers and the rest of the cauldron of the agency and department.

But when the Federal or Postal employee comes to that critical juncture where the medical condition, the positional duties, and the tolerance level for pain and suffering all coalesce to a point of terminal considerations (i.e., resigning, filing for Federal Disability Retirement, or both), then all of that hard work in the quietude of silent suffering seems to haunt us.  That is why the foundation of a case – a narrative report of excellence that addresses and rebuts each point of potential concern – is crucial as the linchpin of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

For, in the end, sometimes the best we can do has been an overreach that comes back to pinch us; and though a rarity in the age of modernity where everyone gets a prize for coming in last, for the Federal or Postal worker who is intending upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is the best we can do with what we are left with, in the residue of timeless anguish.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Avoiding emotional identification

We all do it, to one extent or another; doctors who deal with terminal children or relegated to the emergency floors; patients who must see the foreboding grief in the eyes of family members who have been told; psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who listen “objectively” to the turmoil and trauma of other lives; the capacity for human compartmentalism is nearly inexhaustible.

Does the horse who listens to the cab driver in the brilliant short story, “Misery” (or often subtitled as, “Grief” or “To whom shall I tell my grief?”), by Anton Chekhov, have a choice in the matter?  Well, you say, the horse cannot understand the linguistic intricacies of the story told!  And, yet, we designate dogs and other animals as therapeutic breeds capable of soothing the wounded and scarred psyche of our neighbors…  The flip side of such a capacity, of course, leads to human cruelty beyond mere animalistic behavior, where the caverns of barbarism know no bounds.

The murderous son can torture in the name of the State by day, and sit with his mother at the dinner table and weep with genuine sorrow over the arthritic pain felt by infirmity and old age; and the boy who remembers the love of his mother may singe the wings of insects with pyrotechnic delight as mere gaggles of laughter unhinged by a warped conscience.  But, you say, insects and the lower order of animals don’t have “feelings” in the same way we do!  What does that statement truly mean, but merely to justify an act which — if otherwise directed at a fellow human being — would border on the criminal?

Bifurcation of lives lived is an important survival component for the health of the human psyche.  To identify with a suffering soul on an intellectual level allows for comprehension and understanding; to do so on a par at an emotional level merely subsumes one into the other, and negates the capacity to provide wisdom or advice.  That is why, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a FERS, CSRS or CSRS employee, whether in a Postal capacity or as a non-Postal, Federal employee, it is important to recognize that if a Federal or Postal employee prepares the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A without representation, the subject and object of such preparation are one and the same, and therefore collectively engages in an activity of emotional identification which is difficult to avoid.  For, the person of whom the Statement of Disability is written, is the same person who is the author of the narrative on SF 3112A.

Is there a danger to be avoided?  Isn’t there an advantage in conveying the feelings by the same person who experiences the trauma and medical condition?  If objectivity is defined, in part, at least, as a reasoned perspective from multiple sides of an issue or fact, then the greater distance ensconced between the subject discussed and the narrator empowered, will allow for the attainment of that position of elevated perception.

Certainly, that is how the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing your case — by avoiding emotional identification, and trying to sort through the pain, suffering and legal implications of the Federal Disability Retirement application, hopefully prepared and formulated in as objective a manner as humanly possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Predictable Pantomimes

Most of life is simply lived.  One engages, works, plans, deliberates, initiates, completes chores, gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, etc.  Little reflection or thought is required; much of it, like an automaton on a conveyor belt of cursory convenience, requires but mere human movement.

Perhaps in the mythological State of Nature, as described by Rousseau or Locke, the predatory environment creating a necessity of alertness just to survive, required greater cognitive involvement; or, as a corollary, an utopian condition of peace and tranquil coexistence with other forces of nature.  It is when one pauses for a brief moment, reflects, and has a sudden awareness of one’s self in the presence of others, that the very knowledge of acting within the confines and context of “doing”, becomes a consciousness of self-realization.

Self-awareness — that level of consciousness beyond mere recognition of one’s surroundings, but involving a direct acuteness of “being” but simultaneously “being in the world”, is what makes for human uniqueness.

Heidegger tried to describe it through linguistic mechanisms which turned out to be beyond the common realm of understanding or comprehension, and thus became relegated to the esoteric halls of academia.  Sartre and Camus attempted to capture it through fictional depictions, and indeed, it was more the texture of the novel, The Stranger, than the actual words, which came closest to successful conveyance of the experience of the absurd.

For the daily person, medical conditions tend to starkly bring out the reality of the experience.  Medical conditions suddenly reveal one’s vulnerability, and the fragile nature of one’s being.  Mortality becomes a reality beyond mere distance-reflection of some unknown future intent; it becomes the freshness of the now for a being within a body of decay.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suddenly realizes that life, career, future and the boredom of constancy can be but a moment in time because of an impending medical condition which threatens one’s security and livelihood, 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, becomes a reality of immediacy, precisely because of the urgency of the medical condition upon one’s life and livelihood.

Suddenly, the priority of “being” presents itself.  What one did before the crisis of vulnerability was merely a predictable pantomime; the reality of life and the significance of relationships becomes the true being of living.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may seem like a mere act of administrative convenience, but for many, it becomes the avenue of necessity in order to deal with the reality of illness, disability, and medical urgency.  And, as with all aspects of life and being, other predictable pantomimes will become apparent:  the agency’s hostile reaction; the looks of suspicion from others; unfriendly attitudes displayed by coworkers and supervisors; they are all merely actors on a larger stage, but yet to realize that “being” and “being-in-the-world” are one and the same, when tragedies befall and humanity acknowledges the fragile nature of life, like the soft petal from a dying flower which drifts soundlessly upon the earthen dust from which we were born, and to which we return.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire