Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Ghosts that haunt

Presumably, there are those that do not; for not all ghosts haunt; some merely wander through the houses of happy memories without a peep.  It is the ghosts that haunt that appear suddenly when things aren’t going so well, or when sorrow brings memories that once had been repressed, forgotten, and tidily stored away in the dusty shelves of memory banks where the lapping waves of avoided sadness once pervaded in the reality of dreams unfulfilled.

Do we all have them?  Do they walk the earth in silent steps because of events that would not allow for the soul to remain at peace?  Do they haunt because of a turmoil in the essence of a person’s Being, where trauma would not satisfy the yearning for solace for a troubled memory?  Or is it all just bosh; that Freud has replaced all such mythologies of past narratives and we can all rid the houses of haunting ghosts by psychoanalysis and therapeutic intervention?

We make gods of different disciplines, at various times, in a multitude of eras; yesterday, the gods traveled in mythologies of fanciful underworlds; today, we are left with materialism, where man is a god unto himself, with no mystery left to unravel.  But, whatever the source, the ghosts that haunt remain with us, and often it is the stresses of life that suddenly resuscitate from the entombed memories of forgotten catacombs.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether that medical condition is termed “physical”, “emotional” or “psychiatric”, which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is when the ghosts that haunt begin to debilitate and destroy.

Whether the source is from a trauma originating from one’s past, or from an accident unrelated to work — it does not matter.  The medical condition and the nexus to one’s capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s position with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service is what must be proven; and of the ghosts that haunt — well, to remain with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will surely not resolve the haunting, but it may provide a better place to deal with the ghosts by allowing for greater focus upon dealing with one’s health issues.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Formulating the argument

How does one formulate “the argument”?  Is it merely a reaction that comes naturally, like the person who has been tagged as one who is “constantly argumentative”?  Do all arguments need to provide a foundation of rational discourse — of coherence within an invective of counter-statements, and structure countermanding a deterioration of civility?

For example, when a person begins to answer the questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS — does one pause, consider the various answers that may be provided, and establish a methodology in proceeding to satisfy the question? Does the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits consider first the consequences of one’s answers, and do you weave throughout a thoughtful argument for an approval?  Or, should the “argument” be filed via a separate Legal Memorandum, pointing out the relevant laws, citing the statues and quoting from various cases that have previously addressed the issues posed?

Most people who file for FERS Medical Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management fail to consider the preemptive arguments that should be made within the answers to questions posed on SF 3112A, and thus are denied at the First Stage of the process because the applicant thought that a simple question asked required a similarly-simple answer as requested.

Then, of course, when the Initial Denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application is received through the mail, the Second Stage of the process — the “Reconsideration Stage” — merits further formulation of legal arguments.  At whatever “stage” you are at — whether at the First and Initial Stage; the second, “Reconsideration” Stage; or even at the Third Stage, an Appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — formulating a coherent, cogent and rational argument that persuades OPM to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application is an important component in a winning FERS Medical Retirement application.

Remember — to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is not like having an argument with a friend or spouse; it is an argument which must be based upon facts, evidence, and legal precedents, and to have the best “shot” at it requires the hand of an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: The gist of it all

When do we want the “gist” of something?  The essence or the “main idea”; or to filter it into the short version, somewhat like the “spark notes” of the thing of which we seek.  Is it appropriate if a student is sitting through a boring lecture and raises his or her hand and asks politely, “I have an activity to attend this afternoon. Can you just give us the gist of what you’re trying to say?”

Or of the greater meaning of life itself — you know, that grand design that everyone is seeking, which is why so many people believe in such things as the “Da Vinci Code” or, more recently, “The Chamberlain Key” — codes to codices that reveal the heart of ancient secrets lost in the trash heaps of history or otherwise forgotten because of wars, famines and changes of the proverbial guards.

Why is it that such “keys” must always be “ancient”, and shrouded in the mystery of “secret societies” who will murder in the dead of night to protect the gist of it all?  How does that reflect upon modernity — that we are too superficial to invent or discover such codes?  Or, is it merely that the cynicism of scientism and the reliance upon the physical universe, the influence of British Logical Positivism and the Age of Science have all subsumed such romanticizing of mysteries beyond the age of reason?

In this fast-paced society where technology surpasses by lightening speed the insular world of secret societies and the unraveling of veiled codices, what we want in the end is the gist of it all — to bypass the tangential details and get to the heart of the matter.  We have little or no time for anything else.

So, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 Federal or Postal job, what is the gist of it all?  In other words, what is the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity?

Well, to begin with, under FERS (which most people are, as the dinosaur of CSRS or even CSRS Offset have now been relegated to the Pleistocene Era of Federal employment) the Federal or Postal employee must have at least 18 month of Federal Service.  Second, we must be able to prove that a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing at least one, if not more, of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  And third, the medical condition must last a minimum of 12 months.

Now, this latter bit of a requirement is often confused with thinking that a Federal or Postal worker must therefore wait for at least 12 months after the onset of a medical condition before the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  No, that is not the case — for, most doctors and treating medical professionals can render a prognosis as to the chronicity of the medical condition, and that is all that is needed.

Of course, that is precisely the problem of getting merely the “gist of it all” — because, in the end, the annotated version of an important text, issue or pool of information can rarely be filtered down into a cup that can be gulped with one swallow, but is often an ocean full of undercurrents and dangers consumed with sharks, whales and stingrays — sort of like the metaphor of life itself, only more complex because preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a complicated administrative process full of bureaucratic pitfalls that cannot ultimately be confined by the gist of it all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Tarnished lives

These days, are there any other kinds?  Do saints exist, or is it merely time which erases the stench attached, and as history is recorded and memorialized by sympathetic co-conspirators attempting to preserve the sanctity of reputations and disregarding the detritus of humanity, so once the sanctification by pontifical decree settles upon a figure previously considered human, and now an idealized version of an individual lost in the complex historicity of biographical omissions, the tarnished perspective of lives once lived has disappeared into the ethereal universe of a surreal reality.

All lives are tarnished; but the moment one makes such a statement, it becomes a meaningless declaration.  For, just as stating that X is “all-inclusive” necessarily negates its opposite, so to posit that Y is “pure nothingness” undermines the very essence of “something-ness”.  If everything is meaningless, then nothing can have less or more meaning than anything else, and thus do we end up with an anarchy of language.  So, to qualify: Yes, all lives are tarnished, but some lives more so than others, and others, less so than further others (somewhat like the declaration in Orwell’s Animal Farm, where “all animals are equal; but some animals are more equal than others.”).

And thus do we live this way, where the cynic believes that there are no saints, and the naïve minority of individuals who believe in such blather repeatedly invest in purchasing the Brooklyn Bridge as a sound retirement strategy next to Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme.  But of what do we judge a “tarnished” life, as opposed to one that is not?  Does a minor blemish amount to the same thing as a total spoilage of the whole?

That is where people have often misinterpreted the religious teachings of entrance into heaven, where purity through the sacrificed Lamb allowed for gaining a foothold into heaven, but where – from that – people argue, therefore, God doesn’t make a distinction between a minor infraction of sin and the carnage of murder or some other equally greater offense.  But surely there is a difference with a real distinction between that which requires purity in order to enter into heaven, as opposed to judging the difference between types of moral turpitude?

Yes, we all live tarnished lives, but some lives tarnished are of greater consequence than others.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who view the onset of a medical condition as a “tarnished” smear upon one’s career, and thus resist leaving until that smudge has been erased, good luck.  The reality is that a medical condition is not a reflection of any “fault” or “negative” judgment upon a person; instead, it is simply a reality of one’s mortality.  Some people never suffer from a serious medical condition; others, with more than a fair share; and most of us fall somewhere in between.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, always remember that the need to seek an alternative remedy through a Federal Disability Retirement is never a reflection that deems that one now falls amongst the tarnished lives of greater misdeeds, but merely a reality in this mortal world of fallen souls, no different for this generation than for the centuries of such tarnished lives in unmarked graves of yore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The mortality reminder

When does mortality become a concern?  Certainly, not during the youthful vigor when the future holds bright concurrent with the cellular construct yet expanding and multiplying.  Is it with the first encounter that reveals vulnerability?  And what is defined as a “healthy” sense of it, as opposed to an obsessive conduit to a dementia of nihilism?  Does a “close shave” necessarily haunt everyone, or does it matter as to the sensitivity of a soul that such karma encounters?  What “reminds” one of a future terminal, as opposed to becoming an all-consuming journey to avoid the ultimate consequence?

Whether for future promises of glorious defiance of it (Christianity and similar belief systems) or of denial of the substantive reality we face by it (Hinduism, Buddhism and similar negation-bases faiths), the treatment of how it is approached, the methodology of embracing or rejecting, and the paradigms constructed in order to answer the underlying metaphysical queries, are “projects” which Heidegger has identified as those very endeavors to avoid the inevitable.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from chronic, debilitating, or otherwise delimiting medical conditions, such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the brush with the question of mortality becomes a reality precisely because vulnerability from the secure world one has previously taken for granted, becomes threatened with each day passing in the empirical experience of contending with the medical condition itself.

Medical conditions remind us of our mortality.  Certain and specific conditions tend to exponentially magnify it tenfold:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (in nightmares, intrusive memories and recalling of traumatic events); Major Depression/Depressive Disorder (by the loss of stamina and the overwhelming sense of despair); Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which may include suicidal ideations and panic attacks (via the heightened sense of intolerance to work-place stresses); and those physical conditions which result in chronic and intractable pain, from multi-level degenerative disc disease, cervicalgia, myofascial pain syndrome; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as the ongoing list which every attempt to become “all-inclusive” always fails to mention, precisely because there is never a single right answer to the mortality reminder.

The key is often missed because the focus is misdirected – it is not so much the medical condition itself, but the impact of that medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties:  that is the essence and foundation of a successful Federal Disability Retirement application.  But more importantly, it is that “nexus” which is the key to the mortality reminder, and that which prompts the Federal or Postal employee into a spur to action:  Prepare the Federal Disability Retirement application well; formulate the foundation for Federal Disability Retirement carefully; file the Federal Disability Retirement application in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Benefitting from doubt

What does it mean to “give” one the “benefit of doubt”?  Is it something that is granted automatically, or must one “earn it” through labor, circumstances or sheer luck?  What are the elements that lead to it, and why are some people accorded such grace while others are treated with impunity of disregard?

Take the following hypothetical:  You are at a party with friends and acquaintances; you sit with a number of people, and among them are a very close friend and confidante, as well as a mixture of those whom you somewhat dislike and otherwise consider an “undesirable” of sorts.  Well, let’s be honest – you despise especially this one person, and hope daily that that individual will die a horrible death in a slow, agony-filled manner.  You may even daydream of torture and mayhem, and how your laughter at such pleas for mercy fills your inner soul with delight so devious that it even frightens you to consider your own meanness and ferocity of unsympathetic attitude towards this one subhuman miscreant.

During a lively conversation – we shall call the “friend” X, and the one whom you wish the horrible and slow torture ending in death, Y – the former (X) says something that refers to you in an obscure and somewhat polysemic context.  You pause and consider; then dismiss it; for, as a friend, you give the benefit of the doubt that the utterance was said innocently and without any underlying meaning of harm or tincture of criticism.  Then, later, Y says something as well –  perhaps a reference to you, your group of people or your team effort in a project – and with obvious sarcasm, says, “Yeah, right”.

Now, had X said the same thing, it might have been taken as a joke; but when Y says it, you burn with inner turmoil and it is just a miracle upon a hair’s breath that you don’t throw the contents of your drink across the circular gathering, right at the individual’s face.  For Y, you failed to give the “benefit of the doubt”.  Why?  Is it because such granting of unconditional grace must necessarily be encircled by a context of relational warmth, and lack of it provides grounds for withdrawing or withholding any such unilateral mandate?  Is the spectrum of doubt’s convergence and emergence correlated to the level and extent of trust and friendship already established, or can it also occur in the vacuum of dealing with strangers?  As to the latter – dealing with strangers – we often coin as an act of the foolish or resulting from innocence and inexperience, don’t we?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of giving various individuals the “benefit of the doubt” will come up in numerous contexts and encounters – from discussing one’s medical issues with a Supervisor or Manager, to informing the Human Resource Department of one’s Federal agency that one intends upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and such encounters, by necessity, will often involve that nagging feeling as to whether to grant (or not) the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, “doubt” is more likened to an intuition – like the hair reflexively standing on the nape of one’s neck as a warning against impending danger – and has more to do with our Darwinian background than any societal conventions we deem applicable, and when dealing with Federal agencies, it is often prudent to not grant that ultimate grace of unilateral conformity – and, instead, to withhold giving the benefit of the doubt in almost all circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The reef beneath the lagoon’s surface

In every worthwhile venture, there is the inherent danger of failure, and more often, of encounters with obstacles while enduring the process.  Some are apparent; others, hidden like the reef beneath the lagoon’s surface, of the jagged formations from sediments deposited and coagulated through time and shifting tectonics of unseen tidal forces.  That is the greatest of dangers – of a peaceful hue by a lagoon in its invitation on the surface of beauty; yet, beneath, lurking unknown and unrevealed, ready to tear the undersides of an unsuspecting boat as it enters into waters mysterious in its captivating picturesqueness.

If only life were always defined by mere appearances; we would never have to stop and reflect, pause and contemplate, or resist the urge to jump head first into shallow waters that seemingly reflected a pool of depth beyond mere sparkling mirrors of a sunlit afternoon.  But that is not how real life, in real time, amidst real people in a real world, works.

And we all know it; except, perhaps, for those shielded children who can actually have a childhood of carefree days and cool breezes in an afternoon where fields of rye still allow for the catcher to stand just at the edge of the cliff, and safely deposit any wayward souls who may wander to the danger’s end.  And like the unseen reef beneath the surface of the seemingly tranquil waters of the lapping waves softly upon the lagoon’s invitation, life embraces, often maims, and forever destroys if unaware and stepping without trepidation of purpose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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, it is that unseen and unsuspected reef beneath the lagoon’s surface which must be considered before stepping into the still waters of the bureaucratic process.  For, while the waters may be quiet today, who knows what obstacles, dangers and dalliances of pitfalls will lurk about tomorrow?

The legal and administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is replete with multiple unknown and unseen dangers; from legal issues arising in areas of accommodations, reassignment, varying manners of termination; to compiling the medical evidence such that it meets with the criteria for eligibility as set by statutes, case-law and OPM regulations; the compendium of the entire venture may appear simple.  It is anything but.

And like the reef beneath the tranquil surface of the sparkling lagoon, being invited to enter into those unknown waters may be tempting for the Federal or Postal worker who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; but resist the initial temptation and consider being guided through those treacherous waters, lest the cautionary preface to dire consequences may fall upon the jagged reefs of life’s uncharted vicissitudes of disastrous results.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire