Medical Separation and Retirement under FERS or CSRS: The stick figure across the street

We all drew them.  They are simple figures, one-dimensional, created not only by children and uncreative hands, but by sophisticated artists who convey complexity through their uncomplicated depiction.  Upon such lack of depth, we can project an unending dearth of fillers, precisely because the simple lines invite us to increase the servile skinniness by piling a composite upon the lean figures which are mere caricatures devoid of substance.

The neighbor across the street, whom we have never met, and who is but a figure the size between forefinger and thumb, and remains the remnant of a stick figure, and continues to convey, so; and when the annoying bark of a midnight dog awakens the sensibilities of insomnia and a sleepless night, or of such a thin veil of loss of restorative slumber that wakefulness becomes a better alternative, then we can fill in the gaps of the stick figure, add some meat and substance, with diatribes of invectives piled upon curses and unimaginable energies of words rarely considered and never previously uttered.

Coworkers used to be nothing more than such stick figures — before they earned that status of enamored stature.  That is why leaving a career, cutting short a lifetime of accomplishments, and turning away from the vindictive familiarity of a workplace once loved, is so difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset.

Once upon a time, the stick figures were mere appendages and afterthoughts in the life of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker; but over time, they gained substance, girth, and an unmerited significance merely by osmosis of daily encounters.  Thus, when a medical condition hits the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker with a force of plenitude such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be considered, it is not just the separation from mere commerce and economic entanglement which must be considered, but rather, extrication from a social network of figures who have evolved, over many years and sometimes multiple decades, into caricatures amassing and aggregating personalities, comradeship, shared sense of missions accomplished, and much more.

So long as they had remained mere stick figures from across the street, the distance of time, the separation of dimensions, and the wall of strangeness allowed for an ease of abandonment.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, however, the process is no longer merely a wave of goodbye to the stick figure across the street; no, instead, that has become the unwanted uncle who has no other home to go to, and must by obligation be evicted despite the relationship which has developed beyond the formless caricature painted upon our own minds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Pension Annuity: Today, life is good…

It is the set of 3 periods at the end of the sentence, identified in grammatical terms as an ellipses, allowing for a trailing thought or a hesitation of motive, and here which differentiates from a singular finality of a period postulated to prevent a purposive punctuality of partition from a postscript.  If the last two periods were extracted and deleted, the delineation would connote a declarative assertion, unhesitant in conclusion, and confident in execution.  With those two additions, it implies and denotes hesitancy, a pause leaving the impression of loss or lack of confidence, and unable to determine the cogency of opinion formulated but for the ellipses.

In the end, however, how is grammar tied to life itself?  Do mere additions of two dots in a sentence reflect the reality of that which we live?  Do the bundles of human complexities, emotional upheaval and physical pain, cognitive dissonance cut us off from nature’s impenetrable divide?

How often do we walk around, and stop and realize that we remember nothing about our surroundings, who we passed, what buildings we strode by, because the inner thoughts we became a hostage to allowed only for sight by the eye of our own minds, and not for the purposes attributable to all other species on the planet — for observation and judgment to determine the course of future destiny, in surviving a predatory world.

What makes us unique, but the linguistic divide that confronts us daily; and thus is it that the 3 harmless dots dangling at the terminal confinement at the end of a sentence is more than a mirage of grammatical repose; no, it defines who we are.  For, the reality of the ellipses is contained in the reflection of the truth manifested; insert an emotive adjective, and the dots disappear; yet, the changes wrought will remain beyond the grammatical addendum, the deletion of the dots, or the conversion from hesitancy to declarative assertion of utmost confidence.

It is, in the end, the “today” which is the operative word, and not the trepidation engendered by the ellipses; and it is the unstated “tomorrow” which can bring about changes to the substantive undercurrent of life beyond linguistic elasticity.  It is real life, and not grammar, which must ultimately determine destiny, fate and the whims of gods playing with human caricatures with arbitrary thunderbolts and childhood cruelty with breaths of unexpected pillars placed as obstacles within our paths.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that the gods of fate have placed the burden of a medical condition upon life’s lottery of challenges, the need to prepare, formulate and apply 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 an encounter where the linguistic divide between life and living, on the one hand, and language and grammar, on the other, coalesce and the the chasm must by necessity be bridged.  For, it is precisely the medical condition itself (life and living) which must then be formulated into a declarative state of disability and linguistic evidentiary postulate (language and grammar), in the form of an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, that makes for the differentiation between failure or success.

Beware of the pitfalls of grammar, and note the ellipses, as well as the dangling participle, lest either unveil a true hesitancy in living, as opposed to a mere red mark from a teacher in a fictional classroom, either in one’s mind or in the eye of one’s mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Time Travel

H.G. Wells touched upon our imaginations in 1895 with his novel, The Time Machine, and ever since, the concept itself has been accepted within the cultural milieu of ideas incandescent.  Mathematicians find it as a challenge to decipher; astronomy, an idea to ponder; astrophysicists, a vehicle to revitalize the despair of incomprehension; but for poets and prophets, it is the fodder for creativity and imaginations to become unfettered by want of belief.

What child (or adult) does not ponder the mysteries of the universe by means of a device to enter a future yet unknown or a past replete with narrated stories of pirates, heroism and grandeur consumed, but awaiting the entrance of a character unhistorical, as Roman legions march the sands of timeless deserts where echoes of unknown characters appear to suddenly participate in the making of events yet blank upon the slate of unwritten participles.

But too few of us recognize that time travel was always being accomplished; the author merely confirmed that which was already done.  For, in our wanderings and imaginations in minds traveling afar, the daydreamer thus reached beyond the constraints of physical presence.

Whether an occurrence in objective reality, or the indistinct touch within the creativity of a limitless mind, the difference was never noticed by the child of laughter or the boy lost in wonder.  And for the adult who must daily make decisions upon a cauldron of reality and harshness of unenviable encounters?  While never as the pleasantries of a child lost in the world of make-believe, the pondering of future courses of action and the consideration of past consequences must always be deliberated by everyone who engages the world of modernity.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates the Federal and Postal employee to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, consideration must be granted to the time machine and time travel by means of coordinating what past actions have occurred (e.g., the medical condition), the current milieu (i.e., the actions of the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service concerning the ongoing status of the Federal and Postal employee), and the future plans (filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset).

Thus, without knowing it, time travel was always something which the Federal and Postal employee engaged in; and never just within the province of childhood dreams left to the plodding monotony of brave acts unrecorded, or the samurai who refused to unsheathe his sword for fear of death and loss of honor, it is indeed the Federal and Postal employee who must consider filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits and must engage time travel and press the complex levers of an unfathomable machine — that bureaucracy of depthless administrative morass one must enter, to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Epochal Dawns

There are those momentous events in life which we mark and memorialize; and, in the end, whether the cumulative bag of goodies amounts to a positive aggregate, or a negation of sorrows, we determine in the quietude of private thoughts.  Avoidance of future uncertainty is a talent wrought only by humans; for animals of other species, they cannot afford such luxuries, as survival in the here and now constitutes reality of future causality.

For us, there is today; tomorrow will take care of itself within the constructs of fear, angst and uncertainty; and as Heidegger would have it, the projects we savor are the ones which delay thoughts of tomorrow, death, and the certainty of extinction.

What are those epochal dawns?  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it can include the advent of a medical condition.  In the beginning, in retrospect, perhaps it was of minor consequence; left as merely an afterthought, a nagging pain, or perhaps a singular moment of sudden urgency.  But the chronicity of life often parallels the longevity of a condition, and what was once a mere quibble may have turned into that momentous event.

Medical conditions belong in the bag of goodies set aside as “negatives”; and it may well lead to the necessity of considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Avoidance of the issue will not switch the bag of goodies from the negative to the positive; but once that decision is made to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is up to each Federal and Postal employee to determine whether the future course of events — that “hereafter” and “post-disability retirement life” — will mean that there is yet a future of positives, and not merely a reverberation of past negatives.

And what of that “epochal dawn”?  It remains so only if the event itself stays in a motionless rut of stagnation, like those old films of a dying carcass stuck in the mud of a scorching desert sky, where the vultures of a future abyss fly above, waiting for their pick of tenderloin.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Proper Balance

The Office of Personnel Management has sent out a number of denials in recent weeks, and the undersigned attorney has had multiple opportunities to review many of the cases which have been submitted at the Initial Stage of the process, by Federal and Postal workers who are or were unrepresented by an attorney.  

The spectrum of the quality of the applications vary; some have obviously engaged in some research, and attempted to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application by following some guidelines which have been put forth.  But in most cases, there is still the problem of an “imbalance” — of not reaching the correct median between the subjective and the objective; of an inability to stay away from the workplace issues, of harassment, of complaints about the Agency, etc.  

Remember that this is first and foremost a medical disability retirement application, and the operative term which should always be focused upon and emphasized is the “medical” aspect of the formulation.  While there is ultimately no formulaic Federal Disability Retirement packet (precisely because the particular medical condition which is unique to each individual resists any such attempt to package a Federal Disability Retirement application in a generic sort of way), nevertheless, there are certain key points which should be addressed and emphasized, while other “non-key points” should be avoided.  

Put in a different way, in proving that a medical condition prevents a Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, one must include multiple “essential elements” in meeting the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Attorney Representation

I am still often asked about whether or not, or how helpful, legal representation would be in a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case.  To ask an attorney such a question is often unhelpful, for there is always the question as to how much “self-interest” an attorney has in answering such a question.  What I can state, however, is the following:  Remember that everyone believes that his or her case is a “sure thing” — this is natural, because the very individual who is filing for disability retirement is the one who is suffering from the medical condition, and so it is a very “personal” matter, and a sense of objectivity is difficult to maintain in these matters.  Second, remember that when you hire an attorney, you are not just hiring someone who “knows something” about FERS & CSRS disability retirement; instead, you should be hiring that lawyer for his or her reputation, his knowledge of the administrative & legal process with the Office of Personnel Management and the Merit Systems Protection Board, and how well he is “thought of” by OPM (i.e., how long has he been practicing in the field of Federal Disability Retirement law, does he know the people at OPM, and more importantly, does OPM know him/her?).  Finally, always keep in mind that, while attorneys can be expensive, you must always do a cost-benefits analysis, and look at the benefit you will be receiving (or not receiving) if you do or do not hire an attorney.  Disability retirement benefits are essentially a means of securing one’s financial future, and as such, the benefit to be secured is important enough to consider hiring an attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Beware the Layman

Federal employee attorneys create and manufacture a parallel universe of statutory interpretation, legal argumentation, case-law citations, and extrapolations from esoteric provisions in arguing the “finer points” of law.

Thus, it is a temptation for the lay person — the “non-lawyer” — to attempt to borrow from cases and take a stab at citing case-law and statutory authority in trying to garner support for his or her Federal Disability Retirement application. 

In taking on a case at the Reconsideration Stage or the Merit Systems Protection Board, I have the opportunity to read some of the “legal arguments” which non-lawyers have attempted to make.  While many such arguments are valid, some (i.e., too many) mis-cite the law, and often fail to understand and proffer the substantive import of what the cases are saying. 

On top of it all, I suspect that the Office of Personnel Management gets a bit annoyed when a non-lawyer applicant attempts to preach the law to another non-lawyer OPM Representative. 

A word to the wise:  let lawyers entertain themselves in the parallel universe of the law; let the doctors render their medical opinions; let the non-lawyers make the best arguments possible, in layman’s language. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Summer Doldrums & the Physician’s Statement

I have often pointed out in past blogs and articles that I do not have my clients sign the Physicians Statement (SF 3112C), for multiple and various reasons, not the least of which is that it is a confusing form, and in smaller print than necessary, leaving the impression to the doctor that what is requested is far more complex than what is actually required.  In its place, for my clients, I write a 4 – 5 page letter outlining the type of medical narrative report which I need.  This is the summer months; everyone from OPM representatives to lawyers, to doctors and Federal and Postal employees, take time off to recover from the hard work throughout the rest of the year.  When doctors take off for some “summer fun”, it just means that they have less time to spend on administrative matters — such as writing up a medical narrative report for their patients.  Because of this, it is important to try and simplify the matter as much as possible, and a blanket submission of the SF 3112C without some explanatory guidance, is not the best course of action.  Doctors need guidance, and in this busy world, it is best to streamline the process for them as much as possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill

OPM Disability Retirement: Summer Waiting

I have written previously about the long and arduous waiting process & period in trying to obtain CSRS & FERS Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management. Remember that, in your calculation in attempting to survive financially, economically, emotionally, medically, physically, mentally — and in all other ways, keep in mind that the summer months from July to August often represent a “dead zone” when many Federal employees take time off for vacation, time for family, and time for relaxation.  While it is understandable that this makes the Federal disability retirement applicant nervous and anxious to be placed “on hold” when such an important decision may be held in abeyance, it is simply a reality which must be taken into account.  Don’t get frustrated; be patient.  The summer months will come and go, and the important point is to keep looking forward to the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability: The Disabled Federal and Postal Worker

As with most attorneys, I try to maintain an appearance of detached professionalism. It is my job to provide sound legal advice; to guide the client/disability retirement applicant with logical argumentation, rational perspective, and legal foundations as to the strength or weakness of a case, and to guide my client over obstacles, around legal landmines, and through the briars and thickets of “the law”. I try to remain aloof from the inherent emotionalism which arises from the human story of my clients, because not to do so would be to defeat the essence of why a client hires me: to maintain and retain an objective perspective, in order to provide the best legal advice possible. However, to maintain that wall of professionalism is not always possible.

The human story of the Federal and Postal employee is indeed one of encompassing a juggernaut of loyalty, professionalism, dedication, hard work, and the driving force behind and undergirding the economic might of the United States. Yes, of course the United States is built upon the economic principles of the free market system of the private sector; but the services which the government provides are not accomplished by some faceless or nameless entity; each such service — from the letter carrier through “rain, sleet or snow”, to the Special Agents who investigate and put criminals behind bars; from the border patrol agents who guard our security, to the IT Specialist who safeguards our internet viability — is provided by a competent and dedicated worker. That is why I am often humbled by my clients; because, truth be known, the disability retirement applicants who come to me have come to a point with his or her medical condition, where there is no other choice. It is never a question of dedication or hard work; the Federal and Postal Worker has already proven his or her dedication and hard work through the decades of service provided, prior to coming to me.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire