Help with OPM Disability Retirement: Wintertime flowers

What do you tell a young child who tries to plant seeds in the fall, and when asked about the activity, responds, “I want flowers for the winter and am planting them now so that they will bloom by the time the cold comes”?

Do you: (A). Laugh and tell the child that he or she is being foolish, (B) Explain to the child that flowers don’t bloom in the wintertime, (C) Direct them to the proper plants that will produce the intended effect or (D) Let the child discover for him or herself as to whether such an effort will have any positive results?

Clearly, options A and B would not assist the child in learning and advancing one’s knowledge of the world (Answer B, while generally the case, ignores the greater effort required in explaining that some flowers do, indeed, thrive in the dead of winter or, alternatively, that this particular region is not conducive to certain plants); and choice D, while perhaps allowing for a greater lesson to be learned — may instead attain the wisdom of the harsh reality of the world through explanation and discussion.

Explanation and a proper understanding of the circumstances, context and limitations of one’s activities in light of the surrounding universe is the key to gaining wisdom and knowledge.

Given that, Choice C would obviously be the “best” option towards greater understanding.  Thus, it is not merely the vacuum within which what one is doing that matters; rather, it is the effective interaction between one’s activities with the greater world beyond that produces a balanced comprehension of one’s place in the universe, how one can be effective and even influential.

Camellias are wintertime flowers that continue to thrive despite the harshness of the environment; whatever the genetic make-up that allows it to remain in bloom while others wither or die, their hardiness in environments others hibernate from and shun is a testament to the reality that, indeed, there are such things as wintertime flowers.

That is sometimes a difficult reality and lesson to learn — for we too often categorize times of our lives in similar ways: In extremes where it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job, it is important to understand that the end of a Federal or Postal career does not necessarily mean that it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

There can be life even in the wintertime of one’s career; for, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the individual to work in the private sector, the state, county or municipal job, and continue to receive the OPM Disability Retirement annuity, so long as you remain under 80% of what a person’s former Federal Salary pays, and to the extent that it is medically justifiable that there is a distinction between the former Federal job and the non-Federal job.

Like wintertime flowers, you just have to find the right circumstances in order to thrive in the season of your life.

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 Disability Retirement: Pursuing the Daily Divide

The bifurcation of our lives is a habit of accepted normative behavior; for most, it is the simple divide between one’s personal life and professional endeavors; then, there are sub-categories of complicated spectrums, where criminal activity is pigeonholed from a daytime semblance of respectability, or deviant behavior is concealed from one’s reputation and facade of societal refinement.  Those separations make for ease of transition, or used to.

More and more, in modernity, the dividing lines have become obscured; work is performed from home, and personal, more private affairs are discussed and disseminated in the workplace.  The great equalizer of the daily divide is a medical condition.  For, when one leaves one’s home, you cannot leave behind the condition and pursue your professional life untouched; instead, because a medical condition is pervasive, remains with one until cured or kept in control or concealment, the stigma of the condition remains throughout.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it becomes apparent quite quickly as to whether one can maintain the daily divide, to what extent, and whether effectively or not.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service have little room for patience, and less space for empathy or an accommodating outlook (used in a general sense, as opposed to the term of art which “accommodation” implies in the legal field of OPM Disability Retirement).  It becomes apparent quite quickly that the daily divide — of separating one’s personal life from the pursuit of professional endeavors — cannot be maintained, and it is time to divide the daily divide by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Life is rarely a neatly-packaged ordeal, and the many years that we were able to fool ourselves into thinking that the daily divide would allow for an undisturbed bifurcation between the two universes, reveals the fragile nature of our own creations of artifices that remain shaky in their very foundations.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often the approach of a pragmatist; the divide between one’s professional endeavors and one’s personal life was never anything but a cognitive dualism concocted by clever cheats; life was, and remains, the bundle of complexities entangled in the web of unpredictable mysteries, as is the human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law: The Editorial Process

Every writer dreads the process; on the other side of the proverbial fence, it is the joyful perverseness of the editor, with markers in hand and metaphorical scissors and knives to slash and cut, the necessity of reducing and whittling away the creative volume of words forming descriptive paragraphs and the infancy of a birth of genius, or so one always thinks about one’s own work.

Everyone has a story to tell.  How cogent; whether systematic in logical sequence; the relevance of certain statements, sentences, and sometimes paragraphs and chapters, may undermine the greater purpose for which something is written.

The story to tell must always be refined and bifurcated into categories of recognized goals:  Who is the audience?  What is the purpose of the piece?  Is there a thematic foundation?  Who will be interested?  What is the appropriate forum for publication?  These questions, and many others, are rarely asked (or answered) beyond the egoism of the compelling need to tell.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a story to tell, the telling of the story is often the basis upon which one files for Federal Employees Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Sometimes, the story must be told in another forum — to the Office of Worker’s Compensation, or perhaps to an EEOC venue.  Will the stories change with each telling to a different forum?  Perhaps not the core of the story, but certainly some of the relevant details.

As with preparing and formulating one’s Statement of Disability for a Federal Disability Retirement application, the facts to be told, the focus to be emphasized; these all depend upon the audience of one’s target.  It is not a matter of changing or omitting; it is the necessary editorial process which makes for good print.

For the Federal and Postal employee who tries to go it alone, rarely can one be the writer and editor at the same time; and it is likely the editorial process which results in the successful outcome of any writing endeavor; and while the acclaim and accolades of success spotlight the named individual, the printed byline and the recognized author, it is the behind-the-scenes process which really wins the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Calculus of Change

The title itself is somewhat of a tautology, for the branch of mathematics is defined as a study of change, divided into differential calculus and integral calculus; both, concerning the function and limits of mathematical constancy and potential quantum leaps for purposes of analyzing quantitative future applications.

We all assume some amount of change; if there is a differential to be considered, the rate of such change can be significant over an extended period of time, whereas the initial analysis can be a minimal irrelevancy.  It is the exponential rate of change applied over a lengthy period, which can produce change significant enough to enter into the calculus of future indicators.

Change is a recognized inevitability, though human expectation is often one of dependency upon the constancy of habituation and permanence.  We expect, when we open a door into a familiar room, for the interior decoration to have remained the same as the last time we entered; but who is to say that a spouse or family member did not, in the meantime, rearrange the furniture or put up new curtains?

Change has an inherent character of disquietude; it is the constancy of repetitive permanence which allows for solitary reflection and comfort.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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 disruption posed by the change in one’s circumstances — of fiscal, professional, social, cognitive and physical (i.e., the mere act of going to work each day, etc.) — can be tremendous and traumatic.

In preparing and formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, it is always a positive engagement of efforts to consider the calculus of change, and to not leave the alterations in one’s life in dismissive form as mere statistical irrelevance.

For, in the end, the biggest change of all has already occurred, in the form of an impacting medical condition which has prevented the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal or Postal sector; the rest is mere window dressing to the very essence of a changed life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Of Vultures Riding the Currents of Time

Watch the vultures float the currents of time, gliding high above, awaiting a trail of destruction behind.  Universally, across the globe, they have similar outward appearances; with wide wingspans for the ability to soar and patiently await high above, watchful for death and decay to progressively come to fruition.  Is it the scent of decay, or the fading gaze of death which attracts?  Or, perhaps, weakness and state of debilitation has a natural aura which draws?

The weak among us becomes a magnet for prey; the scavengers of time become the savagery of timelessness.  Despite our declaration for civility and sophistication, the brute essence of man comes to the fore when elements of weakness manifest. Sympathy and empathy constitute window dressings for civilization’s social contract; a concession to effeminate yearnings voice that of the spectacled class.

Look at the brutality of Federal agencies when once a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker announces an intent to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Suddenly, the skies are filled with gliding wingspans of watchfulness.  No one seemed to care before; now, the sunlight is blocked by widespread fans of feathery flurries.

Federal Disability Retirement is a rightful benefit which can be asserted by any and all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).  But as with every contingency in life, there are residual consequences in filing for a benefit, and such resulting ends will often involve the hostility of the Federal agency, the sudden shying away by one’s coworkers, and a subtle (or not so hidden) loss of camaraderie among peers and supervisors.

But what are the choices? For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is the path to escaping the slow and progressive deterioration of one’s health condition.

That the vultures may circle during the wait, may be an inevitable consequence; what one wants to prevent, however, is for such creatures to land and begin the pecking process of maggot-laden flesh.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire