Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The identity of choice

In the end, do we?  That is — do we have a choice when it comes to our identity?  Of course, in this day and age where word-play has become completely malleable, and where Truth and Falsity rarely matter except when tested against the exigencies of the objective universe (i.e., as when crossing a street and someone says, “Be careful, a bus is coming”, and you suddenly realize that the truth or falsity of such a statement can actually have real-life consequences), the question becomes: How does one define one’s use of the word, “identity”?  Is it based upon the aggregation of objective and subjective statements, beliefs, opinions and perspectives?

In other words, are we merely the compendium of cumulative voices based upon: Our birth certificate; the driver’s license in our wallets; the memories retained by our parents, grandparents and relatives; how our friends view us; what our spouses believe us to be; what the neighborhood dogs recalls from sniffing at our feet — the cumulative aggregation of all of such factors?  Is who we are — our “identity” — different from who we believe we are?  If everyone believes X to be such-and-such but X believes himself to be a secret agent working for a mysterious foreign entity, what (or who) determines the reality of our identity?  Or, is “identity” based upon the collective perspective of a community that “knows” that individual?  Can we “choose’ our identity, and if so, completely or only partially?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue to work in one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often a concomitant “identity crisis” that accompanies the medical condition.  No longer are you the stellar worker for the Federal Agency; no longer are you the reliable provider who slogs through the daily toil as a Postal employee; instead, your identity is one of having a medical condition that limits, prevents, subverts or otherwise alters the way in which you live.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement becomes an alternative that must be chosen, and that “choice” may alter who you are and what others may think about you.  But in the end, you do have a choice: The essence of who you are remains always within; the identity of choice is not altered merely because you file for a benefit that must be pursued because of a medical condition that was incurred through no fault of your own; and anyone who thinks otherwise never knew you to begin with.  For, in the end, the identity of choice was and remains always within the purview and power within each of us; we just didn’t know it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition 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 job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Avoiding the repetitive in a narrative

Why do we believe that adding the repetition of words, especially adverbs, will create a compelling narrative?  If you ascribe an adjective to an object, then ad an adverb – say, “very” – does repeating and inserting another magnify the significance of the narrative itself, or detract by placing a grammatical marker by bringing attention that the very necessity of the addition undermines the efficacy of the noun to which all of the additions point to, in the first place?  May not the noun itself stand on its own two feet, so to speak; or, at least with the supportive crutches of an adjective?

If a person posits that things are “very bad”, does the person responding who adds, “No, things are very, very bad” contribute to the discourse in that singular addition?  And what of the third in the discussion, who says, “Yes, I must agree, things are very, very, very bad”?  And what if a fourth person – unassuming and generally unemotional, who puts a sense of finality to the entire conversation by declaring:  “No, you are all right.  Things are bad.”  Did the last statement without the adverb and the repetition of additional tautological ringers, say anything less in the utterance, and conversely, did the third contributor add anything more to the discourse?

Often enough in life, that which we believe we are enhancing, we are merely detracting from in the very repetition of discourse.  It is like a signal or a marker; the red flag that arises suspicion is sometimes waved through the unintentional attempt to bring about attention through repetitive enhancement, and it is often the noun with the singular adjective that evinces the quietude of force in grammatical parlay.  Pain, anguish and medical conditions often seek to descriptively reveal through unnecessary repetition.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who is working on preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through one’s own agency or the H.R. Shared Services Center (for Postal employees) in Greensboro, N.C. (if the Federal or Postal employee is still with the Federal Agency, or not yet separated for more than 31 days), preparing adequate and sufficient responses on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, must be embraced with care, fortitude, forthrightness and deliberation of factual, medical, legal and personal weaving of a compelling narrative.

Inclusion of too many adverbs may be a distraction; meanderings of thought and unnecessary information will undermine the entirety of the construct; and while the linguistic tool of repetition can be effective and compelling, too much of a “good thing” may undermine the singularity of a narrative’s natural soul.

In the end, the Statement of Disability prepared by a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant should be a compelling narrative delineating a discourse of bridging the nexus between medical condition and one’s positional duties.  It should be descriptive.  It should be very descriptive.  It should be very, very descriptive.  It should also include the descriptive, the legal and the personal, just not very, very, very so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: The helpful other perspective

Before going “whole-hog” with anything in life, the greater wisdom often confirms that we should try and obtain a differing perspective on the matter, if only to affirm the correctness of our own, or to consider the fissures and weaknesses we are blind to.  Wise people seek wisdom; fools travel down roads not merely untested, but even unprepared.  Such a tautology is a mere self-evident fact of life, but we nevertheless follow blindly where the blind leads.

If an individual discounts the criticisms of everyone else, then the wisdom one holds is merely the price of one’s own mistakes, and so long as others are not required to pay for them, the pathway to disaster can be easily paved without involving the toil and anguish of others.

One may query:  assuming it is wise to seek the input of another, how does one nevertheless know that such a differing viewpoint is “helpful” at all?  What if that other perspective is even worse of a disaster than my own?  Such a question, of course, is likely asked in a vacuum; for, there are varying indicators that one may discern in seeking advice from others –  reputation; demeanor; knowledge previously revealed; capacity to listen; established specialty in a particular field, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing 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 –  the need to seek the helpful “other” perspective is often a necessary prerequisite.

Why?

Because, when a medical condition is impacting one’s health – whether singularly physical, or mental or a combination of both – the debilitated state that one experiences often provides a skewered perspective, and that is why garnering and employing the advice of an attorney who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement Law is often a necessary component of the process.

Yes, there may well be those rare “slam-dunk” cases, whether gathering and submitting the medical records alone will obtain an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  But, then, everyone who files a Federal Disability Retirement application believes his or her submission to be just that –  undeniable, unequivocally established, and unassailably confirmed.

Why is that?

Because the person who experiences the medical condition is the same person who is preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application – and he or she who feels the pain, presupposes that everyone else must also be able to comprehend such a state of decline.  Unfortunately, this is not the case – at least, not from the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is also another one of those “other” perspectives that must be contended with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirements: This cold and impervious universe

Of course, the title is more akin to Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, as opposed to an interventionist deity of a personal nature.  Yet, even of the latter, the question of whether any real influence can be gotten, or whether fate had already predetermined the course of future actions, is certainly debatable.  If one ‘appeals’ to the guidance of a personal idol, but hears nothing, is there any distinguishable distinction to be made from that of a prime move, unperturbed by cries of tragic consequences?

Aside from the metaphysical queries, the view that we live in a cold and impervious universe is one of unaccountable ‘feelings’; and while one’s emotional response may not correlate with the firmer foundation of logical analysis, there is little basis for undermining the validity of such conclusions any more than arriving at it from a systematic rejection of a metaphysical argument.  Both approaches are equally valid, and the former may be more so, given the experiential reinforcements by most through anecdotal evidence.

That wars in foreign lands devastating entire communities, decimating whole cities and making refugees of innocent children and bystanders who merely want to live a quiet life, cannot be denied.

Closer to home, of antiseptic neighborhoods in classical suburbia – that quintessential cauldron of “phoniness” rejected by Holden Caulfield in his magnum opus, The Catcher in the Rye.  Here, where communities are defined by fences and self-imposed solitary confinement, the only time we open our doors is when an ambulance or other disturbing intrusions forces us to gawk with concern for another neighbor quietly being transported to an unknown facility of no-return.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has come to a critical point where performing the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties becomes an incommensurability beyond mere difficulty, but a reality that can no longer be hidden – the conclusion that this is a cold and impervious universe is merely heightened by the uncaring unresponsiveness of the Federal or Postal employee’s agency and its co-conspirators.

The legal terms are always bandied about:  “Accommodations”; “FMLA protection”; “allowance for being on LWOP”; and other such mechanisms; but truth be told, the agency and the U.S. Postal Service merely wants to shed itself, as soon as possible, of any employee who dares to whisper the heretical utterance:  “I am suffering, and need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.”

In the end, it is the law itself that allows for the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that gives one pause, for the benefit itself is at least one counterpoint to the question of whether this world we live in is entirely a cold and impervious universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The locked certainty

It must be nice to walk around this world of insecurity with an intractable sense of locked certainty.  There are those some few who possess such a perspective:  everything is without any shades of grey; “rightness” is defined by one’s power, position and capacity to impose, and those who stand in the way are mere leftovers in the residue of history’s garbage heap; and, whether in the privacy of one’s thoughts (if there remain any) or in that moment of vulnerability when the alcohol allows for an openness not previously manifested, there is revealed a glint or twinkle of a doubt, one normally never finds out, as the opportunity for such fissures upon a locked certainty rarely unravel.

How does one go about “unlocking” such a fortress of beliefs, ideas and faith in self?  Perhaps, never.  How did one arrive at such a point of foundational, unmovable certitude?  Darned, if this writer knows.

Authoritarians; totalitarians; cult figures and other assorted and assertive leaders; is it mere brashness and bravado, or is there some “secret knowledge” they possess where the “rest of us” merely squander?  Is it merely a restatement of that ancient division between Parmenides and Heraclitus?  Where, seeing the world as a singular whole and unchanging, in contrast to a perspective where everything is in a constant state of perpetual flux?  Is the psychological emanation that distinguishes and differentiates the two derive from that foundational belief-system that is proposed, or is the duality of such teleological posits merely offering a false choice of two extremes?

There are people like that – both in fiefdoms of past ages where the Medieval colonies restricted and constricted both in thought and in cultural diversity; and, today, in Federal agencies and U.S. Postal facilities, where all Federal and Postal workers who have a medical condition are viewed as “suspect” and unproductive workers who are merely shirking their duties out of sheer laziness.

Can you change their minds?  Probably not.  Is there a key to unlocking that locked certainty of belief?  Unlikely.  So, what is the “solution” to such a problem?  Fortunately, for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is “out there” to be accessed.

In order to successfully maneuver through the bureaucratic maze and administrative obstacles, however, one must shatter one’s own “locked certainty”, and try to view the process as a means to an end, and realize that a successful endeavor such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, begins with the realization that there never was a guarantee of security from life’s lottery of hope, but that the benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity allows for a second chance at an apple already ravaged by those who surround you with that locked certainty of suspicion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire