Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The sparrow

It is a bird that remains unappreciated — that generic entity which, when not identified by the wandering ornithologist, is simply referred to as a “sparrow”.  They are like the “default” bird, unassuming, pervasive, lost in the underbrush of time and history, and are taken for granted in their existence, presence and attraction — sort of like most of humanity.  One doesn’t hear the wandering bird-lover with his or her oversized binoculars strung heavily around a neck that is straining from a disc herniation from the sheer weight of the magnifying mechanism suddenly stop and declare loudly, “Look — a sparrow!”

People walk by throughout the cities of the world without ever noticing the thousands of such generically-forgotten creatures; those brown little blurs that fly about singularly or in large groups; flitting about, searching for sources of food, flooding the air with their chirping and fluttering.  But then, most of humanity is somewhat like the sparrow — in great numbers, never standing out from the rest, and merely trying to break out from the anonymity of life’s toil.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job duties, the sense that can remain as a “sparrow” of sorts becomes less of a possibility — but not because of any unique features that have suddenly been noticed by the plumes of one’s species; rather, you have suddenly been noticed and selectively chosen precisely because of the medical condition itself.

Suddenly, you have become the narrow focus of greater observation:  Leave Restrictions are imposed; your performance is reviewed with greater interest; harassment ensues; the magnifying glass of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service is upon you.

Once upon a time, the sparrow was flying about happily unnoticed, perhaps wishing to be a peacock, not knowing how fortunate it was to remain in the abyss of anonymity.  For the Federal or Postal worker, to be noticed can have some negative effects, and it may be time to begin to prepare, formulate and file 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, lest the sparrow that wished to be a peacock suddenly realizes the looming shadow of a predator overhead, bearing down rapidly to end the anonymity that was lost because of a medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Present who of past what

It is a peculiarly human endeavor: of looking at a photograph (yes, digital nowadays, no doubt), and trying to discern from a present who what the one-dimensional picture says about what we were doing some years past, or maybe a few weeks or even yesterday.  It is the present “who” of one’s identity, trying to extract meaningfulness from a singular snapshot of an emotional freeze, whether of self-conscious “cheese!” declared knowing that the picture was being taken, or of a cold stare that locks out the soul’s essence of what we actually felt, and trying to extrapolate within a 3-dimensional universe the foundation of what had occurred.

We all play that peculiar game, do we not — of standing in the present by the very being of who we identify as ourselves and looking at a photograph of someone whom we can identify as the “I” in the image before us, and then remembering, with the contextual history hidden within, of the past what that depicts the picture present who stands before staring at the past what; while others may be doing the same thing many times over, multiplied exponentially in volumes unimaginable, yet each instance being insularly singular because there may never be a discussion about the present who of past what that no one talks about?

It is akin to having a medical condition, isn’t it — and of continuing to smile, walk about, carry on “normally” and everyone else in their insular universes not knowing about the medical condition you carry about, and the suffering you must endure because of the present who of who you are but of the past what where others see you and judge you as you were, what you were, who you were, while all the while it is the present who of today that has changed and is no longer the past what of who you were?

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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job and positional duties, that feeling is often familiar and well known — the present who of past what.

Others see you and expect the same; you may even appear to be unchanged, but inside, you know that the present who is no longer of the past what, and that is precisely what must be conveyed in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether as a Federal or Postal employee you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; for it is precisely the present who of past what that is the you of today with the historical context of the past what, but nevertheless needing the present who for a future whom no one but you can know or discern.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: Feelings

There are appropriate contexts within which to consider them, as well as places, insertions, events and conversational modalities where it is partly or entirely irrelevant; but as with most things in life, the boundaries that bifurcate are not always clear and distinct.  When one is considering purely subjective circumstances, it is clearly the “appropriate” moment — of personal relationships; of a vacation to be taken; of emotions being considered.

In a court of law, it is probably not the best approach to take with a judge; although, in the sentencing phase or the “damages” argument to be made to a jury, it may be the singular force of persuasive impact that makes not only the distinction unclear, but the decision quite the decisive edge.

“Feelings” are to be reserved for puppies, late nights in bed with a fever, and how the toes tickle when lying on a grassy knoll in the middle of summer when the lone ant walks along the pathway of your bare skin.

Do we dare admit to them?  When you are in a heated argument, is it not an oxymoron to shout, “Feelings don’t have anything to do with it!”  For, what is the criteria to be applied when making a decision based upon them?  Does the spectrum of emotions never cloud one’s judgment?  Or can we, as we often claim, set them aside so easily, like so many automatons in those doomsday movies that have become popularized, where androids and mechanized juggernauts that have taken over the earth and tried to suppress humanity are now the very beings whom we always wanted to emulate?

And what of the French Existentialists and the horror of reaction to that old favorite, “Invasion of the body snatchers” — what was it that made it so fascinating, where beings were stripped of their souls and emotions were all of a sudden undone, extinguished and no longer relevant, where bodies devoid of feelings walked about the earth like so many empty tombs?

Feelings are funny animals; they make up so much of who we are, and yet we spend a lifetime trying to avoid the very essence of that which makes up who we are.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the anomaly concerning “feelings” becomes quickly apparent: for, confronted with having to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application before an administrative body — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — you are asked to remain “clinical” and antiseptic in the face of “proving” the medical evidence by the cold calculus of “the law”, and yet at the same time you are trying to convey your “feelings” with respect to the impact of the pain, the anguish of anxiety or the daily levels of profound fatigue felt.

It is a tightrope, balancing act that must be done with expertise, subtle techniques and an interspersing of line-crossing deftly engaged. Completing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is the single most important form in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, aside from gathering the proper medical documentation and making the persuasive legal argumentation.

For, in the end, that lifetime of trying to suppress those “feelings” must be utilized carefully, yet at the same time you have to be persuasive enough to touch upon the emotional makeup of a fellow human being who, also, likely has had to suppress those same feelings in order to apply “the law”.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation OPM Disability: Analogies and life

Life is lived by analogies.  It is how we understand, comprehend and make sense of a world in turmoil.  By identifying a resemblance between two or more particulars while perhaps remaining somewhat different in other aspects, we are able to relate things, understand them, comprehend the isolation of differentiation between X and Y and yet embrace those differences despite the lack of commonality in all other respects.

Without the tool and transporting impact of an analogy, most of the objective world would remain isolated, irrelevant and separated from the subjective coherence that we bring to the world.  Explanations and argumentation would often lack any comprehensible understanding; scientists would simply speak in technical languages that non-scientists (i.e., laymen like most of us) would fail to appreciate; and life would continually remain a series of isolated islands of conceptual conundrums that would be separated from civilization as a whole.

That is essentially why the administrative laws governing Federal Disability Retirement must by necessity be spoken of in analogic terms – precisely because, in order to make sense in the greater context of life, everything in particular can only be “explained” and “made sense of” through analogies that we can relate to.  Without relational contexts and reference points, life’s various complexities would remain in isolation from one another.

Thus, analogies, life and Federal Disability Retirement benefits all share a common perspective – that of human beings who suffer 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 the Federal or Postal positional duties, and that a particular “condition” or life shares with all other conditions of life the reference points that we can all understand: Law, Complexity, Human suffering, Pain, The fear of change, The need for change; Confusion; Trauma; Medical conditions, etc.

Analogies allow for understanding; life, left in isolation, is confusing as it is, and even after a lifetime of trying to understand and simplify, still remains a mystery.

And for the Federal or Postal employee who is at a point in one’s career where a medical condition impacts the ability to continue in that career, the reference point that needs to be kept in mind is that there are lawyers who specialize in getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and we are here to help.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Biding time

Inmates in correctional facilities do it; criminals in wait; patients in doctor’s offices who have been informed that there will be a short delay because of an emergency procedure that the physician had to attend to; and most of us in general who live life anticipating disasters, tomorrow’s unfortunate events or the next day’s calamity to come.

We all bide our time in living our lives, and it is the time of biding that is wasted away until, near our deathbed, the expected outcome of disaster never came, the calamity never developed and the corrosion of life never materialized.  It is one thing to wait on another person; another altogether to engage in the patient virtue of sitting motionless or passing the time away in anticipation of something beyond; it is quite another, and perhaps unique, that human beings actually actively engage in the activity of “biding time” in order to start a process.

Vengeance often takes biding of time; planning for a future definitely requires biding time; and old men and women in nursing homes have nothing better to do than to bide one’s time.  To live life biding time, even at the horizon of one’s twilight in elder states of despair, is no way to exist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of, have already begun the procedural steps to, or otherwise are in the middle of the administrative process of preparing, formulating or filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to “biding time” during this complex administrative process is to have “a plan”.

It is a long, arduous, difficult and time-consuming process.  Even after it is successfully filed, the time waiting upon a decision just at the First Stage of the administrative process can now take a very, very long time, and how one plans to bide one’s time during this long process is something one needs to consider.

Will you remain on LWOP during this time?  Will you resign, get terminated, and will you work at a private-sector job while waiting for OPM’s decision?  Will temporary loss of health insurance be a consideration?  If it is denied at the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, will that mean that you can endure the lengthy second Stage, the Reconsideration Stage?  And if you have to go and have a Telephonic Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which will take a minimum of 120 days beyond, will that still be within the plan of attack in biding time?

Hopefully, one’s Federal Disability Retirement filing with OPM will go smoothly; but in the event that all of the proverbial bumps on the road are encountered in your particular journey, it is important to consider the extent of biding time during the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Arbitrariness of life

What defines arbitrariness?  Is it when there is a lack of pattern, or does our own input of misunderstanding or lack of comprehension determine the defined formlessness of the world around us?  Is Kant right in his implications – that the “noumenal” world that is outside of our sphere of cognitive input remains unknowable, arbitrary, unfathomable and unreachable, and it is only by the categories of internal psychological structures that we naturally impose upon the world, make sense of it, and “order” it so that we are thus able to comprehend it, that such an understanding between the bifurcated universes of the phenomenal world we comprehend and the noumenal world we can never grasp defines the penultimate concept of that which is arbitrary?

And what of the “arbitrary life” – is it merely that which we do not understand, or is there more to it than that?

Most people live lives that establish a consistent “pattern” of progression.  Thus do old sayings go: “A person is a communist in the morning, a radical in the early afternoon, but if he is not a conservative by nightfall, he has never grown up.”  Or even of the implicit response of the Sphinx: “a man who is four-legged, then two, then three” – implies a systematic progression, then degeneration of sorts; in other words, a pattern of life-cycles.

And we expect a blue-print of what it means to live a “successful” life – of education, work, family and career, where there is a consistent increase in wealth, wisdom and weariness of strangers that continues to expand and grow.  But what if there is an interruption to that “pattern” or “blue-print” that everyone expects?  What if misfortune befalls, bankruptcy is added or divorce, death or even a hurricane and flooding descends upon one’s life – does the unfortunate event suddenly make one’s life an arbitrary one? Or, what about the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must suddenly face a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job – does that make the interruption of life’s constancy suddenly into an ‘arbitrary’ life?

The definition of that which makes X arbitrary is always related to the “randomness” of events; but for human beings, it is indeed the perspective one has and the calm within a storm that influences whether the objective basis of that which is arbitrary is influenced by the subjective approach of a person’s life.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must consider filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the initial steps in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may determine, objectively, the future course of the Federal Disability Retirement application itself, as to whether it was “arbitrarily” compiled or systematically composed.

Like the orchestra that has an off-tune instrument, the symphony created will determine whether one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is a crescendo of progression, or merely a disturbing sound of failure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: The face in the mirror

Some avoid it; others run to it like an obsession that cannot be abandoned; and for most, it is merely a daily habit that must be tolerated.

The face in the mirror that we view in order to “present” ourselves to the world is the one we are born with, attempt to alter in multiple ways throughout different stages of life – perhaps by artificial means ranging in spectral thunders of surgical alterations, color-dying, parting the hair on the left side instead of the right; trying to cover that growing bald plate that shines like a heavenly orb not needing the assistance of the Hubbell Telescope from afar in galaxies far and wide; of make-up, lipstick colors and hair-style alterations; and yet, somehow, it is those eyes that stare back that seem to pierce within.

And what of that image we hold; was it the imprint from our youth that forever became frozen in the timeless synergies of our inner consciousness?  Does the reflection in the mirror last, for some, for only a second, such that we have to run back to it – whether by the closely-held compact in the purse, the reflection in the store window, or even that oblong shape of a car’s side contraptions – and reassure ourselves that it has not changed much since the last encounter?

Or is it the image we continue to hold onto as that innocent child of long ago who forever swore that neither time, old age nor ravages of bygone years would ever defeat the compliments received and which we hold so dearly?

It is, in the end, the eyes – what Plato described as the windows to one’s soul – that tell the tale of a person’s past.  Does it haunt?  Does it enliven?  Will it glitter and sparkle like the moon’s reflection upon a summer’s pond in its tranquility of calm?  Or does life bring such sorrow within the chasms in between, where the haggard look befalls and betrays the unhappiness residing within?

We need not look in the mirror to gather much that we already know, and yet we keep going back and speaking to that ghostly appearance reversed in proportionality as the negative photograph that smiles when we smile, cries when we cry, but feels not the inner pain that grows with each day.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are at a point in their lives that filing for Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, it is a critical point to consider when you look at the face in the mirror – for, the reflection seen is often not the “real” person that stands in front of the mirror, and the “appearance” is never the essence of the inner soul concealed.  That is the sad truth when dealing with the Federal agency or the Postal facility; they all see “you” as “that person who has a medical condition and is no longer as productive as he/she used to be”.

That is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often becomes a necessity, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – because the face in the mirror is just that – a reflection of unreality – that doesn’t ever reveal the truth of one’s potentiality in a universe that barely cares beyond the appearance of reality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire