OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Back to the future

The title comes, of course, from that classic 1985 movie, and depicts the idea of being able to go back to the past while yet retaining the knowledge of a future unforgotten.  Within the possibility of that paradigm, could the future be altered, or does the past that one thinks one is going back to already account for the presence of the person who goes back, and thus does the future remain within the rigidity of the unchanged past impervious to the arrogant thought that the future could be modified by the mere presence of one who goes back to the future thinking that the future could be changed?

The concept itself is a unique twist upon the creativity of human thought — not of time-travel into the future, but where the future as “now” is taken into the past, but with the retention of the “now” taken with us, thus becoming no longer a “now” but a future knowledge merely because one goes back into the past.

From whence does such an idea originate?  Is it our yearnings that begin to percolate in old age, when regrets seep beyond the borders of mere wistful thoughts and find their tug-and-pull upon our consciences?  Is it to try and make up for all the stupidity that has prevailed in the bumpy road of growing up, where mistakes made were forced upon family and friends who had the compassion and empathy to carry us through our troubled times?  Do regrets uncorrected plague our later years more than when youth betrayed the lack of character shown so brazenly when weeping mothers and shuddering fathers kept their silence during those terrible years of want and waste?

To go back to the future is but a yearning to correct mistakes left in forlorn corners of regretful memories, and for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the time is “now” to begin to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Going back to the future is not an option; the medical condition is with us now, and it is precisely the “now” which must be dealt with in order to prepare for an uncertain future.

Certainly, it would be nice to “go back” — back before our careers were impacted; back before the medical condition became chronic and intractable; and back before this mess called “life’s trials” began to prevent us from performing the essential elements of our jobs.  But it is only in the movies where the past can be corrected; in reality, going back to the future means that we must now proceed with caution to correct the mistakes and malfunctions of life in the context of today’s reality, and not yesterday’s regrets.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Those intersecting connections

We hear all the time about the shrinking world, the smaller universe, the global village – all metaphors to help and understand, to comprehend and be able to withstand within the insanity of a world that continues to intrude, intersect and impose itself upon every corner and aspect of lives lived and daily interrupted.  It is a way for people to cope with the fact that we can no longer avoid the reality of those intersecting connections from worlds, cultures and universes that make up the daily reality of our walking lives.

The newspapers globalize each and every issue; the television and cable news outlets care little for local news unless it, too has some national consequences; and so we live with the anomaly that the only time you might hear about your own hometown is if some horrific event occurs that other people in other towns might care about.  And, even when a story is reported about an event that occurs just around the corner from the news station, headquarters or whatever manner of identifying the central place where all of the equipment, studios and personnel gather to emit their airwaves of newsfeeds, they act as if it is occurring in some distant county or country, with perhaps a bit of weeping as an afterthought with a statement like, “And it makes it all the worse because it happened just in our own neighborhood!”

The world is indeed one comprised of intersecting connections, and we voluntarily allow for those connections to make our own perspectives molded into “theirs” by inviting various cable channels into our living rooms.  Do we really have a choice?  Can we just remain ignorant and ignore the reality of the global economy, the extended village and the universal concerns of the day?  How do we live with the complexities of intersecting connections, when we can barely deal with the local problems that beset us within the cocoon of our own lives?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the daily ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the microcosm of intersecting connections may well be magnified to a level where it competes with what is occurring on a more global scale.

Suddenly, the Federal Agency is moving to put pressure on you – like those competing foreign companies you hear about in the world economy.  Or, the Supervisor is no longer being cordial – somewhat like the world leader who doesn’t return calls to the President.  Coworkers no longer treat you as an equal – like nations that suddenly go rogue without explanation.  You have to file a complaint – like submitting to a U.N. vote for sanctions.

We have all been groomed and prepared to think in terms of intersecting connections, but for the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition such that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes a necessity, it all comes back to a more local and personal connection: one’s health, and the need to focus upon one’s personal life.

No matter how global the world has become, never forget that it is the personal life of close connections that really only matters in the end.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement System: Smiley, Ace of Hides

Similarity of consonant alliteration can evoke and prompt collateral thoughts and memories; likewise, phrases which sound somewhat familiar, yet distinctively remain apart.

Historically, spies were the masters of subterfuge, of appearing as that which they are not.  Then, of course, there is the complexity of the “double agent”, where the appearance is twofold in concealment:  acting with apparent fealty to one source, pretending to be diabolically loyal to a second, when in fact reverting back to the first; and the potential play upon an infinite multiplication of conundrums involving questionable ties of patriotism.  Smiley was the ace of them all, as the fictional character of unperturbed and unflappable creation by John le Carre.

In real life, as in the world of imagination, it is indeed the facial characteristic of the smile which hides; and it is that much more pronounced with the addition of the electronic smiley face that is thoughtlessly pasted whenever deemed appropriate.  Because the smile covers all defects, hides much reality, and conceals deportments of denigrated despair, it remains the choice of frozen acceptance.

People with medical conditions often attempt to smile more than usual, if only to hide the reality of the pain and despair of life.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the veil of a smile is often what the agency expects, and nothing more.

Agencies rarely show a fealty towards an employee who no longer can perform as days of yore; and help, guidance or assistance by a Human Resource Office should be viewed with suspicion and pause, leaving aside the question of whether actions are taken for the best interests of the Federal or Postal employee, or for the benefit of the agency.

Smiles hide realities; they can mask pain, and also present a picture of friendliness when in fact the knife has already been readied for the backside of an unsuspecting victim.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FER, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is something which should be considered by any Federal or Postal employee who is experiencing the two-faced subterfuge of an agency which purports to support, but in fact has shown signs of a hostile working environment.

Smiles are nice, and can sometimes be genuine signs of a person’s demeanor; but, more often, they hide the true deportment of intent; and while George Smiley could alter the character of the geopolitical sphere of power shifts and the passing of state secrets, it is the state of the ordinary Federal and Postal employee that is most impacted by actions of agencies which show no loyalties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Foreign Lands

There was a time when foreign lands had a sense of the exotic and prohibitive; but in a shrinking world, where technology brings images of distant scenery into homes and living rooms “as if” time and geographical dissonance matters not; and where virtual reality and computer graphics crosses the bifurcated worlds of fantasy and reality; today, it is the native who finds that being a foreigner in one’s own country is far more common than merely the inability to communicate  effectively in a different tongue.

Being in a foreign land is merely a state of mind; the pendulum swings, and swings far and wide, when first one enters a territory of unfamiliarity; but over time, with growing acclimation and recognition through daily routines, the distance of the pendulum harkens back to a beginning point, and a balance is achieved.

That is how one felt when first the career and employment entered with youthful vigor was embraced just after the school days of yore; the tingling excitement of a new venture, a steady paycheck and fresh with ideas to conquer the universe filled the cauldrons of hope, and where the future beckoned but with endless opportunity and fenceless expanse.  Crisis points have a jarring effect.  They tend to dampen spirits and shake the foundations of confidence and composure.

For newly disabled Federal employees and injured U.S. Postal workers who are hit with a medical condition, even sometimes a mildly disabling condition, the sense is often that one has entered into a foreign land, and the language spoken is one which few understand, fewer still speak well, and where only a handful are willing to take the time to give explicit directions.  Suddenly, the very people who were once comrades in coordinated efforts of missions to accomplish, act as if they no longer know you; familiar doorways are suddenly shut; people whisper, and whether they do so in hushed and incomprehensible tones, or in a language unfamiliar, all amounts to the same.

The need to apply for a visa to exit the land once loved, becomes a reality to forebear; and the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, must consider carefully the ramifications of leaving that land once beloved, but now distant in space, time, and geographical reality.  One has become a foreigner in a foreign land; and the exit still open is to file for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

How, and whether, and to what avail, such tragedy struck, is not as important for the time being as the pragmatic steps needed to be taken in order to secure one’s future.

When war breaks out in a foreign land, the pawns to be captured and traded for barter and advantage often involve the vulnerable and the expendable; and having a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform in the workplace, often becomes like a war zone of sorts; and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits  is merely another type of fight, of a bureaucratic sort, through an administrative maze in another foreign zone of battle.

For the Federal and Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the time to exit is before the borders are sealed, and to enjoy the scenery of foreign soil from the safety of one’s home.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire