Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Essence of Relating

How is it that a human being — an entity quite unique among species that cannot relate — can understand, comprehend and even become comfortable with the anomalies of life’s encounters?

Other species seem to weave among and amidst their surroundings with familiar repose; certainly, intelligent dogs recognize a new couch, an unfamiliar visitor or a different dog food introduced; but in the wilds, it is the familiarity of the surroundings that make for comfort in life.

For human beings, how does one relate to the strangeness of an entity — of an alien; of a science fiction novel that introduces a world beyond; of another culture that defies every normative structure of one’s own world?  It is, more often than not, by analogies and metaphors, is it not?

We begin by “discovering” the similarities — that something is “like” the thing we know because they share characteristics x, y or z; and it is through the familiarity of similarities by which we begin to formulate an idea of understanding, then of comprehension, and finally of a feeling of comfort.

Similarly [sic], how does one convey the idea of pain to another person who has had very little experience of it?  What if that “other person” has never experienced pain?

Yes, yes, the rebuttal would be that everyone has experienced it — even if it was a scratch, a dog bite, a paper cut, etc.  But as pain is subjective, there are certainly those who have had limited experiences of a subjective phenomena, and certainly many who have never experienced a spectrum of excruciating, debilitating pain.  Or how about psychiatric conditions — of Major Depression so overwhelming, or Anxiety so paralyzing, or panic attacks so debilitating that the condition itself prevents a person from being able to perform one’s work?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that an application for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessary next step, it is the essence of relating — of how to formulate ones narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) — that becomes of foundational importance in the success or failure of the application itself.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before moving forward; for, the essence of relating requires not only the existence of a medical condition and its impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform one’s job, but more than that, it requires the ability to convey an understanding of the facts, the law and how the two intersect.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Growth Stopper

In life, inertness is considered “bad”; it is progress, the ascent of man and the constant striving towards attaining and achieving which are considered “good”.  “Growth” and the incessant need to extend, expand and extoll the virtues of acquisition and accomplishment remain the medals of success; and whether we agree with such values, it is as if we never had a choice.  Isn’t how we define the parameters of what is important to us the basis of happiness?

For Aristotle, the world was seen in terms of constant potentiality striving to reach the actualization of an entity’s intended fruition.  Thus, a stone does what it is meant to do when it constantly falls to the lowest point in the chaos of the world; a lion achieves its value of Being by being what it does best — of being the aggressor and catching its prey; in other words, by being a lion qua lion-being.

And what of man?  To reach his or her potentiality by achieving the essence of what each individual human being was meant to strive for and accomplish, but in a moderated way without the excesses of either extremes upon the spectrum of choices (read his Nicomachean Ethics).

Growth, for every organic being, is crucial to the very essence of its reason and value for existence.  It is thus its opposite — the “growth stopper” — that is considered as “bad”, “evil”, and contrary to human nature.  But sometimes, in life, we have no choice in the matter, and having a medical condition is that “growth stopper” that must make one pause and redirect one’s focus and value.  Ultimately, 2 things have to always be done: Define what values constitute “growth”; then, determine the best course of action to progress in that endeavor.

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 one’s Federal job, “growth” will need to be redefined.  Is “growth” worth it at the expense of one’s health?

FERS Disability Retirement is not a “growth stopper”, but a growth enhancer — for, it is a retirement and a basic annuity to allow the Federal or Postal worker to pause, refocus one’s priorities upon one’s health and well-being, and then take the steps to progress toward other endeavors and vocations in life.  In other words, to re-prioritize.  Yes, the medical condition can be seen as a “growth-stopper”, but it is how we define our values which makes all of the difference.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: The Resistance

The initial reaction to such a title is the obvious one: To what?  Of course, Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes immediately to mind — of every action having an equal and opposite reaction; thus, when one posits a “resistance”, the natural query must refer to its opposition, as in, “What is it that we are resisting?”

Throughout our “stages of life”, we either comply, conform, “go along with the crowd” — or resist doing so.  There are “middle” ways, of course, and yet to compromise and resist “half-way”, or in a half-hearted manner, often seems to ruin the whole point of any resistance, doesn’t it?

If one is to be a revolutionary, the point is to be one completely, or not at all.  During the Sixties, there was the famous line (often misattributed to Abbie Hoffman, the Beatles and others) which declared that the movement’s participants would “never trust anyone over 30” — spoken by Jack Weinberg in response to a hostile interviewer.  The underlying point of the statement is quite clear: By the age of 30, most people have “sold out”, conformed, lost their youthful vigor to resist; or, put more simply, accepted the status quo and have become cynical.  Yet, isn’t there a natural inclination to “belong”, to not stand apart from the crowd, and to be able to live a quiet, unassuming life?

“Resistance” can thus have a duality of meanings — it can imply that one is part of a movement involving resistance to the status quo or, even its opposite; that one resists change and is integrally a participant of the status quo.  Resistance to change is the greater dominating force.  Change is a fearsome entity where the unknown is to be avoided at all costs.  To be a part of “the resistance” that refuses to conform — well, that is best left to those under 30, unattached and without obligations and responsibilities.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, resistance to change is often the factor that procrastinates, and keeps a person in a “muddle of the middle” where conditions deteriorate but one stubbornly insists upon maintaining the status quo.

But as medical conditions deteriorate and as the Federal Agency or the Postal Service persists in seeking change — by forcing the issue and initiating adverse actions in order to fill the position with a person who is able to perform all of the essential elements of the position — resistance to change must be replaced with becoming a part of the resistance: By preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM and forging ahead into a future yet unknown.

Remember —even Jack Weinberg became a class of individuals that he resisted, and went on to become a consultant and an adjunct faculty member; in other words, he was once in the “Resistance”, then became that opposite and equal force to fulfill Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill,Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: ‘To’ and ‘For’

What would be the difference if, in the title of Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop”, she had instead chosen to use the word “to” in replacement of “for”?  Would empires have fallen, world wars have been averted or earthquakes and other natural disasters have been delayed?

Likely, not; but would the countless minds that have encountered the novel, enjoyed its beautiful prose and admired its humanity and warmth in the telling of a tale of a time long past and a period now gone — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a difference with a distinction: “Death Comes for the Archbishop” as opposed to “Death Comes to the Archbishop”?

Some might dismissively declare, “In any event, the Archbishop died, didn’t he?”  The subtlety of distinction — should it even be brought up?  Would that the title was of the latter instead of the former — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a grammatical point of difference; is one “more” correct than the other?

Certainly, the “sense” that is employed exists — where, the “to” has a much more objective and distant, impersonal “feel” to it, whereas the “for” personalizes it, gives it warmth, almost as if “death” is a person as opposed to an event, and the “for” makes it a personal possessive as opposed to the “to” that connotes an arms-length relationship between the object and subject.

Are the prepositions interchangeable?  If a person is stricken with grief over a tragedy and a close friend arrives to provide comfort and says, “I came for you”, it would be a statement that would be considered heart-warming.  If, under the same circumstances, the person instead declared, “I came to you” — would we, again, mark the difference or even notice?  It is, certainly, a statement of objective fact — the person objectively traveled and arrived at destination Point B from origination Point A.

Again, the subtle distinction — the “for” connotes a greater personal warmth as opposed to a simple statement of fact.  It is, in the end, the subtle differences that sometimes makes the entirety of a distinction that makes the difference.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between “to” and “for” is often the difference between living a life worthwhile and one that remains cold and impervious.

Human beings are often careless in their personal relationships; and the test of such caring or uncaring attitudes will often surface when a person is going through a trial or tragedy, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the complex and impersonal administrative process of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will often test the workplace relationships because of the self-interested motives that exist with agencies and the Postal Service.

Some coworkers, supervisors and others will distance themselves immediately, and they will remain in the category of the “to” people; while other coworkers, managers, supervisors, etc., will surprisingly be there “for” you.  Willa Cather chose the preposition “for” over the “to” because she was an excellent author, and it is the excellence of a human being that is revealed in the subtle differences we often overlook.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Terms

Language is a malleable vehicle.  There have been times in the history of language, when the staid and stodginess period of loss of vibrancy became the rule, followed by epochs of radical vicissitudes, upheavals and counter-conventional revolutions in the medium of language games.  Whether this encapsulated slice of linguistic alteration, upending traditional forms of communication because of electronic media and the hype of language abbreviated by Twitter, Texting and Tablet Titillations, will last the short life of technological innovation and obsolescence, is yet to be determined.

For example, the time of Shakespeare’s linguistic explosion of experimentation and expansive usage became in retrospect a richness of entering into connotative language meanings from which we benefit to this day.  But steadiness, continuity and conditions of stability are also important in order to take the proverbial breather to accept, embrace and assimilate (a term widely used for contextual purposes in modernity applied to immigration reform, as well) the linguistic revolutions that become incommensurate with meaning, communication and conveyance of terms.

Terms are important, both in common usage and in technical application.  In the arena of Federal Disability Retirement Law, different words are splayed about, sometimes without regard to proper application, especially when the “law” often requires a greater attention to precision of meaning.  Some simple and common crossovers of linguistic confusion involve:  “medical retirement” and “disability retirement” – do they mean the same thing?

If reference to either term involves the submission for an early retirement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the answer is “yes”, they do mean the same thing.  Federal Disability  Retirement is identical to “Federal medical retirement” if by such words the query is referring to filing for an early retirement based upon the Federal or Postal worker’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, and therefore the intention is to access an early annuity because of one’s early retirement based upon the medical condition, and submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Some other terms often confused or conflated:  “On-the-job injury” or “pre-existing condition”; these terms are often used in the language-arena of Worker’s Compensation issues, and rarely have any import – or applicability, at all – in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it matters not whether or not one has been disabled “on the job” or away at a skiing accident; instead, what is important is the impact of the injury or disease upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  As for a “pre-existing” condition – that, too, is more likely appropriately defined in an OWCP context, and rarely in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In any event, “terms” are meant to be used within a context-appropriate content of filings, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to clarify and conform to the applicable statutory mandates in defining and using the terms which are most appropriate and effective.

For, in the end, the explosion of language during the era of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age reverberates with critical linguistic richness to this day; yet, if we were to have a conversation with a bloke from that era, the terms employed would not only confuse us, but confound us with a profound sense of despairing lack of cogency despite our self-aggrandizing declarations of superiority and advancement in the modern parlance of greater self-esteem.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire