OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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, initiation and submission of 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, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The compelling reason

What makes a “reason” to do something “compelling”, as opposed to voluntary or optional?  Is it when the choices given are no longer existent and one must by necessity or default act — not out of choice but by being forced to?  Is it the unwillingness of the individual that defines the act, or the lack of alternatives remaining that determines the defined moment?

Or, perhaps it is a “feeling” of involuntariness that justifies the declaration that there was a “compelling reason” to do X or Y, which would create an oxymoron of sorts, to breathe the utterance of “feeling” alongside “reason” in the same sentence.  Is there ever a compelling reason to do or to say something, or is it all voluntarily undertaken, just some acts or declaratives taken with better reasons than others?

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 oner’s Federal or Postal job, is there ever a compelling reason to inform the agency prior to a submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application that one has an “intention” to do so?

If the Federal or Postal employee is under pressure because he or she has already exhausted all SL and AL, and has used up the weeks of FMLA that have garnered some semblance of protection, is it a good idea to inform one’s Federal Agency or the Postmaster of one’s facility that you are gathering the necessary information to prepare a Federal Disability Retirement application?

The general rule in such matters is: Unless there is a compelling reason, Don’t.  However, each individual case is different, and unique and particularized circumstances may well define what the “compelling reason” is — as to whether it is indeed “compelling”, or even a good enough “reason”, as opposed to a “feeling” that one possesses.

In the end, the compelling reason is the one that is made without alternatives to consider; but alternatives are the reason why you should consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement, precisely in order to consider those options which you may not even be aware of.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Comparisons

We like making them; somehow, it allows for hope and, unfortunately, its opposite, despair, but they are engaged in nonetheless, regardless of the potentialities pointing in either direction.  Comparisons allow for a judgment of who we are, what we have accomplished and what we believe are the acceptable societal norms and standards, and whether we have succeeded or failed in meeting them.

People watch the pablum of television shows that display the ostentatious arrogance of some wealthy individuals who know not the concept of “discretion” or any sense of humility in having attained the higher luxuries of life; yet, many continue to be fascinated by such tasteless shows of comfort, and compare themselves, their accomplishments and the artificial standards of normative achievements that somehow have pervaded people’s psyche.

Of course, the corollary of such an approach to life is to redefine the definition of what it means to be “successful”, and thus to lower the standards in order to be all-inclusive, and do this each time as more and more people need to be accommodated.

Either extremes on the spectrum of man’s favorite sport – of watching, observing and comparing – constitutes the reality of that which is required to attain a level of satisfaction in life.  Of course comparisons are going to be made – for, we live in a world where everything is relative, and one can only recognize and realize the multitude of opportunities and potentialities by comparing one’s own station in life with that of what others have achieved.

Concurrently, sometimes the definition that defines who we are, what is important and where one wants to go, may need some adjustments.  Objectivity is achieved somewhere in the middle, between the comparative observance of “what is”, and the need to tinker with the language game that defines what “needs to be”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the favorite past-time of Americans – of observing, comparing and judging – meets a heightened sense of anxious awaiting because of what coworkers and supervisors begin to do.

They compare your level of productivity to what others are doing, and what you were doing before.  An “accommodation” is nothing more than the redefining of one’s essential elements of one’s job; but even with the linguistic rearrangement of those essential elements, the constant barrage of the other side of comparing continues – of supervisors, coworkers, etc., and the entire agency and postal facility judging whether or not you are doing as much as everyone else.

In the end, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be necessary, as the sharpened knives of those comparisons may be too much to bear, given the innate nature of man’s cruelty in a world where medical conditions and disabilities are deemed to be comparatively unacceptable.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Devising Escape Routes

What a person spends his or her time doing away from work, reveals much as to how one’s work will be accomplished.  If one attempts immediately to build protective walls around the core of a project in an effort to stave off potential marauders, as opposed to focusing upon the substantive essence of the idea itself, then perhaps the vulnerability of the project itself will begin to manifest.

Our own fears often overwhelm; but healthy fear can be a positive use of an evolutionary tool meant to apprise and alert.  It is only when it becomes an impediment and obstacle for progress and advancement that our own self-immolative actions begin to impact our capacity to grow.  There is a delicate balance between healthy fear and that which lends itself to self-destruction.  Proper evaluation and analysis of a circumstance or situation is required in order to establish the former; for the latter, a groundless allowance without facts or evaluative input.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the question often becomes, At what point do I begin to consider escape routes?  Do I need to devise them, or are the mechanisms already in place?

Escape routes are devised in response to dangers present; and often it will appear as if the manifestation of a medical condition will bring out the worst in others.  Isn’t that an anomaly in and of itself — that one’s own deterioration of health will impact the behavior of others, in a derogatory manner?  But that is precisely what a “stress test” is for, is it not?  It is never in the best of circumstances that reveals the true nature of a thing; rather, it is under adverse conditions which unravel the artificial appendages with which we camouflage.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is somewhat like an “escape route”, in that it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to exit from the adversity of circumstances, and plan for one’s future.  One need not “devise” it, to the extent that it is “already there” — a benefit for all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

For the Federal or Postal employee considering such a route, the priorities of life should always prevail:  Focus upon one’s health in an effort to remain (for those who are beset with a medical condition which is “work-related”, filing for Federal Workers’ Compensation benefits may be the first option to consider); then, if it becomes clear that one’s medical condition is impacting the ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and that the medical condition will last a minimum of 1 year (and it should be emphasized that one does not need to wait for a year in order to determine this aspect; rather, it is merely a medical prognosis that the medical condition will likely last at least 12 months or more that is required), consideration should be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

In the end, it is not a matter of devising escape routes, but rather of recognizing the limits of human endurance, evaluating one’s place within the context of growing adversity, then acting upon those exit points available and allowable — then to make a proper decision for one’s self, and for one’s family and future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: Recalibrating the Reset Button

Preparing for life’s vicissitudes can be a daunting task.  Some never acquire the skills necessary to accommodate the winds of misdirection; others stumble through like a drunken sailor walking down fate’s gangplank, seeing the end but failing to adapt in time to prevent the calamities forewarned.  The very few somehow manage to engage the transformation, like a chameleon who responds to the surrounding environment by becoming invisible within the subtleties of life.

Change is the inevitable essence of life.  From alterations occurring from growth — from birth to adulthood, then to aging decay — to the physical universe of constant transformation; the world is represented by the various metaphors and symbols of permanence and change, of Yin and Yang, of Parmenides and Heraclitus, and in modernity, of the recalibration of the reset button.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves with a medical condition which impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to continue in his or her present career, it is precisely that fear of change which precludes one from engaging in the necessary steps required to adapt, transform, and reset.

If insanity is defined as performing acts of failure repetitively, then the world must by definition be insane, and the Federal or Postal employee who continues down the same path despite all of the headwinds and warning signs present, should be placed in a straightjacket and confined to the halls of antiseptic whitewashed rooms.  Change is always difficult; but it is a necessity of life.  It is the life spring of a vibrant community; and its opposite is a parallel universe of decay, decrepit degradation, and destructive degeneration of death and desperate deterioration (and so, why is the alliteration of negation so rampant with the letter “d”?).

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is a step in a changing direction.  It takes the Federal and Postal employee out from the insanity of repetitive failure by allowing for a recalibration of the requisite reset button, and to potentially engage in a future which leaves behind a past replete with hostility and increasingly adverse attitudes.  It secures a base annuity such that one can survive; then, allows for the Federal or Postal employee to work in the private sector and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

As change is necessary to the survival of any organism, so stagnation is the result of resistance to transformation; and like the putrid waters of stillness filled with microorganisms waiting to destroy the abdominal walls of the unsuspecting traveler, the Federal or Postal employee who refuses to recalibrate the reset button is merely waiting for the day when the external order will force the change involuntarily, as opposed to he who chooses the day, time and moment of an inevitable fate which awaits us all.

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