Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The Kokeshi doll

They are wooden dolls that are colorful, with expressions painted upon that remain frozen except for the change that naturally occurs when viewed from differing angles of sight, reflecting altered perspectives and modified vantage points depending upon one’s own emotions.  They sit on tabletops, shelves and can be a child’s playmate, though parents often view them more valuably as display items rather than taking the chance that the little brother may play them as reenactments of a prior war imagined to be fought by banging pieces of wood and throwing them against the yet-undamaged wall.

The heads are often disproportionately larger than the remainder of the body; and the rest and remainder, often just a block of smoothed wood with hands painted in a one-dimensional pattern, revealing no motion but straddling limply alongside the rectangular shape, like a submissive figure shuffling down life’s difficult trials in the daily struggles we all face.

The Kokeshi doll never complains, but always delights; never talks back, but eternally agrees; and never fails to bring light into a dark corner, but forever allows for a reminder that it is the trivial joys of life that make for worthwhile endurance in times of misgivings.  We are all, in many ways, expected to be like these inanimate objects that we have projected our own emotional well-being upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the fact that you are no longer able to remain impassive, implacable, disaffected and unmoved by the manner in which the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service has begun to treat you, is not an extraordinary insight to possess and be suddenly enlightened by.

Though we may enjoy the delightful colorfulness of a Kokeshi doll, we cannot expect to be nor act like one.  It was always the productivity released, the competence revealed and the level of contribution inputted that made the Federal or Postal employee “valuable” to a Federal agency or a Postal facility; but when a medical condition hits a person, it is simply “not right” that the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service should treat the Federal or Postal employee as merely another Kokeshi doll who should remain quiet and unperturbed standing in a corner.

Thus, when the Federal agency or Postal facility fails to treat the Federal or Postal employee as something more than the inanimate object a Kokeshi doll ultimately is, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, before that rough-and-tumble younger brother comes along and really begins to mistreat that block of wood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Of true discourse and debate

A title immediately becomes “suspect” when the prefatory insertion of the word “true” is necessitated.  For, the noun which it is meant to enhance should be able to stand alone, without the reinforced embellishment that it is somehow more genuine than with the cousin’s uninvited presence.  It is like referring to a gemstone as a “valuable emerald” (what, one queries, would constitute an invaluable one?), or that such-and-such is a “very religious priest” (as opposed to an irreligious one?); and so to refer to the methodological approach of discourse and debate as one which is “true”, is to immediately undermine the very meaning of such a beginning.

But in modernity, where meaning has lost its efficacy and the elasticity of language has become epitomized by mindless You-Tube videos and an endless stream of nonsensical declarations preceded by a belief that, as pure relativism is rampant and presumed, it matters little who holds what opinion, the content of what is said, and not even the tone of intended consequences.

Once, in years past, there were “rules of engagement“, but three (3) foundational precepts needed to be followed in order to engage a valid discourse and debate.  First, that a distinction could be made between truth and falsity.  Second, that there existed a “superior” argument, based upon the combination of facts and rules of logical argumentation, in contradistinction to an “inferior” one.  But third — and this is the missing component in today’s endless shouting matches on television and radio waves — that each participant possessed a level of humility such that upon recognizing the inferiority of one’s one argument, a voluntary concession would be made, admitting to the superiority of the opponent’s argument.

While everyone recognizes and acknowledges the structural weakening of the first element, it is this last one which has devastated the entire process of today’s discourse and debate.  Of relevance to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the extent, content and relevance of making a legal argument, and to what effectiveness and efficacy of substance, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

In the end, bureaucracies are based upon the power of its established conduit of administrative complexity, and OPM is no different.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is made up of ultra-competent individuals who take their jobs very seriously, as well as with a mixture of some who are less than stellar.  That is the general make-up of all such organizations and governmental entities.

The structure of the right to appeal, however, is why a cogent discourse and debate must be prepared.  If the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a Federal Disability Retirement application twice (at the initial stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration stage), then the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant can file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  There, the Administrative Judge will hear all of the arguments made, afresh and anew, and consider the lack of constructive engagement and “weak points” of OPM’s arguments.  That is where all true discourse and debate must begin — before an audience with a listening ear.  And there we have that complementing and undesirable cousin again —  the “true” X, as opposed to an untrue one?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Help for Federal Employees: Slices & Wholes

Short stories provide a slice of life; novels, a genre which attempts to provide a picture of a greater whole, and when it falls short, will often be an opportunity to manifest a trilogy of works.  But fiction never quite captures the essence of entirety, and we are left with the part, a necessary void, and a missing piece of the puzzle.

Every narrative of a life is merely a portion; the microcosm rarely captures the significance of the whole.  And, indeed, there are large chunks of human living which need not be repetitively revealed, as they are presumed to occur during the lapses and jumps of time:  That the character in the story (or insert:  television show, movie, novella, etc.) has gone to the bathroom multiple times during the day; has eaten more than in the restaurant scene and traveled in some kind of a transport vehicle in order to reach a given destination, etc.

At the dawn of movies, it was a common question for the audience to ask, “How did he get there all of a sudden?”  Real life was still being projected upon the new screen of depicted stories, and the loss of continuity assumed that the audience would make certain jumps of logical conclusions; time, acquiescence and acceptance of convention would yet take some getting used to, and the slice of life revealed often mistook the viewer for the wholeness of true living experienced by all.

Thus do we accept, in watching a play, the convention of a character declaring an aside but where the rest of the stage does not hear; in real life, such declarative innuendoes would result in a slap in the face.  But that is precisely the problem with people, isn’t it?  We all accept and assume, and presume that the slice of life is representative of the whole, and thereby typify and stereotype the individual, beyond mere first impressions.

The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition and therefore is unable to accomplish all that needs to be done, is now the nuisance and the “lazy one” who puts the burden upon everyone else, without considering the long history of dedication and service, or the turmoil and devastation wrought upon the greater whole of his or her life.  That Federal or Postal employee is merely known for the slice of today, and rarely appreciated for the whole of yore; for, it is easier to condemn with the tongue of today, than to take the time necessary to understand the contributory trails of yesteryear.

Thus are we left with little choice but to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  And the dusting trails of memories left behind?  Let such clouds of regret and remorse remain within the slice of a former life be, and enter instead into the panoramic view of a true whole, where the next stage of life is beyond the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and the combination of slices and wholes can once again be put together for the Federal or Postal employee who must regroup for a better tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: Book Review

Generally, this blog does not review books; however, exceptional works may prompt exceptions to the general order of things, where relevance of subject and beauty of personality may coalesce to consider a slight change of venue.  The work itself will neither become a masterpiece nor a conversation focus beyond a generation or two, as the world it describes is quickly fading into the sunset of eccentricity and scarcity of understanding.

Tim Sultan’s book (and from the jacket cover, it appears to be his first one at that), Sunny’s Nights, is a mixture of reportage, love of character and annotation of provincial myth.  It somewhat follows a format of modern trends in such novels: alternating upon a spectrum of the microcosm of life (Sunny’s, the extended family, and the author’s own) to wider philosophical insights (history of the neighborhood, cultural changes from the turn of the last century into the 20th and to modernity) portending of the macro-impact of a lost and fading relevance; but it is the author’s love of the main character (Sunny), the loss of humanity (through shared anonymity of a genuine speakeasy) and the wit, humor and sharing of stories, which makes for a work beyond an ordinary read.

The author is quite obviously a good listener (to the multiple tales of life and love as told by Sunny); his love of words reflects the warmth of camaraderie he feels for his characters; and his own insertion as a participating protagonist never detracts from the trilogy of subjects:  the place (the bar which is discovered in the outer periphery of societal acceptance, where the characters meet and enjoy the company of each other); the people (Sunny, his heritage, and the people who gather at the bar); and the growing loss of community with the encroachment of technology and cultural upheaval.

It has all of the ingredients for the making of a quiet work of art, as it reveals the best of any great story — a main character of complex fortitude.  For, in the end, every book worth reading should provide for an understanding of complexity, human failure and microcosm of achievement, and not necessarily in that order.

Tim Sultan’s work, Sunny’s Nights, is an enjoyable read at worst, and at best, a recognition that in the end, life fails to mean much unless one listens carefully and plods along searching for the company of community.  And, in the end, isn’t that the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who seek an alternate venue when a medical condition arises and the Federal or Postal employee must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

When the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the loss of a similar trilogy occurs:  the place (one’s position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); the people (coworkers and friends developed over the many years through work and community of contact); and the upheaval from the changes prompted from one’s medical condition and the inability to continue in the career of choice.

Not everything in life is limited in relevance or meaning by the circumstances of one’s present condition, and for the Federal or Postal worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, taking a moment to read Tim Sultan’s book, Sunny’s Nights, may allow for a momentary time of distraction from the daily agony of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, and to help focus in the preparation of an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application and the challenges the Federal or Postal worker must face in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire