Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The clinical language

The antiseptic nature of language allows for the euphemism of linguistic cloaking to occur.  The corollary effect, however, is that it fails to provide a nexus to the humanity lost, and allows for an arrogance of language by imparting its distance and separation from warmth.

Clinical language has that characteristic, steeped in the mysterious and archaic history of Gregorian chants at altars once embodying the Eucharist’s theological secrets of transubstantiation with the priesthood undulating in phrases foreign to ears of modernity; and from that same pocket of incomprehensible linguistic sophistication that only New Englanders like Buckley and other intellectuals would bandy about with phrases we all nod at as if we understood them, comes the cold, clinical language that doctors, nurses and psychiatrists use in diagnosing conditions beyond the mere commoner’s ability to realize.

The clinical language bifurcates and objectifies; it is a way of keeping the discussion on a level of discourse where human emotions need not enter, will not intercede, and cannot invade through the impenetrable walls of the rational side of the brain.  Perhaps there is a need for that; a want, a desire and a worthiness to maintain that distance, so that the topics delineated, explained and obfuscated can be accomplished without the emotional turmoil of those consequences resulting from the realization that one is damaged goods beyond repair.

In the end, however, when the patient goes back home, discusses it with family, friends and close relations, the interpretive process must by necessity be utilized.

In former times, dictionaries were taken out, root words were defined and the Latin phrases whispered in secret murmurings of incantations incomprehensible were untangled, discerned and disassembled.  In modernity, we Google them and have the algorithm of computer intelligence in sunny California interpret the words for us to digest.  Then, the translation into the emotive language of kitchen-held talks in hushed tones where children strain to listen from stairwells around the corner; and tears wept, confidences given and lost, and the upheavals of families in crisis where the clinical language has been demythologized and demystified so that even the everyday person can recognize the human toil of a ravaged body and mind.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, whether that medical condition has been diagnosed in clothing termed by the clinical language used by the medical profession, or already interpreted in common everyday usage, the plan is to prepare an effective, understandable, cogent and coherent Federal Disability Retirement application, and one that can bridge that gap from phrases barely comprehensible to linguistic descriptions that present a viable case.

Doctor’s reports and office notes, clinical narratives and treatment records are all useful and necessary, but in order to create that legal nexus of presenting a persuasive argument and meeting the standard of proof of preponderance of the evidence in a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is always a good idea to interpret and translate that clinical language into a delineation that touches upon the everyday emotions common to us all, by breaking down the bifurcated walls and allowing for the warmth of humanity to pervade the narrative of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Silent lives defying interpretation

Life is a mystery, and individual lives a puzzle untold.  It is the calluses that we develop throughout our lives that diminish our individual and collective curiosity to get to know the “other”.

We are born with a teleological intellect striving to unravel and unmask the depths of human essence; but modernity, technology and the singular focus of tangents often involving prurient asides distract and envelop with unwavering obsessions, but it has gotten worse:  no, not in any violent manner or upheaval of historical significance; rather, the electronic means of texting, emailing, Facebook-ing and other such means – which, if one pauses for just a moment to reflect, is merely a white page on a screen of illuminating blindness where symbols representing communicative ignorance are exchanged through the ethereal conduit of airwaves – give an artificial semblance of comfort that we are still engaging in the essential project of destined human activity:  getting to know one another.

When, in fact, the distance between words and the human touch; the distinction between the beep apprising one of receiving a message and the subtleties of an eyebrow raised, a grimace faintly made or a sparkle from eyes admiring; or the differentiation between black lettering upon a lighted page as opposed to the intonation and undulating mellifluousness of the softly spoken word – these, we are losing as each day passes, unnoticed, unconcernedly, and without any real hope of recovery.

It is, in the end, those silent lives defying interpretation which are lost forever on the doorsteps of unwritten historical accounts, despite the stories never told, the narratives forever undeclared and the characters uncharted because of the mystery of life and the conundrum of human lives.

History, it has been said, is written by “winners”; and if there is indeed truth in such a statement, then its corollary opposite must be similarly true:  unwritten and unknown accounts are forgotten or never written of those “losers”.  But that is only half of the truth; for, there are those countless bystanders who are never acknowledge, but fail to be inserted and included in the narrative of unmarked graves unacknowledged through the accounts of history untold.

We all want to be “significant”; we all want to “make a difference”; and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition cuts short a promising career, a relevant contribution to the “mission” of the Federal Agency, or make a difference to an old woman living alone who waves hello to the Letter Carrier as the high-point of her day – filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may seem like the end of that teleological journey that we are all engaged in.

But always remember that there is life after the Federal workplace, and whether you are an active Federal or Postal employee, or getting ready to take that step to initiate a Federal Disability Retirement application, there are still silent lives defying interpretation, and yours is one of them.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Recognizing Problems

Why are some better at preemptively addressing recognizable foreshadowing?  Is it a genetic predisposition related to the capacity of surviving?  Like the instinctive responses of animals, is it an inherent trait that favors those who are more “fit” with such a characteristic, and thus to the disadvantage of those who do not possess it, where recognition and preemptive engagement allows for survival and thus the genetic pool favoring by dominance of avoiding the mortality trap?  Have we replaced such instinctive abilities by relegating most problems to linguistic identification and capacity to solve?

For, in the human world where language prevails and electronic communication is now the preeminent engagement of consciousness, the “problems” to recognize are no longer the danger of an approaching predator nor the oncoming storm out in the middle of the ocean (although, a burning house or a hurricane imminent if you live on the coast are still real dangers), but for the most part, language games that need modification, curtailment or adjustment in order to correct the inconvenience of social constructs that have gone amok or astray.

Yes, the furnace may break down, the water heater may have sprung a leak, or the roof shingles may need replacing; but even those, the resolution is rarely one that is initiated by us; rather, it is to utilize the mode of communication and either by phone, email or text messaging, we make an appointment for someone else to fix the problem.  Recognition of the concern was still contained within the world of language, and the physical work attended to is relegated and delegated to some strange entity in another universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker to take the next step by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – the process begins with a “real” problem:  the medical condition itself, which will not go away no matter the treatment modalities or the constant attempt to work one’s way through the chronic and progressively deteriorating situation.

Then, from the reality of the problem itself, the jump to recognizing the further concern must inevitably manifest itself – that of the incompatibility and incommensurate nature of the medical condition and being able to do all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Thus, recognizing the problem is the first step in resolving the issues; however, resolution may sometimes need some expertise and advice beyond what the Federal or Postal employee can foresee in the foreshadowing of approaching dark clouds.  For, not all problems are equal, and certainly not all solutions, and while recognizing problems may resolve some of the concerns, the greater issue is whether the Federal or Postal employee will have all of the information available “out there” in the netherworld of an administrative and bureaucratic morass as that of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the problems one cannot recognize may be the one that defeats the solution never known.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Answering Questions

How do we come to learn how to do it?  Certainly, we come across certain eccentric individuals who defy every conventional norm, and somehow manage to appear as if they have done what otherwise we recognize as not having been completed.

Have you ever come across someone who just isn’t “quite right” – such that, when you ask a question, the tangents that flood forth and the meandering thought processes make it an arbitrary conclusion as to whether it was the specific question asked that prompted the incommensurate response, or just the mere fact of a tonal posit of a question-like query that compelled a verbal reaction, even if it has nothing to do with the substance of the question itself?

How do children learn how to answer questions?  Is it natural; is there a systematized process of acceptability; is it taught in any course with a heading like, “Elementary Basics 101: How to answer a question”; and do we presume that acceptable and normative constraints are just learned effortlessly?  Certainly, the classical educational approach of dialectical methodologies – of a question posited; raised hands, chosen orders and an answer provided; then the reinforced positive feedback by the teacher in either affirming or rejecting the response – is an approach that somewhat answers the mystery.

But what of that “weird” kid?  The one where the teacher asks:  “Is the earth round or flat?”  The kid answers:  “That is an oversimplification, as the geometrical constructs require a perspective that betrays ignorance of quantum physics, where flatness is a relative concept to roundness, and vice versa.”  Now, one may smile and wonder whether, perhaps such a child prodigy reveals an intelligence quotient beyond his age or class assignment, but all the rest of the kids would just roll their eyes about as the class bullies await for recess hour in order to beat that kid to a pulp.

But was the question answered, and to that end, satisfactorily?  Or, what if another kid, perhaps half-daydreaming, suddenly blurts, “It’s blue!  It’s blue!”  Did that kid answer it any less adequately than the first?  How do we learn to answer questions?

What if the questions are essentially legalese and incomprehensible, or of a “tricky” nature and makes one pause before moving forward?  Do questions posed, for instance, by law enforcement officials evoke greater caution (as in, “To the best of my recollection…”), and if so, why?  Is it because the stakes may be higher and the suspicion of the double entendre is always there?  Which brings us to the problem of Federal Disability Retirement applications, and specifically SF 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The questions posed on the Standard Form 3112A seem simple enough; but simplicity does not necessarily mean straightforward, and indeed, when a Federal or Postal employee is completing SF 3112A, it is best to go back to fundamentals and ask yourself, How did I learn to answer questions, and are these questions the type that may need additional help, because – though they may seem simple enough and not quite in legalese – there is some trickiness in the very simplicity of the query.

And it is the rule to remember, that the simplest questions require the greatest pause, where suspicion will warrant a more extensive pondering of reflective repose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Preparing for more than a ‘maybe’

We never engage a project with just a ‘maybe’; to do so is to invite a preemptive failure, of sorts.  On the other hand, there are rarely any guarantees in life; just as the victims of Madoff and other historical figures of thievery; a ‘sure thing’ is rarely that, and more likely its counterintuitive opposite.  Chances and opportunities of a lifetime, of course, are touted as ‘maybes’ that should be considered.

Those stories abound of youthful vigor in the parent’s basement tinkering with innovations that will alter the future course of technology and mechanized futuristic inventions; but of that, was it really a ‘maybe’?  Or, as such young stars never had anything to lose, anyway, except for time and the clutter residually left behind in the parent’s basement, any sudden abandonment or stoppage due to lack of progress would have simply meant that the endeavor itself was merely a minor intermission, a brief pause, in an otherwise brighter future for the young to pursue.

No, we don’t deliberately prepare for a ‘maybe’; we may forewarn failure by uttering words that appear tentative; but in almost all instances, we prepare for more than a ‘maybe’.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, how does one enhance the chances of a successful outcome, as opposed to being subjected to the whims of an Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Does one merely gather up one’s treatment records and medical notes, and hope for the best?  Do you simply answer the questions on SF 3112A as if there were no legal ramifications inherent in the form of the questions posed?  Do you just take the SF 3112C to your doctor and have the doctor submit whatever his or her medical opinion is, to your Human Resource Office?

There are rarely guarantees in life – that is true, and it is never more so when filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM.  At the same time, however, no one merely prepares for the lesser standard of a ‘maybe’, and in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is best to always prepare for more than a ‘maybe’, even if it is less than a guarantee of a sure thing.

Then, again, those who invested with Bernie Madoff also thought that it was a ‘sure thing’, and look where they ended up.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The New Year

Perhaps it is not merely an arbitrary demarcation, after all.  It is around the time when the winter solstice reaches its pinnacle, and the days become lengthier, the nights shorter.  The year following – the “new” year – begins its ascendancy, leaving behind the frigid desolation yet to endure.

And the excesses of behavior – of drinking, celebration and abandonment of all societal decorum and convention?  It is a way of expiating the pent-up constraints of self-discipline and customary resolve; a way to release the energy of social boundaries for a few hours, a fortnight, and a morning after without regret or remorse.

It is often said that, in psychology and therapeutic intervention, the “aha” moment of gestalt realization is less important than the long and enduring struggles which must be faced immediately thereafter.  We often put too much emphasis and relevance upon that proverbial encounter on the road to Damascus, when in fact it is the long and arduous path that follows which will determine the success or failure of one’s life.

Marking a moment in time as the “cut-off” point of a new beginning may be convenience for multi-variegated purposes; in the world of objective reality, however, the artificial lines will only serve us so far.

This new year will bring out contradictory perspectives; some, as often as not, will predict doom and the soothsayer’s gloom; others, in herds of blind followings, will enter the dawn with hopes unvanquished and dreams yet to be realized.  The rest of us, as always, will have to plod along and live our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with 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 job, the artificial demarcation of “before” and “after”, and the insertion of the increase in the last digit from a 6 to a 7, will be marking an unnoticed blip in time.  That’s the thing about medical conditions; they cross cultures, time and even years.

When the medical condition becomes magnified to a point in 2017 where essential elements of the Federal or Postal job one is working in becomes impeded or otherwise unable to be performed, then the significance of the contrast as against the previous year becomes unmistakable, and the Federal or Postal employee may want to consider preparing, formulating and filing 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.

In the end, the “New” year is likely like the old one, and the one before that; only, our bodies deteriorate over time, and the uncaring behemoth of the federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service may only become exponentially worsened.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The narrative we write

Each of us carries a narrative within; the David Copperfield segment of our otherwise unrevealed lives.  It is who we are; the past that enlivens or diminishes; the memories of yesteryear or just a fortnight ago; and it resides continually until that day of atonement or the diminishment though dementia of fated unkindness.  What we say; how it is written; how it is related through the handed-down oral traditions of storytelling and bemused tales of a Dickensian happy endings (excepting Little Nell and other debatable few unnamed); and how it is told, in what manner, with what punctuations and unctuous phraseology applied; these matter, especially when others are listening.

Perhaps, in modernity, the oral traditions of storytelling have disappeared, like graveyards unvisited because of loss of faith.  Once, family members were buried on the plot of land in the pasture behind; now, that plot is another suburban home, easily fungible and sold if profits justify enough.  Lineage is irrelevant, except to search one’s genealogy in order to establish the bloodlines unique to resist disease and incest; and as children listen not to the storyteller at dinnertime, but to rap singers on iPods and Smartphones, and digitized voices in virtual fields of games and electronic media; even they get their sense of who the “I” is, by songs uttered with vitriol and You-Tube clips streaming for self-aggrandizement.

We lament that which we have no control over, yet do nothing to exert but a trifle of influence.  The standard adage should remind us:  “Garbage in, garbage out”; and, yet, who among us steadfastly maintains the duties of the vanguard who must imperviously maintain a standard of who is invited and what is kept out?  Or, does “popularity” rule, and the old edict by a shoe company trying to dominate the cutthroat world of sales and profitability, “Just do it” – is that the philosophy we follow?  Or, how about, “If it feels right (or good), then…”

The narrative we write is the storyline that follows, and the byline that stamps its approval at the bottom of the tale acknowledges who we are, what we believe in and where we intend to go.  What would your response be if a child suddenly came upon you and asked, “Who are you?”  Would the narrative that bespeaks include struggles encountered, battles engaged and promises kept?  Or would the story be a confused delineation of a skeletal clutter, barely recognizable as a unique reflection of the angels we fly with?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing, formulating and 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, the narrative we write, especially on the Standard Form 3112A, is perhaps the penultimate component of the essence of the effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  How it is written; what information it should contain; the relevant period of discourse; the proper delineation in answer to the queries; these must all be taken into account before submitting it to OPM.  And, just as the response to the query by the curious child should give one pause, greater reflection before submitting an SF 3112A to OPM should be taken, lest the narrative we write reflects that which we no longer want to own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire