Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Confessions & public domains

Why is it that confessions and public domains represent a relief of sorts, an expiation of self-contained guilt and a sense of “righting” a wrong?  In Catholicism, confession holds a prominent place in the liturgy of that which constitutes a faithful observant; in crime novels, the taunting serial criminal is said to subconsciously “want” to confess to the crime, and leave multiple fingerprints at the scene of each devastating incident in an effort to provide a trail of enough clues to ultimately lead to his or her arrest, thus in effect “confessing” to each of the acts of psychologically diabolical intrigues; and for the ordinary person, there is added stress to the body when one refuses to confess to the public domains of one’s life, those “inner” thoughts that are somehow anathema to the acceptance of behavior in the “outer” universe of public discourse.

That conflict between one’s “true” identity as encompassed by the insular universe of one’s private thoughts and the appearance of one’s character in the public domain — what some would call the hypocritical tug-and-pull of reality-versus-appearance, or of what others would admit is comprised by the true essence of man as opposed to the public face that hides the inner soul.

Whatever the origin, truth or appearance of the matter, what we often discover is that there is, indeed, a certain sense of relief in making a confession within the public domain — whether that is satisfied by talking confidentially to a close friend (which is somewhat of an anomaly in and of itself — of merely confiding with another and creating a conspiracy of two instead of one), making a public pronouncement; “confessing” to one’s spouse; going to a group therapy session and admitting to things in front of that collection of individuals; and other similar acts that somehow expiate the inner turmoil of one’s soul.

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, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and actually filing it with the Agency or the Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat akin to making a “confession” in the public domain.

Part of the greater stresses of continuing on in this mode of secrecy — of trying to “mask” the medical condition from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility for fear of retaliation or harassment — is actually relieved by the “confession” of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and it is in the “public domain” of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or better known by its acronym, OPM, that one finally begins the long and arduous trek of regaining one’s health, by tapping into that traditional method of confessions & the public domains of life’s priestly expiation of the inner sanctum of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Something happened

Beyond a mundane declaration of befuddlement, it is also the title of a novel by Joseph Heller — his second novel published some 13 years after the successful first one that most people remember him by:  Catch-22.

It lacks the surrealism of the first novel; the absurdity of tragic events unfolding distinguishable from the logical and sequential manner in which we see the world, turned upside down by images of madness countering the reality of the insanity around.  The genre of the absurd — depicted in such movies as “Life is Beautiful” and in works such as Catch-22 — attempts to unveil the underlying insanity beneath the veneer of a world acting as if normalcy abounds.

Other movies that attempt to portray the absurd might include Sophie’s Choice, where the main character (played by Meryl Streep) keeps going back to the comfort of her insane boyfriend because that is the more comfortable reality she knows, having survived the insanity of the Nazi death camps.

But long before the genre of the absurd came to the fore, there was the brilliant short story by Cynthia Ozick entitled, The Shawl, which has been noted for bringing out the horrors of the holocaust through a medium — the short story — that captures the essence of absurdity and the surreal in a mere few dozen pages.  The story is a small bundle that reverberates so powerfully that it overshadows any subsequent attempts at depicting life’s absurdity.

Catch-22 elevated the absurd to a consciousness that brought further self-awareness of the unreality of the real — the Vietnam War — and tried to unravel the insanity amidst a world that tried to explain the event as something logical and sane.

Something Happened —  a book about a character who engages in a rambling stream of consciousness about his childhood, job and family — is perhaps more emblematic about the life most of us live:  seemingly logical, yet interspersed with events, reminiscences and memories that are faulty at best, and far from perfect.  The title itself shows a greater awareness of our befuddlement — of not knowing “what” happened, only that it did, and the inability to control the events that impact our lives.

Medical conditions tend to be of that nature — of an event that we have no control over, and yet, we are aware of its “happening”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to realize that something happened — a medical condition; a chronic illness that simply will not go away; a traumatic event that has had residual consequences which are continuing to impact; whatever the “something”, the “happened” part still resides.

Such recognition of the “something” will often necessitate the further recognition that it is now time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to secure a future that is presently uncertain.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in getting Federal and Postal employees Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the “something” that “happened” is not one more tragedy in this tragic-comic stream of consciousness we call “life”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: The unsolvable dilemma

Most of us live linear lives.  It is a characteristic of Western Civilization that the thought-processes involve a sequential, step-by-step, logical extension and advancement.

Much has been said about this approach, in contrast to an “Eastern” philosophical methodology, where there is a “circular” mind-set that often involves the complexities of reincarnation, capacity to assimilate inconsistent, incommensurate and seemingly incompatible belief-systems – and, indeed, to even describe the “other” as a “methodology” is an oxymoron of unfair proportions, for it is more of an amalgamation of acceptance without hesitation – like the symbiosis of Shinto and Zen Buddhism in Japanese culture.

Such an approach – of a straight line from Point A to Destination X – that reflects the essence of the Western culture, including Continental Europe, the British linguistic solutions and the U.S. pragmatism that dominates, leaves us with an emptiness when we encounter and engage the unsolvable dilemma.  Perhaps that is the primary deficit in “our” approach, as opposed to the “other” one.  For, in attempting to think always in a linear fashion, we become frustrated when the solution cannot be figured out or otherwise consummated.

A problem left unsolved is one that we consider to be a failure of sorts, because the pragmatism of Western thought requires that all problems have solutions; it is a paradigm that has been ingrained in the DNA of our very being and essence.  But life doesn’t quite work in that way, does it?  There are unsolvable problems – where we just have to accept what “is” and move on with the deficit of a solution.

Medical conditions comprise one such class of such unsolvable issues.  We like to think that the “science” of medicine provides for a cure through complex and technologically modern treatment modalities for every identification of diagnosed maladies; but it quickly becomes obvious that many medical conditions simply do not have a linear resolution.

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 from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the linear approach of Western Civilization often will not work.  There is an incompatible friction that quickly arises between the Federal agency and the Postal facility, and the Federal employee and Postal worker.

Often, the only “solution” is an exit via filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted for consideration ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Does it “solve” the problem?  Not really.  For the Federal or Postal employee, the medical condition continues with him or her after separation from the Federal workforce; and for the agency or the Postal facility, the loss of a formerly valuable and productive employee invested in for those many years, cannot easily be replaced.

But getting a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a compromise of sorts; it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to seek other opportunities in the private sector, and to attend to the medical conditions with greater focus; and for the Federal agency and Postal facility, it allows for employment of another, more healthier worker who can fulfill all of the essential elements of the job.  Nevertheless, it remains an “unsolvable dilemma”, to be relegated to the “Eastern” approach, and leaving a void to the “Western” perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: False Promises

Is it an oxymoron?  If it is made, how can it be negated by untruth; for, if it is a nothingness at the outset which compels null and void the substantive content of the thing itself, how can it purport to be what it is while at the same time creating an abyss of meaninglessness?  A promise cannot be false if it is to have the very meaning of a promise; and yet, we know that there exists such falsity of posited assurances, if not proposed by dishonest individuals and con-men, then at least by unintentional or otherwise mistaken pillars of vain malfeasance.

False promises are not promises at all; they are likened to nonsensical statements, which are similarly non-statements precisely because of the meaningless nature of the declarations.  Just as Bertrand Russell’s playful cunning in the statement, “The present King of France is bald” – that is both nonsensical and allegedly violates the laws of logic (specifically the Law of the Excluded Middle) – so, false promises cannot exist as either falsehoods or as promises precisely because they negate each other in their very existence side by side.

But in the world of pragmatic affairs, we know that they are made each and every day.  We are promised daily, and falsely, by individuals, entities, agencies and organizations, whether with or without a handshake, sometimes in writing, other moments by verbal implication, and even every now and again sprinkled with a smile, a nod, a wink and a prayer.  Promises made have an expectation of being kept; and broken promises, like false ones, cut deep into the wounds of betrayal, and haunt us with a profound sense of anger and reeking with the vengeful fury of a violation well beyond mere resentment.  There are few things in life that compensate for false promises.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, Federal Disability Retirement is just one of the few compensatory alternatives to the expectation of a false promise made, implied or otherwise denoted.  Perhaps it was the long hours of dedicated and uncompensated time devoted; or the expectation that loyalty would be a bilateral avenue, as opposed to a unilateral desecration of implied trust.

In any event, one would have thought that “accommodations” would be made upon the interruption of a medical condition, when the medical conditions resulted in one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal position or Postal job.  But, alas, such accommodations cannot be made; the dedication of those many years, and sometimes decades, cannot be recalled but for yesterday’s contribution; and the promises seemingly made cannot be false when, all of a sudden, a question is fired back:  Is it in writing anywhere?  What or who ever gave you that idea?

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often not just the best alternative, but the most prudent option remaining and still available – in rebuttal to false promises made, and truth declarations long forgotten and left behind in the corridors of remembrances no longer written in stone, but disappeared into the office shredder worth the value of the paper it was never written upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Timing and the Necessity of Sharing Information

The problem with sharing sensitive information with others is that the question of trust always enters into the picture.  As noted in a previous blog, a Federal or Postal employee filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be willing to submit sensitive medical information to one’s agency, at some point in the process.

Such submission — and therefore, presumptive “sharing” of such sensitive medical information — can hardly be avoided, because there are legitimate reasons why the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service must view and analyze the information.  Such mistrust of a Federal Agency is certainly not unfounded (yes, a double-negative is difficult to discern, but necessary nonetheless), and the concern rises exponentially based upon the nature of the medical submission, the prior historical encounter with the Agency in the arena of other litigation, adverse actions, legal forums, etc.  Then, the question of timing must be considered — for, if other litigation is pending, there is a question whether the submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application will impact any other pending issues.

Ultimately, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one assumes that the goal of the applicant is to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement, and be separated from Federal Service as an obvious but necessary consequence; and, in doing so, to suffer the cost of revealing some sensitive medical information in order to achieve that goal.

In attempting to reach that goal, one must get beyond the intermediate “wall” — one’s own agency — in order to arrive at the destination — the Office of Personnel Management.  That wall must be allowed to display some personal information.  How; to what extent; to whose viewing; and when and for what purposes, must be contained and restricted based upon a standard of ensuring, to the extent possible, that such viewing is limited to those who have a “must see” position in order to complete the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Creativity Is Important In the Applicant’s Statement

It is important to creatively inter-weave facts, feelings, medical impact, symptoms and conditions into a persuasive Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It should not be overly emotional; it should not be voluminously long; it should not be preachy; it should not be written as a doctor would write it.  It is the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, and it should be from the Applicant’s perspective; but as with every writing, the “audience” to whom anything is written, must always be kept in mind.  Remember that the audience is a reviewing Office of Personnel Management representative — one who is evaluating, analyzing, and making a decision upon the application for disability retirement. 

Of course the independent attachment of medical documentation will be persuasive; of course a review of the position description will have an impact; and of course the analysis of comparing the medical condition with the type of job one has will be scrutinized and will be relevant.  It is the applicant’s statement of disability, however, which will most often be the determining factor.  That is why such a statement must creatively weave all of the various aspects of a disability retirement application — facts, emotions, job impact, medical impact, doctor’s statement, personal statement, impact statement — all in a bundle, all inter-weaving, all in a persuasive, creative description.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire