Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: What we have to do

In once sense of the phrase, it denotes a duty or obligation; in another, the foundational basis of a practical, pragmatic nature – of that which we do, simply because it needs to be done in order to survive, to maintain a certain standard of living, or because we believe it is the “right” thing to do.  Each individual must decide for him or herself, of course, as to the criteria by which to determine that which we have to do, and the “what” will often be placed on a wide spectrum of moral ends that are meant to justify the means by which to proceed.

What we have to do – it is also a phrase that is said when shaking one’s head, as in the whispering to one’s self in gritting one’s teeth or biting our tongue and engaging in a soliloquy of thoughtful silence, saying, “What we have to do.”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, despite the medical condition beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, it is a familiar refrain – of working through the pain, of trying to endure the paralyzing panic attacks or the heightened anxiety and depression that pervades, and to try and hide the medical condition and do what we have to do in order to economically survive – until it reaches that crisis point where the medical condition cannot be controlled, cannot be hidden, and comes bursting out like NFL players running through the tunnel from the locker rooms of one’s mind and body.

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 just one of those other things that can be characterized as what we have to do.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a medical condition that begins to impede and prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the filing itself of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is what we have to do, especially if the alternative is to stay at the job or walk away with nothing, which are actually no choices at all.

What we have to do – a familiar refrain for the Federal or Postal employee, and a necessary next step if you suffer from a medical condition that impedes or prevents you from performing one or more of essential elements of your job.  After all, you’ve been doing what you have to do all of your life, and this is just one more instance of it.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The strange story of X

He was always reserved, and became even more so in the last few years.  Never one to first say hello, but always quick with a smile whenever anyone passed by his desk, those in the office kept away from him – not because he was unlikeable, or even because he himself initiated any enmity or scorn, but merely because that was the way things were.

He was a stranger among coworkers where working together brought individuals of different perspectives, outlooks, backgrounds and personalities together to form a union of common objectives. He was older than most of his fellow compatriots, but not too old to stand out as stodgy or unwelcomed. Most others simply knew him because he had been there for as long as they could remember, and some, of a time when he had not yet arrived.

The strange story of X is just that – it is not so strange, and he was just another individual whose anonymity was pronounced by the very likeness to everyone else’s story.  In this world where people work together for years and years, but where neighborliness stops at the clock that shows when office hours end and the compensation to be received will not exceed the ticking of a minute thereafter, lives are lived in close proximity, but never known.

In other universes, in different civilizations, in foreign communities and amalgamations where the human species congregate in tribes, townships and collectives of human detritus, the strange story of X is often not of that stranger described, but of the others who never took the time to invite that stranger into one’s home.  The story always continues, of course – of the sudden disappearance, of rumors abounding, then the dissipation of any notice, until time concealed and the question went away; until the strange story of X became focused upon the next person who everyone passed by as a nobody amongst a universe of somebodies thinking that the strange story of X was unique in some way.

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 or capacity to complete and fulfill all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the strange story of X is often a familiar one – except that, instead of the “person” himself, it is the medical condition that everyone, or most everyone, “knows about” but never acknowledges, and treats as if it doesn’t exist.

This is a funny and strange world, where the suffering of others is barely spoken about, and anonymity is preferred over empathy expressed.

Perhaps it is time to “move on”, and to do so, preparing, formulating and filing 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, is a necessary first step.  For, in the end, the strange story of X is in the very estrangement of human beings from the humanity we have left behind, and fighting for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit may be the best hope of leaving such strangeness behind, where neither the workplace nor the coworkers will query much beyond a day’s absence when the clock ticks five.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The defeating question

It is the question itself which is often “telling”; it informs us of where the line of answering and posited queries is likely to take us.  It is like the map that guides in a certain direction, the compass that informs one of the vantage point of one’s existence or the gravitational pull which pulls in order to remain cohesive with other heavenly bodies; the question itself may not even need an answer.

The latter, of course, is referred to as a “rhetorical” one – that which needs no answer, is asked without necessarily seeking a response, and the one that, standing alone in the silence of an unsolicited reflection, cuts deep into the queried subject in order to provoke a contemplative reaction.  But of the “defeating” question – is it ever asked or, if it is, what is its purposive intent and deliberative content?

It is the one that is avoided, and left unasked because the facts, circumstances and surrounding context will almost always already be known to the inquiring mind.  What is the purpose for which it is asked?

No, not to defeat, but rather, to admit to the already-obvious answer that is readily known, by virtue suspected and thus absented and avoided.  Plagues reported, germs suspected and sneezing people avoided, the defeating question is the one that you already know the answer to, but by the mere fact of not vocally articulating it, is intended to remain unspoken and thus carefully avoided.

It is like the neighborhood bully that requires running after school at full speed over fences and back alleys; and like the dog barking in the early morning requiring one or of the other of the spouses to get up and let out, each hoping that the other will think kindly of the fake snoring and each avoiding the direct obligation and love for the animal itself; the defeating question, once asked, is in danger of being answered and therefore brought “out in the open” for no one to ignore, anymore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may require the Federal or Postal employee to prepare, formulate and 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, the question unasked and avoided, and the one feared as the “defeating question” is quite simply: Do I need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

Already answered.  The only difference is, what is meant by “defeating”, is often within the purview of the inquiring mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Keeping

Keeps; keeping; kept; the endurance of retention reflects the vitality of human obstinacy.  To retain, to own, to possess; in the present tense, present simple passive, present perfect passive, past perfect passive, present modal, past modal, and a dozen other forms of grammatical conundrums.  It is the action of owning, maintaining or  possessing; often, with implications of forceful protectiveness despite demands of rightful ownership by third parties.  “He kept it!”  “He keeps coming back!”  It is the persistence, the refusal to abandon and the resistance against another’s claim, whether rightful, justified or otherwise questionable.

Then, there are forms which imply honor and integrity:  “Keeping the trust”; “Keeping the flame aglow”; “She kept her word”.  The boys “kept their promise”; He kept up appearances.  In all grammatical forms, whether of a passive nature or active tense, there is always throughout a sense of an activity of the will.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” is not merely a passive inactivity, but an affirmative movement and stratagem focused upon advancing beyond a social inertia that encompasses tentacles of thought, consideration, judgment and planning.

It is a simple word, used without much thought, never pausing in a conversation to see whether others gathered will be impressed by the perfection of such a choice – that unique word which describes an image so poignant that to have inserted it nonchalantly in a sentence without the help of a Smartphone in Googling it before uttering the inserted grandness connoting linguistic excellence is next to leaving one breathless and in disbelief.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who understand the simple concept of “to keep”, whether in the present tense, present simple passive, past perfect passive or the multitudinous other grammatical forms, there are caveats to maintain when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, not the least of which are:  Keep your cool; have your files kept and maintained; keep persisting; recognize the importance of keeping a balanced and coherent narrative; keep the faith; insist upon keeping informed; and never keep allowing for injustice to prevail.

In keeping with tradition, always remember that preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a complex administrative process which must be kept in mind, and that the formulation and filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires keeping a patient, sane and insistent attitude, much like keeping a promise made despite those who have not kept their word.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Initial Stage

There are multiple stages in a Federal Disability Retirement process.  The term “process” is used here, because it is too often the case that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage this administrative procedure, fail to realize that there are multiple potential stages to the entire endeavor.  That is a mistake that can come back to haunt.  One should prepare the initial stage “as if” – as if the Second, Reconsideration Stage of the process may need to be anticipated, and further, invoking the rights accorded through an appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Why?

Because that is how the Administrative Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management review each stage – and especially the initial stage of the process – by reviewing the weight of the evidence, conformity to the existing laws concerning Federal Disability Retirement, and considering whether or not an initial denial will involve much resistance at the Reconsideration and subsequent stages of the Administrative Process.

Every Federal Disability Retirement application put together by the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker  and submitted through one’s own Human Resource Department of one’s Federal Agency or the H.R. Shared Services facility in Greensboro, North Carolina (where all Postal Federal Disability Retirement applications are submitted and processed), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is considered “valid” and a “slam dunk” – precisely because the person preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application is the same person who daily experiences the medical condition itself.

How can OPM deny my claim?  I cannot do essential elements X, Y and Z, and the doctors who treat me clearly see that I am in constant pain, or that I am unable to do certain things, etc.

But the Federal or Postal employee preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must understand that there is a difference between “having a medical condition” and proving to a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (an entity who will never know you, meet with you or otherwise recognize your existence except in relation to a case number assigned to every Federal Disability Retirement application submitted to Boyers, Pennsylvania) – that such a medical condition no longer allows you to perform all of the essential elements of your official position.

Preparing one’s case for the Initial Stage of the process is important in establishing the foundation for the entire process itself.  It is not merely a matter of “filling out forms”; it is a matter of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one’s medical condition has a clear and unequivocal nexus to the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: If not X, then at least Y

Many such contingent annotations are in the form of:  If not illegal, then at least unethical; or, if not unethical, then at least lacking of propriety, etc.  It is the pathway to a lesser acceptance, where the focus of one’s aspiration is lowered because of the inevitability of discovering that evidence insufficient will be uncovered.  Thus can one go on ad infinitum in various but similar forms:  If not happiness, then at least some semblance of contentment; if not a soul mate, then at least someone to share my experiences with, etc.

But what if that “replacement” standard turns out to be less than acceptable over time, through duration of toleration, and during cold nights when boredom no longer excites in playing pinochle while the kids are asleep?  Or, if the infractions and constant infringements persist with no end in sight, and no appropriate definition of a violation such that there are penalties to be ascribed and consequences to be felt?  Do we then accept an even lesser paradigm, and if so, how do we know that such diminution and diminishment of acceptance won’t again be averted and avoided?  Thus, do we assert:  If not X, then at least Y; but if Y doesn’t work out, then at least Z; and so on?  When first one submits to the acceptance of a lesser standard, the proverbial horserace has already been lost.

In negotiations, in contractual disputes, in attempting to come to terms, etc., the sign first evidenced of conceding the lesser standard is the first indicator that the slippery-slope has just begun.   There are instances, of course, where the opposite is true, as well, except that we can rarely discern beneath the surface appearances.  That is what Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, must face and accept daily – the conflict between an aspirational paradigm of hope, and the reality of daily pain and anguish.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee, we have:  If there is lesser pain today, perhaps I can last through the day; If I show that I am productive this week, then maybe the supervisor will just leave me alone, etc.  As if, “lasting through the day”, or just “being left alone” for a week, a day, an hour, etc., are acceptable standards for living life?  That is why abandonment of all prior paradigms must often be employed in the journey of life, career and fortitude of endurance; we tend to cling on to categories of an “ought” no longer applicable.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who can no longer endure the acceptance of the lesser standard when there is an alternative to the constant suffering and persistent harassment at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, fortunately, there is the ongoing benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  Even for that, the road is still difficult and arduous, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that determines all disability retirement applications, does not merely “hand out” the benefit.  Like everything else in life, it must be fought for.

But, then, the Federal or Postal worker who fights for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit can retrospectively declare:  “If not the constant and daily struggle, then at least an annuity to secure my future” – the “exception” to the rule, where the lesser is in fact the greater, but is not always apparently so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Metaphor as the antidote to paraphrasis and reduction

The concept is intended to enhance; it guards against the tendency of deconstructionism and self-analysis, where the initial stages of civilization’s cradle of creativity progresses along a historical regression of questioning and results in cynicism.  Paraphrasis — that need to restate but in different words and altered forms — is a tendency of inherent need to understand and comprehend at a lesser level; for, the original is almost always the greater one in comparative analysis and methodological foray.

Reduction is a corollary of paraphrasis — of attempting to whittle words down to a common denominator of meaning, much like Orwell’s expungement of words in his brilliant novel, 1984, where the totalitarian state would systematically extricate and erase previously known words and concepts.  Do concepts exist without words?  Once forgotten, can they be reintroduced into a world devoid of such constructs?  Do some societies view the universe in ways quite contrary to our own, where parallelism of thought and content fail to intersect because the alien nature of “their” way of thinking is incommensurate with “our” way of viewing the world?

Metaphors are meant to enrich and enhance; it is a uniquely human way of perspective and angle, and constitutes the antidote to linguistic reductionism.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are struggling to prepare an effective “Statement of Disability” on SF 3112A, one is well-warned and instructed that the use of a tool in language must be approached with caution, but with a delight to inform, convey and communicate.

In the end, the vast array of tools and substantive pouches filled with magical dusts and sprinkling residues of creative myths — all must come down to the proper usage and effective application of words, phrases, thoughts and conceptual constructs.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who must formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the manner one approaches the Statement of Disability, the methodology of logical argumentation, and the legal references needed to cite in submitting a winning Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may come down to a mere metaphor as an antidote to paraphrasis and reduction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire