OPM Disability Retirement under FERS: Interests at odds

A comity of interests has to arise in order for relationships to “work” — in whatever arena of meaning such a term must apply.  When interests are at odds, it means that the goals, orientation and direction of each of the parties are conflicted.  A “conflict”, of course, can be direct or indirect, and can be on various levels of complexities, but in general would imply a need to sever ties unless such conflicts are resolved.

In the employment arena, the comity of interests is fairly straightforward: The employer has a set of interests that need to be pursued; the employee, desiring to advance the interests of the employer, agrees to join in with the comity of interests in the common pursuit of stated goals.  Compensation is agreed upon; certain conditions are mutually stated and a contract, whether explicit or implied, is formed.

Conflicts may arise during the course of employment, of course; if a competitor makes an offer to the employee unbeknownst to the employer that directly or indirectly conflicts with the stated goals of the employer, certain ethical questions may arise.  Or, if certain employment conditions fail to be met, the “interests” of each begin to be “at odds” — an odd way of putting it, but that is the lexicon that has arisen in the employment arena.  It is almost a euphemism to avoid the harsh reality of other “choice” words.

Medical conditions can certainly “bring to odds” and damage the employer-employee relationship, and certainly Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers recognize that.

The “solution” that has been preemptively provided is the benefit known as “Federal Disability Retirement” — it is a means to avoid or otherwise resolve the conflict that arises when a Federal employee or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — where, in the event of a medical condition no longer allowing for the Federal or Postal employee to fulfill certain of the employment conditions agreed upon (i.e., not being able to maintain a regular work attendance; unable to work full time any longer; taking too much SL or LWOP; unable to perform all of the essential elements of one’s job, etc.), then it is time to access the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Of course, the “interests at odds” is not just between the employee and one’s own Federal Agency or the Postal Service — it is also as against another agency: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management who attempts to subvert, deny and otherwise place obstacles in obtaining an “approval” for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

That is why the “interests at odds” needs to have an advocate — of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  Consult with an attorney who can help you attain the comity of interests, and to counter that entity which clearly is at odds with your interests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The waiting room

We have all experienced the psychology of the cursed “waiting room” — that place which is assigned as the “intermediate” lull, like purgatory for the virtuous-to-be, where they think that by making you believe that you have now been chosen to wait in a separately sequestered area, your patience will become refreshed and you will allow for another lengthy wait.  The psychologists have it all figured out, don’t they?

First, you are left to wait with the “rest of them”; then, your name is called, and you leave those who have been waiting just as long, or some even longer, with a smug smile, thinking to yourself, “Whew, finally!”  But that sense of relief is short-lived, for it becomes clear that the room you have been lead into is merely another surreal suspension of reality’s cruel viciousness — for, this is merely an intermediate form of torture: The Waiting Room, where the real wait begins.

Somehow, the psychologists have figured out through studies conducted that patients, clients, potential customers, etc., will tolerate quite a bit of waiting so long as there is an “interlude” between waiting periods.  So, say you are at first forced into a queue with a group of others — the studies have revealed that 20 – 30 minutes is the maximum before agitation begins to manifest itself, unless you are “selected” and sequestered into a separate queue where your tolerance for a further waiting period can begin anew.

Of course, in reality, nothing has changed — it is simply that your waiting has been transferred from one area to another.  Can this occur multiple times?

Apparently, the studies have shown that, yes, so long as the logistics of the waiting period have been altered — as in, say, after 20 minutes for the 2nd waiting queue, a nurse walks in, looks at you and places a folder into the filing basket attached to the door.  Somehow, that momentary interruption focuses the waiting individual that your time is approaching, that we have not forgotten about you, and you will soon be seen.

The psychology of intermediate contacts increases one’s hope for the end of the waiting period, despite the fact that the same waiting period continues — it is just that the hour’s wait is broken up into segments of three 20 minute slices, and that, according to all of the psychological studies, makes all the difference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 one’s Federal or Postal job, one of the frustrating aspects of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, is the long and arduous wait that must be anticipated before a decision is made.

Expect the worst; hope for the best.  There are multiple stages to the process — of the Initial Stage; of the Reconsideration Stage; of an Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board; and even of a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB.

Thus, if you took all of the multiple stages, the “wait time” is tantamount to the slicing up of that very “wait time”, and the best way to give yourself the benefit of a higher percentage of success is to make sure that you increase your chances of getting it approved at the Initial Stage by consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest you remain fuming in the Waiting Room where everyone else taps his or her foot while the collective blood pressures continue to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The price of status quo

Everything has a price, whether in terms of monetized payments or through labor, effort, worry and loss of peaceful interludes.  What expansive periods of our lives do we engage and assign to “wasted” time that must be discarded, forgotten and left beside?  What is the price we pay to maintain the status quo, even though we know that such clinging to a lack of change is merely extending the wastefulness of our own making?

Change is something that most of us resist.  Yes, we hear of, read about, or otherwise are told about “venture capitalists” or gamblers who throw the dice on everything — their future, their stability, their own sense of worth, whether net or paid for in dreams lost; of how you cannot know success until you first experience the bitter taste of failure, and how the most successful of men and women in the world failed miserable many times over until that moment of victory and triumph.

The ordinary human being, however, is either unwilling to, or otherwise unmotivated in any path towards self-destruction, or the potential for such disastrous outcomes whether real, dreamed, imagined or feared.  The fact is that there is always a price to pay whether or not one acts affirmatively, or doesn’t act at all.

The former places the burden of identifiable responsibility squarely upon the proverbial shoulders of the acting agent; the latter — of “sitting tight”, not doing anything, and remaining the perennial benchwarmer who merely watches and observes as the world passes by — can always defer any personal responsibility and counter that it was “circumstances beyond my control” or that “fate had its rueful day”, or other such indifferences of neutrality.

The reality, however, is that the price of status quo is often just as expensive as that of affirmatively acting; we just fail to see it by conveniently engaging in language games that avoid such recognition of such consequences resulting from inaction.

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, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be the best alternative to paying the continuing price of status quo.  What cost?

Well — the enduring of the medical condition; the constant harassment at work; the increasing pressure of disciplinary procedures; and much more, besides.  That is the price of status quo.  And of affirmatively moving forward with a Federal Disability Retirement application?  It, too, must pay a steep price — of engaging a complex administrative and legal process; of facing the chance of a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; of entering into a surreal universe of bureaucratic morass.

But everything has a price to pay — whether of status quo or of affirmative movement; it is up to the Federal or Postal employee as to whether the end-product is worth that price.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Escaping reality

In some sense, everyone does it; in another, no one can.  For, in a general, generic meaning of the term, to “escape reality” is to merely engage in an activity that allows one to take a break from the ordinary and mundane, as in going to a movie, watching television, playing a video game or engaging a game of chess. In the same vein of meaning, however, one could argue that such leisurely pastimes constitute a reality no less real than working, dealing with life in other ways and attending to one’s daily duties and obligations – it is simply in a different “form”.

Daydreaming, getting lost in an imaginary world through reading a book, of even sleeping – these also constitute a form of “escaping reality”, if the term implies a narrow meaning manifesting the daily grind of work, family and surrounding obligations.  Going to school, surfing the internet or concocting plans for grandiose schemes – these, too, can be considered “escaping reality”, inasmuch as they do not put food on the table or pay bills; and thus do we face the reality that people possess different meanings when they make critical remarks that are triggered to demean an activity by making the charge that engaging in X is nothing more than an attempt to escape reality.

There are, of course, true escapes that are harmless, and those that, if entertained over too long a period of time, can become an entrenched harm that may be irreversible.  Taking a dream vacation to an isolated island deep in the Caribbean Isles can be a healthy escape from the daily reality of work and exhaustion; imagining a life different from one’s own, through a limited period of daydreaming, may be an acceptable form of transcending the turmoil of a day’s trial; but creating a world where one’s loved one, lost from the reality of this mortal world, is still present through one’s imagination and will of existence, may be considered a sickness when it begins to impede the ability and capacity to take care of one’s own needs.

There is a fine line between healthy escapes and detrimental plunges into the surreal world of the imagination.  How one takes upon the challenges of a medical condition is often a delicate teetering amidst the boundaries of health and unhealthiness.  We would all like to will away medical conditions, but the reality is that the real-ness of the injured, sick or otherwise deteriorating body, mind or both, cannot ultimately be avoided.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the idea of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is often a step towards recognizing the reality that there is no curative power that will allow the Federal or Postal employee to continue to work in one’s chosen career, and that preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is merely a matter of inevitable time.

Delaying the process, procrastinating the preparatory steps, or avoiding the issue altogether – all are a form of escaping reality.  Whether such an escape is a healthy precursor to the reality which must be faced, only the Federal or Postal worker who is engaging such an escape can tell, as the reality of one’s future may rest upon the very escape afforded by filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for Federal Disability Claims: “Too busy to…”

It is the accent and the inflection upon a syllable that sometimes makes all the difference.  Take the following examples:

“I am too busy to…”

“I am too busy, too.”

The extra consonant in the last word makes all the difference; for, in the former statement, if it is stated in response to a call for help, it dismisses the request by informing the other person that one is simply unable to offer any assistance.  In the latter response, the subtlety of the answer should not be overlooked.  For, it is a statement of one’s own conglomeration of activities; it is not a refusal or even a rejection of a request; rather, it merely describes the current state of parallel universes that may or may not still allow for lending a hand.  Thus:

“Hey, Jim, can you lend me a hand?”

“I am too busy to.”

(Outright rejection)

Or:

“Hey, Jim, can you lend me a hand?”

“I am too busy, too.” Nevertheless, Jim walks over and lends his assistance.

Can a single consonant make such a difference?  Without the written word, can the mere inflection, intonation and syllabic accent of a lingering “o” allow for the subtlety of differences otherwise unseen except with the written word?  Would it make a difference, if it was stated in a southern drawl, a foreign accent or in “broken English”?

When one pauses and considers the consequences of language and its effects upon discourse, it makes one pause and shudder, that even in this age of Twitter and abbreviated language compositions and the irrelevance of grammar upon our daily lives, that distinctions can still cause a difference.

Are such modulated intonations significant?  Perhaps they are rarely, if ever, “life changing” events, but nevertheless can effectuate confusion or miscommunication such that disagreements may arise.

Language is the tool of communication and the effective conveyance of thoughts and conceptual paradigms.  This is important to remember for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, it is the written word that is the sword of a triumphant Federal Disability Retirement application, or the injury that defeats the same, and whether the extra consonant may make the difference depends upon the effectiveness of the rest of the application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Comfort in regularity

There are those who relish the seas of daily change and the excitement of altered circumstances in daily discourse.  But as the rhythms of a seasonal perpetuity teach us of Nature’s need for regularity, so the biorhythms imparted can often form avenues of predictable patterns.  There is comfort in regularity (no, for those with singular minds, we are not here referring to the constancy of utilizing bathroom facilities; although, there is also some truth in that perspective, as well); of engaging in the monotony of expectations, unchanging circumstances and boredom of daily redundancy.

If we interpreted Bishop Berkeley’s philosophy to the extreme, each time we were to leave a room, the physical world we left behind would vanish; upon our re-entrance into the “same” room, it would again materialize, but who knows if the armchair in the corner with the slight tear in the seam of the cushion has not been moved several inches to one side or the other?

Wasn’t that always the fear in Star Trek, when Scotty would push the lever for the transporter, and the molecular deconstruction of the individual would occur – but the danger involved the potential interference within that short timeframe, when the reconstitution of matter might bring about a missing limb, a lesser intellect, or leave on the dinner table in the previous location one’s eyes, nose or mouth?  But the digression into science fiction merely points out the obvious; whether via molecular transporter or physically walking from one room into another, the expectation of “sameness” is what we rely upon, in order to maintain a sanity which otherwise would be lost in a sea of constant change.

It is, ultimately, the paradigmatic confrontation between the age-old perspective of two old philosophical grouches – of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of permanence seen in a world of a singular whole as opposed to the constancy of an ever-changing universe.  Note that, in either perspective, there is a regularity that is sought and discovered:  the expectation of consistent change constitutes that regularity we seek; and the regularity of a singularity of permanence reinforces that comfort in the same.  That is what we forever sought and continue to seek – and it is in the comfort of regularity that we maintain our balanced perspective.

That is why the turmoil of change is often devastating for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that 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 position.  The inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties is frustrating enough; such alterations often require accommodations, but when such requests are rejected, it is like a verdict upon one’s worth by the agency or the Postal facility:  You are not worth the trouble of change.

Yet, that change or alteration in the schedule, flexibility of attendance, or other minor adjustments, are often of no greater effort by the Agency than Scotty pushing the lever to initiate the power of the transporter.  But, then, Captain Kirk was quite good at making adjustments and ad-libbing as he went along – something that most Federal agencies and the Postal Service are unable to do; and that is when preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes an ever-present need that will ensure the comfort in regularity of purpose, goals and future security.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire