Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Mountain climbing

Whether for the exhilaration of the activity or the sheer confrontation of the challenge looming, it is a sport that captures the imagination of the fitness-enthusiast, the romantic and the eccentric loner alike.  It is the sport that engages the competitive spirit not against another’s ability or the coordinated capacity of large teams having practiced together, but against the inert heights of peaks and impervious rock faces that show no emotion as to one’s success or failure.

Mountain climbing has many phases and stages, both of skill and type; of a walk along a trail; a hike up an incline; or for the serious contender, the challenge against the fear of height and failure.  Is the challenge against one’s own fear?  Is the thrill that of attaining that climber’s high where energy is suddenly released and the conquering senses are suddenly embraced by the thrill of nature’s impassive will?

There are mountains to climb, and some of us do it in the physical sense, while the rest of us contend with the metaphorical mountains that need to be climbed each and every day.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition itself is the mountain to climb, it will often become necessary to go on to the “next level” of the climb itself, by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For some, mountain climbing is an actual physical activity; for the rest of us, it is a metaphorical application that reflects the strenuous life challenges beyond ordinary encounters of daily living.  For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition itself prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it becomes more than a metaphor — it is, instead, the obstacle that prevents, no less than the peak that abuts before the first step is taken for the mountain climbing enthusiast.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Tone and tenor

In music as well as in grammar, the first word remains somewhat constant, in that it refers to the sound itself – how it sounds, the decibel level, the texture and coherence, etc.  Between the two, it is the tenor that alters, for in music, it refers to the male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto, while in grammar it is the content and substance of that which is said.

Thus, in either manner of usage, whether in music or in grammar, the combination of both is a bifurcated distinctiveness that goes to the duality of the following:  How it is being played or said, as opposed to what is being emitted or posited.  Both in verbal communication, as well as in written delineation and presentation, each are important.  In the former, one can often modulate the first upon the second, and even adapt the second in order to “soften” the first.

Thus, a person might say, “Go take a hike” in an angry, unforgiving manner, and the words spoken are consistent with the tone granted.  Or, one can say it in a joking, soft-spoken manner, and suddenly the tenor of the words take on an entirely new meaning – for, no longer do you actually mean the words themselves, as in “Please go away, I don’t like you and I don’t want to see you”; rather, stated in the second manner, it can simply be a cute retort, a friendly quip or a joking gesture.

In writing, however, one must be quite careful – for the tone of a sentence is encapsulated within the tenor of the written statement; the two, being entangled by the written mode of communicating, can easily be misinterpreted unless carefully crafted.  That is why texting, emailing and other written modes of delivery can be dangerous vehicles easily misunderstood and taken with offensive intent that otherwise was meant in a different manner.

The “tone” of a written sentence, paragraph or page must be intimately woven with the context of the “tenor” presented; and how the reader or recipient reads it, what internal “tone” is ascribed, can be misguiding.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must prepare 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, the tone and tenor of a Federal Disability Retirement packet is important to consider.

Will a somewhat “third-person, objective” persona be assumed?  Will the SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, be presented in a cold, clinical manner, where the tone is set “as if” someone else is describing the personal issues of the medical conditions, as well as their effect upon the Federal or Postal employee’s capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, or will it be more likened to a weeping bundle of hysterical cries begging for approval, or even closer to an angry shout that deafens the ears of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s assigned “specialist”?

Tone and tenor need to be decided upon early on in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and it may well be that consulting with an attorney who specializes in preparing such applications will ensure the proper modulation in both the tone and tenor of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Admitting defeat

It is probably the single most difficult thing to do in life, and its inability reflects upon the abysmal state of education, both higher and lower.  The manner in which education is perpetuated – where “right answers” receive accolades and admitting of defeat merely alters the pecking order of who is admired and who are relegated to the detritus of human society – merely reinforces the greater loss of empathy, the destruction of civility and the coarsening of society.

Facebook, too, merely perpetuates the focus upon destroying an opponent and quieting any voices that may provide a quiet revolution, as alternate voices are silenced into submission by mere meanness of bombardment and repetition.  Some would applaud this all-too Darwinian approach as merely reinforcing the innate nature of “survival of the fittest” – for, admitting defeat is tantamount to revealing weakness, and the weak are mere fodder for the strong and stronger.

Whether in argumentation of discourse or fighting battles, wars – real or virtual – or verbal encounters characterized as harmless skirmishes on the Internet, it matters not anymore the manner in which one prevails, only that one does reach the apex of any endeavor, profession or undertaking.

Once upon a time, there were some rules of engagement – of a civil discourse where debates were conducted in quiet tones and respectful venues, and where humility called for admission of recognizing the greater argument which results in establishing the goal for the greater good.  Now, it matters not the means; for the end justifies the means and if you can shout down the opponent, lie about the facts and cheat around the strategy, it is the winner who is looked up to and the victor who walks away with the spoils.

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 positional duties, it may be that the best way to avoid admitting defeat is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, but somehow one’s priorities have become skewered in this obsessive-world where admitting a medical condition is tantamount to admitting defeat, as opposed to merely recognizing the limits of human endurance and the frailty of the human condition.

Fortunately, the rules governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for the Federal or Postal employee receiving Federal Disability Retirement benefits to go out into the private sector, or even into the state or local government, and work at another job or vocation and make up to 80% of what one’s Federal Government or Postal job currently pays, and thus, to that extent, obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not considered admitting defeat, but merely a change of venue in the pathways of life’s complexities throughout.

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 Employee Disability Retirement: Game changers

Rarely do we have advantages in life.  Instead, most challenges are full of obstacles in our way, advantages tipped in favor of another’s, and an imbalance that seems to make life’s lottery of spectral choices a weighted unfairness that no amount of complaining seems to make a difference about.  We hear about them; yet, they rarely attend to our own needs nor join “our team”.

Game changers are those influences or components that suddenly make winning more favorable.  They normally become a part of the “other” team, but every now and again, life may throw a ray of sunshine down our path, and game changers become an element of one’s own “team”.  Perhaps it is a secret piece of knowledge no one else is privy to; or a piece of information that others have not yet been provided access to; or a person with exceptional talent who has given indications of sympathy to a particular cause; or even a new methodological approach that has not yet been widely disseminated.

Whatever the element of advantage, game changers open up circumstances that favor the success of one side over another, and appear at an optimum time when others have yet to prepare for the surprise addition.  At least, that is what they appear to do in novels, movies, plays and fictional life.  In real life, there are rarely such advantageous elements that make a difference.  Instead, most of life is a steady monotony of hard work, less complaining and a representation of the tortoise-like ethic as opposed to the hare that dashes off and runs ahead of everyone else.

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, the concept of a “game changer” should be a familiar one.  For, when the medical condition first began to impact one’s health, that– in and of itself — was a game-changer: against you.  And when your work began to suffer because of the medical condition — that, too — was a game-changer: against you.  And when you needed to take excessive Sick Leave and Annual Leave, then LWOP, that was again a game-changer – again and too familiarly, against you.

It is perhaps time to begin preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; that, too, may be a “game changer”; but this time, in your favor, so that you can perhaps begin to focus upon the changing games that need a true game changer – your own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire