Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file 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.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: The incoherent narrative

The squirrel jumped into the rabbit hole.  Then, the floods came, and Noah didn’t like the color of his shoes because they matched the starboard and not the bow, and when the rudderless drift occurred, then did the turtle finally come out from the squirrel’s nest, high atop the water’s edge. The medical conditions caused a lot of stress, and if it wasn’t for the Supervisor who constantly harasses me, I wouldn’t have filed a complaint against him, but the doctors never said I couldn’t work except when the heart attack occurred and Bessie my dog ran across the street and got hit by a car.

It is, ultimately, more than just a sequence of lettering; greater than the combination of consonants and vowels in logical arrangement; indeed, the language of the narrative must form a coherent whole.  Can a jumble of words provide the requisite narrative in order to meet the legal criteria in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Must the “Statement of Disability” as reflected on Standard Form 3112A provide a sequence of information such that it:  identifies the medical conditions suffered; informs the OPM administrative specialist of the nexus between the medical condition and the positional duties of one’s officially-slotted job; and meets and addresses, whether explicitly or implicitly, the burden of proof in showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Federal or Postal employee is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

To all three questions, the answer is in the affirmative.  For, preparing and formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted through one’s agency (if the Federal or Postal employee is still employed with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated from service, not more than 31 days since the date of separation) and then to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not merely stringing together a series of words, phrases, concepts and factual truisms; and it is often the incoherent narrative which not only fails to meet the legal burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement claim, but further, is harmed by providing too much information, whether intentionally or not.

The predetermined defeat of a Federal Disability Retirement application is not necessarily denied because of the substantive incoherence of one’s statement of disability; rather, more often than not, it is the unintended divulgence of information neither necessary nor true, which often provides the fodder for the fox to further the stealth of his slyness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Noh & Other Masks

Every culture has some element of representative theatre of art, and Nogaku is the classical Japanese form which tells the narrative of human suffering, trials and challenges encompassing masks, elaborate costumes, and traditional music reflective of the times and periods of tragic and comic proportions throughout history.

Why are masks used?  What is it about the frozen caricature, that moment in time when a look, a grimace, a smile or an unconcealed filament of emotion that encapsulates human suffering, tragedy or a breeze of joy?  Masks frozen reveal but a singular moment — or so one assumes, until you look at it from a different angle, a changed light, or perhaps when one’s own emotions alter and bring to the stage the experiences and baggage accumulated throughout a lifetime.

Masks fascinate — look at the glee, fear and awe on a child’s face, and those memories frozen in time as the child claps, stares, puts the tiny involuntary hand to his or her mouth, as the play before unfolds, whether in life or on the stage.  We all wear masks; some to conceal, others to gloss over.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the daily mask in order to conceal the progressive deterioration of one’s health, is no different from the theatre of plays performed.

Only, for the Federal and Postal worker who must consider 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 “play” never ends, as real life is ongoing; and the mask worn changes not in response to the altering angle of light, but rather, because of the unremitting articles of life which slowly chip away at the brave face of time, like the dust of age which fades the painted Noh mask, whether on stage or in the arena of daily living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement from Federal Job due to Disabilities: Setting up the Contingency for Failure

We all engage in it, at times; and like the vertical clearance events, like the high jump, the measurement of the horizontal bar can make a difference by fractions of inches or centimeters, and where we place the bar will determine the outcome of failure or success.  “If X, then Y,” we whisper to ourselves daily; “If I am able to get through this day, then it shows that I am better, and…”

But medical conditions, especially, have an unique characteristic of skewing and distorting the predictable outcome; and, further, when human desire, unfettered by comparative milestones used as “reality checks” in order to keep contained the buoyancy of human wants, becomes part of the equation, the systematic self-deception can occur through setting up contingencies which will inevitably fail.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the issue of “when” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (submitted first through one’s own agency Human Resource Office if not yet separated from Federal Service or, if separated, not for more than 31 days; but if separated, within 1 year of being separated from service, which is the Statute of Limitations in all Federal Disability Retirement cases, with some stringent and narrow exceptions) has often been influenced by the imposition of setting up multiple and linear series of contingencies, all of which were doomed for failure.

That is why the very filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application often becomes a “crisis” of sorts; for, as we desire things beyond our reach, and know that such events are unlikely to happen, so we continually engage in such fantasies of hope, despite the facts which face us, the yearnings which remain unfulfilled, and the loud signals which have become sirens emitted from our bodies and inner souls, screaming to change course before the collision of life’s disaster brings tumult and chaos beyond the nightmares of our own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Whispers of Time

Sometimes, in the deadened silence of night, thoughts beyond our daily routine creep into the shadows of the subconscious; or, in the quietude of rustling leaves, a harkening which is lost but for the whispers of time.

Is it true that there are signs, voices, foreboding elements around which warn of impending events beyond the pragmatism of our technologically-driven society?  Did epochs of yore possess knowledge beyond what we discover on Google?  Put that way, the simple answer is, “yes”; but if characterized as engaging old spirits through acts of necromancy and boiling bones, hairs and organs in a cauldron of witch’s brew, then our doubts begin to ponder.  Is there a “middle ground” — of recognizing that animals have an innate sense of danger which we have lost, or where the scent of impending prey pervades, which we once may have possessed a heightened alarm for, but which society has stamped out through the callous indifference of civilized comportment?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who wait for finality of judgment prior to beginning the process of 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, it may be that the Federal or Postal employee shuns and casts aside that quiet “inner voice” which tells one, “This cannot go on.”

We tend to do that.  Man has an unlimited and vast capacity for self-justification and rationalization, often to the detriment of self.  And that quiet voice of foreboding need not be something mysterious or even sinister in timeless sorcery; it could merely be our bodies telling us that, whatever hope our treatment modalities may be holding out for, the inconsistency between the medical condition and the positional duties required by the Federal or Postal job can no longer be maintained.

Truth is always magical, if not bluntly pragmatic; and while the days of magic have been lost when once the whispers of time succumbed to man’s landing on the moon, where romances and imagines faces converted to mere dust in the dustbin of history, there still remains room for the person who stops, listens, and pauses, if not for the oncoming train warning of impending catastrophe, then at least for the quiet warning signs that continuing in the same vein may not be the wisest of paths to take.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire