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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Necessary changes

Is it a redundancy to state it in this manner?  Is change by definition necessary, or are some alterations merely voluntary, unnecessary, or modifications that are not required but are desired by sheer want of replacing boredom with ineptitude of lackluster metamorphosis?

Evolution surely resists it; for, the incrementalism and subtle refinement favors an unchanging universe, and we see that in the natural world, where an anomaly or mutation is disfavored, shunned by others and excluded instinctively.  The albino giraffe may be a fascinating phenomena to witness, but in the wilds where blending in with the landscape in order to go unnoticed by predators lurking about is the key to the survival of not just the “fittest” — but the one who is passed by unnoticed by more powerful forces ready to pounce and devour.

Change can take on many and variegated forms — from a spectrum dividing a wide chasm of consequences, whether intended or otherwise thoughtlessly expounded — from the minor adjustment to the tumultuous overhaul of upheaval and irreversible impact.  Some changes are merely insularly internal and go unnoticed, such as a “new perspective” or taking on a different way of seeing things.

Religious conversions can take that cloak of alteration.  We may know a friend, a neighbor or a family member who lives at the same address, speaks the same way, dresses in the identical manner, but one day blurts out, “I have become X!”  Perhaps there are some residual modifications made, and some we notice, others go with a ripple, like the many pitter-patter of rain drops that fall upon the midnight ocean and no one ever notices.

Other changes come from without — imposing its impact and causal effect without any choice or say in the matter — earthquakes; deaths; wars that no one asked for; events that unfold with untold consequences that no one thought through very well.

Medical conditions are akin to the latter — of a vicissitude that occurs without the asking, with impact upon lives both minor and consequential.  It is not only a change, but necessitates changes in the lifestyle, manner and approach of the one to whom it impacts.

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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it will often become apparent that the unnecessary (or unwanted) change to one’s health begets a necessary change that must accommodate the former.

A Federal Disability Retirement application may be a necessary change, if only to follow upon the change that has imposed itself by the very medical condition itself.

Changes — necessary or otherwise — require an adaptation, both mentally and often physically, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the penultimate necessary change that must be contemplated in a universe replete with necessary and sufficient causes beyond one’s control.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The regularity of life

Metaphors abound, of course; of the stream of life, its cadence, likened to a steady march and the cyclical nature wrapped in the repetition of the growing dawn followed by the setting sun.  The regularity of life represents a rhythm and monotony that provides a blanket of comfort (there goes the metaphor, again) that can be extracted from the lack of chaos.

Most of us thrive best within the regularity of life’s monotony; it is the very few who seek and relish the chaos of life.  Some few seek the opposite precisely because they grew up hating the former; and other, the very antonym of life’s challenges, searching always for new adventures and challenges and upending everything in sight because of boredom experienced in some prior stage of life.

Whatever the causes, whatsoever the sought-out means for expression and self-satisfaction, one cannot exist without the other.  It is from chaos that one creates an order (hint: this is not a new notion; one might consult the first book of an otherwise unnamed book that “believers” often refer to); and it is only in the midst of the regularity of life that one can have spurts of its opposite; otherwise, the world of chaotic living could not be identified as such unless there is a contrasting opposite by which to compare.

Medical conditions “need” its very opposite.  Doctors often talk about “reducing stress” as an important element in maintaining one’s health; it is another way of saying that the chaos of life needs to be contained, and the regularity of life needs to be attained.  Medical conditions themselves interrupt and impede the regularity of life; as pain, it increases stress; as cognitive dysfunctioning, it interrupts calm.

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 very fact of the medical condition itself can be the impeding force that disrupts and interrupts the regularity of life; and the chaos that ensues often necessitates an action that returns one back to the regularity of life.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first and necessary step in bringing order back into an otherwise chaotic-seeming mess.

It is, in the words of some “other” source, to attain the regularity of life from that which had become without form and void.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Just another bystander

There are primary characters, ancillary or peripheral personalities – and just another bystander.  Similarly, in personal relationships taken from a subjective “I” viewpoint, there are “close family members” (i.e., normally identified as the core within a nuclear family), “extended family”, and then there are “friends and acquaintances” — and just pure strangers.  Of course, the Internet, Facebook and other electronic devices have somewhat changed and altered the landscape of such relational directions, but we still know what it means to generally be “just another bystander”: to be out of the proverbial “loop” and perhaps observe, but otherwise uninvolved in the lives of those around, passing by or in the midst of a crisis developing.

Thus, when an accident occurs, a tragedy unfolds or a crisis develops, there are those who are referred to as “just another bystander”.  Or, if by tragic circumstances, that “bystander” becomes a victim either by happenstance or through “collateral” damage wrought upon surrounding neighborhoods, people, etc., we may refer to that person as an “innocent bystander” – as if the imputed adjective adds something more appropriate to engender empathy or description of haphazard events by which people can be randomly hurt.

Or, if intervention or interference imposes upon a situation by events unfolding, such an identification may be referred to in the past tense, as in, “He was just another bystander when event X occurred, and then he ran into the melee and helped the victims by…” In other words, by becoming “involved”, person X absolved himself by his very actions and thereby negated his prior status as a “bystander”, innocent or not.

The fact is, most of us are bystanders for most days of our lives; we walk through neighborhoods, streets and buildings inhabited by others, where others are engaging in commerce, relationships and interaction of daily living, and others, as well, are mere bystanders as they walk past us and bypassing our subjective interludes.  We expect others to maintain that status unless otherwise needed, and we retain with comfort such status in the courteous behavior towards strangers otherwise unnecessary for further interaction.  The problem becomes when we become bystanders within the role of our own lives.

For Federal and Postal employees 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, remaining a bystander when it is necessary to become an integral part in determining your own future is often a problem of self-will.  Watching the lives of others pass by is one thing; watching your own life pass by means that you are just another bystander when being a bystander is not the appropriate role to play.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the necessary next and proactive step in determining the future outcome of events unfolding. The medical condition you suffer from is already the “event”; what you do next will determine whether you are the primary character or a bystander – or, worse, an “innocent bystander” who then is referred to in the past tense.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Habit

No, this is not about that peculiar creature that Tolkien created who used to rule the earth but now hides in little dirt hutches in the deep recesses of forests (don’t all children and adults who have read his works believe in their heart of hearts that Hobbits still exist, and we just don’t see them?); rather, this, too, is a creature of sorts, just not the imaginary creation that gave joy to so many.

How is it that we come to learn it?  Is there a numerical value that must be first ascribed before the regularity of X becomes a Habit-Y?  What constitutes a definition of the repetition, and how is it learned, as opposed to unlearning certain types of constancies?  Is there a numerical value that further transforms a habit into an obsession, and where is the dividing line and what demarcates the distinction we thus impose?

If a dog, each morning upon the awakening by an alarm clock set by his master, rolls onto his back and waits until he gets a nice tummy-rub, and never deters or detours from such a habit, can he, too, unlearn it?  Is a habit, moreover, merely a settled tendency, such that the rest of those around may expect it to occur, but when it does not, is not necessarily a surprise or a disappointment, but a mere reliance that “normally” occurs but is not mandated by a turn to another direction?  When the expectation does not come to fruition, do we simply say, “Well, normally it is his habit, but perhaps he changed his mind”?

Kant, for instance, was known to take his walk at a specific time, and it was said of him that the townspeople set their watches against his daily routine and habit.  Does not that sound more like an obsession?  Is the difference one where there is greater ease to “break” the regularity, whereas an obsession is where such a tendency cannot, and is no longer a “voluntary” act?

Additionally, is there a difference with a distinction between a “habit”, a “ritual” and an “obsession”?  Or, is there no clear line of bifurcation (or is it “trifurcation”?), but the lines can cross over easily – as in, when we engage in a habit, sometimes there are rituals that are performed – washing one’s hands in the same way as always; combing one’s hair a set number of strokes; skipping over a particular crack in the sidewalk on the way home; and are rituals merely of greater intensity with obsession than with a habit?

And what of necessities that arise?  Such as filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for Federal and Postal employees – do people not file because their “habits” are entrenched in a belief-system that one must just “buck up” and ignore the warning signs of a medical condition that continues to deteriorate and progressively debilitate?  When do habits stand in the way of doing that which is “reasonable” under the circumstances?

Here is a thought: For Federal and Postal employees suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, let not habit become an obsession, and instead, allow for the rituals of life to free you from the habitual obsession of ritualistic redundancy, and instead, begin preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire