FERS Disability Retirement: The Venn Diagram of Life

Venn diagrams reveal the logical relationships between a finite collection of different sets.  Unlike concentric circles which all share a common center and thus fail to show their interconnectedness, Venn diagrams unravel both the connected relationships as well as the disjointed and isolated parts.  Thus, while all of X may also share in Y, some of Y may not connect with X or with Z, etc.

It is emblematic of our personal lives — where some part of us may be shared at work, but not all; and the personal side which is “not known” at work may be a private side of us that no one ever knows, and need not know.  Medical conditions are often those sets of conditions which represent a part of Y (personal side) but which are left isolated and private, outside of the reach of knowledge, yet nevertheless a part of X (work side) precisely because we bring to work our medical conditions (because we have no choice about the matter), even though we try and hide them.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has begun to increasingly impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Venn Diagram of Life is a familiar concept — trying to leave the impact outside of the circle of work becomes increasingly difficult, and the “work-circle” more and more notices the infringing nature of the medical condition itself through greater use and exhaustion of Sick Leave, LWOP and reduced performance efficacy.

The key, then, is to recognize the logical and real relationship between one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  Once that relationship has been realized, then you can make the proper decision as to whether it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As part of that Venn Diagram of Life, you may want to look at the diagram of concentric circles, as well — where the common center of a successful disability retirement application is often in consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The concise sentence

What is the difference between being concise and performing with precision?  The former is often applied in the universe of words and communication; the latter, in areas where quantitative measuring tools can be determined, such as in science or in mathematical sectors.

We say of a person who speaks voluminously but with little substance that he or she represents the antonym of conciseness; and so a comparison is often made between volume spoken or written and concepts or thoughts conveyed.  Of Literature, most would agree that Hemingway is the representative paradigm of conciseness, whereas Joyce and Faulkner reflect the very opposite, though all three are considered classic and great authors.

Do we excuse such authors as Joyce and Faulkner because, in literature, we tend to focus upon the stylistic brilliance of their writings as opposed to the “meaning” that captures the undercurrent of their works?  In other words, although they may give us “too many” words and thus are, by definition, lacking of conciseness, we nevertheless overlook such imprecision precisely because we do not attribute “amount” as the necessary and sufficient cause of determining the worth of good authorship.

Hemingway used to say that, in writing, he had already formulated each sentence before setting it upon paper, whether in handwriting (a lost art) or at the typewriter (a manual, when those contraptions existed and where the clack-clack of metal keys pounded deep into the twilight of a writer’s life).

Why do we applaud and celebrate the concise sentence?  Does it make a difference whether or not a sentence, say, with 7 words communicates a thought as opposed to a paragraph with a thousand words that conveys the identical conceptual construct?

Take the following 2 examples: 1. Lessening of debt equals wealth. Or, 2: If you have less to owe to others, then it is the same as savings; or, as Benjamin Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and the reality of it all is that we have more to spend and retain wealth, not so much because you have more money, but you have more because less is spent on paying other people your hard-earned dollars.

Now, both sentences convey essentially the same meaning.  The first one, however, is comprised of 5 words. The second one took…many words to communicate the same thought.  Does it matter whether a concise sentence is used, as opposed to one that is not, if the same two convey identically reflective thoughts?

It might make a difference, because of one factor that has not been discussed: Being concise often possesses the added feature of being precise, and precision is important in the accuracy of conveying thought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are thinking about preparing, formulating and filing 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, there is a dual-key component to preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability: Be concise, but do not forego length for completeness.

In other words, being concise in order to convey the proper information is important; but, at the same time, do not sacrifice wordiness just because of the limited “boxes” that are provided on SF 3112A.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sunshine, briefly

Life is mostly dark clouds, with a ray of sunshine briefly upon a small patch of wet grass.  Yes, yes – such a perspective is a mirror reflection of the conflict between the “half-full” versus “half-empty” outlook; but is it helpful for young people to posit a world view, a paradigm or, in the philosophical realm of ivory towers, that king of all royalties in linguistic sophistication that is dropped nonchalantly to impress and raise eyebrows –  Weltanschauung (since when did a German word rise to the level and replace Latin phrases, when one can barely clear one’s throat in enunciating such concepts?) – when reality doesn’t quite parallel such a fairytale ga-ga-land of fantasy reserved for bedtime stories and dream-filled comforts?

Do we not restrain children from engaging strangers?  Do we not warn of criminals, conmen and conspirators and step cautiously into dark alleys and isolated parks in twilight’s eyesight because the world lurks with malevolent intentions and evil thoughts?

There is no questions, of course, that there are periods of respite; of sunshine, briefly, by rays of telescopic precision warming for a time, before the inevitable clouds rub out the finite orientation of a limited gap emitting brightness of hope.  Is balance the stain of righteousness, and if so, where on the spectrum of both extremes does one draw the line of correctness, and is there a singularly myopic perspective where no other can claim moral equivalency?

Cynicism is attributable to the extreme of the “dark clouds” perspective, and naïve idealism to the other end of limitless sunshine; and somewhere in the middle is where reality protrudes into the conceptual realms of unease:  daily living, the encounters with meanness, harassment and unmitigated callousness that must endure the diminishing dereliction of youth’s untarnished cavity of hope.

It is, in the end, that ray of sunshine, however brief, that we live for, even if it only comes about once in a proverbial blue moon.  It is likened to the 80/20 rule:  Eighty percent of people you meet are not worthy of your time; it is the other 20% that you hope to encounter and engage; the identical proportion applies with work – much of it is monotonous and mindless repetition; it is for that remaining sliver that you do the treadmill stuff in order to apply the relishing technicality of challenging concerns.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the idea of life’s sunshine, however briefly, is precisely the point, isn’t it?

The medical condition that shortens one’s promising career is but the dark clouds which have gathered and overcast upon your life, career and ability and capacity to enjoy; Federal Disability Retirement – thought as “negative” in the sense that it replaces that which you worked so hard to attain – is that sunshine, briefly, so that you can go out with an annuity, a semblance of security, and focus upon the priorities of life:  Health, family, friends and tranquility.

Now, if that is not sunshine, however briefly, no one can fathom what is.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Redshirt

In athletic parlance, it refers to an individual and a status, allowing for a fifth year of eligibility when the rules mandate a restriction to a four-year period.  The word itself is quite malleable, and reflects well the technicality involved in avoiding the direct letter of the language.  Being a redshirt (noun), a redshirt freshman (adjective) or redshirted in his first year (verb) reveals to us the capacity of language to jump like grammatical forms of hopscotching that amazes and intrigues; and the cautionary prelude to a wink-and-a-nod is prefaced with, “You are being too literal”.

It only proves the point, doesn’t it — of the age-old adage that rules are created with the intent of being broken; or, at least bent in order to fit?  For, once such rules were imposed in order to allow for “fairness” in collegiate sports, the “legal technicians” (i.e., lawyers) went immediately to work upon coming up with novel interpretations, strategies for avoidance, and advice to extend beyond what the limitations allowed.

“Redshirting” was one of the devised methodologies – of allowing for everything up to the critical line of demarcation:  that of playing in a game itself.  Thus, the redshirt can practice with the team throughout that entire year of eligibility, but such actions do not count; the redshirted freshman can attend classes, be a full-fledged partner in the “college life”, and yet his participation is not marked against him or her; and to be redshirted in that year of eligibility allows for growth, maturity, advancement in development – all without “using up” a year of eligibility by being sacked a hundred times during the season and becoming a shattered soul devoid of self-confidence and losing assurance of one’s talents and skills.

It is, within the athletic community of college consortiums, a brilliant strategy to deftly avoid the burden of rules; for the greater society, it reflects the essence of what is wrong, precisely because it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the literal language of the rules.  Yet, that is true of almost everything in life, is it not?

Careful study; identifying the loopholes; then initiating the strategy to maneuver around landmines and obstacles.  Is it any different than a hunting party tracking a prey, sniffing out the signs of predatory confirmation and taking in information and adapting accordingly?  Rules, regulations and laws may well be designed, initially, at least, to address a specific problem; and, out of the cauldron of an enacted statutes, comes multiple other problems and issues because of the malleability of words and imprecise linguistic pauses.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  It is a necessary prerequisite to identify the legal language of eligibility; define the issues; identify whether or not the Federal or Postal employee considering such an option “fits into” the legal criteria circumscribed; then to proceed to “redshirt” one’s own situation and devise a methodology for eligibility.

Compiling the evidence, formulating the proper narrative, and presenting 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, can thus be likened to the redshirting of a freshman – in order to extend one’s life beyond the debilitating medical conditions otherwise shortening the career of a promising Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Stolen Soul

Superstitions often have a grain of truth in them; otherwise, they would not have endured the test of culture, time and governance of actions in ensuring their longevity and pervasive countenance.

Aboriginal tribes and remote communities far removed from the technological modernity of this growing world; pockets of secluded peoples and those who simply shy away from the spotlight of drones like druids of yore; once, there was a belief that having a photograph taken or an image drawn constituted the stealing of a soul.  We don’t believe that.  We no longer believe such nonsense.

Such belief systems constitute an anomaly tantamount to insanity, or at the very least a level of eccentricity bordering upon an unacceptable level of non-conformity.  Indeed, instead, we have gone in the opposite direction of the extreme: many no longer visit ancient and sacred sights with a view by the naked eye, but through the lens of a video camera never to be detached from the “on” button; and we deplete and exhaust the personal “I” within the sanctity of our selves by posting the most personal of information on Facebook and other public forums for full view and entertainment, reserving nothing of a private nature.

For, in the end, the technology of the internet is merely an advanced form of the singular photograph of yore; and as the daguerreotype of yesteryear represented the technological advancement of securing frozen images in a given time, of a place cemented within the historicity of events and contexts of human occurrences, so the voluntary dissemination of information about ourselves is merely a logical extension of that loss of privacy and depletion of the soul.

The soul is not inexhaustible; and is that not why there is so much emptiness and loss of value in the world?  Of the content of information which we consider “personal” and “private”, that which concerns our medical condition tops the list.  Yet, in the context of Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will inquire, demand of, and insist upon, release of medical information beyond that which constitutes allowable breach of confidentiality, leaving aside the issue of good taste.

Of course, when the Federal or Postal employee decides to 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, then the onus of proof (by the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence”) is entirely upon the Federal or Postal employee, and in that event, such submission of medical information is voluntary and must be done in order to secure the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  But before that, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often demand medical information without limits or respecting of privacy.

A response by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker should be carefully considered, lest there be a later conflict when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, often, during a time and circumstance prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the issue is one of wanting to continue to work; and, in any event, unconstrained dissemination of information of the most private nature — that of medical information — should always be carefully guarded.

In the end, releasing of medical information is like that superstitious sense held sacredly by those aboriginal tribes now lost in the deep forests of forgotten time; once, we believed that a single photograph would steal our soul, to be forever tortured in the chasms of an enemy’s grip; today, such a suspicion has been replaced with the foolhardy belief that we can give of ourselves indiscriminately, without the stolen soul suffering the agony of public scorn.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire