Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The clinical language

The antiseptic nature of language allows for the euphemism of linguistic cloaking to occur.  The corollary effect, however, is that it fails to provide a nexus to the humanity lost, and allows for an arrogance of language by imparting its distance and separation from warmth.

Clinical language has that characteristic, steeped in the mysterious and archaic history of Gregorian chants at altars once embodying the Eucharist’s theological secrets of transubstantiation with the priesthood undulating in phrases foreign to ears of modernity; and from that same pocket of incomprehensible linguistic sophistication that only New Englanders like Buckley and other intellectuals would bandy about with phrases we all nod at as if we understood them, comes the cold, clinical language that doctors, nurses and psychiatrists use in diagnosing conditions beyond the mere commoner’s ability to realize.

The clinical language bifurcates and objectifies; it is a way of keeping the discussion on a level of discourse where human emotions need not enter, will not intercede, and cannot invade through the impenetrable walls of the rational side of the brain.  Perhaps there is a need for that; a want, a desire and a worthiness to maintain that distance, so that the topics delineated, explained and obfuscated can be accomplished without the emotional turmoil of those consequences resulting from the realization that one is damaged goods beyond repair.

In the end, however, when the patient goes back home, discusses it with family, friends and close relations, the interpretive process must by necessity be utilized.

In former times, dictionaries were taken out, root words were defined and the Latin phrases whispered in secret murmurings of incantations incomprehensible were untangled, discerned and disassembled.  In modernity, we Google them and have the algorithm of computer intelligence in sunny California interpret the words for us to digest.  Then, the translation into the emotive language of kitchen-held talks in hushed tones where children strain to listen from stairwells around the corner; and tears wept, confidences given and lost, and the upheavals of families in crisis where the clinical language has been demythologized and demystified so that even the everyday person can recognize the human toil of a ravaged body and mind.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, whether that medical condition has been diagnosed in clothing termed by the clinical language used by the medical profession, or already interpreted in common everyday usage, the plan is to prepare an effective, understandable, cogent and coherent Federal Disability Retirement application, and one that can bridge that gap from phrases barely comprehensible to linguistic descriptions that present a viable case.

Doctor’s reports and office notes, clinical narratives and treatment records are all useful and necessary, but in order to create that legal nexus of presenting a persuasive argument and meeting the standard of proof of preponderance of the evidence in a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is always a good idea to interpret and translate that clinical language into a delineation that touches upon the everyday emotions common to us all, by breaking down the bifurcated walls and allowing for the warmth of humanity to pervade the narrative of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: False Positives

We demand that a “retest” be done, to ensure that the result did not have the opposite effect.  It is a linguistic conundrum that the affirmative means its negative; for, in medicine, a “positive” result is the worst of news, whereas in most every other context, it is a welcomed declarative.  But because it is a result which is not embraced with delight, we ask that it be further verified in the event that the “positive” is a false one, and we want it instead to not be a true one, and thus ask for a retest in order to see whether the second one will result in a true negative, which is the opposite of a true positive in hopes that the first positive result is a false one.

Are there such similar circumstances in daily life, apart from the medical field, where we received results of false positives?  The latter term in the phrase is misleading, precisely because laudatory declaratives are normally welcoming additions; yet, combined with the former word that essentially negates the latter, it is an oxymoron of sorts and is thus relegated to a defined field in the medical arena.

But false positive do rear their ugly heads now and again; in employment, where awards and exuberant encouragement are provided with nary a compensatory incentive, giving the impression that the company recognizes the employee as a valued asset, all the while withholding that most coveted of advancements – the “raise”.

That is surely a “false positive” that needs to be retested.

Or, of loyalty seemingly accorded by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal worker, so long as productivity is met and the “mission of the agency” is placed on a priority basis, where long and uncompensated hours, both in physical presence and cognitive input when exhaustion from work, worries and problem solving overwhelm and consecrate; but when it really “counts”, does the concept of loyalty allow for bilateralism, or was it merely a one-way street:  Your loyalty to the Federal Agency or the Postal Service, in return for a false positive?

Is filing a Federal Disability Retirement application considered a “false positive”?  Or even in an inverted sense – it is “positive” because it is a benefit which is available when (often) all other options have failed; it is purportedly “false” because it means giving up one’s career and being presented with a future with less income.

But it can also possess an inverted meaning –  of a false positive because it is an a recognition that the medical condition has come to a point where an admission must be made:  the falsity of hope in relying upon the Federal Agency or U.S. Postal Service to reward one’s undiminished loyalty these many years and decades, would result in an accommodation of the medical condition, combined with a sense of positive outlook for the future because of this past reliance.

No – unfortunately, such a false positive would surely have to be retested, and the result would be that, yes, the false positive of having the ability to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is indeed a true positive that is there to be accessed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: The 31-day Rule

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application has been prepared and formulated, the next step in the equation is to determine the proper destination for filing.

For all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, if one is still on the rolls of the agency, whether on Sick Leave, Annual Leave, receiving donated leave, or on LWOP, if separation from service has not occurred, then the Disability Retirement packet must go through either the local or district Human Resources Office of the Agency for further processing.  The Office of Personnel Management will not accept a Federal Disability Retirement application directly from the applicant, if the Federal or Postal worker filing for such benefits has not yet been separated from Federal Service.

For Postal employees, a further caveat concerning “separation” should be taken into account:  Often, the U.S. Postal Service will continue to retain workers on the rolls, even after proposing to remove them, and often even after issuing a decision letter on a removal.  A good indicator as to whether a Postal Worker is still on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service is if the individual is still receiving “0” balance pay stubs.  This likely means that the person is still officially “on the rolls” of the U.S. Postal Service.

Further, while many Federal (non-postal) workers continue to have the benefit of a local Human Resources Office, or an assigned district H.R. Office, for the U.S. Postal Service employee, all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be processed through the H.R. Shared Services Center in Greensboro, N.C.

If a person has been separated from Federal Service for more than thirty one (31) days, then the former Federal or Postal Worker must file his or her Federal Disability Retirement application directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Thus, the first priority is to prepare and formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application; next, to ensure compliance with the 1-year statute of limitations; and finally, to file it via the proper channels.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Agency Procedures

It is an argument which cannot be won, and one which is avoided, if possible, but nevertheless I find myself engaged in from time to time.  It is the argument of one’s historical background, and whether one has the viable power to justify the improper action (or inaction), and it goes something like this:  “The Agency requires that…”   Response:  “Yes, but that is not what the Office of Personnel Management requires, and it is OPM who is the final arbiter in the matter.”  “Well, that may be, Mr. ___, but I have been doing this for over 10 years and that’s the way it’s always been done.”  Response:  “Well, I have been doing this for over ___”   “We are just trying to help.”  Beware of the “helpful” agency.  

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, if an individual has not been separated from Federal Service for more than thirty one (31) days, the entire packet must go through the Federal Agency for which the applicant is working or was working.  Even if the separation occurred over 31 days prior to the filing, certain Standard Forms must be obtained from the former agency.  In “dealing” with the Agency, one often gets into the “back-and-forth” game of how a certain procedure needs to be followed, and that is when the childish playground game of “who has the greater historical experience” is often engaged in.  At bottom, it all comes down to a power game.  It is best to avoid it.  It is best to be courteous and civil.  But when the Human Resources person says, “I’m just trying to be helpful,” beware.  You have probably just lost the game.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire