OPM Disability Retirement Law: The unsolvable dilemma

Most of us live linear lives.  It is a characteristic of Western Civilization that the thought-processes involve a sequential, step-by-step, logical extension and advancement.

Much has been said about this approach, in contrast to an “Eastern” philosophical methodology, where there is a “circular” mind-set that often involves the complexities of reincarnation, capacity to assimilate inconsistent, incommensurate and seemingly incompatible belief-systems – and, indeed, to even describe the “other” as a “methodology” is an oxymoron of unfair proportions, for it is more of an amalgamation of acceptance without hesitation – like the symbiosis of Shinto and Zen Buddhism in Japanese culture.

Such an approach – of a straight line from Point A to Destination X – that reflects the essence of the Western culture, including Continental Europe, the British linguistic solutions and the U.S. pragmatism that dominates, leaves us with an emptiness when we encounter and engage the unsolvable dilemma.  Perhaps that is the primary deficit in “our” approach, as opposed to the “other” one.  For, in attempting to think always in a linear fashion, we become frustrated when the solution cannot be figured out or otherwise consummated.

A problem left unsolved is one that we consider to be a failure of sorts, because the pragmatism of Western thought requires that all problems have solutions; it is a paradigm that has been ingrained in the DNA of our very being and essence.  But life doesn’t quite work in that way, does it?  There are unsolvable problems – where we just have to accept what “is” and move on with the deficit of a solution.

Medical conditions comprise one such class of such unsolvable issues.  We like to think that the “science” of medicine provides for a cure through complex and technologically modern treatment modalities for every identification of diagnosed maladies; but it quickly becomes obvious that many medical conditions simply do not have a linear resolution.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the linear approach of Western Civilization often will not work.  There is an incompatible friction that quickly arises between the Federal agency and the Postal facility, and the Federal employee and Postal worker.

Often, the only “solution” is an exit via filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted for consideration ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Does it “solve” the problem?  Not really.  For the Federal or Postal employee, the medical condition continues with him or her after separation from the Federal workforce; and for the agency or the Postal facility, the loss of a formerly valuable and productive employee invested in for those many years, cannot easily be replaced.

But getting a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is a compromise of sorts; it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to seek other opportunities in the private sector, and to attend to the medical conditions with greater focus; and for the Federal agency and Postal facility, it allows for employment of another, more healthier worker who can fulfill all of the essential elements of the job.  Nevertheless, it remains an “unsolvable dilemma”, to be relegated to the “Eastern” approach, and leaving a void to the “Western” perspective.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Care to Perfection

At what point does one ascend from mere care, to perfection of accomplishment?  Is it when we determine that which matters to us most – i.e., where self-interest intersects with talent otherwise left unfulfilled?  Or, through maturity of purpose and a self-realization that perfection is preferable to a lesser kindling of care, does one simply “buck up” and seek to embrace a higher order of accomplishments?

Perfection is an impossible standard to attain; care, a reasonably easy one, because time, effort and struggled attempts compensate for any lack of natural talent.  Words themselves tend to camouflage the lack of perfection by care, for a lengthy dissertation of seeming interest and a cauldron mixed by questions of curiosity comprise evidence of “caring”.  But while perfection should always be reserved for the Pope, heavenly orbs and Platonic Forms otherwise unreachable by mortal hands and untalented mediocrity – which incudes the vast multitude of the ordinary folk that populate this earth – it is a goal worth trying to achieve.

This presents a particularly unique problem for Federal and Postal employees who are considering 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 – for, when a medical condition dominates, the natural inclination is to quickly put together an assembled Federal Disability Retirement packet based upon mere care, but nowhere near perfection, when the very viewing bureaucratic body (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is often applying a higher standard than even what the law requires.

We are not saying, here, that any Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed should attain any level of perfection; rather, that when the applicant who prepares his or her own Federal Disability Retirement application is the identical person who suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is always very difficult to get beyond the standard of mere care, and will never be able to objectively strive towards a semblance of perfection.  Perfection as a standard is never meant to be attained, but merely to be striven for; and as a corollary, care is not to be acquiesced to without a pathway towards perfection.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management applies the standard of law that it is mandated to enforce, but in its zealous defense of the entire Disability Retirement system, it often goes beyond mere care, and applies the shadow of perfection upon unwary applicants.  What can be done about it?  Nothing, except to make sure that in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and submitting it to OPM, be aware that care may not be enough; rather, striving for the higher order of care – that of perfection – may be the requirement for the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The cog in the process

Does perspective have an influence upon one’s approach in engaging an endeavor of any sort?  For instance, does it matter whether or not the cynic and the one who sees the world consistently as “half-empty” or unwittingly cruel, nevertheless succeeds at every turn and venture?  Or, conversely, of the person who always has a “positive attitude” and sees good in every corner, but nevertheless fails at every attempted feat; did “perspective” and viewpoint make a difference?

Perhaps life requires a balance between the two, and such extremes on a spectrum of outlook is never a healthy thing.

In the end, does it matter whether or not we see ourselves as an insignificant cog in a wider process of unending turmoil, or as an Oprah-like shining star where we persuade ourselves that we matter as a mere cog precisely because the loss of a singular and unique “you” would have a devastating impact upon the well-ordered universe where the gods watch upon each hair of our scalps and wait to quiver with laughter when we express our hopes for relevance?

We often “feel” like a cog in the process – even if, on a more objective and brighter viewpoint, such an analogy and imagery represent an inaccurate put-down of major proportions.

That is the problem with bureaucracies – seen from the “other” side, our involvement in an administrative procedure invites us to ascertain that which we always suspected:  Stand in line; be assigned a number; be asked for standard information and data; a stamp is pounded upon a piece of paper and … “Next!”  What constitutes the accurate portrayal of our point of being caught within a world devoid of normative constructs, anymore?

This generation of youthful cadavers have it the worst, of course, as there is no longer a belief to die for, a value to live by, nor an encounter that can pass for pure friendship without an underlying suspicion that more is intended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the entrance into the social club of the “cog” is just beginning.  OPM is a vast juggernaut of an administrative process, and the miniscule feeling one will be exposed to, presented with and suddenly thrown to the bottom of a pitiless cauldron will become evident from the very beginning.

That “feeling”, however, should never be confused with the relevance, importance and significance of preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application properly and to a perfection made to order, at least as much as humanly possible.

For, in the end, to be a cog in the process does not mean that one should become processed as a mere cog; rather, that the line which extends around the block and down into the next needs to be acknowledged, yet prepared sufficiently such that when that call for “Next!” comes your way, all of the papers, relevant data and significance of evidence are in undiluted order, such that the cog in the process will flow smoothly when next your turn is up before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS and CSRS: Doubt

Is certainty its antonym – or is it too rigid and lacking of linguistic elasticity to merit such a position?  For, doubt allows for an openness to both sides, doesn’t it – whether God exists or not; whether, in the end of life’s spectrum, judgment will deem our microscopic deeds worthy or not; and of illnesses, an erupting disability, or one which cravenly lingers beyond mere chronicity of irritation, but continues to periodically debilitate, and progressively annihilate the soul of patience for furtherance to hope.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the Federal or Postal employee must begin to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – where does doubt end, and certainty begin?

To begin with:  Doubt as to whether one’s medical conditions are severe enough to warrant consideration in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and certainty as to the strength of one’s own case.  Doubt as to whether the medical evidence gathered is sufficient to meet the preponderance of the evidence test, and certainty as to the relevance and strength of a meritorious compilation of demonstrable material.

Doubt as to whether the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will provide a fair evaluation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, and certainty as to the case being a “slam-dunk” venue for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Doubt as to whether one’s Human Resource Office will protect the privacy of the medical evidence submitted (if the Federal or Postal employee has not been separated from Federal Service or, if separated, not for more than 31 days), and certainty that any violation of privacy will likely occur, but considering the options available, proceeding anyway.

How healthy is doubt?  How unhealthy is certainty?  Is doubt more akin to uncertainty than being the opposite of certainty, and if so, why would the negation of the root word transform it into a synonym?  Is it a grammatical rule that the test of an antonym is to negate its root, and if it becomes a synonym, then by logical extension, the root was its antonym?  Is that the same with feelings as opposed to beliefs; or of rationality in contradistinction to the Aristotelian appetitive parts of the soul?

In the end, the Federal or Postal employee must contend both with doubts and unrealistic expectations of certainty; for, when dealing with an administrative Juggernaut such as the likes of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in filing a CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement application, a healthy dose of doubt, combined with an aggressive approach bordering on certainty, is the best mix of medicines one can take or – to put it more quaintly:  go it alone with doubt, take an aspirin, or consult with a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law so that you can at least arrive at some semblance of doubtful certainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: The cruelty of our nature

Note that we are not positing that nature in general is cruel; for, in nature, predatory behaviors and devouring of one another is merely a tautological definition of nature itself, in the constant balance between prey and predator, betwixt overpopulation and dominance of one species over another, etc.  No, the “our” refers to a specific species – of the human kind.

Whether engendered and triggered within our genetic predispositions, or as Rousseau and Locke would have it, spurred on by the artificial constructs evolved from the social contract created for self-preservation, there is little denying that “our” nature is the cruelest of them all.  Little evidence needs to be pointed at in order to establish the case proving such a perspective – of wars, treatment of others, disregard for fellow members, neighbors and even strangers; no, the cruelty of our nature betrays the inherent meanness of our selves.

Yes, yes – there are always sociological and anthropological explanations – of mistreatment by a structural and inherent canopy of defiance; people left without hope for any future; lives destroyed by government regulations and other societal pressures; wars driven by sectarian and genocidal triggers further explained by economic changes and shifts of monetary and global policies; and of the rise of dominance by a few over the general populace.

There is little doubt that we are cruel because of who we are – at the top of the food chain, everyone struggling to merely survive.  Yet, it was always the belief that within us, there was a spark of the angel – of being just above the beast, and slightly below the heavenly orbs where wings of perfection remain yet to strive for.

When medical conditions erupt, necessitating the Federal or Postal employee to prepare, formulate and 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, it is well to keep in mind the cruelty of our nature – not necessarily in ourselves, but in the capacity and human capability of acting upon it by revealing to others the vulnerabilities caught in the web of our own genetic predispositions.

Care needs to be taken in protecting privacy; never underestimate the reactions that might occur by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and always bear in mind the wisdom of Shakespeare, who recognized the cruelty of our nature, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.  They kill us for their sport.” King Lear, Act IV, Scene i.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Knowing where to stop

In life, it is often just as important in knowing where one is going, as it is to recognizing where to stop.  We all know the individual with “a mission” – always self-confident, never tentative, and rarely pausing to catch one’s breath except to regain one’s composure before blindly forging ahead with uninterrupted fortitude and resolve.  Military men and women are like that; born leaders and megalomaniacs follow suit; and only the timid bear the brunt of being pushed aside and trampled upon.  Overreaching is a problem in a society that knows only excess and limitless pleasure.  In the midst of being human, we forget our own humanity.

In the history of Philosophy, Rationalism has been usurped by Idealism; the latter, superseded by the reality of human depravity, and science the victor in the tension between theology and pragmatism.  In the end, Darwinian declarations of equality among the species have come to prevail, and in the post-Existential era of seeking merely pleasure above purpose, and the more modern parlance of embracing the “Happiness Principle” – where one’s minute-by-second assessment of one’s emotional quotient has trumped obligation, duty, convention and rational essence of an Aristotelian definition of Man – we now have no boundaries, no social conventions of constraints, and so long as we can avoid violating the basic laws that govern our society, we can do what we want.

In such a state, society and civilization, how can we know where to stop?  If everything is okay to do, how do we determine that which may harm ourselves, or otherwise breach the boundaries of decency and what it means to be human?  If all species are of equal value, then what worth is there in having humanity?  How do we know where to stop?  This applies, as well, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Often not knowing all the current laws that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law, the initiating applicant will proceed forth and barrel ahead like Military men and women and born leaders, without first consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about OPM Disability Retirement Law.  For, never underestimate the underlying principles behind questions posed on a Federal Disability Retirement application – especially as it relates to one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s official position.

SF 3112A can be a landmine of sorts, and while it is well and good to proceed in a forthright and affirmative manner, it is equally as important in knowing where to stop, as it is in realizing the direction the Federal or Postal employee must go in order to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire