CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Shrinking Attention Span

Social commentators have noted the prevalence of the decline of genuine empathy, often linked to a greater entanglement with the virtual world, as created by television, movies, media, the internet, and the exponential use of social media.  When emotions are spent and expended upon a lifeless screen of images and words, with limited encounters with actual human interaction, one wonders about the inevitable march of human evolution towards a world of emotionless drones and androids.

Science fiction is no longer a genre about the future; the future is now.  As part of the defining phenomena of our times is the shrinking capacity for holding one’s attention; for, as we become attuned and disciplined to view the entire lifespan of an individual or event within a 2-hour period — as that constitutes the estimated time of a film or play — so the capacity of a person to endure the patience to listen to, attend to, or otherwise sustain one’s attention for the true lifespan of an individual becomes correspondingly diminished.

Society no longer has the ability to focus, concentrate, or have sympathy for, conditions and events which last a real lifetime.  This presents a growing problem in our society, and one which is reflected in daily life.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s employment arena in the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the sustained reaction from one’s coworkers, supervisors and managers is a telling tale of increasing impatience with anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive”, as defined by a society of working drones.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which provides an outlet away from the compassionless environment of a workforce which, once not too long ago, viewed themselves with greater empathy by embracing disabled workers and with great fanfare declared programs of accommodations and patience.  But somewhere along the way, the virtual world caught up with the reality of human nature; we are what we seek to become.

Federal Disability Retirement is an avenue of relief for the Federal or Postal Worker who requires an attention span greater than the time needed to view a movie; it is there for one’s lifetime, to attend to the realities of a world otherwise distracted by the glow of an electronic screen while one’s neighbor suffers real human needs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Algorithms & Human Peculiarities

In maneuvering through the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there are potentially multiple stages that one may encounter:  The First Stage of the process — the initial filing; if denied, one has a right to have the denial “reconsidered” by filing a Request for Reconsideration within thirty (30) days of the denial; if denied by OPM a second time, then one has a right to file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, before an Administrative Judge.

There are, beyond the three stages identified, additional appellate stages of the process, including a Petition for Full Review before a 3-Judge panel of the MSPB, as well as an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

At each stage of the process, the Federal Disability Retirement application is reviewed and evaluated for sufficiency of proof and satisfaction of the statutory criteria for eligibility; and, moreover, a different person looks at the application at each stage of the bureaucratic process.

Thus, there is no singular algorithm — no application of a computer model which is identical across the board — in the evaluation of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Instead, a different person reviews and evaluates the Federal Disability Retirement application at each stage.  This is probably a positive approach, and one which would be deemed “fair” by any objective standard.  For, while an application of a standard algorithm may be deemed objectively impersonal and unbiased, whereas human beings, in their inherently fallible nature may indeed possess biases and inclinations; nevertheless, it is the peculiarities of human imperfections which are still the trusted traits for procedural determinations.

That is why there is such a hue and cry over the increasing use of video replays and electronic line judges in sports; for some reason, we still trust in the human perspective, as opposed to the cold hardware of computers.  Perhaps, in our collective childhoods, we all became paranoid from watching HAL 9000 in Kubrick’s 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  A shivering thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire