Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Castles in the air

Is it the same idea as Cervantes’ Don Quixote who charges at the wind mills?  Or of Don McLean’s soulful lyrics when he wrote, “And if she asks you why you can tell her that I told you, That I’m tired of Castles in the Air.”?

Is there a difference between dreams and visions realized, and those that remain as castles in the air?  Are such unrealized castles merely the childish remnants that were left behind within the bundled laughter of grown-ups who saw the folly of youth, or are they they vestiges of frustrations discarded because, when we “grow up”, we realize that reality doesn’t quite share the optimism of youth’s unfettered vision?

Whatever the origin, wherever the spark, it is important to preserve a semblance of a dream, even if never realized.  The “dungeon” is its antonym, where all such dreams drain because the lowest point of any location is where the water flows and the desolation of a desert abounds.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, it may well be that castles no longer exist in the air or elsewhere; that the medical condition itself has become the “reality” that one must deal with, and castles — in the air, on the ground, or somewhere far away — is a luxury one cannot afford to even consider.

And filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the farthest thing from childhood dreams of what you saw yourself achieving; but in the end, it is the best option available precisely because it frees you from the workplace harassment, embarrassment and resentment where work is no longer compatible with your medical conditions; and as for those castles in the air?

They may still be there once you can focus upon and regain your health; for it is the dream even unrealized that allows for human creativity to spawn and spread, but the pain of a chronic medical condition is what makes of us all the Don Quixote who charges at harmless windmills.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The river of life

The evocative images of such a metaphorical phrase are immediately understood by most.  As in challenges we all face throughout life, a river snakes across different and foreign terrain; in some seasons, a drought may dry up the vibrancy of the river, while in times of plenty, flooding and overabundance may occur.

There are periods of swift currents, and days of lazy haze; and underneath the calm exterior is an underworld of activity and blur of living, both of tumult as well as those timeless memories forever remembered, and it is precisely the paradigm upon which Heraclitus staked his perspective upon with the statement that “No man steps in the same river twice.”  For, indeed, the essence of the universe is one of ever-present change; it is the one constant in a life filled with unpredictable indifference, of inchoate beginnings that never lead to any fruition; of trials encountered without reason or rationale; and the river of life leads us through the mountaintops of emotional pinnacles and down into the depths of a valley so dark that despondency fails to reach the eternal chasm of sadness undefined.

Streams flowing into rivers; unexpected tributaries swallowing up the nameless and uncharted waters; and of snowcaps that melt and flow without fluidity of purpose, so life brings about such challenges, engagements and unexpected face-offs.  What are we to make of this river?  What to do in this life?  Must we always be defined by accomplishments, or can the value of a human being be sufficient by reason of a self-fulfillment of an ego’s search?  Is it truly the person who has amassed the greatest amount of “stuff” who is considered the “winner”, and does the river of life grant any greater significance, relevance or meaning to the quantifiable monetary value than to the man who dies penniless?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates the Federal or Postal worker into preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such questions embracing the river of life can be daunting, obsessively important, and awakening of a spark in the deeper recesses of one’s forgotten past to come to the fore.  Why?  Because medical conditions force a prioritization of values, meaning and relevance in one life; and, indeed, that is the foundational essence of every river of life – of what we believe; that we believe; and for which we believe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s enjoyment

Are we ever taught that?  If the answer is in the negative, then from whence did we learn, attain or otherwise receive the tools to engage in the purity of sensation such that we could embrace it?  Did we become such through osmosis; from imprints; from learned behavior encompassing a lifetime of observations reinforced by wisdom’s refrain upon the blank chalkboard of our consciousness?  How does one “enjoy” life, anymore than learning to ride a bicycle, drive a car or care for a cute puppy (the last in the list, of course, need not be learned, but only be taken in by the natural affinity one has upon seeing the eyes of warmth, intelligence and fierce loyalty displayed, and is an exception and one of life’s conundrums to be accepted without questioning)?

There are many who walk about, who have absolutely no clue as to how one can, should or would have any enjoyment at all; and thus the total immersion in one’s work, or projects begun and always left unfinished – for, to complete them would mean that something ended, and that would force one into a reflection about the meaning, value and relevance of one’s activities, would it not?

One often hears the familiar refrain:  “I don’t know how to enjoy life; to me, unless I am busy with work, chores, updating my Facebook page, texting friends or jogging, I can’t be happy.”  Productivity is the measure of success; time set aside for vacations – despite still doing email, texting, messaging or other forms of “connectivity” as advertised to be the horror of all horrors if loss of it were to ever occur – is a concept that questions the very meaning of life’s enjoyment.  For, if one pauses for a moment to reflect:  Is the treadmill one is on merely for purposes of getting off for a moment, then to get right back on in order to find, again, a time to get off for another period of repose?

If so, how is that any different from Camus’ essay on the absurdity of life’s perspective as seen through the eyes of a French Existentialist, and specifically, of the Myth of Sisyphus and the condemnation by the gods to roll the boulder up the hill, only to watch it tumble down, then to engage in the eternal monotony of pushing it back up, only to observe its descent?

Life’s enjoyment, and the promise for tomorrow, was always meant to be more than that – of a daily sense of joy, a widespread sensation of contentment, and an ease of burden when once we were innocent children playing with but a ready laughter to give.  It is the truth that haunts, and especially the proverbial quip about the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.  With the persistent onslaught of stimuli unable to be resisted, we allow for the daily bombardment to deplete the little energy we have in reserve.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition not only intervenes in the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, but further, depletes, diminishes and – ultimately — destroys even the potentiality to enjoy life and all of its complex presentations, the option to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be considered.

Yes, it is a long and arduous bureaucratic process.  No, going through the process will not enhance, for the short term, life’s enjoyment.  But in the end, necessary changes are called for – nay, compelled by – medical conditions that interrupt life’s enjoyment, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to enhance that potential for the future enjoyment of life’s joys, while perhaps foregoing the short-term stubble of inconvenient interludes of angst-driven necessities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Arrive with bluff, depart with bluster

That has become the motto of universal exceptionalism; it is the bravado of the incompetent, the arrogance of the ignorant and the methodology of the unwary:  besides, it is a funny line plagiarized from a work by Evelyn Waugh (no, that is a male writer, not a female).

It is to come into a circumstance, a job, an assignment or a social conduit acting like one knows what one is doing, messing everything up, then leaving the desecration of incompetence and a heap of human detritus for others to deal with, while all the while turning up one’s nose, shaking the proverbial head in disgust, and departing with an unjustified defense of one’s own incompetence with:  “You guys are hopeless.”

That is the guiding declarative foundation of all self-help books, advice columns and Oprah-wanna-bees in columns of suspicious pearls of so-called wisdom:  “The key is to act like you know what you are doing, with confidence and assertiveness; the rest will follow and everyone will believe in you.”  Or, in other words, believe in yourself despite not knowing anything; act with declarative arrogance; be self-confident (of what, we are never told) and take charge of your life.  Then, if things don’t work out, don’t be too hard on yourself (or, better yet, not at all) and don’t ever allow others to get you down.

Such a foundational folly of methodological madness fits in very well, and is completely commensurate with the cult of youth; for, even if we all know that the younger generation knows not anything but having been coddled throughout their educational years (hint:  a euphemism for indoctrination for heightening self-esteem), the world generally operates on its own in spite of massive and daily incompetence, but that is precisely why there is a need to hire a dozen people for every job:  quantified incompetence somehow makes up for qualitative lack.

Once upon a time, bluster was known, recognized and dispensed with; and bluster was laughed at, mocked and ridiculed.  Now, it is an everyday and common occurrence, because the substantive basis has been ripped out and the soul is now an empty cavern of echoing banter steeped in words of meaninglessness topped by nonsensical linguistic cacophonies of boundless chatter.

Yet, there are times when substance matters, as when a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker experiences a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to threaten one’s ability and capacity to continue in the position one is designated in.  That is the time when neither bluff nor bluster is desired, needed nor welcome.

Honest answers and forthright advice is what needs to be obtained, both from Supervisors, coworkers and Human Resource personnel; in the legal advice rendered and received from one’s Federal Disability Retirement lawyer; and from friends, family and loved ones in pursuing this very difficult bureaucratic process couched within a cauldron of administrative nightmares.

We arrive into this world without a clue; we learn to bluff, even when we don’t want to; and when we depart, it is up to us as to whether there needs be an imprint of bluster, or whether the honesty that still resides in the essence of our soul may still reveal a vestige of the true character we maintained, in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The intransigent excuse

Much of life is spent in retrospectively justifying actions; the remainder of the time, of making excuses where we can, and when we need to (which is often).  The great thing about excuses is that the reserve of them can never be depleted; like the never-exhaustive stars in the universe, we can always discover, make up, or otherwise concoct another.  Thus, to counter that a person has “run out of excuses” is to defy reality; we can always, if the need requires, go back to one that we long ago abandoned, and stick to it.

It is that intransigent excuse that tends to defy – the one that, though unreasonable by most accounts, nevertheless provides a shield of protection for the one who clings to it.  For, the one who tightly embraces an intransigent excuse never, of course, considers it as such; it is, instead, the fault that rests upon the rest of the world in a conspiracy of illogical motives that attempts to change course and offer alternatives as to facts, opinions or best avenues for future courses of action.

As to the one clinging to such excuses, it is never characterized as such.  No, instead it is an explanation in light of reasonable circumstances; a logical conclusion based upon facts as interpreted; and, even if the rest of the universe fails to comprehend the logic of the stated foundation, the intransigent excuse is the last bastion of the proverbial wall that may force us to do, acknowledge and admit to that which we vehemently resist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary concern is to get beyond an intransigent excuse.  While there are very few circumstances in which filing for Federal Disability Retirement is “too late” (other than the obvious one, of course, of complying with the Statue of Limitations of filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key is to file before it becomes an emergency.

As OPM has a large backlog of cases and they are taking longer and longer to review, evaluate and make decisions on a case – leaving aside the problem of even first having them to assign a case to a reviewer/ administrative specialist – there must needs be some forward planning and foresight of future-oriented perspectives, and it is often the intransigent excuse which defies, builds a wall against, and creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles in moving forward.

Life is full of obstacles, and the ones we build ourselves are often the most difficult to overcome.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a big decision to make; thought, preparation and formulation of a plan is often necessary.  Just do not allow for the intransigent excuse to be the wall that prevents the reasonable approach to prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Civil Service Disability Retirement Benefits: Human activity

The dizzying pace of it all defies comprehension.  We are, indeed, busy-bees, always engaged in this project, that protest, intervening in the affairs of others when our own are in such a state of disarray; up at it early in the morning and continuing until exhaustion sets in or wayward dementia in old age where even nursing homes impose human activity every night – bingo, dance, meditation, Tai Chi, family visitation day; not even a break for the aged.

Then, when we see those documentary films in foreign lands, of men taking hours to untangle the fishing net in preparation for the next day’s work; of sitting with family members in gathering for a meal; and of mountainous monasteries where gardening for supplemental food sources is an act of reflective repose, we wonder if the lives we live – so full of human activity supposedly for a purposeful end – is the only, the best, or the pinnacle of options left for us?

Did we ever choose the quantification of human activity we engage in?  Did we, at some point in our lives, sit down and say, Yes, I will accept to do that, agree to embrace this, and refuse all others?  Or, did the incremental, subtle and always insidious wave of requests, obligations and pressure to perform just overtake us, until one day we wake up in the middle of the night and recognize that our time is not our own, the human activity is without purpose or conscious constructiveness, and the projects we think are so dear to us, merely destroy and debilitate the human spirit?  That is the alienation talked about by Camus and the French Existentialists, is it not?

Human activity cannot be so senseless or purposeless; it must be to build, to advance, to secure for the future; and yet, as we lay in the quietude of nightly sweats, it becomes evident that we perform it for means otherwise intended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to alienate one’s sense of mission and purpose from that of the priority that should be recognized – one’s health and the ability to have joy in life – the contradiction and conundrum is in “letting go” of that which has been a part of our lives for so long:  The job, the career path, the sense of “belonging” to a community of people who believe in the mission of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Like barnacles clinging to the underside of a ship’s belly, we grapple and travel through life without quite knowing why, where we are going, or for what purpose we originally attached ourselves.

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 of CSRS Offset, is a way of:  A.  Recognizing the priority of health, B. Beginning the process of detaching ourselves as mere barnacles upon a ship’s underbelly, and C. Reflecting upon the course of one’s future.  Human activity is great and all – but it is the things we choose not to do that often define who we are in the hubbub of this mindless frenzy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire