FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The world of faded photos

There is an anomaly contained in the attempt to “save” faded photos; it is an oxymoron of sorts, where modernity erases the backwardness of yesterday, and yet, at the same time, wants to preserve it.

We have all heard about companies that exist which “preserve” outdated family movies, photographs and taped recordings of distant times; it is all placed, preserved, edited and presented in a convenient “thumb drive” or in some “cloud” in the ethereal universe of a web-based phenomena.  That faded photograph, beautiful in its brown crispiness of an elderly man or woman who looks serious, because in those days having one’s image preserved for posterity was a serious undertaking — in contrast to today’s selfies immediately downloaded and uploaded into a social medium that is quickly disseminated to countries worldwide in an instant, displaying a foolishness that would shock a generation or two of those removed from such technological “advancements”.

The world of faded photos is an universe of past histories now forgotten, frozen in time by a captured expression depicting a time before, now replaced by a time after, and forever remaining in the memories of those who have survived but now sit quietly in nursing homes of corners relegated to mere existence in darkening folds of dementia and antiseptic coils of plastic tubing extending lives beyond what the photographs themselves intended to display.

The world of faded photos defy the modern attempt to preserve that which was meant to last for a generation only, just as men and women try in futility to ignore mortality by cosmetic corrections that makes for appearances which procrastinate the inevitability of time’s ravages.

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, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the world of faded photos is the one that you remember “before” the onset of the medical condition, and instead of attempting to “preserve” the photograph, it is best to recognize that the image you see in the mirror today is the one worth protecting, and not the faded daguerreotype of yesterday, and the best way to do that is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement so that you can secure some semblance of your future, and not be frozen in the timelessness of the world of faded photos.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Tempering euphoria

Life presents a wide spectrum; it is the limitation of one’s mind that restricts the expanse of that endless stream flowing on either side.  Euphoria rises to the pinnacle of that swinging pendulum; the high that reaches, follows upon a subsequence reversal of the tidal wave, and comes crashing down in fits and tumults of dismaying turbulence.  Does it necessarily need to be contained?

In modernity, and in society generally, there is a level and pitch of discomfort when intense feelings and exuberant outbursts of excitement surpass a certain arc of acceptability; there is no rule or law governing the demarcation where acceptance, discomfort and outright rejection are dissected, but it is there nonetheless.  It is like the line between light and darkness created by a campfire in the twilight on a beach that reaches forever beyond the darkness of the sea; yes, somewhere the glow of the fire ends and complete darkness begins, but we can never perceive with clarity where that boundary lies.

Some neuroscientists ascribe to the view that the extreme of euphoria occurs when there is a simultaneous, concurrent activation of all hedonic trigger-points with the brain’s rewarding system of stimulus-responses, but surely many have experienced such a state without the coalescence of such a perfect storm?  As the antonym of dysphoria, it is perhaps another hidden vestige of our evolutionary past, where intensity of emotional response was necessary for survival in a state of nature.

In civilized society, however, tempering euphoria – except in limited circumstances of heightened stimulation within the privacy of one’s home and restricted to context-appropriate circumstances – is what is expected, presumed and demanded.  There is always somewhat of an experiential oxymoron when a person manifests an unfettered state of euphoria; somehow, we all suspect that behind the uncontrolled exuberance will follow a “down” state which closely aligns itself with depression and despondency.

Is there really anything wrong with unrestrained expressions of pleasure and happiness?  Or, are we just being old fogeys and fuddy-duddies when we raise an eyebrow to such unsolicited declarations?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have filed a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of tempering euphoria is applicable within the context of having contact with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Waiting for months upon tiring months for OPM to respond can be exhausting.  Then, when a decision is made, one can become overwhelmed by the sheer revelation of information, whether euphoric or dysphoric.

Why tempering euphoria is important, is because filing for Federal Disability Retirement through OPM is a process, and must be seen as such.  There are many potential “stages” to the administrative process, and the bureaucracy as a whole does not lend itself well to emotional states of responsive exuberance.

In the end, it is not only civilized society that sees the benefit in tempering euphoria through normative means of behavioral reactions, but for the very sake of keeping expectations and emotions in check, tempering euphoria is a necessary mandate when dealing with the juggernaut of OPM’s indifference in the multiple stages of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Under the clump of olive trees

There are certain phrases that turn one’s attention, and daydreams of exotic lands and foreign places become projected onto one’s imagination, like camels, Arabian nights and sand dunes in faraway corners.  But, then, reality imposes itself; such places probably exist a few miles hence; those distant lands are now war-torn and deemed by the State Department to be forbidden avenues for sightseers and tourists in cut-off shorts and Hawaiian Shirts (did you know that the latter are apparently “back in style” – as if they ever were?), with warnings and cautionary predictions where officialdom has already evacuated the premises.

The soft snore from a picturesque scene:  the shepherd with a crooked walking stick, the flock grazing in the near distance; a straw hat edged slightly over the forehead, an arm lazily twisted behind as a pillow against the rocky surface; under the cluster of the olive trees, where a partial shadow allows for the coolness in the heat of midday slumber.  Or, what of a child’s delight in fairytales and picture-books, of Arabian nights with camels chewing silently while tents alight with shadows from within reveal the soft mutterings of foreign tongues, yearning for the delectable offerings sizzling atop the burning fires glowing in the star-filled twilight of the vast ocean of sand dunes and shadows.

Of course, those days of yonder years are now gone forever.  There are no scenes of picturesque quietude; in modernity, every corner of the earth has already been visited; the Himalayan monk sits with earphones and scans the images of Facebook and the world he abandoned for prayer, meditation and enlightenment; and that herd of camels has now been replaced by hooded terrorists lurking to kidnap and maim.  Yet, we all retain and preserve those images of quietude and peaceful reserve; in an insane world, a virtual universe of sanity is necessary, even if non-existence must be acknowledged and admitted to.

For each of us, perhaps it constitutes a minor variation:  becoming lost in a sports league; watching movies in regularity of escaping; a hobby in the cavern of one’s garage; physical labor or forlorn love with strangers; this is a society which requires distraction.  Or, as Heidegger puts it, varying projects in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with Nothingness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition creates a working hell at work, what comprises the image of resting under a clump of olive trees?  Certainly, not the daily grind and antagonism experienced by supervisors, managers and coworkers who disallow any meaningful contribution because of the limitations imposed by the medical condition itself; and, certainly not the enduring of pain and anguish implemented by the constant fight against the illness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pathway, for many Federal and Postal employees, to a state where one can attend to, and focus upon, caring for one’s self.  OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the employment package for all Federal and Postal employees, and utilization of it requires a proper formulating, preparation and filing through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to prove one’s entitlement to it.  It is a “means” to an “end”; and the means provide for a pathway outside of the daily pain and suffering which defines one’s life; the “end” is that virtual image we all strive for – to lay one’s head upon a comforting pasture under the clump of olive trees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law: How Does One Know the Age?

It cannot be by counting wrinkles, or the number of gray hairs; for, some people never develop them, and in any event, new methodologies of plastic surgery, hair dyes and other cosmetic creativities can easily override such superficial eruptions of telltale signs.  Photographs can no longer be evidence of aging, for airbrushing and digital modifications can dispense with such irritating characteristics.

But when there is a personal encounter, how can one judge, and fairly and accurately assess?  Is it the eyes?  That “window to one’s soul” — does it reveal a depth of depravity over time, such that the hollowness revealed in innocence at an early age is replaced by a coldness and cynicism of reflective hurts?  And of the greater age — of this epoch, the generation and historicity of time; how does one know it, too?  Older generations tend to cling to the past, and it is through that prism of past time that the present is viewed, the future foreseen; but does such a perspective differ from those who are young and never experienced the discomfort of lack? And medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to continue a career — how does one know?  The subtlety of warnings can be non-decipherable when asked to describe in words.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, it is fairly early on that one has a sense of where one’s career will be going.  Doctors can talk about surgical intervention and medical regimens and their supposed efficacy in treating a condition; but in the end, the Federal or Postal employee who experiences the medical condition itself, knows in one’s proverbial “heart of hearts” whether the Federal or Postal employee will be able to continue in one’s career.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a process which is daunting, and thereby delay of diligence is often a factor which is merely engaged despite having known for some time.  It is like guessing the age — whether of another person, or of the historicity of being a stranger in a strange land — it is the subtlety of telltale signs which reveals the future course of an already-determined process of inevitability.  And like aging itself, the fight we pretend to engage is merely an act of futility, and we know it; we just don’t want to look in the mirror and face it, lest those lines of time show us who we are, what we did, and where we are going.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Fly a Kite

It is the epitome of a pleasurable moment, of engaging a mindless activity which spurs thought; and so to fly a kite is to soar with winds beyond our reach.  Does a life lived vicariously live life lifelessly?  As the flapping breeze at heights unreachable carries it airborne with but a thread to preclude its sudden spiraling away and into an abyss of telephone wires, treetops and treacherous heights of threatening snags, it is that hand which holds steady the coil of connection which controls length, movement, and steadiness of stability.

How tenuous is the reed of life?  When once youth masked the viscosity of existence, where mortality seemed but a yarn of empty rocking chairs and tall tells in the shadows of the flickering embers of a warm fireplace; and how the tenacity we maintained with vigor and vitality concealed those fears we harbored as we set about to conquer the challenges of an uncertain world; but when the fanfare subsided, and the promises of unspoken ceremonies fell silent before the finish line, the realization that life is but a short span of eternity where worth and value can be embraced only by measuring the momentary warmth of a hug or holding a gaze with a loved one for a millisecond beyond the practical, then does one finally achieve a balance of peace in a universe of turmoil.

The holidays tend to bring such realizations to the fore; so do medical conditions and their impact upon body, mind and soul.  If by “soul” we attribute, just for a moment, not that controversial component of man where existence beyond the ephemeral world of matter must by belief encompass eternity, but instead, the aggregate of man’s complexities:  of mind, physical body, consciousness, the heart and vegetative divisions, etc. — then it is indeed the totality of man who is impacted by a medical condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the tenuous reed of life becomes exponentially magnified because of the stoppage of career, intervention of life’s goals, and interruption of all of the “things” that need to be done.  An interrupted life is like the proverbial ship without sails; the moorings have been damaged, and one senses a drifting without control.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pragmatic step for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who cannot perform each of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  When a medical condition impacts a Federal or Postal employee, it is the pragmatic steps — the ones which can actually realize a practical outcome — which counts for something.

If you are a Federal or Postal employee under FERS, and you have at least 18 months of Federal Service, then you have already met the minimum eligibility requirement to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If you are a dinosaur under CSRS or CSRS Offset, then you have likely already met that requirement, anyway.  All that is necessary is to put together a case of proving that one’s medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, by a preponderance of the evidence.

For, in the end, it is that thin thread which guides the pleasure of flying a kite which stands between chaos and connectivity; letting go should not be the only option; it may just be a little tug which is all that one needs, in order to steady the flight of life and retain that childhood sense of invincibility.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire