Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Counting the days

Do we count the days when vacations lapse within the final hours and minutes, when in the beginning sunsets were timeless moments of restful hours yet to come?  What anticipation of worry-less days, and of looking forward to sleeping in, letting one’s guard down and the muscles relaxing from the tensions of anxiety-filled build-ups: No emails (at least for a few days, maybe…until the thought begins to intrude, then grow, then overwhelm, of the accumulation of those hundreds sitting there waiting…waiting…), no phone calls, no need for the greatest necessity in modernity — the ability and capacity to multitask.

The days began with lazy hours and hazy minds; of the sleepiness still caught between eyelids barely opened, and thoughts of the rat-race still barely behind.  It takes days just to unwind, and just when you begin to relax, it dawns on you that you are already counting the days when summer is over, the kids are back to school, and even the commercials on television are already pushing to get those supplies that are blaring with fanfare of sales and super-sales.

Do lions in the wild count the days?  Do the salmon as they fight to go upstream relinquish the solitude of mindless numbers?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition forces one to count not just the days when vacation is at hand, but every hour, every day, every week because survival to the end of the week is the mode of existence, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, counting the days is nothing but a clear indication that the numbered days are shrinking exponentially, and lost with the sequence of each count is the unalterable truth that days counted are days lost, especially when one’s health is at stake.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Monday’s Startle

There is not much that needs to be said about Mondays.  The standard response to, “So, how is your day going?” is quickly understood with the response of, “It’s Monday”.  What is it about the first work-day of the week that brings about the startle of life?  Is that why the traditional week’s cycle begins from Sunday-to-Saturday, because we want to avoid the memory of a week beginning so disastrously?

Do we dread work so much that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the expectation of the day following the day off becomes so anticipated with angst and considerations of impending disasters, that what we come to expect we impose our will upon the universe such that reality follows our fears and imagination?  Or, is it that there is an across-the-board truce that comes about without a word of acknowledgment — shortly after the close of business on Friday afternoon — when everyone heaves a sigh of relief, goes into the weekend, and everyone follows the protocol of no longer bothering one another?

How did we come to that unspoken rule — you know, the one where emails suddenly become reduced in volume (except by those with OCD who increase the length and number because of the unresponsiveness of the previously-sent dozen or so), phone calls are put on hold and the furious activity of keyboard punching and looking about anxiously at the clock-that-never-moves — where suddenly a peaceful calm descends like a spirit from on high above the clouds, the white flag of a temporary truce is reached without anyone saying a word, week after week, month after month, year in and year out?

It is reported that such unspoken occurrences were common during every war — our own Civil War, the two World Wars (but not in the more recent ones in Southeast Asia and the Middle East), where ceasefires were embraced around Holy Holidays and some Sundays without any need for negotiated settlements, but with merely a wave and a smile.

Then, Monday’s startle comes with a roar.  Whether because it remains such a contrast against the quietude of the day before, or merely the release of pent-up energy allowed to aggregate over the 2 days of respite and restoration, one may never quite comprehend.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition which necessitates preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, Monday’s startle is often a chronic condition because of the inability to escape from the anxiety of the medical condition itself over the weekend, Holidays or summer months.

Monday’s startle can be survived, for the most part, precisely because of Saturday’s respite and Sunday’s quietude; but when every day of the week and weekend results in the same angst as Monday’s startle, it is likely time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to focus upon one’s health, lest Monday’s startle turns into an endless stream of red flags replacing the white ones of truce where such flags are warning signs of an impending condition that only gets worse.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in 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 or CSRS Offset, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Dreams quashed

It has a ring of finality to it, a tone of termination, a quake of unequivocal endings; to extinguish, to suppress or to stamp out; it is often used as an example of some authoritative juggernaut putting down and out a rebellion by some wayward bandits; and so when it is conjoined and combined with another word – one that denotes hope for the future, a flicker of light for something positive – that has a positive connotation, it becomes an oxymoron of sorts, or a compound concept that cancels out one another.

The first word allows for a future hope and anticipation of things yet to come; the second, a denial of the first, a negation of that which one lives for.  Dreams quashed is an admission of defeat where once victory was in hand; a resignation to the reality where warmth of hope yet remained; and a bowing to a reality where the subjective universe perhaps allowed for thoughts beyond that which the objective world would dictate.

The compound concept of dreams quashed, when applied to a young soul just starting out in life, is perhaps a tragedy; as one gets older and reaches towards the dusk of life, or of the old man in a rocking chair rocking the finals days of breath away into the sunset, perhaps less so.  Yet, for everyone, whether young, old or in-between, dreams constitute the fiber of life’s worth, the filament that connects between despair and a will to move forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent, impede and block the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the recognition that a career may be coming to an end, and anticipation of that “dream job” one finally obtained after college, and the realization that the camaraderie of working on a team, of having a unified purpose and a singular mission that always moved towards the future, to fulfill mini-dreams and projects that leaped into the beyond such that tomorrow was worth living and the next day was an anticipated victory of some proportions, perhaps microscopically relative to the greater universe, but nonetheless a platform that reflected upon one’s self-worth; these constitute those very “dreams” that appear to be in danger of being “quashed”.

Sometimes, however, the dreams of yesteryear need to be adjusted, such that it is not truly a quashing, but merely a modification.

Federal Disability Retirement is a recognition not of a dream quashed, but of a priority realized – that health is not always a given in life, and that which we took for granted was never to be freely accepted, but a gift received by a token of one’s sense of mortality.  Dreams quashed are merely hopes deceived, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to merely delay the inevitability of another dream revived but perhaps left forgotten in the rush to make a living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Then, forgotten

To die is forgivable; to be forgotten, not so much.  Perhaps that is why the 15-minute rule of one’s fame is so important to most people; that, to be “appreciated” in a life-long struggle just to remain relevant makes fools of us all, and the basis upon which con-men and scams continue to effectively play their course.

It is, of course, the “then” that matters – that prelude to the state of being forgotten, that defines what a person’s life was, remains, and will continue to be in the future amongst and amidst the remainder of a family, friends and acquaintances left behind.  For, the long and wide expanse before the “then” constitutes a life lived, the experiences encountered and the salacious intertwinements amassed; in short, it is what a person is remembered by which the definition of a life well lived and the cumulative amalgamation of challenges met.  Then, after all is said and done, the person is forgotten.  Oh, for a time, not entirely, perhaps.

In the painful memories left behind with family; of a legacy foretold and secured; but then, even those relatives, friends and loved ones slowly fade away into the eternal trash bin of history’s unnamed tombs, and then, forgotten.

Why else do people wave and try to get noticed when television cameras are rolling?  Or try and get that footnote published in the Guinness Book of Records?  Is the innate fear of becoming forgotten so powerful as to make fools of old men and not merely excusable because of youth yet unfettered?  Is it so important to be secured in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, in some footnote or esoteric reference that history will record, will annotate an accomplishment, an event or some memorable deed that we did; and, even if that were to happen, would not the same result occur – then, forgotten?

History is full of forgotten men and women – even those who have been recorded in the annals of relevant history.  How many battles and wars where young men just beginning the journey upon a life filled with potentiality and the first kiss of love, cuts short a future yet unlived, and instead becomes buried in the timeless echoes of a graveyard unrecognized?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who fear the dictum of “Then, forgotten”, either with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal facility, or just among the colleagues once worked with, the plain fact is that too much focus upon the “forgotten” part of the equation undermines the precursor prior to the “then” part.  There is always life after a career, and greater experiences beyond the work one has done.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, should not be based upon any fear or unwillingness to “let go”; instead, it should be based upon a recognition that health and getting better is, and should always be, a priority that overrides the fear of one’s own fragile mortality.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The numerical veil

Statistical constructs indicate group shifts and movements; numbers, based upon controlled samplings, provide the substantive fodder for analysis of trends and patterns of population deviancies.  There is, however, the question of the incommensurate nature between mathematical paradigms and linguistic application; stated more simply, Do numbers hide more than reveal, and can anything be extrapolated from them and interpreted in terms we can understand and comprehend?

To a winner of the lottery, the numerical phantasm “one in a billion” remains meaningless; and to the dismissive statistical irrelevancy stated in language more readily comprehended, that there is a greater chance of dying in an automobile accident than from a shark attack, becomes inconsequential and of little comfort if you are laying in a hospital bed with a good part of your flesh missing from such a traumatic event.  That’s the problem with numbers, of course, and the use, misuse and abuse of statistical analysis; in the end, it depends upon how it is used, the methodology of discourse, and the manner of application.

To be hit by lightening may well be more uncommon than death by drowning, but if your job is to be a caddy for an eccentric billionaire who enjoys golfing on days of severe weather patterns, the generalizations ascribed by comparative mathematical analysis may be somewhat skewed.  And, of course, for romance of young couples who scoff at divorce rates and patterns affirmed by celebrity lives and the cultural meltdown pervasive throughout, the lack of life experiences, the want of provocation through trials and turmoils yet to be encountered and not yet encumbering, allows for hope, charity and a sense of optimism despite the universe which surrounds of cynical diatribes.

We take comfort in the veil of numbers, precisely because we can manipulate them in the ways we want.  Facing a bleak outlook, we can justify resistance with a dismissive wave of the hand (or that invisible wand of magic and sorcery) and declare, “Well, the chances are…”  Numbers never tell of the human emotions and toil of reality; they remain as cold mathematical calculations, jiggered and manipulated by the picture of emotionless bureaucrats who wear spectacles to magnify the inconsequential harm imparted upon the lives left behind.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  Such individuals, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, become part and parcel of the statistical conundrum who once had names, faces and identities, but somehow became relegated into the numerical aggregate of “those” people who departed by filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, all because they could no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of the positional duties assigned.

Does such fear of becoming a mere irrelevancy of statistical obscurity make the Federal or Postal employee pause, despite the chronic pain or the psychiatric despondency which tells of the urgency to file for the benefit?  Probably.  Yet, beyond the numerical veil which hides, each Federal or Postal employee who departed and left behind such a statistical imprint, go on to live productive lives thereafter, with ongoing emotional ups and downs, as real people, living authentic lives untold by the hidden abyss echoing from the chambers of silent digits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Elevation of the Federal Consumer Product Compliance Directorate (FCPCD) to a Cabinet-level status

It first came to light in August, 1974, just prior to Nixon’s resignation from Office.  A young reporter by the name of Dan Druthers asked the President:  “Have you considered the exponential factor of time wasted in consumer affairs concerning crushed toilet paper rolls during transport and delivery?  What has your Administration done about it?  The American People demand an answer!”  The White House Press Corps was aghast.  No other journalist had had the temerity to heretofore question the Presidency with such forcefulness.  The President, of course, was stumped, and shot back, “Mr. Druthers, what do you think you are running for?”  To which Mr. Druthers shot equally back, “Well, I’m not sure.  What are you running from, Mr. President?”

The rest is history, as they say.  From there, that journalist of slight anonymity and notoriety went on to become the anchor of Prime Time T.V.; the President resigned (what many people fail to understand is that Watergate had little to do with moral turpitude, and much to do with messy toiletry); the 18-minute gap in the secret White House Tapes, people suspected, had to do with deleted expletives concerning Toiletgate; and as for the greater issue of crushed toilet paper rolls — well, it took a few more years hence before the political fallout would take its toll.

First, there were whispers of grumblings, of esoteric nuances which could only be fully understood in Senate closed door hearings where titular heads of states whispered in royal functions.  How many people spend time in straightening out a roll of toilet paper, such that it rolls smoothly on a roller?  If, as a conservative estimate, 30 seconds are spent for each crushed roll of toilet paper, multiplied by the total number of people inhabiting the United States, how much of an economic impact would that have on an annual basis?  How much time would be saved if such crushing of toiletries could be prevented, reverberated a thousandfold — nay, ten thousand fold — by mere and simple preventative measures?

The question itself failed to take hold upon the American imagination, until some years later, at a Town Hall Meeting, a woman asked a Congressional Candidate a similar query, in a rather accusatory tone of voice:  “Do you not care at all?”  That got the goat of the candidate, as they say in proverbial parlance.  There were subsequent cries for immediate passage of legislation.  Republicans wanted a budgetary offset for any monies expended for the creation of a new agency, the Federal Consumer Product Compliance Directorate (FCPCD). Some questioned the need for the new agency, and whether it couldn’t just be handled by the EPA; but such queries were quickly quelled when the Senate Majority Leader declared:  “The issue itself is too important to ignore.”

In the end, the FCPCD was created by Executive Order.  Some years later, because of the very importance attached to such preventative measures — “experts” referred to the greater impact upon global warming, and some at the NSC declared that it was a matter of “national security” — the FCPCD was elevated to a Cabinet Level Department post haste, in order to ensure that the President was daily informed as to the importance of the issue and so the American People would not be ignored. The staff at the FCPCD grew from 2 in 1984 (comprised of the Executive Director and the secretary), to over 5,000 today and currently growing (you know, inspectors, analysts, policy experts, etc.).

Meanwhile, those Federal and Postal workers who had filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, continue to wait for their Federal Disability Retirement applications to be decided upon.  The fact that OPM is understaffed and overworked has not been brought to light, yet.  Of course, OPM does not have the ear of the President, and the issue was never queried by the likes of a crack reporter back in the days when reporting was actually occurring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire