FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: The gods of modernity

Each era has its false gods — of Greek ones that explained the mysteries underlying the universe; of religions that conquered by the sword; of Philosophers and Kings who ruled with an iron fist; of Freud, Psychoanalysis and other ghosts in the machine; and in modernity, of youth and the cult of the young, and perhaps of the authors of self-help books who have cornered the market on wisdom replaced.

The gods of modernity are different from those of a generation ago; the “I” and the “me” that pervades on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; of the perfect “me” who takes selfies at every opportunity to reinforce and remind of the hollowness of the gods we make of ourselves; and in the end, the loneliness that one is left with when the screen is shut down and one is left with the reality of facing one’s self in the loneliness of a perception that cannot be faced in the mirror of one’s own reflection.

And of the other gods of reality: Perfection in perception.  But what happens if perception must encounter reality?  That is often the problem with a medical condition — for, medical conditions remind us of the ugliness of the world around: of mortality, vulnerability, and the loss of societal empathy for all things imperfect.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows one to be “perfect” in the workplace, and where the essential elements of one’s job can no longer be met, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that the focus of one’s life can be redirected in order to regain one’s health.

The gods of modernity — of a career, of never-ending competence and productivity in one’s Federal or Postal job — must be replaced with a revaluation of what is truly important in life: Health, sanity, and some semblance of caring.  And while securing a FERS Disability Retirement annuity may not be the answer to all of life’s ills, it will at least secure a future in order to focus upon getting better, and perhaps reorienting one’s focus upon a future that may be different and better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The difficult good-bye

It is always difficult to say good-bye.  Whether of a long duration, or with a quick ending to an already fast-deteriorating relationship, the good-bye that brings sorrow, tears and a sense of unease is the one that once was never thought of.

Separating from loved ones; the end of a stay that may have begun with trepidation, hesitation or even loathing, but which turned out to be an embracing of past memories forgotten, revitalizing conversations and enlivening moments of collective reflections; or even of a chance encounter with someone, or with the lengthy last moments with a bedridden relative who wants the warmth of human contact nearby before departing into the netherworld through gates of wandering souls.

Whatever the circumstances, the good-byes we fear, the ones we think will be a relief, and even those that turned out to end merely with a half-hearted wave of the hand — it is the difficult good-bye that echoes within the hollow of one’s mind, squeezing between schedules full and memories touching upon a conscience that will not abide.

Careers have good-byes, as well, and not just between people; for it is the career that defines so much of who we are.  It is never just the “what do you do for a living” part of it, but the title that comes with it, the identity that is attached to it, the camaraderie that accompanies it and the past memories that haunt one; these are the cementing tributaries that form one’s personhood.

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 difficult good-bye is the one that separates the Federal or Postal employee from the Federal Agency or the Postal Facility — not necessarily because of the circumstances compelled by the medical conditions themselves (although that is admittedly difficult enough), but often because the job itself was and has been an integral part of one’s life, livelihood and identity, and because any change in one’s routine is hard enough.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is essentially saying good-bye to a good chunk of one’s daily routine of life and living — of spending about 50% or more of one’s life (including preparing for the day, commuting, doing work-related emails and similar activities, etc.) — and thus will be, even under the best of circumstances, a difficult separation and departing.

But always remember that the difficult good-bye is the one that retains an abiding meaningfulness within the souls of worthwhile characters, which then forms the seeds of hope for a future yet untold, as opposed to the half-hearted wave of the hand that dismisses so casually that we remember not even which hand with which we waved good-bye.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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