Medical Annuity after a Disability in the Federal Workplace: Formulaic writings

It is both of predictability and boredom that we seek when enjoying such genres of form and content – of the “formula” in a who-dunit, or a love story that brings together two unlikely individuals in their awkwardness and geekiness, but somehow overcomes the considerable odds and obstacles placed in their way (and we don’t ask, in a 2-hours snippet, how can so much happen to two people when not even a smidgeon of such events were faced in our entire lifetimes?) and ending with an orchestral crescendo that brings tears that raises handkerchiefs throughout the audience, which we all quickly stuff into our back pockets with embarrassing quickness when the lights are turned on.

But that formulas could be applied to real life, and not just in presentations that appear slick, without error and marketed with such efficiency that we think it is just that the “other person” is naturally good at it, and we are not.  But that’s the point, isn’t it?  Formulaic writings, formulaic plays, formulaic movies, formulaic – lives?

Perhaps it exists in the fictional world of fairytales and corporate pathways where certain individuals – whether because of the family name, the tradition of old wealth, or those “connections” that the inner circle depends upon for their very survival – are groomed towards reaching the top in some predetermined formulaic manner.  But for the rest of us, our lives are more likened to the undisciplined ocean where storms come at unexpected and unpredictable moments; strong surges and wind currents destroy that which we have so carefully built; and our ship’s rudder suddenly fails to guide or lead us towards our intended destinations.

There is no formula.  We are left without a map, less a compass, and more and more without the guidance of our parents or grandparents because, they, too, have become as clueless as the rest of society.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that a medical condition has interrupted their career goals, hope for the future and dreams of security – preparing 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, may become a necessity.

Then, when one researches and looks at SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, one realizes that the questions posed are the same posed to everyone who files – and so the information requested is based upon some “formulaic” approach from the agency’s side of things; but what about the individual Federal or Postal employee’s side of it?  Is there, also, a “formulaic” approach to winning a Federal Disability Retirement case?

Like everything else in life, it always seems as if the slick advantage that the large bureaucracy possesses is overwhelmingly in favor of going against the Federal or Postal employee.  However, there is, indeed, a “formulaic” response – and that is the “laws” that govern Federal Disability Retirement.

Life in general may not always have a winning formulaic approach, but in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is best to at least garner the formulaic support of the laws that protect and preserve.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The fading sheen of respect

It happens over time; and, perhaps, in marriages where discovery of once-cute characteristics become irritants, when tics of unique personalities transform into obstacles, and the surface beauty of looks gradually morph into the reality of superficiality of egocentric psychosis.  But, then, a career is like a marriage, but lacking the intimacy of misguided warmth.

Disdain – does it develop instantaneously?  Does the remark of condescension and arrogance, cutting into the soul by drips and drabs, meter the suspicion that something is amiss, that someone has been whispering untold gossips of tidbits and tadpoles still swimming but lacking the croak of the frog disguised, and never to be kissed or metamorphosed into a princess of fantasy and fairytales?

When and how does loss of respect occur?  Is it in incremental clutches of shifting sand dunes, like the mirage which appears and when we reach it with thirst and desire, disappearing without but a trace of salivating want?  The scornful expression of familiarity; is there anymore a depth of intimacy the closer we become with one another, or does the essence of human depravity prevent such soul mates to bond?

Have we become cynical, to the extent that we no longer recognize the essence of human goodness, and instead – as the Darwinian paradigm of pure materialism has pervaded every crevice of our thoughts and beliefs – we have all accepted the maxim that life is but an insignificant blip on a linear scale of colossal vacuity, where the speck of life is but a mere comma in the breath of the vast universe, and how man is not just below the angels, but nothing more than mere fodder for predators to devour?

Does relevance, significance, and purpose of living – that composite and aggregation of teleological meaning – no longer apply in a world where essence is defined by material possessions and the quantitative quality of crassness of existence?

It is often asserted that respect is earned, not by mere ascription or claim to status, but by merit of behavior and ascension to knowledge; but in this day of modernity when all opinions are of equivalent moral value, and those with megaphones can drown out the quietude of truth and logical validity, the sheen of respect for all has been diminished by the mere devaluation of the essence of human worth.

A sheen upon an object is cared for and vigorously attended to; the fading of it means that the owner or caretaker has allowed it to slowly, incrementally and progressively deteriorate; and these things always lose their brilliance over time.  Not in a day, a month, or even over the course of a year, but by subtle carelessness of constant neglect.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has impacted upon the ability and capacity to shine forth like those days of yore when energy was unmitigated, future hope was always a reminder, and where the brilliance of each hour was still to come, the fading sheen of respect shown both by the agency one works for and the coworkers’ company one cherishes, may be on the downturn.

If so, that Federal or Postal employee may want to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, if only because such loss of respect is reflective not merely upon the personhood of you, but upon the essence of human degradation.

In many ways, “moving on” to the next chapter of life beyond being a Federal or Postal employee is a step towards maintaining and guarding the residue still remaining of that respect which once was, but now fades in the sheen of devalued and obscured images of a person who once was, still is, but is seen as merely an object of derision, and not that worthy employee who forms the essence of a past now forgotten.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The heckler

We see them from afar, as lone voices suddenly erupting with disruptive force, often barely audible, sometimes unintelligible, but rarely unnoticed.  In some corners of the world, their acts can become dangerous; inciting violence, being put upon by the surrounding crowd; their license to interrupt has been somewhat muted by the responsive threat of retaliation, voiced in more recent days.  Most of us sit back and wonder who “those” people are — such fury and passion to deliberately interject without invitation or welcome, and with the full knowledge that the subsequent events will lead to being either escorted out in less than gentle ways, or set upon in more violent fashion.

Are there causes which still exist, worth fighting for, anymore?  Is it just boiled-over frustration against a political firestorm of ineptitude and economic vicissitudes which leaves the ordinary person powerless and voiceless?  Or, is that interruptor a paid badger from another camp, merely acting as an apparently passionate interlocutor, but nothing more in reality than an employed spoiler to reveal the disarray of discontent allegedly felt by the greater populace?

It is a tradition of American politics, certainly, to have the presence of at least one heckler rise from the quietude of the sheep’s fold; and like the wolf covered by the lamb’s clothing, with barely an eye peeping through to gauge the exact timing for the sudden uproar, the impertinence of a question posed, a harassing shout and a barrage of epithets and garbled sentences drowned out by a sea of groans from around; does it all really matter?

There have always been hecklers of time and badgers of dishonor; and like the crowd which follows blindly in sequence of movements, such temporary interruption of a planned event is but merely a nuisance of life tolerated.  How we treat the heckler is but a reflection of life itself. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a similar interruption of “the event” of life, such as a medical condition which cuts short the Federal or Postal career, and where a responsive interlude must follow — filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the only choice left, and the best alternative to pursue.

Suddenly, it becomes the “quiet one” who must turn and heckle; for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often that part of the crowd which never made waves and rarely complained, but merely went about his or her business and accomplished quietly the “mission” of the agency or the daily repetition of work at the Postal Service.  Then, suddenly, the Federal or Postal worker was “singled out” as the “troublemaker” — all because of a medical condition which the Federal or Postal worker never asked for, never wanted, and rarely complained about.  But like the heckler who knows of the oncoming consequences, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is surely a cause worth fighting for — despite the rude exit which is certain to follow.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Evaluative Adaptability

Life is often like a boat without oars, let alone a motor which functions; and as the waves rock the water transport, one maintains balance, sanity and survival by attempting to prepare for the whitecaps and hoping for a further delay of a storm, and never a tsunami.  But those changes inevitably come, and attack in onslaughts of exponential fury.  One attempts to adapt, to remain like the chameleon who must survive by an unwanted metamorphosis, in order to maintain the delicate balance of nature as described by the brutality of Darwin’s world.

Man presumably has the advantage of possessing the dual modalities of penultimate capacity for survival:  the cognitive and the physical.  Of the latter, the human animal is neither a lion nor a cheetah; and of the former, self-doubt, confusion and intellectual arrogance often muddles the clarity of purpose shown by other carnivores.  But it is the combination of both — of the evaluative adaptability acquired through intake and filtering of information, analysis of factual and predictable processing, and shifting positions based upon real-time data reflected upon through a compendium of intellectual acuity honed and perfected by experience.

That is precisely why bureaucracies are often potholes of frustration; as systematized repetition dulls the soul, so the imposition of irrational decisions heightens the angst of man’s inner being.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that a medical condition may cut short one’s career with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it is with that duality of advantageous survival mode that one must approach both the Federal agency (and the U.S. Postal Service), as well as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Certainly, physical endurance is limited often by the medical condition and the deterioration of stamina and energy; but the evaluative adaptability and the capacity to change course should never be underestimated.

Medical conditions need not deter the direction of the boat; most medical conditions are mere whitecaps which rock like irritants on a summer evening where gnats and mosquitoes ravage the unprotected surface; but unlike hurricanes and tsunamis which overwhelm and destroy, the fact that one’s steering mechanism or the ability to propel oneself forward may be damaged, should never extinguish the Federal or Postal employee from recognizing that one’s evaluative adaptability is the key towards moving positively into the future and affirmatively taking steps to secure a brighter tomorrow, by beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire