Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The negative of a photograph

In this digital age, the disappearance of the negative in photography is quite appropriate; for, this is an age that has attempted to expunge everything negative, both in form and in substance.  That thin strip of plastic film that was always retained, and carefully coupled with the “positive” prints, was preserved with the idea that the more valued sets of prints may become lost, distributed or otherwise disseminated, and in that event, so long as the negative of the original was retained, more could be printed out.

Just before the digital age, there were “do-it-yourself” machines – monstrosities that received the film, processed them and spit out two-prints each; or is that just the faulty memory of this writer? The double-prints were meant to allow for giving of one and keeping the other, just in case grandma or grandpa wanted one of those cute pictures where everyone simultaneous said the universal word: “Cheese!”

Yet, the concept of the negative still retains some fascination, despite its obsolescence in the modernity of the digital age; for, it is the reverse order of reality, where the lightness of images retains the darkness of reflection, and vice versa, because of the chemical sensitivity in processing the film.

And who among us recalls the ghoulish search when we actually did want to get another print made – of searching through various negatives, seeing the hollow images of figures staring back, trying to discern whether multiple negatives that appeared similar but not quite the same could be the one, by matching the angle of the face, the tilt of the head, or some mysterious figure in the background not shown in the original?

Have we all had that experience – where there is something that appears in the negative but not in the print, and attribute it to the ghostly mysteries that somehow and by mistake captured the supernatural world otherwise banished from this day and age?

The romantic world of the unknown has now vanished, along with the negative of a photograph; now, we are left with the virtual reality of a mundane universe, with nothing left for our imaginations.  For, the negative of a photograph is the mystery itself that always spurred us onward and upward, trying always to achieve the next level of accomplishment.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the concept of the negative of a photograph should be quite familiar; for, once upon a time, that image beheld on that strip of plastic was the “real” you, preserved and retained for posterity as the valuable essence of a being otherwise forgotten.

Federal agencies and Postal facilities only care about the print that stays forever in the same pose and manner, unchangeable and forever identical.  The mere fact that a medical condition has “changed” a Federal or Postal employee is somehow rejected by the Federal agency and U.S. Postal Service, and that is why filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes so important.

For, just like the negative of a photograph, it is the medical condition in its negative aspects that always seems to be the sole focus of the Federal or Postal facility in determining the worth of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The mistakes we make

There are those who make it their life’s goal not to have remorse for decisions made; but is that truly a worthwhile achievement?  At the end of it all, is there a special space on the unwritten tombstone that lists the mistakes avoided, the embarrassments averted, and the admissions of deficiencies concealed?  Is that not where much of Shakespearean web of deceits are constructed from – of attempting to cover up the insufficiencies otherwise already apparent in the foreboding appearances we attempt to portray?

Tenuously though we approach the daily chasms of darkened pitfalls menacingly threatening each day of our daily lives, we refuse to admit, fail to recognize or are too weak in the egocentric falsities of fragile souls to merely utter the simple words that allow for expiation of our weaknesses and quickly move on:  “Sorry, I made a mistake”.

No, instead, the complex rationale, the justifications of convoluted sequences of condition precedents that fall upon the next as dominoes of perfectly aligned decoys; and the blame then shifts upon an eternal direction of fingers pointing one to the next, until there is no one left except for that proverbial last figure on the totem pole, who cares not because he or she is the runt forgotten or the brunt of everyone’s joke and display of pure human meanness.

But at what cost do we avoid admitting the mistakes we make?  Of what layers of calluses formed, souls injured and responsibility averted, until the unquantifiable element becomes so saddled with a guilty conscience no longer able to feel, to be human, to rise above the bestiality of man’s base instincts?

The mistakes we make often harm another, but those we do not admit to, diminish the essence of who we are, what we are capable of, and always forestalls the capacity to grow.

As in any process that is complex, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can have a pathway full of difficult decisions and a complicated morass of complex legal precedents, statutory obstacles and sheer obstructions of meandering deliberations.

The mistakes we make can haunt us with consequences difficult to reverse, and in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is one of the rare instances in which he who makes the fewest errors, likely will win.  Mistakes in this area of law can range from the innocent and inadvertent, to the meandering blunders that lead to a denial from OPM.  It is often not enough to avoid a mistake in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; indeed, it is the blatant mistakes we make without the guidance of wisdom and experience that determines the future course of events, as in life in general.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Deprogramming a Preconditioned Approach

The preconditioned attitude of the general public is that, if X has a medical condition, then such medical condition, by the very nature of the condition itself, will either entitle one to benefits, or not.  Such an approach is what one is conditioned to expect — that by the very nature of the medical condition itself, means that it will either lead to, or not lead to, a specified result.  This viewpoint and approach is based upon a definitional standard, where the very essence of what it means to suffer from X already predetermines whether one is eligible and entitled to benefit Y.

Social Security assumes such an approach.  To some extent, so does OWCP, because the Department of Labor is willing to pay a certain amount of compensation based upon a predetermined calculus of a percentage rating, for loss of limb, loss of use, loss of functional capacity, etc.

This is why Federal and Postal employees who first contemplate preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, will attempt to tie the fact of having a medical condition with the question, “Does this qualify me for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?”  But that is the wrong paradigm to use in asking the question.  For, eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not based upon a definitional ascription of a medical condition; rather, it is that “third element” — the connection between X and Y, X representing the medical condition and Y standing for the positional duties which the Federal or Postal employee must engage.

In many respects, Federal Disability Retirement answers the philosophical question which David Hume asked:  Is there a necessary connection between cause and effect?  For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Affirmation, Affiliation and Affectation

But for the middle syllable (the extra “ta” in the word), it is what people strive for; and like the thief in the night who leaves behind earthen footprints of his twilight misdeeds, the insertion of that additional combination of a consonant and vowel turns the meaning of the word upon its head, and leaves us with an artificial prose devoid of poetry and warmth.

The middle term is a favorite of sociologists and other “soft” sciences where anthropological studies determined the course of serious studies or of mere pretentiousness of purpose; associations, initiation into phi beta whatever and epsilon in uppercase or lunate form, characterizes the human need to belong, despite our contrary assertions and protestations that man, machine and a wagging dog’s tail are enough in this world of virtual reality where communication is accomplished primarily through pushing a button via glowing faces of blank pages and fluorescent screens.

As for the first in the tripartite series of syllabic partnerships, it is that inner essence which the child in all of us seeks, but which Dickens, Salinger and Capote all cried out for lack thereof, and depleted their souls in the course of searching for that which was never lost, rarely to be found, and tenuously held by a mere thread of hope and longing.

It is funny how much time we waste upon past hurts.  Most such narratives deserve, at best, a single night at a bar, a few sobs, and perhaps the generosity of the proprietor giving the gift of a free beer; and then it is time to move on with life.  Some stories, of horrors unimaginable but for the telling in quiet whispers in bedrooms locked, but then those who survive such tales are often the very ones with impeccable and impenetrable fortitude, and they don’t need the free drink anyway, leaving aside the heaving sobs and a momentary sympathetic ear.

Narratives are important for people to carry about; like manuscripts hoping to be discovered, we cherish them in binders of protective combativeness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have managed to cull together multiple years of survivorship despite the thickets of affectations imparted by so many elements of narcissistic behaviors, it is in the end the true affiliations which come to the fore when a crisis erupts.

If the singular sob-story told at the corner pub was not enough to replace that lack of affirmation wanted and desired for as a child, and throughout your career you have striven to replace it by becoming lost in work, career and sheer busy-ness, then the sudden loss of that coalescence of unending activity can indeed have a traumatic impact.

If a medical condition interrupts that innocent search, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, then it becomes necessary to consider 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.

But in doing so, just remember that, while the process of separating away from a career which engulfed so much of your time and energy may be an emotional turmoil of sorts, especially because of the wide affiliations garnered over those many years, it is the medical condition itself which must be first and foremost in contending with the crisis, and not the affectation of coworkers who suddenly show their true selves and gather like a pack of predators ready to pounce, no more than the affirmation you may have wanted from a bureaucracy which, in the end, cares not for your narrative, other than the effective one you must write for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to win an approval for your Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the end, all stories are told and forgotten at the corner pub of our hearts, in the fading suds of a beer gone stale, only to be retold by the next patron of the establishment where the jukebox fades with a selection of a song yet to be sung.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Disabling Conditions: Suicidal Ideations

It is perhaps the final vestige of societal taboo; for, at what point the human animal realized that self-destruction became an option is open for debate.  In the Animal Kingdom, it is rare to find species openly seeking to end life; the struggle to survive and the Darwinian inherency for self-preservation and survival remains as vibrant as ever.

Being diagnosed with “suicidal ideation” is normally associated with psychiatric conditions of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety, where the acceptable level of stress-tolerance exceeds the capacity to withstand.  Each individual is a unique creature; in this cookie-cutting mold of society where people get lost in the importance of position, fame, accolades and a false sense of admiration, it becomes commonplace to question one’s sense of worth and value.

Psychiatry has never been a perfect science; some even question the validity of its approach, as it has now become overwhelmingly a pharmacological event, with some semblance of therapeutic intervention thrown in as an afterthought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who are contemplating 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 even CSRS Offset, the existence of suicidal ideations (or otherwise simply known as “having suicidal thoughts”) is often lost in the compendium of diagnosed psychiatric conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where a significant event has intervened which has resulted in traumatic reverberations in one’s life; Anxiety (or more officially identified as Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Major Depression; Bipolar Disorder, with spectrum symptoms of manic phases and depressive states; as well as schizophrenia and paranoia.

For relevance to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, the existence of suicidal ideations is often one more indicia of the seriousness of the diagnosed psychiatric conditions, but should never be determinative in whether one’s psychiatric condition is “serious enough” in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Indeed, there are many, many Federal and Postal employees who file for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, who suffer from Major Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and other forms of psychiatric conditions, without ever suffering from suicidal ideations, and yet are fully qualified for, and become entitled to, Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Further, as Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the algorithm of showing the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the impeding aspect of suicidal ideations may be negligible.  Rather, from a medical standpoint, it is one more factor of concern and consternation within a long list of diagnoses and symptoms which cumulatively form the basis for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire