OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Comparisons

We like making them; somehow, it allows for hope and, unfortunately, its opposite, despair, but they are engaged in nonetheless, regardless of the potentialities pointing in either direction.  Comparisons allow for a judgment of who we are, what we have accomplished and what we believe are the acceptable societal norms and standards, and whether we have succeeded or failed in meeting them.

People watch the pablum of television shows that display the ostentatious arrogance of some wealthy individuals who know not the concept of “discretion” or any sense of humility in having attained the higher luxuries of life; yet, many continue to be fascinated by such tasteless shows of comfort, and compare themselves, their accomplishments and the artificial standards of normative achievements that somehow have pervaded people’s psyche.

Of course, the corollary of such an approach to life is to redefine the definition of what it means to be “successful”, and thus to lower the standards in order to be all-inclusive, and do this each time as more and more people need to be accommodated.

Either extremes on the spectrum of man’s favorite sport – of watching, observing and comparing – constitutes the reality of that which is required to attain a level of satisfaction in life.  Of course comparisons are going to be made – for, we live in a world where everything is relative, and one can only recognize and realize the multitude of opportunities and potentialities by comparing one’s own station in life with that of what others have achieved.

Concurrently, sometimes the definition that defines who we are, what is important and where one wants to go, may need some adjustments.  Objectivity is achieved somewhere in the middle, between the comparative observance of “what is”, and the need to tinker with the language game that defines what “needs to be”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the favorite past-time of Americans – of observing, comparing and judging – meets a heightened sense of anxious awaiting because of what coworkers and supervisors begin to do.

They compare your level of productivity to what others are doing, and what you were doing before.  An “accommodation” is nothing more than the redefining of one’s essential elements of one’s job; but even with the linguistic rearrangement of those essential elements, the constant barrage of the other side of comparing continues – of supervisors, coworkers, etc., and the entire agency and postal facility judging whether or not you are doing as much as everyone else.

In the end, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be necessary, as the sharpened knives of those comparisons may be too much to bear, given the innate nature of man’s cruelty in a world where medical conditions and disabilities are deemed to be comparatively unacceptable.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Life’s Joke

The funniest line in literature comes from Carl Sandburg’s “Potato Face Blind Man” stories, where he describes the reason for the wooden mug:  “There is a hole in the bottom of it.  The hole is as big as the bottom.  The nickel goes in and comes out again.  It is for the very poor people who wish to give me a nickel and yet get the nickel back.”

Satire has often been overly-discussed, and attempting to explain why a particular scene, line or story is amusing, is somewhat like trying to explain to a Martian why Bradbury’s chronicles fascinated the young:  it just is, and either you get it, or you don’t.  It is, perhaps, the incongruence between expectation and reality; of a projection of incommensurability that occurs when a portrayal doesn’t quite meet the anticipation of “should”.

In Sandburg’s description, two such anomalies occur:  First, that the figure who holds the mug does so with the expectation that passersby will drop a nickel out of a sense of pity; but second, and poignantly portrayed, that the tables are turned around by the one who allegedly is begging for the nickel, in that he recognizes the empathetic component that there are others who are poorer in the world who also want to give, but needs the nickel more than the beggar to whom it is given.  Thus, the hole on the bottom where the nickel given drops back for the giver, yet the act of giving has been consummated.

Of course, in modernity, perhaps such innocence of satiric portrayal is no longer thought to contain humor; that, as the ethics of inequality and financial disparity have given rise to resentment, and the inane concept of “fairness” today pervades the political spectrum throughout, the focus would be upon the fact of maliciously describing a person with a disability in terms which might betray mocking jest.  But that is clearly not what Sandburg meant by it; and, indeed, it was because he believed that his generation lacked children’s stories which taught lessons of virtue and behavioral uprightness, that he engaged the literary device of satire.

Life itself is difficult enough without undermining the joy of a joke recognized.  A funny line, a witty scene, a belly-laugh from a picture of incongruence; such moments allow for innocence and the lightness of being to prevail as an interlude to an otherwise dreary continuum of surviving in a world which shows but cold shoulders twisted and followed by phony smiles to cut the throats of back-turned bystanders.

Such experiences, of course, are not new to the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers through the meanness of workplace hostility and harassment at the hands of supervisors and coworkers, merely because a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, there comes a time when the Federal or Postal worker must decide to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to escape the diatribes of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Carl Sandburg’s joke was of a time when true empathy was understood by all; unfortunately, in modernity, the nickel which was meant to be returned to the giving passerby, would today be snatched up by wolves in waiting, where the lambs who once roamed the hillside of life’s joke no longer gather upon the pastures of a forgotten innocence forever lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Levels of Argumentation in OPM Disability Retirement

In a perfect universe, logic should prevail and the superior argument would be identified, recognized and accepted.  In a less-than-perfect universe (the state in which we unfortunately find ourselves), pragmatic factors involving power, authority, competency and non-substantive, peripheral issues must always be considered, and incorporated accordingly.  In the “unofficial rules” of argumentative methodology, three elements must be present:  (A) The ability and capacity to recognize a superior argument, (B) the willingness to concede one’s own inferiority of the proffer, and (C) acceptance of one in replacement of the other, which is to admit and submit.

In modernity, however, loudness and persistence, even without a basis in systematic logic, will often prevail, and one need not accede to a different position so long as ownership of the microphone or loudspeaker is never contested.  Which brings us to the pragmatic realities of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and the denials issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  First, it is important to recognize that all denials of Federal Disability Retirement applications by OPM “sound like” they are based upon “the law”.  They are meant to appear that way.  But are they?  If read too carefully, the internal inconsistencies, the lack of logic, and the repetitive nature of declarative conclusions without any supporting methodological argumentation will be quite evident.

How should one approach and rebut such a decision?  Does each and every point brought out by the “administrative specialist” need to be addressed, or just the “main points“?  Should the rebuttal arguments form the basis of the step-following the Reconsideration Stage of the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board?  Are there any repercussions for not addressing each of the “points” delineated in a denial by OPM?

These, and many other questions, should be addressed by a Federal lawyer who is experienced in handling OPM Medical Retirement applications through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as some Federal or Postal employees attempt to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the aid, guidance, counsel and assistance of an OPM Disability attorney, when a denial of the Initial Stage is received from OPM, more extensive analysis and “corrective” efforts may be required.

And those three elements of argumentative methodologies discussed herein, are they relevant to the process?  Perhaps.  But OPM is a powerful and large bureaucracy which holds the future security of Federal and Postal employees in their hands, and a denial by OPM must be taken seriously, both in substantive form and qualitative content.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Requisite Sense of Control

Most of us require a semblance of self-determination, if only to conceal the inadequacies and keep at bay the disasters which portend, or pretend, whichever the case may be.  By controlling circumstances, we believe that we can maintain prevention of crisis, pre-determine the outcome of expectations, and squirrel away the hesitations and insecurities controlling us in our lives of desperate needs.  But life has a way of defying the macro-minutiae of the limited universe within our reach and immediate control.

Mastery of life is difficult to attain; just when we thought we had grasped the foundational principles of life and living, old age sets in, and the youthful vigor dissipates, like the ethereal dust of residue left behind by the flight of angels.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it is that sudden onset of a medical condition which nags and refuses to go away, which becomes the harbinger of things to come.  Agencies and the Postal Service tend to be “meddlers”, and once a particular Federal or Postal employee becomes the trigger-sighted individual, the stray bullet that travels is normally not too far behind.  Loss of control, or the abandonment of a requisite sense of control, is derived when agencies target, and when adverse actions are issued, a PIP is imposed, and leave restrictions commanded.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement is an option which is a viable avenue to pursue, precisely because it attains and reasserts that requisite sense of control, by securing a needed annuity for some semblance of financial security and stability.  Federal Disability Retirement is also a means of re-focusing one’s life upon the priorities which matter — such as one’s health and well-being, so that the harassment and hostility at work will cease.

But the long road in preparing, formulating, filing and waiting upon a Federal Disability Retirement application, filed ultimately through, and decided by, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is another bureaucratic morass which — for a time, at least — will feel like entering another and surreal universe where one’s destiny is in the hands of another:  OPM.  But in life, as in the parallel universe of the absurd, one must first lose control in order to gain the requisite sense of control.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire