OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Ballast for the soul

It is a plagiarized phrase, from a short story written by Brazil’s (often-considered) greatest writer, Machado de Assis.  It is that heavy material, where a large quantity of gravel, iron, metals, etc., placed low in a vessel in order to provide stability; the weight itself is what “grounds” the vessel so that the torrents of waves and storms of fury will not topple it.  Or, it can refer to the coarse gravel used in order to set railroad tracks, again allowing for stability of a foundation to prevent shifting, sinking or damaging movement.

When combined with the term, “the soul”, the concept created is one of conjoining the dual ideas of (a) providing a foundation with (b) an ungraspable concept of an entity that many believe does not even exist.  The “soul”, of course, is a controversial subject; for, it still remains from the vestiges of religious and philosophical discourses, and refers to an abiding entity that defies mortality, retains an identity beyond one’s physical appearance, and contains the essence of who a person is, whether in physical form or not.

Does the soul “need” a ballast?  Without it, does it merely flit about without duration or direction?

As a literary concept, it refers to the stability that individuals need in order to become more serious, more focused, and perhaps even more “mature”.  As a general idea, it comes to convey the concept of pragmatism and the need to be “grounded” in a universe where there exists so many beliefs, so many paths to get off course; and the dangers inherent in pulling people aside from living an authentic and fulfilling life are many, as evidenced by the number of wandering souls left to rot on the roadside of discarded souls.

What is the ballast for the soul?  Is it to be married and have a family?  Is it the immediate family one already has — or the extended one?  Or can a cadre of friends and one’s immediate neighbors provide the ballast for the soul?

For each individual, the answer to that question may differ and remain a mystery; but what is clear, mystery or not, is that the vicissitudes of life’s choices, without a ballast for the soul, are so numerous and of such great variety, that liberty of endless choices endangers the essence of every person. Health itself can be an unknown ballast; for, with it, we take for granted our ability to accomplish so many things in life; without it — when it is “lost” — we suddenly realize that the ballast of health can upend that which we took for granted — career; stability; sense of worth; sense of self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose ballast has been lost because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Medical conditions are often the storms of life which topple the vessel once the foundation of stability has been robbed, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits can restore one’s sense of security such that a re-focusing upon the priority of health and well-being can be attained, so that the ballast for the soul can be reestablished in a world full of turmoil and tumult.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Except, in real life…

Isn’t that the refrain that dampens?  Whether for a child or a young adult who still possesses and retains the enthusiasm of the possible, we pour cold water upon such unfettered energy for the future yet undeclared by saying, “Except, in real life…”.  Of course, what is inserted to replace the ellipses is the clincher that determines the mood of the response.  Is it: “Except, in real life, that never happens.” Or — “Except, in real life, you’ll be broke and devastated.”

Why is it that the unspoken elongation implied by the ellipses must by necessity include a negative ending?  When have you ever heard, instead: “Except, in real life, it’s all the better!”  Is it because our creative imagination reaches far beyond what is possible in the stark reality of “real life”?

Is the universe imagined of greater potentiality than the reality of daily existence, and is that why the virtual reality of Social Media, “the Web”, interactive video games and the like are so sultry in their seductive pose — because they invite you into a world which promises greater positives than the discouraging reality of our existence in “real” time?  Is that what is the ultimate dystopian promise — a caustic alternative to Marx’s opium for the masses: not of religion, but of an alternative good that has been set up that not only promises good beyond the real good, but provides for good without consequences?

The problem is that, whatever alternative good or virtual reality that is purportedly set up to counter the reality of real time, is itself nothing more than “real life”.  It is just in our imagination that it exists as an alternative universe.  This brings up the issue of language games as espoused by Wittgenstein, as to the “reality” of an “objective world” as opposed to the one expounded by linguistic conveyances: Take the example of the blind man who has never flown a plane.  He (or she) can answer every aeronautical questions with as much technical accuracy as an experienced pilot. Query: Between the 2, is there a difference of experiencing “reality”?

For Wittgenstein, the answer is no.  Yet, the laughing cynic will ask the ultimate question: Who would you rather have as your pilot for the next flight — the blind man who has never “really flown” a plane, or the experienced pilot?

That becomes the clincher: “Except in real life…”.

For the Federal employee or 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 job, the tendency and proclivity towards taking a dim perspective of life can be overwhelming, especially when one is dealing with the debilitating consequences of a medical condition.

Yet, it is important to maintain a balance between the cynic’s world view (that the cup is always half empty) and the eternal optimist’s myopic standard that the glass is always half full.  “Except in real life,” doesn’t always favor the former; for the Federal employee who must go up against the behemoth of OPM in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, “real life” is not necessarily the exception, but can be the rule of a successful outcome if you are guided by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Excellence and mediocrity

Are the two identified only by comparative existence?  Can one abide in pure mediocrity throughout a lifetime, only to be fooled into thinking that excellence has been achieved, but on the day before extinguishment from this universe, be visited by pure excellence that suddenly compels one to realize that all along, only a ho-hum level of mediocrity had been attained?

Conversely, can one maintain a level of excellence without a comparative standard against which one may know what “mediocrity” consists of?

It is like the grammatical elevation learned in former school days, of “Good”, “Better”, and finally, “Best” — how does one identify the last in the tripartite series unless there is a comparison against that which is lesser, and how does one ever realize the progressive nature of one’s endeavor unless there is improvement to realize?

One may argue that excellence cannot exist except and “but without” the coexistence of mediocrity, and thus the corollary must also be true.  Isn’t that the problem with everything in life — excellence, once achieved or realized as a goal, becomes a hollow voice of regret when once mediocrity is the standard to which one is reduced?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has reduced one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s Federal or Postal position and duties to a level of mediocrity and struggle just to maintain a lesser standard below what one has become accustomed to — of excellence in all arenas, including health, personal life and professional goals — the reduction resulting from one’s deteriorating health is often accompanied by a sense of having become a “lesser” person precisely because one has known the “better” and the “best”.

“Good” is not enough, anymore, because “better” and “best” have once been tasted.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may not be the “best” answer to all of one’s problems, but it is the better solution to the Federal employee or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, especially when the “good” is merely an exercise in mediocrity where once stood excellence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The minor incident

Does history alter significance of incidents as time heals or otherwise events are forgotten?  Does the perspective of the one directly (or even indirectly) impacted make a difference upon the writing of history, or is it as some cynics have countered – that history is the written narrative of the victors, and everyone else is merely annotated as mere footnotes, if at all?

As the Great War became overshadowed by World War II, or as some historians argued that it was merely a singular war with a brief interlude between; will other wars that follow, as memories fade and the dying veterans no longer appear at parades and salute the tombs of those fallen, overshadow the epic battles fought, the bravery shown and the comrades buried beneath silent crosses of lonely nights?

The private lives that each of us live, and the minor incident that looms large within the encampments of our own minds; the designation of “minor” depends upon a perspective, does it not?

Reading history is an interesting endeavor, if only because it expands by bringing in a third-person perspective of events beyond, issues not thought of, and incidents that never took center stage.  The authors, now dead, of second and third-tier fame, who may have had a book published here or there but are now forgotten upon dusty bookshelves that librarians never notice; and most of us are merely minor incidents in the greater traffic of life’s misgivings.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, perspectives matter.  A “minor incident” at work can become a major issue – and the medical condition one suffers from, or how the agency views the interaction between the minor incident and the natural consequences of working with a medical condition – and one’s viewpoint in contradistinction to the perspective of the agency can be important.

Whatever the issues that may come about or arise during the process, this much is clear: The Federal agency or the Postal Service has one “viewpoint” about your medical condition, and you have another.  The difference is, you have to suffer the medical condition, while the agency sits idly by and scoffs at the major event as if it is a minor incident.  That may mean that it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Let the determination about whether a specific incident is minor or major be left up to the historian of tomorrow; what you, as a Federal or Postal employee must do, is to contend with the issues of today, and especially the medical condition from which you suffer, and which is far from being a minor incident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Life can change in a day

A wise person once quipped that, If you don’t like the weather in this area, wait a day and it’ll come around.  The greater meaning of such a kernel of wisdom, of course, is that it is a microcosm of a wider reflection concerning life itself; wait long enough – sometimes a week, a month, a year, or a few years – and circumstance have a tendency to alter the course of one’s life and therefore one’s perspective.

Life can, indeed, change in a day; one day, you are happily drifting along, believing that nothing could be better; and the next, a calamity ensues, the human experience becomes a “topsy-turvy” matter and suddenly sours upon the smiling demeanor we carried just a moment before.

Or, one may begin the day in a negative and foul mood, but something changes, alters, moderates and impacts, and we come home despite the turmoil of work and daily problems with a smile on our face, and when asked “what is wrong?” (as opposed to, “What is right?”), we smile distantly and refer to the sunshine, the weather, the flower smelled on the road home, or that Frost-like metaphor of having taken the road less traveled on the way there.

Or, perhaps it is the simple recognition that there is more to life than one’s own narrow perspective, that suddenly creates the change in the day of one’s life.

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 positional duties as assigned, the idea that life can change in a day is as real as the sun rises and is expected to rise.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a long, complex and bureaucratically difficult process, and often the process itself can be a defeating proposition as one awaits for a positive decision.  A denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can have a devastating impact, and a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage can have a further deleterious effect.

With each decision, life can “change” in a day.

On the other hand, an approval effectuated from OPM can also have that same effect – of a change in one’s life, all in a day.  That is the ultimate goal – change, but in a “positive” sense; for, to remain static is to become an inert substance, and life, if anything, is a continuum of constant flux and change, like the weather that can never be correctly forecasted, and the life that can never be accurately predicted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Service: Profiles in Discourage

It is, of course, an obvious play off of the 1957 Pulitzer Prize winning work (publication date of 1955), describing 8 U.S. Senators who displayed courage in the face of criticism (an inherent oxymoron?).  Whether or not, and to what extent, Kennedy himself wrote the work (Ted Sorenson, John F.’s speechwriter, finally conceded in his 2008 autobiography as much) has become historically irrelevant, for the legend has become the man, and has replaced the truth of clear lines that once constituted the demarcation between fantasy and reality.

Ancient references to “Camelot” and metaphors about some obscure “torch” being passed through a generational transfer of linguistic fluff, have all cumulatively obscured the stark nakedness of that which makes people and events accountable.  The irony of real life always goes well beyond any fictional attempt to deceive; at least, by designation ascribed, we know what to expect of the latter; but then, there wouldn’t be anything like irony without the absurdity of the former.

Look at the recent allegations of the murky money-trail from Malaysia as the source of funding for the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street”; how much more deliciously ironic can it get, where a movie depicting blatant corruption is paid for by the very manner in which the moguls of Hollywood are allegedly attempting to make a point about?  What prompted the short-cutting which undermines the title of the work credited to the 35th President?  Is it merely the old adage that the “ends justify the means” — and that not writing a work but claiming its authorship is allowable because the greater good of fame and the road to the presidency will account for such deception?

It is, in the end, the title itself which makes for the irony; for, in a work which describes the integrity and character traits of the subjects within, it is precisely the lack of such which presumes a contradiction without.  And that is the connection with Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers of today — for the entities which employ them represent the “official” face of this country, and yet the way they treat Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, reflects upon a discernible and palpable profile in discouragement (the suffix is added to make the sentence grammatically correct, although poetic license has been taken in the caption of this blog with the title, “Profiles in Discourage” in order to remain consistent with its alter-ego of the work by JFK and Sorenson).

One could argue, of course, that because there is the statutory right of all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, therefore any maltreatment or mistreatment of a Federal or Postal worker based upon the medical condition becomes a moot issue.

But that is precisely the point — treatment of the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker in the process of engaging the long and arduous bureaucratic process of filing an OPM Disability Retirement application, should reflect an integrity of cover-to-content.  For, in the end, it is not the cover, nor the first impression which matters, but like the historical characters which are insightfully described in the book itself, the title should always match its claimed authorship.  But, then, of course, we would be left without the delicious irony of man’s daily folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Structural Problem

It is what we never want to hear, and fear most:  that statement from an “expert” who informs us that it is a “structural problem“.  Not cosmetic; not superficial; not unessential; but that word, concept and image which goes to the very heart and foundation of the damage:  the center of the universe.  When the damage occurs there, and the rotting vein of progressive deterioration touches upon that central nervous system, then it becomes “structural”, and all of the rest may come falling down in a sudden dustheap of crumpled carcasses.

So long as it involves only the peripheral concerns, we keep telling ourselves that it doesn’t matter, that the foundation is still solid and they are mere extremities of lesser concern.  We do that with pain and other irritants of life.  And with medical conditions that don’t double us over or completely debilitate us.  So long as there remains a semblance of structural integrity left, one can go on and continue without regard to the symptoms which become telltale signs of impending doom.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has arrived at the point of finality where one can no longer just venture forward, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the best remaining option.

We wait because it is in the very nature and essence of procrastination that the inevitability of ignorance, neglect, disregard and sidestepping can delay the confrontation with that which we fear to know, refuse to acknowledge, and take comfort in detracting from the encounter with the truth of established verifiability.  As with science, the flat earth, and the view from a geocentric universe, no one wants to be told that there is a structural problem.

Too often, the Federal and Postal employee who finally comes to a point of needing to admit that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is and has become a necessity because he or she has worked until the last straw was placed on the back of the proverbial camel.

Medical conditions announce harbingers of events to come, by symptoms calling for attention and attentiveness.  While the news from the architect that the problem is a “structural” one may not be welcome, it was always an indicator that the inevitable was on the fast-track of necessity and predictability; we just turned our heads aside in hopes of another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire