Federal Employees with Disabilities: Simplifying the Complex

Genius is to comprehend the complex; competence is to utilize it; adequacy is to merely get by with it; to be lost is to become mired in it.  The world is complex.  Balance in a life is complex.  Trying to survive in a complex world requires a balancing act that even the most skilled tightrope acrobat can barely accomplish.

Once, when a reporter asked a mountain climber who had successfully scaled the North Face of the Eiger “why” he does what he did, the reply was: “When I am climbing, my only focus is to survive.  I do not need to think of anything but the next step, the next hold, and to ascend inch by inch.  Nothing else matters but the moment.”

But that life could be lived within the paradigm of that philosophy — of “living for the moment.”  To do so, of course, would require setting aside the baggage from one’s past and ignoring the tumultuous considerations for the future.  For most of us, we simply cannot live like that.  In this complex world, we try and “get by” through simplifying it — bifurcating it into comprehensible and digestible components; attending to each one at a time; then starting all over again at the beginning of the next day.  To simplify the complex is a skill-set that one must attain in order to just survive.

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, the complex universe of an administrative process like filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a bureaucratic morass that will often require legal advice, guidance, assistance and counsel.

It is the job of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law to simplify the complex.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, lest you find that the complex remains too complicated and the next mountain to climb has become too steep an obstacle, like the North Face of the Eiger.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The historical data

How much historical data is too much?  Is there a correlation between “too much” and “loss of interest”? In other words, when a history book is written, does the interest shown by the reader begin to wane when a certain point of quantitative overload begins to overwhelm?  Further, does the audience for whom the historical data is written depend upon the extent given?

Certainly, “popular” historical narratives provide “juicier” content than more “serious” biographies, where the salacious aspects of a person’s life or of an event are put to the fore, as opposed to relegating them to footnotes or in those “fine print” pages at the back of the book.

If, for example, data is compiled for an internal study for the “Historical Society of X”, then certain detailed information without limitations might be included — i.e. how many times this or that civilization went to war, went to the bathroom daily, ate one kind of fruit as opposed to another, etc. But if that “study” were to be made into a biography of an indigenous tribe, to be sold to the general public, it might leave out certain of the more uninteresting data, or placed in footnotes or “background notes” at the back of the book.

At what point does a historical narrative become “tedious”?  Again, is there a correlation between “interest shown/sparked/waning/losing” and the extent of data provided?  Is there a “qualitative” difference as opposed to sheer quantitative overload?

These issues are important to keep in mind when a Federal or Postal employee begins to write one’s narrative in response to questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, there is always a tendency on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant to have this unquenchable desire to “tell one’s story”, as opposed to answering the question on SF 3112A in as precise, concise and incisive manner.

At times, some amount of historical background may be relevant and somewhat necessary, but unlike “internal studies” that have no cognizable consequences in providing “too much” information, an overabundance of irrelevant data provided may have a duality of negative results: First, it may take away from, and diminish, the “main point” of the narrative, and Second, you may be providing information that is inadvertently harmful to one’s OPM Disability Retirement case without intending to.

Remember always in a Federal Disability Retirement case, that the eyes that once see cannot be blinded after the fact, and it is better to provide information as a supplemental means in a Federal Disability Retirement case, than to have to explain, correct and amend after a denial is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Hope for tomorrow

Tomorrow”, as a word written today, pointing to a dimension beyond; to a vantage and perspective not yet realized, and forever to be referenced by a future date yet unknown.  When read tomorrow, it leads to the next day; and when looked upon the next day, to the following day again; and in this eternal sequence of tomorrows, whether written today, tomorrow or the next day, it forever reminds us that hope lies not in the morass of today’s problems, but in the change of things yet to be realized.

Yes, yes — we all recognize the scoffing that often surrounded the political banner of that famous phrase, “hope and change” — but that is merely because the potency of words, concepts and formulated paradigms lose their efficacy once they are used within a public arena that turns into a campaign slogan. Hope is always for tomorrow; for, without tomorrow, hope remains fallow as the desert that once promised a fertile reserve but never realized the rivers that had dried up because of the changes of the subterranean shifts in tectonic quakes that others failed to predict.

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, the hope for tomorrow will often include the preparation, formulation and filing of 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 and CSRS Offset.

Today is already filled with the overwhelming problems that beset any Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition; it is for tomorrow that an application for Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, and that is the ray of hope that includes tomorrow, and the day after, in preparing and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — today.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Accuracy

How important is accuracy?  The converse of such a query, of course, is:  Is inaccuracy significant?  One would immediately posit:  It all depends.

Take the following 2 hypotheticals:  An archeological dig is conducted, and it is believed that the site of the ruins is of relevant importance concerning a time-period of “recent” history — say, during the American Revolution.  Given that scenario, the “dating” of the site should be ascertainable within a year succeeding or preceding, such that if the Lead Archaeologist declares that the event in question occurred in 1778, “or possibly in 1779, maybe as early as 1777”, we know that — given the time period in question (1775 – 1783) — such a statement conveys a fairly accurate historical context.

Now, take the same hypothetical, but this time [sic] concerning some form [again, sic] of a fossil that is deemed at least 500 million years old.  If the Lead Archaeologist declares with some hint of irony, “Give or take a few million years more or less” — what would our reaction be?  Is such a “find” just as accurate as in the first hypothetical?  Can a declaration that is numerically off by a few million years (i.e., looking at it in quantifiable terms of 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 2 – 5 million years equals how many hours for those who want a graspable perspective) be called a “science” in any meaningful usage of the term?

Of course, one could argue that even within the first hypothetical, given the limited range of years that comprises the American Revolution (1775 – 1783, or a mere 8 years), to be off by a year or so is also quite an astoundingly inaccurate assessment.  But which is “more accurate” — the one that is estimated within a year, or the one that quantifies it in terms of “millions” of years?  Can one even ask the question of “more or less” accurate, when the very concept of accuracy itself denotes precision and pinpointed, undeviated marksmanship?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “accuracy” can be a crucial one.  How “accurate” does one’s Statement of Disability need to be on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  What “precisely” does the treating doctor have to include in the medical report?  How detailed (and therefore, accurately) does the nexus between the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability does it have to reflect?

In all such questions, “accuracy” is a goal to attain in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, while the Archaeologist may be “off” by a quantifiable sum of years in a site-dig and suffer little to no consequences, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must depend upon the accuracy of the law in determining benefits to secure a future yet uncertain, and such an administrative endeavor is likened more to the accuracy of the arrow that is shot towards an apple resting upon the head of a young boy, than of a declaration made that is off by a few million years, give or take, more or less.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sunshine, briefly

Life is mostly dark clouds, with a ray of sunshine briefly upon a small patch of wet grass.  Yes, yes – such a perspective is a mirror reflection of the conflict between the “half-full” versus “half-empty” outlook; but is it helpful for young people to posit a world view, a paradigm or, in the philosophical realm of ivory towers, that king of all royalties in linguistic sophistication that is dropped nonchalantly to impress and raise eyebrows –  Weltanschauung (since when did a German word rise to the level and replace Latin phrases, when one can barely clear one’s throat in enunciating such concepts?) – when reality doesn’t quite parallel such a fairytale ga-ga-land of fantasy reserved for bedtime stories and dream-filled comforts?

Do we not restrain children from engaging strangers?  Do we not warn of criminals, conmen and conspirators and step cautiously into dark alleys and isolated parks in twilight’s eyesight because the world lurks with malevolent intentions and evil thoughts?

There is no questions, of course, that there are periods of respite; of sunshine, briefly, by rays of telescopic precision warming for a time, before the inevitable clouds rub out the finite orientation of a limited gap emitting brightness of hope.  Is balance the stain of righteousness, and if so, where on the spectrum of both extremes does one draw the line of correctness, and is there a singularly myopic perspective where no other can claim moral equivalency?

Cynicism is attributable to the extreme of the “dark clouds” perspective, and naïve idealism to the other end of limitless sunshine; and somewhere in the middle is where reality protrudes into the conceptual realms of unease:  daily living, the encounters with meanness, harassment and unmitigated callousness that must endure the diminishing dereliction of youth’s untarnished cavity of hope.

It is, in the end, that ray of sunshine, however brief, that we live for, even if it only comes about once in a proverbial blue moon.  It is likened to the 80/20 rule:  Eighty percent of people you meet are not worthy of your time; it is the other 20% that you hope to encounter and engage; the identical proportion applies with work – much of it is monotonous and mindless repetition; it is for that remaining sliver that you do the treadmill stuff in order to apply the relishing technicality of challenging concerns.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the idea of life’s sunshine, however briefly, is precisely the point, isn’t it?

The medical condition that shortens one’s promising career is but the dark clouds which have gathered and overcast upon your life, career and ability and capacity to enjoy; Federal Disability Retirement – thought as “negative” in the sense that it replaces that which you worked so hard to attain – is that sunshine, briefly, so that you can go out with an annuity, a semblance of security, and focus upon the priorities of life:  Health, family, friends and tranquility.

Now, if that is not sunshine, however briefly, no one can fathom what is.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Urban decay and the relevance of rye

There is a reason why phoniness cannot survive or endure for long on a farm, as opposed to the urban decay of mass population centers; the animals won’t stand for it, and there is no one to be pretentious for, when hard work, sweat and toil replaces the incessant striving for acceptance, consumption and coercive condescensions.  It is not an accident that Caulfield spends his time in the decay of urban life, amongst people who display a duality of faces and concealed motives, while all the time dreaming of an imaginary existence in a field of rye, catching all of the children who may run astray in the innocence of their blinded youth.

It is because the pastoral settings of American lore have always had a fascination of timeless yearning; as only a few generations ago saw the destruction of most of human existence, before the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the desertion from rural countryside and mass migration from bank foreclosures and independence wrought and molded from self-sufficient living, so the age of modernity witnesses what the aggregation and amalgam of mass population intersection does to the soul of the individual.

Like the composite alloy which fails to fuse, the dental fillings crumble with time and decay by sheer inability to blend; the only means of survival is to pretend that all is well, that the ivory towers built, the emperor’s clothes which fail to fit, and the harmful toxicity which destroys — they all work, except behind closed doors in cubbyholes of private thoughts when the night no longer conceals and the truth of ugliness pushes to the forefront.

On a farm, or in the fields of rye where the crops must thrive and children may run in the innocence of their unpretentious exuberance, only the silent stares of barnyard animals look for judgment of purpose, and as pretending never gets the work done, so the need to put on a face of concealment does nothing but waste time and needless effort.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who witnesses the daily bifurcation between truth and reality, sincerity and concealed hostility, it is the openness of a medical condition which often breaks down the barriers of pretentiousness.  Suddenly, you become the target of meanness unspoken, of harassment barely veiled, and small-mindedness partially concealed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, looked upon this way, is really no big deal when contrasted to what has occurred just before the act of filing; for, the sores which erupted and the boils that ruptured, were already seething beneath a mere veneer of civility, and the actual submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application is to bring out the obvious.

Whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the act of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application —  first through one’s Human Resource Office of one’s own agency if the Federal or Postal employee is not separated from Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service, or even if separated, for not more than 31 days; otherwise, if separated for 31 days or more, but less than 1 year, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is to merely unveil the phoniness of niceties and civility engendered, but now to openly see whether the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will remain true to its promise of non-discriminatory treatment of a Federal or Postal employee with an identified medical disability.

And like the job of the catcher in the rye who stands guard for those wayward children innocently running through the fields, oblivious of the lurking dangers just beyond in the urban decay of unconstrained emptiness, it is the lawyer who admonishes with the laws to enforce, which often prevents the weakness of the nets that fail to catch that heavy tumble over the cliff of a bureaucratic abyss.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Lose a Kite

It is that loss of innocence; of a childhood cut and let go, a bifurcation of sorts, where the fluttering tail fades into the misty distance of time past, eternity unfulfilled, and the present moment shattered by a loss not valued by economic standards, but by the negation of that which was, will never be again, and won’t be coming back. The loss of anything is valued by the attachment of human passion, the trembling fear of future consequences known and yet to be determined, and the expectation of a hope left as a residue of hard work and toil.

Do we remember that loss of a kite, at a critical moment in time when the champion of winds clapped and cheered as we controlled the destiny of an artifice so flimsy in manufactured quality and yet defying the aerodynamic laws of the greater universe?  Neither the Law of Newtonian physics nor the quantum theories compromising Einstein’s theoretical constructs could defy the persistence of levitational determination, coupled with a coil of thread in the stubby little hands of a child, with but a tug and a pull; and then, suddenly, it was gone.

Is not the future of an adult like that fleeting moment? What a qualitative difference a day may make; when once free of pain, then to experience the excruciating agony of debilitating onset; or where rationality and promise set the course for future happiness, only to be overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Life is tough; but when a medical condition intervenes and tears apart the very fabric of living, that compromised life becomes almost an unbearable mesh of a twisted cathartic of impenetrable jungles of psychological, physical and emotional turmoils. For many, there is no escape, and that snap of a thin reed which left the child’s hand empty of promise, is all that remains.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have the minimum years of service under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often the best — if not the only — recourse out of a madness undeterred. Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees as part of one’s compensation package, and allows a person to stop working, receive what amounts to a lifetime annuity, while accruing more years in building towards a final retirement converted from disability retirement to regular retirement at age 62; and all the while, to live upon that rehabilitative plateau in order to attend to one’s health and well-being.

For, when a Federal or Postal worker is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the choices become stark and limited: To continue in pain and agony; to walk away with nothing to show for one’s efforts and toil; or to file for Federal Disability benefits.

It is like the child who once felt the pleasure of life through the flight of a kite, only to experience the tenuous reed of promise when the snap of the thread leaves the twirling object uncontrolled and uncontrollable, left to the nuances of turmoil and trauma; but to move on is to forge a different path, with the echoes of regret howling in the memories of our childhood consciousness, never to be regained but for a semblance of fated warmth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire