Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Reminders

What is the proper balance in a person’s life — between leisure and work; between thought and living; betwixt the physical and the psychological?  How much is “too much” in getting lost in the fantasies we surround ourselves with: Of watching the news; of enjoying a movie; of “doing” Facebook posts or “surfing” the internet?

Have you ever driven on a sparsely populated road or perhaps late at night when the lights of passing cars become a blurred memory of fleeting blindness, and upon arrival to your destination, you remember not a moment as to how you got there?  Perhaps you drove and did all of the proper things in the mechanical acts of driving, and yet you cannot remember yourself having engaged in the act of driving?  How much time is spent within the insular caverns of our own thoughts — whether when “thinking” or “cogitating”, or in watching a movie?

We fool ourselves into thinking that we are “living life” when in fact all we are doing is staring into a mass of illumination pock-marked with letters and punctuations.  Then, something inevitably “reminds” us — that we have to eat in order to keep from starving; that we have to respond to a real question posed by a real person; or in the mere act of needing to take out the garbage before it begins to rot beneath the kitchen sink.  And of medical conditions — they constantly remind us of our own mortality.

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 constancy of the imposition of the medical condition is a reminder that our deteriorating health is incompatible with continuation in the Federal or Postal job.

When the time comes where such “reminders” begin to dominate the life of the Federal or Postal employee, then it is no longer a “reminder” but of a jarring realization that no amount of getting lost in the distractions of life will change or alter the need: The need to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Consult with an attorney to determine if such a course is the best path of action for you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The Venn Diagram of Life

Venn diagrams reveal the logical relationships between a finite collection of different sets.  Unlike concentric circles which all share a common center and thus fail to show their interconnectedness, Venn diagrams unravel both the connected relationships as well as the disjointed and isolated parts.  Thus, while all of X may also share in Y, some of Y may not connect with X or with Z, etc.

It is emblematic of our personal lives — where some part of us may be shared at work, but not all; and the personal side which is “not known” at work may be a private side of us that no one ever knows, and need not know.  Medical conditions are often those sets of conditions which represent a part of Y (personal side) but which are left isolated and private, outside of the reach of knowledge, yet nevertheless a part of X (work side) precisely because we bring to work our medical conditions (because we have no choice about the matter), even though we try and hide them.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has begun to increasingly impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Venn Diagram of Life is a familiar concept — trying to leave the impact outside of the circle of work becomes increasingly difficult, and the “work-circle” more and more notices the infringing nature of the medical condition itself through greater use and exhaustion of Sick Leave, LWOP and reduced performance efficacy.

The key, then, is to recognize the logical and real relationship between one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  Once that relationship has been realized, then you can make the proper decision as to whether it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As part of that Venn Diagram of Life, you may want to look at the diagram of concentric circles, as well — where the common center of a successful disability retirement application is often in consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: The last line of a poem

How important is the last line of a poem?  Can there be a poem that disappoints because of the last line, or can the finality that ends with a period (or not, depending upon the structure followed) be a so-so metaphor that evokes a yawn and a grimace?

If the rest of the poem, stanza after stanza, contains images by mysterious metaphors which provoke the mind’s imagination to heights previously untouched, but then finishes with a final line that makes one puzzled and doubting, do we say of it, “Well, it was a great poem up until that very last line”?  What if the poet meant it to be so — that the intent of the poem itself was to contrast the fickle manner in which images can form into pinnacles of fancy, only to be disappointed by a singular phrase of mundane commonness?

If the generally-accepted definition of poetry, as opposed to prose, is the focus upon the unit of a sentence aghast with metaphorical flourishes which evoke and provoke images, scents and cacophony of voices haunting throughout the hallways of a mind’s eye, then each line must of greater necessity remain reliably un-pedestrian.  Yet — why is it that the last line of a poem remains so important?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition necessitates preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, the last line of a poem can be likened to the final touches of an effective Federal Disability Retirement packet.

Does it have an extensive legal memorandum accompanying it — to make the persuasive push for an approval?  Have the sentences making up the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) been made to evoke and provoke images of an inevitable approval?

It is, after all, not poetry but prose; yet, just like the last line of a poem, a Federal Disability Retirement application should be formulated with thoughtfulness and care, lest the last line of the poem provoke a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Distractions

They are the projects of life of which Heidegger recognizes, allowing for avoiding the inevitabilities of life’s challenges; of fate, mortality, future insecurity, and death.  What quantifiable slice of one’s life is governed by distractions?  Must it always be less than 50% in order to remain so, and if it exceeds that halfway point, does it then become something substantive and not merely the peripheral meaning of what it means to “be distracted”?  If a distraction is considered to be an aside – that which waylays a person’s attention by focusing upon a central project of life’s endeavor – what then defines an inversion of that perspective?

Take, for example, the following:  A mechanical engineer is working on a technical project that consumes one’s focus, concentration and attention to detail, but has a unique and eccentric ophthalmological condition, whereby the eyes are compelled to follow any and all red objects that pass by.

Now, the company has attempted to accommodate the medical condition by requesting that no employee shall enter into the mechanical workshop wearing red, but on this particular day, some investors are visiting, and a man in the troop of intruders is wearing a red tie, and a woman in the entourage is sporting a red sweater.  They go from bench station to the next cubicle, within the purview and arc of dimensional periphery of the eccentric man’s attention, and with each movement, every sidelong blur, his eyes are “distracted” by the red moving objects.

Out of every minute of work, fully 45 seconds are spent on focusing upon the red objects that detract from the necessary mental acuity attending to the project at hand, and indeed, while they are far enough away such that from an objective viewpoint, the objects are mere inches in proportion and are of a distance as to almost be unnoticeable to others in the group of engineers, for the eccentric mechanical engineer, it is the focal point of his attentions.

The distraction is such that it disrupts the sequence of testing conditions and interrupts the validity of the technical precision required, and a coworker finally declares, “You’ve been too distracted and the project has to be scrapped.”  Would we agree that, because of the numerical disproportionality of concentration attributable, “red-object observation” takes precedence as the primary project, and it is the engineering project that is the distraction?  Or, because it is a medical condition of which he “cannot help it”, do we excuse the distraction in its entirety?

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 positional duties, the central point made here is precisely how the Federal agency and the Postal facility views the issues significant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service possess a myopic view of “work”, and even if the Federal or Postal employee is able to continue making valuable contributions to the workplace, they often see the differentiation between “work” and “distractions” as one quantifiable by time alone.  This is too bad, but a reality that must be faced.  For, medical conditions are not mere distractions; they are life’s interludes that can often be faced and overcome, if only outmoded ideas about what constitutes workplace contributions are set aside, and realize that even distractions delaying the central mission of a Federal agency or Postal facility are not the most important, or even of much significance, when it comes to the worth and value of a human life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer: The Disadvantage of the I-Thou Perspective

People tend to expect the best results; and when a Federal or Postal employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the applicant who is unrepresented and prepares, formulates and files the Federal Disability Retirement packet on his or her own believes that an approval is forthcoming at the First Stage of the Process.  Yet, often unaware and unbeknownst to the Federal or Postal applicant, the lack of separation between the I-Thou construct fails to provide a proper perspective of objectivity.

Allow me to expand and explain:  As the Federal or Postal employee who experiences the medical condition (the “I”) is the same person who prepares, formulates and files the Medical Retirement application (the “thou” from the perspective of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management), any sense of objectivity is often lost because the I and the Thou are one and the same person, and the Federal or Postal employee who experiences the medical condition is simultaneously the same one who is seeking an approval of the OPM Disability Retirement application.

Of course, that same scenario is repeated even if the application is filed through a Federal Disability lawyer (in the sense that the Federal or Postal employee still seeks to obtain an approval from OPM) with one major exception:  there is another “thou” perspective included and involved — that of the Federal lawyer representing the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to have a Federal Disability Retirement application approved.

Objectivity is a crucial component of a Federal Disability Retirement application; that is why so many “silly” mistakes are injuriously embraced without self-knowledge or with disengaged awareness.  It is like the cook who loved the taste of arsenic, and thought that everyone else should as well; and so he sprinkled the deadly poison onto his own food and enjoyed the taste of his own creation, only to slowly die from the feed of his own foolishness.

There are many “kinds” in the arena of foolish endeavors:  There is the “quantitative approach” (“I sent them thousands of pages of treatment records”) which fails to ask the question, Who will read it all?  There is the “trusting soul”:  “I just signed a release and had them send it all directly to my Human Resource Office”.  Then, there is the person of naive disbelief:  “How could they not approve it with the medical conditions I suffer from?”

The problem with all of these is the lack of objective perspective; the I-Thou connection is now given the distance, separateness and objectivity necessary to determine the viability and effectiveness of each and every piece of the puzzle needed to put together a proper Federal Disability Retirement application.  Are there ever any guarantees in life?  No.  Can a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement laws make a difference?  Yes.

Fortunately, unlike the metaphor arising from the cook and the salsa of arsenic, there are multiple stages within the administrative process of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, and a denial at the First Stage of the bureaucratic pathway is not irreversible, and does not result in the inertia of life rendered by ingestion of substances otherwise tasty but harmful.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Systemic Problems

When the residual impact of a crisis goes well beyond cosmetic concerns, the usual and customary description is that the “cause” involves “systemic” problems.  Such foundational fissures can occur both in organizations, as well as in individuals.

For Federal agencies, it may require a need for new leadership, or a restructuring of internal chains of command, and sometimes even outside intervention.  More often than not, a call for greater funding is demanded; then, once approved, we walk away as if the problem has been fixed, until the next crisis calls our attention.

For individuals, the systemic problems can involve a medical condition.  Symptoms are normally mere warning signs portending of greater dangers; like organizational eruptions of systemic concerns, individual crisis of systemic proportions often result from neglect, procrastination and deliberate avoidance of the issue.  But medical problems have a tendency and nature of not going away; they are stubborn invaders, like the hordes of barbarians from epochs past, who keep whittling away at the weakest points of an individual’s immune system.  Then, when the medical condition progressively deteriorates until the spectrum of symptoms exceeds a threshold of toleration, suddenly, a crisis develops.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has reached that point, where the symptoms are no longer superficial, but prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, then it is time to begin considering 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, time is of the essence, as the administrative process must meander its way through a complex system of bureaucratic morass, and the timeline is often of importance in securing the future of a Federal or Postal employee.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is an arduous, lengthy task, and one which is a tool against a systemic problem; for, in the end, the best fight against an invading army is to utilize the elements of the marauders themselves, and this is true in medicine, in law, as well as in individual and organizational restructuring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Stolen Soul

Superstitions often have a grain of truth in them; otherwise, they would not have endured the test of culture, time and governance of actions in ensuring their longevity and pervasive countenance.

Aboriginal tribes and remote communities far removed from the technological modernity of this growing world; pockets of secluded peoples and those who simply shy away from the spotlight of drones like druids of yore; once, there was a belief that having a photograph taken or an image drawn constituted the stealing of a soul.  We don’t believe that.  We no longer believe such nonsense.

Such belief systems constitute an anomaly tantamount to insanity, or at the very least a level of eccentricity bordering upon an unacceptable level of non-conformity.  Indeed, instead, we have gone in the opposite direction of the extreme: many no longer visit ancient and sacred sights with a view by the naked eye, but through the lens of a video camera never to be detached from the “on” button; and we deplete and exhaust the personal “I” within the sanctity of our selves by posting the most personal of information on Facebook and other public forums for full view and entertainment, reserving nothing of a private nature.

For, in the end, the technology of the internet is merely an advanced form of the singular photograph of yore; and as the daguerreotype of yesteryear represented the technological advancement of securing frozen images in a given time, of a place cemented within the historicity of events and contexts of human occurrences, so the voluntary dissemination of information about ourselves is merely a logical extension of that loss of privacy and depletion of the soul.

The soul is not inexhaustible; and is that not why there is so much emptiness and loss of value in the world?  Of the content of information which we consider “personal” and “private”, that which concerns our medical condition tops the list.  Yet, in the context of Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will inquire, demand of, and insist upon, release of medical information beyond that which constitutes allowable breach of confidentiality, leaving aside the issue of good taste.

Of course, when the Federal or Postal employee decides to file 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, then the onus of proof (by the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence”) is entirely upon the Federal or Postal employee, and in that event, such submission of medical information is voluntary and must be done in order to secure the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  But before that, Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often demand medical information without limits or respecting of privacy.

A response by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker should be carefully considered, lest there be a later conflict when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, often, during a time and circumstance prior to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the issue is one of wanting to continue to work; and, in any event, unconstrained dissemination of information of the most private nature — that of medical information — should always be carefully guarded.

In the end, releasing of medical information is like that superstitious sense held sacredly by those aboriginal tribes now lost in the deep forests of forgotten time; once, we believed that a single photograph would steal our soul, to be forever tortured in the chasms of an enemy’s grip; today, such a suspicion has been replaced with the foolhardy belief that we can give of ourselves indiscriminately, without the stolen soul suffering the agony of public scorn.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire