FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: That cup of tea

It is the symbol of a quieter life; of a pastoral time of past remembrances, where the slower pace accorded a tranquility now lost forever.  It is referred to in many of William Trevor’s short stories — of that time in England when people still sat around and had “that cup of tea”.  For, somehow, the notion of fine china, the curling wisps of winding steam and the aroma of warmth and comfort retain a resonance of civility, quietude and the sentiment of calmer times.

Coffee, on the other hand, betrays a greater americanism — of forging ahead, forever seeking progress and movement, a person on steroids who cannot take the time, will not, and in fact has no time for the silliness of having that cup of tea.  That is why coffee is taken on the road, in plastic or styrofoam cups; in mugs and sturdy, thick jugs; whether plain, with a bit of milk and with or without sugar.

The two represent different times; of lifestyles gone and replaced; of civility and crudity.  Starbucks and others have tried to gentrify the cup of coffee, of course, and to create different “Internet cafes” with sophisticated-sounding names for lattes, “XY-Americano” or some similar silly-sounding names; but in the end it is the bit of coffee painted with a lipstick on the pig, and it remains the shot of coffee that provides the taste.

People are like that; and we all reminisce about times past, of “good old days” and for some, we miss that cup of tea.  For the greater society, the two contrasting flavors of a drink represent a bifurcation of sorts: One, for a kind of life we long for; the other, the reality within which we find ourselves.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between the cup of tea and the mug of coffee is like a metaphor of one’s own circumstances: the body and mind requires that cup of tea; the reality that swirls around demands the mug of coffee.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is perhaps the antidote to the growing problem.  While it may not be every person’s cup of tea, it is something that — given the environment of the Federal Agency and the Postal Service in requiring every worker to act like a caffein-induced maniac — may medically indicate a change from the coffee-centered culture that cannot sit even for a brief moment to enjoy that distant reverberation of fine china clinking amidst the calm of a quiet morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Conversations

What is a conversation?  Or, is it an empirical phenomenon that — only when we are in the middle of it — we know as we experience it, but otherwise is undefinable?  If there are 5 people in a room but only 1 is doing the talking, is a conversation ongoing?  Must there be a “back and forth” give and take, or must something more be involved?  If the same 5 people are in the same room, and all of them are talking all at once, does that rise to the level of a conversation?  Does interruption and talking over one another undermine the definition?

What if there is extraordinary politeness — of each waiting his and her turn — and where no one interrupts, there is a pause between each discourse and a civility beyond mere lack of rudeness, but upon listening, one realizes that each one of the individuals is speaking about a completely different topic, and there is no interaction or even acknowledgment that anyone is listening to anyone else — does this all of a sudden undermine the concept of what is occurring?

This is an Age of Discord — of intractable positions taken, where the foundations that once formed the Age of Reason have been decimated and we are left with empty voices of loud vehemence, hollow in content but roaring in volume.  Truth, objectivity, logic and rational methodology — the very essence of discourse and conversation — have been hollowed out and cast aside.

It is now in camps of “us” against “them”, but the singular missing component that has devastated the capacity to have a conversation is the one that no one ever talks about: The ability to recognize and admit that someone else’s argument is superior to one’s own.

When was the last time you heard someone say: “Hey, that argument is quite good and persuasive.  I think you are right.”?  Instead, it is the familiar refrain: “That’s just your opinion.”  And as the volume of decibels increases, the content of substance proportionately and precipitously falls.

There are, of course, various levels of conversations, but one level is clear: Listen to the other side.  This also includes reading, recognizing and understanding the applicable statutes in an administrative process in order to meet all of the elements of the burden of proof.  Being intransigent and stubborn are qualities that makes one feel empowered, but concurrently, are often self-defeating.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it all begins with knowledge — of the statutes, the case-law and the precedents that apply.

We may all have to concede that the Age of Conversations is over; what we may be left with is a process where, at the very least, one must listen and try to learn.

Federal Disability Retirement is an administrative process which is never simple, and must be approached with knowledge, tenacity and an ear to listening to what is needed in order to meet the eligibility requirements.  Having a medical condition is a start, but it is not enough.  And like conversations that may have started but puttered out without fanfare, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application will take more than talking about how we “feel”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Disability Retirement: The complexity of 2

It is the solo flight that presents the escape of simplicity; inclusion of another, and suddenly the complexity of responsibility, duty, obligation and sense of “ought” becomes a part of the entire equation.  At first, it may be love born upon an equal plane; any sense of disproportionality is easily ignored, quickly deflected and unselfconsciously dispensed with; but over time, the complexity of 2 begins to creep in.

It is neither insidious nor inherently negative by artifice; rather, it is the most natural of sensibilities, arising from a knowledge that reliance upon one another not only acknowledges and validates the vows of matrimony, but moreover, the eternal commitment each makes to the other forever forges the bonds of undiluted friendship, like kindred spirits floating in some ethereal universe unperturbed by distractions of consternation consecrated upon the altar of destruction.

Have you ever observed the interaction of singularity?  That is correct – it is simple and uncomplicated.  The asides are mere reflections of one’s own troubles; the soliloquys stated without puzzlement or obfuscation.

Then, if you add a second, the complexity of 2 comes into play – of misunderstandings, miscommunications and loss of solidarity in the oneness of judgment.  What if there are three?  Then, suddenly not only are there relationships between the first and second, but between first and third, second and third, as well as the tripartite interaction between all three simultaneously.  And of four?

The exponential complexity that arises from adding one more to each magnification of interrelationships enhances beyond the mere introduction of another, but creates a havoc beyond the singularity of such an entrance.  Why is this?

One would, on a purely conceptual level, likely argue that since the simplicity of 1 remains so, ergo the combination of each should logically retain such lack of complication.  But such an argument based upon theoretical argumentation and rationality elliptically conducted in an antiseptic environment and context fails to recognize the innate complexity of each human being.

That is why, in preparing 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 or CSRS Offset, the simple-enough questions posed and queried on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, can never be characterized as “easy” or “straightforward”.

Why?  Because there is the complexity of 2 – or more.  For, while the questions themselves are answered by the singular Federal or Postal employee, there are multiple facets of that same employee which requires a response – the Federal or Postal employee in the status of an employee who suffers from a medical condition; the relationship between the medical condition and the positional requirements of the Federal or Postal job; the Federal or Postal employee in the capacity of his or her personal life; the introduction of the diagnosed Federal or Postal employee with a specific medical condition.

Do you see the complexity?  It is, as always, the complexity of 2.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Court of Sycophants

The word itself is a linear sequence of consonants and vowels which delight the linguistic palate of parallelism between sound and meaning; rolling off of the tongue, it begins with the soft purr of the ‘s’, then slides midway into the harsh and guttural clash of a germanic cough, as if something untoward has been stuck in the center of one’s throat which needs to be cleared, like phlegm gathered in the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages; then flows to the end and drifts off into a quietude of irrelevance, disregard and dismissal, as the pointed meaning of application coincides with the diminishing utterance of fading signification.

In feudal times, when kings and princes of minor fiefdoms pockmarked the divided provinces of Europe and Asia, the gathering of sycophants pervaded each hour with daily tributes of flowery adjectives added effortlessly in conjunction with backstabbing motivations; the smiles of agreement and infusion of words to puff up the royal kingdom were offset by the murderous rage hidden in the dark corridors of dungeons where the abyss of human cruelty and malevolence resided with unfettered and ravenous appetite.

Does the modern presence of such and the like represent a fading vestige of that former calumny of bacterial servitude, or merely a reflection of the true nature of man’s essence?  The court of sycophants does not exist merely in dusty books of historical irrelevance; it survives in small pockets of sibling rivalries where inheritances are favored by means of embellished compliments combined with fading cognitive capacity for recognition of the distinction between words and sincerity; and in workplaces where no hostages are taken when one’s livelihood is at stake.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are intimately familiar with the darkened hearts of sycophants, there are more colorful words used to describe them — as in the kissing of another’s behind; but whether one uses the original one or a replacement of a more informal vernacular, the meaning all amounts to the same.  Especially, when a medical condition begins to impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform at the same level as before, the wide range of sycophants begin to make their appearance.

Somehow, denigration of others is believed to elevate one’s own status and stature, and indeed, the feudal court of sycophants was based upon that system of favoritism and derisive discourse.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, however, such that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes necessary, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the escape from the constant backbiting and backstabbing becomes necessary not only to maintain and further one’s health and well-being, but is also a recognition that one has lost the favor of the court itself, and it becomes incumbent upon the Federal and Postal employee to recognize that the Court of Sycophants has been powdering the nose not of the king’s face, but of the emperor whose clothes has disappeared and where the cheeks which quiver with frolicking laughter are at the wrong end of the anatomical map.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: A Pedigree of Choices

There are still some parts in the world where line of descent and lineage of genealogy matter; certainly, for spectacles such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the origins of breeding, the line of winners, and the genetically pure tree of aristocratic connections matter still.  But humans are different; or so we like to think.

We are repulsed by the very idea of placing substantive significance upon birth rights, yet we fawn all over royal births and deaths; we deny the importance of name, lineage and legitimacy, yet grope with incestuous perversity for information of scandal and bastardly genealogy; and while we feign to act disinterestedly in matters blared in tabloid newspapers, somehow they continue to sell well, and the supermarket lines are crammed with such addictive fare, alongside candies and covered chocolates.

Pedigree is to the dying aristocracy what the economy is to today’s worker:  slow death, and fading into an unknown abyss.  That has been the beauty for democracies around the world — the choices given, the opportunities provided, in a universe where lineage, heritage and genealogy matter less than the chance to thrive.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a point in his or her career, where a medical condition has become an impediment, it is the pedigree of a different sort which must be considered.

Pedigree in a narrow sense is that which constitutes the DNA of bloodlines; in a more general sense, it is the recorded ancestry which determines fate, but which in the modern era we have been able to free ourselves of, and with deliberative intent, force the issue.  Thus, when we talk about a pedigree of choices, it is meant to denote the reaching branches of multiple paths to consider, from a singular trunk of limited origins.

Federal Disability Retirement is one such branch, reaching out into a different direction.  For the Federal and Postal employee 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, it will often seem that future choices are as limited as the former system of feudal paucity of exclusion except for name, blood and descent by birth.

But the modern pedigree of choices is determined not by the tree of ancestry, but in the tree of knowledge; and as Federal OPM Disability Retirement is a choice available for all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service (for FERS employees) and 5 years (for CSRS employees), it is incumbent upon the Federal or Postal worker who thinks that a medical condition is as self-limiting as the former constraints of pedigree, to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, as the pedigree of choices.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire