OPM Disability Retirement: The dullness of creative lack

Have you ever observed the child who takes a stick and imagines himself/herself (we are trying to maintain the decorum of political correctness, here, by including all genders, because the implication otherwise in using a reflexive pronoun identifying a specific population apparently denotes that excluding the other half-or-so of the world’s inhabitants is discriminatory and an engagement of possible malfeasance, which we would not want to be charged with) emboldened by a weapon in hand and being the hero of an imaginary battle, invincible to a fault, brave without being arrogant, and making garbled sounds of whizzing bullets and fantastical feats of being wounded but with tenacity of self-will, capturing the enemy fort, being generous to those unfortunate prisoners of war and conquering singlehandedly a page in the history of unbounded heroism?

Contrast that depicted slice of imagination, to the child who is given every expensive toy and accouterments available on Amazon – the superhero wardrobe with cape; a replica of a life-like weapon; plastic hand grenades; and whatever other appendages that replace the creativity of one’s imagination – even of sound-effects emitted, downloaded on one’s cellphone placed in the utility belt worn by the kid; suddenly, it is mere motions that the child goes through, while all of the trappings have been satisfied even before the fun began.

That is what we do, isn’t it, as parents who believe that we were deprived in our own childhoods?  We gave everything, not knowing that by doing so, we took away the most important piece of the proverbial puzzle.  It is the puzzle of the dullness of creative lack; the less we had, the more we had to compensate and greater the reward in cognitive activity; and the more we gave, the less the child had to provide his or her creative input, thereby diminishing the soul’s inner force of imagination, resulting in the negative consequence in the dullness of creative lack.

That which we are given that undermines creative energy, we submit with the lazy side of human nature; and as inactivity and inertia results in atrophy, so gifts unsolicited in overabundance of generosity can actually harm in the ignorance of thoughtless plenitude.  And so we often find ourselves in the rut of daily monotony, on that treadmill of constancy even when we know we are destroying ourselves.  Children, in their innocence, don’t realize the harm; adults, too, but not in innocence but cynicism of life’s callouses, forge ahead even if they do recognize the harm.

Isn’t that what the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who persists in the self-immolation of continuing a Federal or Postal career, is actually doing?  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 worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, it is often the reality of the harm perpetrated by continuing in the Federal or Postal position that prompts, compels, and finally necessitates the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Going down the road of Federal Disability Retirement is often considered a major decision and a giant leap in one’s life, but it certainly does not portend of a dullness of creative lack to consider its resulting benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Living versus being alive

There is a difference, is there not?  Of hummingbirds and cardinals bright against the backdrop of an evergreen; of a child running across the grassy knoll; then of aged men in nursing homes, shuttered away in corners where the drool of saliva unwiped reveals the tarnish of human unkindness; and of prisons rotting away with crowded cells for addicts whose sickness is considered a crime where, in ages past, opium dens and other vices merely preached in empty churches of the difference between mortal and venial sins unrehearsed.  Yet, we have somehow been duped into believing that “movement” is the basis of “living”, and its antonym, the lack thereof, constitutes something less than.

It is often when a medical condition overwhelms one with a debilitating illness, or a chronic state of pain; or, even of inconvenience in not being able to function as other “normal” people do, that it begins to “hit home”:  living is good; being alive, also, is worth it.  Perhaps the distinction is scoffed at by the healthy; as youth believes in the immortality and invincibility of foolhardiness, and often tests it to the detriment of failure and embarrassment, so wisdom may accompany an insight of some rather insignificant profundity – that we can boast well when everything is merely a hypothetical, as in ivory towers of university concepts, but we are all willing to compromise when the stark choices of life present themselves within limited contexts of concealed alternatives.

Being alive isn’t all that bad; living is preferable, but sometimes we have to accept the choices as presented by the reality of our unique and individualized circumstances.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates ending one’s career and shortening one’s desire for continuation in a chosen field, the recognition and admission as to the limitations imposed by one’s mortality, health and physical boundaries, as well as the impact of psychiatric conditions upon one’s ability to have the cognitive focus, concentration and attention to detail, will oftentimes require compromises that come close to the distinction noted – of living, versus being alive.

Perhaps the contrast has not swung in the pendulum of such extremes of options, but the feeling is certainly something that hits close to home.  For, continuation in the job will only further and progressively debilitate, such that you will come to a point of no return and end up simply being alive.  Living, as the preferable choice, is to take the steps in preparing, formulating and filing 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, precisely in order to prevent that state of last option prior to the ultimate test of mortality’s humor – of merely being alive, as opposed to living.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Dostoevsky and impassioned monologues

Does anyone read such an author, anymore?  At least, once one is beyond the assigned reading list and mandatory college compulsions that allegedly define those who are “educated” as opposed to not, does anyone perform the act out of pleasure?  Or, perhaps we would consider it more like self-torture.

Once the diploma is rolled, handed and received upon the platform of recognized accolades for accomplished feats now disseminated throughout all levels of society, where “blue collar” or physical labor is no longer perceived as acceptable and everyone must be subjected to the torture of reading Dostoevsky and his impassioned monologues that seem to meander forever upon a single scene, does anyone pick up a copy of such titles as, The Idiot, or The Brothers Karamazov, or of that “classic”, Crime and Punishment, and take valuable leisure time to plod and plug through such lengthy paragraphs upon puzzling paragraphs of reflective self-aggrandizing streams of consciousness?

Did a former generation or beyond really think like such characters, or is there something uniquely troubling about the “Russian” culture such that the depths of such rich history encompassing misery, war, poverty, the tension between power and the powerless, the tradition of the Czar and the more authoritarian lineage of Stalin, the current power structure, etc.?

Perhaps the Russian people can relate more readily with such authors and comprehend the scenes of reflective streams of long-winded monologues that can only be characterized as “impassioned” and tumultuous by any standard of emotional fervor.

There are, however, such similar examples in narratives prepared for a Federal Disability Retirement application, written by Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers in response to the questions and queries posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  Such impassioned monologues tend to include a lengthy history of past wrongs committed (i.e., Crime and Punishment); a journey describing tremendous upheavals and pain (i.e., The Brothers Karamazov); and of character caricatures that depicts a lack of focus and streamlined narrative (e.g., The Idiot).

Most of us claim to have read Dostoevsky; some of us make the further and surprising admission that we have “enjoyed” him; and some few of us actually continue to pick up his translated works and persist in reading him.  However, such pleasure-reading should be uniquely sequestered for the late-night fireside restorations, with a glass of wine or other inebriant to counter such impassioned monologues, and certainly only within a proper context of applicable content, and formulating such meanderings in a Federal Disability Retirement application by the literary device of stream of consciousness is not the “winning” mechanism to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Keep the focus and maintain a streamlined narrative in creating the nexus between the medical condition, the positional duties of the Federal or Postal job, and the impact between the two, and leave Dostoevsky and impassioned monologues to yesteryear’s literary classics rarely read, uncommonly desired, and never quite understood.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Analogies

It is the greater concept often developed through metaphors and similes; but to the extent they are now of use depends largely upon the shared cultural context within which we live.  If Classical literature is no longer the common thread of meaningful discourse, can references to them in creating analogies work?  To share that a person’s tragedy is more Shakespeare than Milton, or that the individual’s circumstances remind one more akin to The Road to Wigan Pier than Brideshead Revisited, can such conversations take on a relevant pathway if the intellectual divide fails to be crossed?

You can, of course, always Google and quickly get the quick rundown of the literary reference through electronic Spark Notes, or some other venue of shortcutting the arduous endeavor reserved in former times; but even that may reveal an inadequacy that cannot be overcome.  For, of what part of the book or author is being referred to?  Is it any particular play or poem, or the entirety of the work itself?  Is it any specific character or scene?

Some philosophers have posited that, by and large, we comprehend and make sense of the objective world through the use of analogies, built upon by metaphors and similes; for, language itself is a conglomerate of such literary devices.  To face the universe purely for survival’s sake is to forego the need for imposing the ordering through language; animals do not require it, but in the most rudimentary of mechanisms that advance warning signs and preemptive communications; it is only in the arena of human constructs where categorical imperatives need to be assigned in order to filter the world into more palatable and circumscribed entities for processing the complexities we have created.

Analogies thus communicate through the medium of shared conceptual constructs, where we draw in the recipient and spectator, the audience of our targeted comparisons, by relating a shared, known and familiar encapsulation of linguistic constructs.  It is only when the strangeness of the metaphor, the unfamiliarity of the reference, creates further puzzlement and loss of connection, that problems occur and relationships become fissures of language games gone awry.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal employees 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, the applicability of providing a foundational construct of relating one’s story to an “administrative specialist” at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will often involve – and require – analogies by default.

Use them sparingly; utilize discretion; and, in writing up one’s narrative in response to the questions posed on SF 3112A (Applicant’s Statement of Disability), remember that this is not the time, the context or the best place to try out radical, untested metaphors, similes or analogies.

Thus, while those who have read Orwell’s work, The Road to Wigan Pier, as well as Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, may find a clever and appropriate place in one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability to make some brilliant literary reference, it may be more prudent to stick to the medical facts and incorporate those supportive documents in dealing with analogies of life, health, and the nexus between the latter and one’s Federal or Postal job duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: And then we die

(It is the parenthetical previous statement that ultimately matters, left blank to be completed, and never to be presumed).  Actions of finality, or seemingly so, tend to create an aura of despair and angst.  Once, in a world where purpose was never questioned, and the teleological end of man never brought forth the hint of doubt, the cohesiveness of society’s resolve was never a pause.  It is the modernity of hesitation, trepidation and loss of judgment that brings us to the pit of incessant questioning, as opposed to “doing”.  This is a maddening world, where the rise of Existentialism and post-modern impotence leaves us to seek therapy at every turn.

What we do in our lives before that terminal event; what dreams we once possessed before the souring of cynicism overwhelmed us; and of those lazy summer nights when the dancing illumination of fireflies dotted the canvas of a blackened void, when thoughts would drift beyond the mere mediocrities of present lives, current circumstances and seemingly unassailable realities which constrained, restricted and limited the dreams shattered by the reality of our travails; it was then that a glimmer of hope, an expectation of possibility, and a hint of potentiality yet unrealized, would creep into the essence of our souls.

Fairytales matter, because youth cannot survive another day without some fantasy of hope; and doors left unopened and locked with the resolve of “forever” will only diminish and destroy, where the need for tomorrow yet shouts in a rashness of desire.  To shut the pathway to dreams or to construct obstacles for the mere sake of obstruction is to strangle that parenthetical gleam of light yet unextinguished and to betray the angels who look down upon us with the remnants of wings to be unfurled, in hopes of fluttering to pass by with a smile.

Perhaps, one day, there will still be such follies to believe in.  For now, there is only the toil of daily grind, and thus are we left with the question implicit in the statement:  And then we die.

In Muriel Barbery’s work, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a youthful life of advantage but of seeming meaninglessness is traded with an older woman’s upward trajectory once lost in the anonymity of class distinctions, and the theme throughout encompasses the essence of a life’s worth.  We all want to embrace meaning and value in the life which has been given; have we fulfilled our potential?  Did the dreams we once possessed, handed to us like jewels on a plate of limitless infinity, become realized, or was it a wasted phantasm like a handful of sand squeezed and escaping through the crevices of our closed fists?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the questions garnered by thoughts of future insecurity are natural and plentiful.  It is, in many ways, similar to the refrain repeated herein:  And then we die.

Once a Federal Disability Retirement application is approved, and the Federal or Postal employee is separated from the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, one wonders:  Was my work of any lasting value?  Did I leave an imprint upon the shifting sands of a prior existence?  Did I make a difference?

But those questions should be cast aside and left behind, and instead, it is still the future of one’s unfinished work that should always be focused upon, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is to continue the narrative in working upon that familiar refrain, that the future still promises a fulfillment of unfinished potentiality, and the unmarked grave need not be one which is unvisited even in the twilight of our lives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: Junkyards

It is the latter in the compound word which is left forgotten and unnoticed, precisely because of the screaming blare represented by the former, demanding attention by the sheer nature and character of its breaching sensibilities, like the spoiled cousin refusing to abide by the conventions imposed upon uninvited visitors and customs curtailing unwanted guests.

Once, before time forgotten and memories untarnished, the landscape was perhaps a pasture green with wildflowers and vegetation overgrown; then, a possessor who perhaps put up a fence to demarcate the beauty by identifying acquisition, tending to the weeds, creating a vegetable garden here, building a house over there, and all the while trying to maintain the beauty and solitude of a picturesque scene of pastoral quietude.

Initial intentions are rarely malevolent; it is time, circumstances and disrepair of incremental decay which, in their unnoticed aggregation of cumulative disregard, suddenly fall upon us like a tidal wave of gloom.  Perhaps it began more with the invention, creation and abundance of implements and industrial tools; or just the defect of human essence and the inherent laziness of the species.

An automobile which refused to throttle one early morning can certainly become the foundation of that linguistic pose at the forefront of the compound; later, a refrigerator where the condenser fan or the compressor, or some other such component which refused to make the proper sounds and conduct itself in a manner befitting cold air in the heat of a summer day, suddenly gives out, and what do you do with a monstrosity taking up valuable space within the limited dimensions of a cramped kitchen?

And thus, over time, where once the carefully tended landscape of pristine greenery unscathed by the clutter of unwanted debris, begins to dominate, as do most creations of human refuse.  The detritus of discarded wreckage scattered in the afterthought of one’s castle, as represented by the backyard of a home, is telling of a lengthy history of accumulation, decisions, riffraff of rubble unwanted — sort of like the history of human experiences comprised of emotional baggage gathered and garnered.

The outer reflects the inner, and the essence which expands within the soul of a tormented individual requires release and revelation, if only for a fortnight before an exponential explosion of psychic need claws to escape from the restraining membrane throughout.  Ugliness begs for concealment and a veil of hope; and so the grass and weeds which grow to cover the rusting wreckage in a junkyard of despair, often parallels the anguished inner being of the one who cries silently in hollows where no one can hear, or is unwilling to listen.

Junkyards are interesting case studies of the history of individual lives, otherwise undiscovered except perhaps by archaeologists who mistake an ancient site for a bevy of linear rationality.  But it is often the forgotten part of the junkyard which remains unnoticed — that of the inner component of man, left untended to and forgotten for fear of releasing the box which Pandora was entrusted with, containing all of the evils of the world, and what more to consign but the turmoils of human emotion and psychological scars, otherwise camouflaged by smiles and entreaties of normative concealment?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition — whether physical, emotional or mental — the junkyards most concerning are comprised of the illness and pain hidden from full view, perhaps left in the rear and avoided by others, which burdens the soul beyond capacity to endure.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often merely a first step in the process of clearing out the debris which accumulated over a lifetime of attempting to conceal and contain; for, in the end, the Federal or Postal worker who needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is at a point in his or her life, when the wreckage mounting in the unseen privacy of junkyards left unattended, requires help to haul those heavy components of human detritus away, and in the process, a forgotten jewel carelessly discarded in a time once known with laughter in the pasture of one’s past, may again be discovered for future joy and hope.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement Benefits: Linguistic Machismo

The term is derived from Spanish origins, and it is that characteristic which contributed most to the rise of Hemingway’s fame, and his ultimate act of self-destruction.  Of bullfights, big-game hunting, reporting amidst the Spanish Civil War, leaving unmentioned his encounter with death and devastation from his experiences in World War I, resulting in the Phoenix rising through his unforgettable fictional characters, Howard Krebs and Nick Adams, whose souls have been damaged beneath the surface of any physical manifestation of wounds or injuries, where reconnection with society, its rhythms of daily living and silliness of interests, can no longer be possible — these comprise the defining events of the meaning of the word itself.

Combined with the compounding prefix, it delineates the approach of modernity in engaging in communitarian communications.  You know — of bombast and lambaste; where subtlety of meaning is left without room for doubt, connotation, denotation or a question mark, but merely a hyphenated sense of an unstated thud followed by an exclamation point.

The famous debaters have now faded into the antiquity of forgotten dustbins; Lincoln-Douglas; Buckley-Vidal; the courteous but inquisitive Dick Cavett show; and the late-night show of Johnny Carson, whom many consider to encompass both intelligence and complexity of thought, especially when compared to parallelisms truncated by modernity.  Civility is gone; subtlety as an art form is all but lost; the only teleology of choice these days focuses upon the viral nature of a YouTube video, and only if it trumpets the extreme with the blare of sensationalism.

This approach — of linguistic machismo — has crept into the narrative of today.  Leaving aside the repugnance of the term for feminist causes, the substance of the concept implies an aggressive tone in setting forth a narrative.  The problem with engaging in such a consistency of intolerance in conveying as a vehicle of communication the toughness of a “no-holds barred” language game, however, is that it soon and quickly loses its efficacy.

Even an elephant struck repetitively to move the lumbering animal will develop callouses which defy the oncoming blows of future pain; encouragement by blunt force trauma is a discouraging device over time, if used without discretion.  Incessant screams become deafening to ears sensitized; physical pain becomes numb to repetition; repetition itself creates a havoc of unnoticed constructs; and so it goes.

This can be a lesson to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to construct an effective narrative in preparing one’s Statement of Disability for submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

When the Federal or Postal applicant for Disability Retirement purposes envisions who will be reading, reviewing and analyzing one’s Statement of Disability (as posited on SF 3112A), it is well noting that the Administrative Specialist who will be making a decision at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will have hundreds of cases to get to; and from that caricature of a singular soul peeking out from a mountain of files, the subtlety of a whispering voice immersed in truth, objectivity, and persuasive force of argumentation quietly encapsulated by law and proper documentation, will be the light which shines from the darkness of ineptitude, where even the emotionally-damaged, fictional heroes of Hemingway’s short stories may shed a tear now and again.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: How Many Should Be Listed?

I am often asked the question:  How many health conditions or disabilities should I list in my Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A)?  This question is often preceded by another question and answer:  What are your medical disabilities (me to the caller)?  Answer:  I have about ten of them (caller to me).  Let me start out by giving some free advice:  Don’t list ten medical conditions.  Don’t list nine.  Don’t list eight.

When the Office of Personnel Management reviews a Federal Disability Retirement submission under FERS or CSRS, the OPM Representative will review your disability retirement packet until it is approved — and no further.  Approval comes about upon a finding that one of your listed medical conditions disables you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job.  Now, sometimes OPM will find that a combination of 2 or 3 medical conditions disables you together:  meaning that OPM perhaps found that while a single one did not disable you under their criteria, a combination of two or three did.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that, because the medical conditions and disabilities upon which OPM makes their decision on will be the basis for future continuation of your disability retirement annuity (in the event that you receive a Medical Questionnaire in the future), it is important to limit the listing of one’s medical disabilities on the SF 3112A to those conditions which will likely last for more than 12 months.

Conclusion:  It is important to sequentially prioritize the medical disabilities, in the order of severity, chronicity and duration.  Further, it is important to NOT list the minor medical conditions which, while they may be aggravating, and have impacting symptoms, may not necessarily prevent one from performing the essential elements of your job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire