Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: The full emptiness

Beyond the definite article, the two adjectives would remain self-contradictory if the meaning attempting to be projected were either both (A) in the physical sense or (B) in the spatial, cognitive sense.

A further explanation may be in order, here.  Contradictions often occur when words are mistaken to be conveyed in a single dimension, but can be modified if explained that they represent different conditions, occupying a sense of distinction that can be differentiated because of the slight alteration of contextual bifurcation.

Certainly, the terms “full” and “empty” become self-contradictory when applied in a physical sense for both terms; but if either of the terms are meant to represent different dimensions — i.e., “full” in the physical sense and “emptiness” as an emotion or feeling, or vice versa (“full” in an appetitive meaning and “empty” as a physical fact), then the contextual distinction takes on a differentiated meaning.

One often says that such phrases containing self-contradictory terms are merely a “play on words”, and indeed, it is normally intended to convey a thought-provoking compound of a conceptual construct.  The “full emptiness” is an idea that can denote many meanings; perhaps of a life filled with activities, but somehow lacking in meaningfulness; or, of an individual whose outward appearance is one of fulfillment and contentment, but whose soul is wanting because of a tragedy in his or her past.

That has always been the essence of a life worthy of condemnation, has it not?  Of a friction that continues to rub against each other — of appearance versus reality, of internal versus external; the contrast between the inner sanctum of thoughts and the outer reality of what is expressed.  For, of what worth is a life if it cannot be condemned?

The full emptiness is what most of us project to others, and how others behave towards us; that is the unfortunate aspect of living among and amidst each other.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the self-contradictory concept of a “full emptiness” is a familiar theme.

The outward appearance must continue to be maintained — of competence, ability to multi-task, and capacity to take it all in; all of this, despite the ongoing medical conditions that debilitate and progressively deteriorate.  The inner reality often tells of a different story: of pain; non-restorative sleep; profound fatigue; physical and mental dysfunctions that are hidden and concealed.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a step towards vanquishing the contradiction of a life of full emptiness; it is to recognize that the negative circumstances of the medical condition need not dominate the positive hope that is still held that a career once deemed promising can yet open up into a future undaunted by the medical conditions themselves, by securing a Federal Disability Retirement and focussing upon getting one’s health back into balance so that the conundrum of a full emptiness can become a thing of the past.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Ordered lives

There is, first of all, chaos and disarray; and whether from a biblical worldview or the natural paradigm of a universe formed from a massive energy source that exploded with such force as to hurl a spinning residue of astronomical proportions into far galaxies that resulted in the starry heavens we witness today; it is from the opposite of a placid tranquility that we experience the ordered lives of everyday existence.

There are, of course, the extremes of the spectrum – of that person who is obsessive and compulsive about the “ordering” of one’s life, where every teacup and saucer must be placed in the cupboard within precise millimeters of one another, and no angle of a picture on a wall must be allowed to circumvent the geometric consistency with the right angles of the corners; or, by contrast, the slob who believes that pants, plants, underwear and empty pizza boxes belong in the same corner of the bedroom as expensive china and puppies who snuggle in bathroom showers.

Somewhere in between the two extremes upon the spectrum of life, exists the ordinary person of ordinary means, who wakes up each ordinary morning to go about in ordinary ways; all within the constraints of ordered lives.  All, or most of us, like, enjoy and look forward to some semblance of order in our lives.

Chaos is good for an exciting moment; monotony of discourse for the rest of the day requires that sanity mandates a certain sequence of events, and that is why dystopian stories of a universe in disarray after a nuclear war or some other disastrous consequence of political missteps left in the hands of incompetent world leaders allows for small-budget films to be successful in scaring the hell out of us all.

Divorce, death, illness and tragedies disrupt the otherwise sought-after ordering of lives left peaceful; medical conditions tend to do that, don’t they?  They interrupt the tranquility that we so seek with quiet resolve; and then the medical condition becomes a chronic state of existence, and more than just a nuisance, they interrupt our plans, our hopes, and the essence of our ordered lives.

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 the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the interruption that ensues from the disruption of a medical condition, resulting in the breaking up of one’s ordered life, often comes to a point where consideration must be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit that is “there” for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  And, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may come at a time when the previous state of ordered lives is sought after again, if only to reach a destination where chaos is no longer the new norm of everyday existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Silent lives defying interpretation

Life is a mystery, and individual lives a puzzle untold.  It is the calluses that we develop throughout our lives that diminish our individual and collective curiosity to get to know the “other”.

We are born with a teleological intellect striving to unravel and unmask the depths of human essence; but modernity, technology and the singular focus of tangents often involving prurient asides distract and envelop with unwavering obsessions, but it has gotten worse:  no, not in any violent manner or upheaval of historical significance; rather, the electronic means of texting, emailing, Facebook-ing and other such means – which, if one pauses for just a moment to reflect, is merely a white page on a screen of illuminating blindness where symbols representing communicative ignorance are exchanged through the ethereal conduit of airwaves – give an artificial semblance of comfort that we are still engaging in the essential project of destined human activity:  getting to know one another.

When, in fact, the distance between words and the human touch; the distinction between the beep apprising one of receiving a message and the subtleties of an eyebrow raised, a grimace faintly made or a sparkle from eyes admiring; or the differentiation between black lettering upon a lighted page as opposed to the intonation and undulating mellifluousness of the softly spoken word – these, we are losing as each day passes, unnoticed, unconcernedly, and without any real hope of recovery.

It is, in the end, those silent lives defying interpretation which are lost forever on the doorsteps of unwritten historical accounts, despite the stories never told, the narratives forever undeclared and the characters uncharted because of the mystery of life and the conundrum of human lives.

History, it has been said, is written by “winners”; and if there is indeed truth in such a statement, then its corollary opposite must be similarly true:  unwritten and unknown accounts are forgotten or never written of those “losers”.  But that is only half of the truth; for, there are those countless bystanders who are never acknowledge, but fail to be inserted and included in the narrative of unmarked graves unacknowledged through the accounts of history untold.

We all want to be “significant”; we all want to “make a difference”; and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition cuts short a promising career, a relevant contribution to the “mission” of the Federal Agency, or make a difference to an old woman living alone who waves hello to the Letter Carrier as the high-point of her day – filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may seem like the end of that teleological journey that we are all engaged in.

But always remember that there is life after the Federal workplace, and whether you are an active Federal or Postal employee, or getting ready to take that step to initiate a Federal Disability Retirement application, there are still silent lives defying interpretation, and yours is one of them.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: “Well, at least…”

Admittedly, any substantive insight into such a conceptual proverb used in everyday life is attributable to the eloquent thoughts of Yiyun Li, in her recently published collection of essays.  Such insights are so deliciously stated, with linguistic content so deftly conveyed, that the undersigned cannot refrain from grasping, grappling and attempting to add onto that which cannot be improved upon.

Well, at least plagiarism is no longer anything more than a forgivable sin, and not even a venial one at that.  The concept goes to the heart of comparing misery and quantifying misfortune.  When faced with a catastrophe, we minimize by comparative qualificationWell, at least…  As if contrasting a lesser misfortune on a spectrum of possible calamities will pull the pendulum away from the pain and sorrow it has reached, and compel a more balanced perspective and diminish the weight of heartache.  Does such a diminution of personal failure by reducing it to a lesser quantity concurrently minimize the sorrow felt?

To a grieving parent whose oldest child has passed away, while sparing the lives of another sibling or two; Well, at least…  At what point does such an insight fail to achieve its goal?  Would it carry the same weight if 5 of 6 children perished?  Could you still get away with saying the same thing?  What if she is the lone survivor?  At what point on the spectrum of human calamity does such a statement retain any semblance of empathetic import and meaning?

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 the positional duties occupied:  Well, at least he/she can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits…

The fact is, for almost all Federal and Postal employees, that option is the last one they want to initiate; for, most Federal and Postal employees want to continue to maintain, extend and excel in their chosen careers.

In the instance of Federal and Postal employees, however, such a phrase has further significance, in the following manner:  the availability of an alternative in the event that all other avenues of choices become unavailable.  Thus, in such a context, it is not a quantification of sorrow or comparative analysis of choices presented; rather, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is a mere recognition that, in that unwanted event where a promising career needs to be cut short, there is at least the option of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Well, at least…

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The cog in the process

Does perspective have an influence upon one’s approach in engaging an endeavor of any sort?  For instance, does it matter whether or not the cynic and the one who sees the world consistently as “half-empty” or unwittingly cruel, nevertheless succeeds at every turn and venture?  Or, conversely, of the person who always has a “positive attitude” and sees good in every corner, but nevertheless fails at every attempted feat; did “perspective” and viewpoint make a difference?

Perhaps life requires a balance between the two, and such extremes on a spectrum of outlook is never a healthy thing.

In the end, does it matter whether or not we see ourselves as an insignificant cog in a wider process of unending turmoil, or as an Oprah-like shining star where we persuade ourselves that we matter as a mere cog precisely because the loss of a singular and unique “you” would have a devastating impact upon the well-ordered universe where the gods watch upon each hair of our scalps and wait to quiver with laughter when we express our hopes for relevance?

We often “feel” like a cog in the process – even if, on a more objective and brighter viewpoint, such an analogy and imagery represent an inaccurate put-down of major proportions.

That is the problem with bureaucracies – seen from the “other” side, our involvement in an administrative procedure invites us to ascertain that which we always suspected:  Stand in line; be assigned a number; be asked for standard information and data; a stamp is pounded upon a piece of paper and … “Next!”  What constitutes the accurate portrayal of our point of being caught within a world devoid of normative constructs, anymore?

This generation of youthful cadavers have it the worst, of course, as there is no longer a belief to die for, a value to live by, nor an encounter that can pass for pure friendship without an underlying suspicion that more is intended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the entrance into the social club of the “cog” is just beginning.  OPM is a vast juggernaut of an administrative process, and the miniscule feeling one will be exposed to, presented with and suddenly thrown to the bottom of a pitiless cauldron will become evident from the very beginning.

That “feeling”, however, should never be confused with the relevance, importance and significance of preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application properly and to a perfection made to order, at least as much as humanly possible.

For, in the end, to be a cog in the process does not mean that one should become processed as a mere cog; rather, that the line which extends around the block and down into the next needs to be acknowledged, yet prepared sufficiently such that when that call for “Next!” comes your way, all of the papers, relevant data and significance of evidence are in undiluted order, such that the cog in the process will flow smoothly when next your turn is up before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire