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

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The rate of return

At what point does the rate of return diminish to the extent that it is “no longer worth it.”?  And, what is the “it” referring to?  Is it the effort expended in contrast to the compensation received?  Is it the dividends paid upon an investment ignored?

Often, in all of the contexts just described, the focus is upon the wrong point; it is not the “end product” or the final sum that should determine the worthwhile aspect of the “rate of return”, but rather, the key term overlooked — not the “return”, but the “rate”.  One might argue that the two essentially are the same, inasmuch as the “return” (the sum received) is determined by the “rate” (the calculus that determines).  But are they?  Doesn’t it depend upon what context it is being applied to?

Certainly, when conceived of in a traditional investment category, the final sum received can be backtracked to the rate that has been applied; but what about other, more non-traditional contexts, such as friendships, work — even marriage?  Or does one never apply such cold-hearted calculations when discoursing upon the arena of human relationships?  Can we so easily drop friendships and end marriages based upon the same criteria applied in changing investment firms?

Come to think of it, our own lack of active interest is probably the single biggest reason that marriages and friendships last — because, like those investments that we allow to remain because we are too lazy to take an active interest in, many remain in marriages and friendships well beyond the love that has been lost long ago, or the affection that has waned all too subtly; for, in the end, it is our own laziness and lack of motivation that allows the fallowed pastures to let life slowly die in the uncaring tenements of thoughtless stupor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers that suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the full performance of one’s positional duties and the essential elements of the job, the conceptual paradigm of the “rate of return” should be applied in contemplating whether or not to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Surely, the Federal Agency or the Postmaster is thinking along the same lines — is he/she getting the job done?  Can I get more out of someone else?

That is the Agency’s perspective; but what about yours?  Such questions as: Is my health going to improve by remaining?  What will the future options be: remain, resign or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

If the first and second choices are no longer real options, then the third one is a necessity, as it becomes clear that the rate of return is no longer a worthwhile investment to remain in a job that clearly is destroying any semblance of one’s quality of life — and that, in the end, is what the purpose of the investment was all about to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The measure of sincerity

How do you measure a concept?  By application of, or comparison with, another?  Or, does it require a meta-application — an algorithm from a different dimension?  We measure linear horizontal distances by coordinated precision of segmentation, and vertical sedimentary deposits by arc designs manifested and revealed in nature; so, what of conceptual distances and chasms of thoughts?

Can more words validate the sincerity of previously spoken words merely uttered in an informal setting of pleasantry and conversational discourse?  Does a track record of broken promises undermine the sincerity of future intentions conveyed by more words?  Does volume, either in the form of numerical countenance or in terms of decibels emitted, change the validity, tone or tonal significance of a person’s overt meaning?  Can a person state one belief at one moment, in a slice of time of historical irrelevance, where only private ears can confirm the spoken words; then, in the very next instance, make a public declaration affirming the very opposite of what was previously made known to a microcosm of friends and associates, and still cling to a claim of consistency, logical and rational thought processing, ignorance of any hypocritical intent, and sincerity as well?  How many chances does a person have, before words become meaningless by means of consistent refutation and reversal of one’s stated intent overturned by further disputation?

In the world of practical living, of course, each individual applies a threshold of judgment and determination.  The test and measure of sincerity is not to merely pile on more words upon previously-uttered communication; rather, it is actions which follow upon declared intent which confirms the validity of a meaningful statement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who state that he or she is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, action must follow upon words of medical significance.  If a medical provider advises that continuation in a certain profession or duties required by a position in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service is prevented because of a medical condition, then thoughts, words, conceptual daydreaming and wishful thinking are no longer enough.

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, is the next logical step subsequent to, and in post-sequence, following upon words which have significance and import.  Ignoring words is one thing; denying truth is quite another.  For, in the end, how we measure sincerity is quite easy; we take the sum of the words spoken, divide it by the number of actions taken, and multiply that by the dividends previously accounted for in prior instances of similar motives stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Hesitant Hole

The famous one, of course, and the one which draws the imagination, is depicted in Lewis Carroll’s tale of Alice and her journey down the rabbit’s abyss; another, the one which determines the relative shortcomings of weather predictability, but that one is guided more by shadows and perceptions from above, as opposed to the one dug below; or, there is the one which we dig for ourselves, and the proverbial timelessness of our foolish deeds.

Of the first, we remember the endless stretch of our imaginations which is expanded by the creativity of the author and the world of fantasy; the second, the reality of the dread we feel for the weather, the cold and the shortened days of winter when we yearn for the coming lull of summer warmth; and of the latter, it reminds us that the consequences of our own misdeeds continue to haunt us despite trepidation and timidity.

Do holes have a character?  Are some holes dug with delight?  Like deep caverns reaching beneath sandcastles on dreamy days of childhood laughter echoing against the wind and waves of salted air; or of the deep crevices and potholes in roads of concrete and steel, when the shifting tectonic forces of nature collide with man’s attempt to construct artificial barriers against timeless changes of fortitude and fear; and the one’s we claw at.

The large ones created by bulldozers and other machines, do they not unravel the once-concealed arrogance of man?  And the careful pawing of the delicate hand in the timeless sand, where castles crumble with trepidations of joy?  But it is the grownup’s attempts at escape, of creating a hiding place where adulthood no longer allows for Alice’s wanderings into a virtual world of imagination and creative loss, and the dread of reality bearing upon the fearful universe we cannot understand, fail to navigate and refuse to negotiate.

The world is indeed a fearful place, and we wish there would always be a rabbit hole to fall into, if only to escape the harshness of our own misgivings.  But beyond that hole into which we inadvertently fall, it is the one’s we dig for ourselves — hesitantly — which create the greatest of calamities.  For, when we do it with trepidation and fear, it is the slow and incremental depth and vastness of it which escapes our immediate attention.

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 positional duties with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, it is that hesitation which continues to create the deepened caverns of choices for future security and certainty.

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, is always a difficult decision to make; indeed, filing for OPM medical retirement means that a change is forthcoming, both in career and in finances.  But because the entire administrative process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is a long and arduous road to take, it is the hesitant hole which we dig by procrastinating, delaying and obfuscating that often makes for that seemingly endless fall from grace which Alice kept wondering about; but for her, at least she knew that the hole she fell into was the creation of the rabbit she pursued, and not the hesitant hole of one’s own making into which we cannot dig ourselves out from.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The Trauma of Change

There is comfort and security in the monotony of routine; for many, even a slight alteration in the identity of daily action presents a threat to the coherence of a world created and maintained.  Old men and women who suffer from the destructive forces of dementia rely upon it; homes which house the aging population, abandoned by obligation and freed from trust of children now grown, lean upon the crutch of sameness, as if sanity depended upon a universe determined to defy detour of deference.

But such clinging to the security blanket of daily recurrence is not relegated to the old; for most of us, reliance upon the monotony of unchanging sameness is what provides for reliability and dependability; alteration of environment is for the youth to encounter, as excitement of differentiation can only be relished by those who can accommodate change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who begin to suffer from a medical condition, and where the symptoms and ravages of the diagnosed medical conditions begin to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the winds of change present a formidable challenge to one’s sense of equilibrium, perspective of stability, and calm feelings for a secure future.

Change is traumatic; and, moreover, unexpected and uninvited alteration of circumstances by force of unwanted imposition, is like being hit over the head by the proverbial hammer of life, and we kick and cry in protest as we are dragged down the avenues of change.  And, like the addict who must undergo the steps towards rehabilitation, there is a recognition of stages:  Of having a medical condition; acceptance of the medical condition; realization that the medical condition results in an unavoidable impact upon one’s Federal or Postal career; then, to undertake the pragmatic and practical steps in preparing, formulating and 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.

It is this last step which is often the most difficult — to actually take those “real life” steps in applying for OPM Disability Retirement; and why is this?  Because, so long as we only “talk about” things, there is still stability and sameness in the objective world; but once we reach out and connect “talk” with “action”, the trauma of change becomes real, and the recognition that the world we left behind as a child — of gnomes, fairies, and the knight in shining armor — were really mere pictures in a storybook stored in the lost memories of innocence and warmth of a mother’s womb.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Attorney

Federal Disability Retirement: The Linguistic Labyrinth

Language is a labyrinth of paths.  You approach from one side and know your way around; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.”  #203, Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Life is never a static construct; those who consider it so, are sorely left behind when the winds of change suddenly fill the sails and the slumbering ship awakens with a groan to pull free of its moorings.

Left behind are the days when a person could count on the vocation of the parent, or of a career singular throughout.  Instead, the economy forces us to adapt and reconsider; new skills are needed, or old ones refined and readjusted.  And the feudal days when the kindness of the squire was tested where lameness or debilitating accidents incurred the wrath of life, are bygones of past initiatives thrown to the howling wolves of predatory eyes lurking behind to take advantage of every slight and weakness revealed.

Language is like that, too.  We think that schooling ends when the diploma is handed out, at whatever stage of advancement; but the reality is that the true test of self-initiative begins at that very moment, precisely because liberty allows the freedom to choose between vice or value, where the former is offered freely to the youth who has been released from the shackles of parental control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who find themselves in a position where a career move is necessitated by an unfortunate accident or onset of a medical condition, the truth of Wittgenstein, and of life lived in a world of complexities, comes to the fore.

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, is a difficult approach when the mandates of life’s ferocity coalesce in a tripartite convergence:  a medical condition; impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and the need to secure one’s future in order to attain a level of financial stability.

The unknown labyrinth of language becomes a maze of confusion when the Federal or Postal employee encounters the legal eligibility requirements mandated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to overcome the obstacles and hurdles in an effort to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Throughout life, the Federal or Postal Worker has approached the path of language from one opening; now, he or she must enter the gates of a bureaucracy which requires expertise and knowledge of a completely different sort, and without the assistance of an attorney, you enter the labyrinth of the unknown at your own peril.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire