OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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, initiation and submission of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Comparisons

We like making them; somehow, it allows for hope and, unfortunately, its opposite, despair, but they are engaged in nonetheless, regardless of the potentialities pointing in either direction.  Comparisons allow for a judgment of who we are, what we have accomplished and what we believe are the acceptable societal norms and standards, and whether we have succeeded or failed in meeting them.

People watch the pablum of television shows that display the ostentatious arrogance of some wealthy individuals who know not the concept of “discretion” or any sense of humility in having attained the higher luxuries of life; yet, many continue to be fascinated by such tasteless shows of comfort, and compare themselves, their accomplishments and the artificial standards of normative achievements that somehow have pervaded people’s psyche.

Of course, the corollary of such an approach to life is to redefine the definition of what it means to be “successful”, and thus to lower the standards in order to be all-inclusive, and do this each time as more and more people need to be accommodated.

Either extremes on the spectrum of man’s favorite sport – of watching, observing and comparing – constitutes the reality of that which is required to attain a level of satisfaction in life.  Of course comparisons are going to be made – for, we live in a world where everything is relative, and one can only recognize and realize the multitude of opportunities and potentialities by comparing one’s own station in life with that of what others have achieved.

Concurrently, sometimes the definition that defines who we are, what is important and where one wants to go, may need some adjustments.  Objectivity is achieved somewhere in the middle, between the comparative observance of “what is”, and the need to tinker with the language game that defines what “needs to be”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer 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 favorite past-time of Americans – of observing, comparing and judging – meets a heightened sense of anxious awaiting because of what coworkers and supervisors begin to do.

They compare your level of productivity to what others are doing, and what you were doing before.  An “accommodation” is nothing more than the redefining of one’s essential elements of one’s job; but even with the linguistic rearrangement of those essential elements, the constant barrage of the other side of comparing continues – of supervisors, coworkers, etc., and the entire agency and postal facility judging whether or not you are doing as much as everyone else.

In the end, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be necessary, as the sharpened knives of those comparisons may be too much to bear, given the innate nature of man’s cruelty in a world where medical conditions and disabilities are deemed to be comparatively unacceptable.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: House of Cards

We have all built them as children; those shantytown assemblages like the poverty-stricken and make-shift huts constructed by corrugated debris gathered from refuse and discarded materials, flimsy and ready to collapse, if not by architectural fault lines, then certainly from the sudden and malicious puff of air emitted by one’s younger brother or sister tiptoeing  up from behind in a sneak attack.  The House of Cards — they test the dexterity and patience of one’s character, and simultaneously represent anything built on a precarious foundation, including business ventures, family relationships, and of life itself.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the concept of a House of Cards can become quite personal, and in the modern proverbial metaphor, “hit close to home”.

Daily, the precarious and tenuous state of one’s employment status is tested by sudden and unexpected winds of fate, by sneak attacks and underhanded methods of operational malice.  A sudden stir of the atmosphere, a deliberate act of adversity, or the unsuspected whisper of undermining; they all amount to the same:  an attempt to further weaken the foundations which were already being tested.

The option the Federal or Postal employee needs to consider, is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, because if the foundation of one’s life has already become shaky, the fall itself is an inevitability when confronted by the vast behemoth of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Just as 2 out of the 3 little pigs came to understand and appreciate the necessity of a firm foundation, so the Federal or Postal employee should see the wisdom in fleeing from under the House of Cards, and consider filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits; for, they ran to the third when they could, and lucky for them, the Big Bad Wolf could not get to them — at least not in some versions of the tale.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Environment

There is pervasive talk about the importance of containing toxic waste dumps, keeping our air and water clean; of limiting the dumping of animal feces into our oceans, rivers, streams, etc.; and, indeed, there are agencies and departments created by State, Federal and Local governments devoted to enforcing laws designed to protect us and preserve the pristine condition of our “environment”.

But what of toxic environments of another sort?  What of the poison inserted through malicious intent?  Of the constant harassment and hostility used to intimidate, cower and attain submissive unraveling of defiance?  For those, there are designated courts, commissions and laws passed to protect, for purposes of prosecution and pursuit of money damages.  Of course, the results from either and both arenas of judicial relief are difficult to quantify; whether and to what extent pollutants were introduced into the environment, and by whom; or of what level of toxicity caused harm and damage to an individual; the qualitative measure of damages is always difficult to ascertain.

It is, ultimately, only from the personal perspective and experience that one can gauge the damaging results.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, there is often a parallel track of pursuing Federal Disability Retirement benefits and concurrently to go after the individuals or organization that discriminated because of the disability acknowledged and recognized.  For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts to secure some semblance of “justice” in the process, the goal of the law has been misdiagnosed:  Justice is not the stated teleological motivation of statutory relief; rather, it is a means to appease.

But at what cost?  To what end?  By whose measure?

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, sets a specific goal:  cut one’s losses and move on in one’s life.  By filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Federal and Postal employee is able to leave the toxic environment which may have even contributed to one’s medical condition or disability, or at the very least, exacerbated it; by fighting it, one must remain within the very environment which one is attempting to escape from.

Like Father Damien of Molokai who helped lepers live with dignity as a separate individual from without, but who later contracted the disease and died as “one of them” within, the Federal or Postal employee who files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may want to consider the consequences of the dual track of environmental toxicity before taking on a behemoth of mythical proportions, as opposed to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement in order to exit the poisoning atmosphere.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire