Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: This upside down world

How many whistleblowers would do it all over again?  How many regrets does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  The answer: Few as to the first question, and at least a dozen in response to the second.  For, as to the second query, while one person engages in the mechanical act of lighting up the room, it takes all of the others to fail to assuage the regrets of a person who has tried to do the rights thing, and has lived to suffer the consequences.

We grow up being taught all sorts of empty adages — how “truth reveals all”, or that “justice prevails in the end”; and though the old hero of simplicity has now been replaced by more “complex” characters of mixed good/bad/neutral, still the naïveté of childhood upbringings tend to haunt beyond the loss of innocence delayed.

This is an upside down world where the clear-cut demarcations that once were inviolable have now become obscured, and where leaders can argue with a straight face any and all positions, whether self-contradictory, hypocritical or just plain nonsense, and can get away with it without any regrets or loss of sleep.  Perhaps it has always been like that and we just didn’t realize it.  The wealthy have always been able to get away with more; the powerful, without much consequences; and when the combination of wealth and power become aggregated, there is little to impose any checks and balances that might have tempered the onslaught of injustice.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the fact that we live in an upside down world becomes exponentially the case because of the medical condition itself.

Progressive deterioration and chronic debilitation are often the rule of a medical condition, and just to survive another day without pain, without emotional or mental anguish — these are the hallmarks of needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

The world is about as topsy-turvy as it can get; but when the private world of one’s health begins to deteriorate, that upside down world becomes a tumultuous maze of a conundrum wrapped within an insanity that cannot be escaped from, and that is when you know that preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application becomes a necessity in a universe that requires some wisdom, and turning to the advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement is often the first step in providing a balanced perspective within this upside down world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Accuracy

How important is accuracy?  The converse of such a query, of course, is:  Is inaccuracy significant?  One would immediately posit:  It all depends.

Take the following 2 hypotheticals:  An archeological dig is conducted, and it is believed that the site of the ruins is of relevant importance concerning a time-period of “recent” history — say, during the American Revolution.  Given that scenario, the “dating” of the site should be ascertainable within a year succeeding or preceding, such that if the Lead Archaeologist declares that the event in question occurred in 1778, “or possibly in 1779, maybe as early as 1777”, we know that — given the time period in question (1775 – 1783) — such a statement conveys a fairly accurate historical context.

Now, take the same hypothetical, but this time [sic] concerning some form [again, sic] of a fossil that is deemed at least 500 million years old.  If the Lead Archaeologist declares with some hint of irony, “Give or take a few million years more or less” — what would our reaction be?  Is such a “find” just as accurate as in the first hypothetical?  Can a declaration that is numerically off by a few million years (i.e., looking at it in quantifiable terms of 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 2 – 5 million years equals how many hours for those who want a graspable perspective) be called a “science” in any meaningful usage of the term?

Of course, one could argue that even within the first hypothetical, given the limited range of years that comprises the American Revolution (1775 – 1783, or a mere 8 years), to be off by a year or so is also quite an astoundingly inaccurate assessment.  But which is “more accurate” — the one that is estimated within a year, or the one that quantifies it in terms of “millions” of years?  Can one even ask the question of “more or less” accurate, when the very concept of accuracy itself denotes precision and pinpointed, undeviated marksmanship?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “accuracy” can be a crucial one.  How “accurate” does one’s Statement of Disability need to be on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  What “precisely” does the treating doctor have to include in the medical report?  How detailed (and therefore, accurately) does the nexus between the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability does it have to reflect?

In all such questions, “accuracy” is a goal to attain in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, while the Archaeologist may be “off” by a quantifiable sum of years in a site-dig and suffer little to no consequences, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must depend upon the accuracy of the law in determining benefits to secure a future yet uncertain, and such an administrative endeavor is likened more to the accuracy of the arrow that is shot towards an apple resting upon the head of a young boy, than of a declaration made that is off by a few million years, give or take, more or less.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Judgment

How does it develop?  Does youth necessarily, by definition, undermine the existence of it, and if so, why does such a “rule” become obviated by the old fool who rests his arms (and other elements of the anatomy) upon the shoulders of one who could be one’s grandchild, only not by birth?

Is life not linear, but circular, and thus do we all revert back to childish ways when old age and decrepit bodies reveal the sanctity of our fragile mortality?  When Darwinism prevailed upon the civilization of discontent, did we not recognize that ultimate reductionism to pure materialism would trickle down into a singular desire to discover the fountain of youth?

It is involved in both the process as well as the conclusion; to have good judgment is to necessarily engage in a careful weighing of all information, consider opinions and analyze relevant data, dividing significance from irrelevancies.  To make a judgment, or arrive at one, does not necessarily involve the former; one can have good judgment, yet make a bad one; but, then, retrospective evaluations would define the latter in light of the former, and vice versa.  How can quality of judgment mature without direct and consequential experience?

If a young driver, on the first day after obtaining a license, comes upon a primary roadway accessible from a side road, where cars are traveling at the maximum speed limit in both directions, including trucks and commuters rushing to meet deadlines and timelines; where, the new driver must traverse across one lane in order to make a left turn – what experience does he have to judge distance, timing, suppression of fear and capacity for quickness of movement?

Or, in either love or war, what is the foundation in which to act, or recognize the difference between hormonal ravages and meeting the lifeline of a soul mate destined for longevity; and in the trenches of the latter, to fire at the moving target that may not be a threat, but a child needing to rush to the facilities in the far-off village where rumors of enemies lurk?

What constitutes the finality of conclusions as to who possesses “good” judgment, as opposed to “bad”?  Wisdom, experience, analytical capacity and evaluative abilities – which came first, the chicken or the egg?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to make a judgment on one’s career, future, and decisions about timing, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an area where judgment becomes crucial.  There are many legal pitfalls and obstacles throughout the administrative process, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a behemoth of an agency that can try one’s patience and defeat one’s purposive goals.

Lack of judgment is no crime, and not even a sin; but where such lack leads one to blindly enter into the arena of land mines, failing to consider legal representation is tantamount to the young driver who, in frustration of waiting at the busy intersection, closes his eyes and puts his foot on the gas pedal, hoping for a foolish act to defy the gods of fate, when all that was needed was for judgment to seek the advice and counsel of one wiser from years and experience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Redshirt

In athletic parlance, it refers to an individual and a status, allowing for a fifth year of eligibility when the rules mandate a restriction to a four-year period.  The word itself is quite malleable, and reflects well the technicality involved in avoiding the direct letter of the language.  Being a redshirt (noun), a redshirt freshman (adjective) or redshirted in his first year (verb) reveals to us the capacity of language to jump like grammatical forms of hopscotching that amazes and intrigues; and the cautionary prelude to a wink-and-a-nod is prefaced with, “You are being too literal”.

It only proves the point, doesn’t it — of the age-old adage that rules are created with the intent of being broken; or, at least bent in order to fit?  For, once such rules were imposed in order to allow for “fairness” in collegiate sports, the “legal technicians” (i.e., lawyers) went immediately to work upon coming up with novel interpretations, strategies for avoidance, and advice to extend beyond what the limitations allowed.

“Redshirting” was one of the devised methodologies – of allowing for everything up to the critical line of demarcation:  that of playing in a game itself.  Thus, the redshirt can practice with the team throughout that entire year of eligibility, but such actions do not count; the redshirted freshman can attend classes, be a full-fledged partner in the “college life”, and yet his participation is not marked against him or her; and to be redshirted in that year of eligibility allows for growth, maturity, advancement in development – all without “using up” a year of eligibility by being sacked a hundred times during the season and becoming a shattered soul devoid of self-confidence and losing assurance of one’s talents and skills.

It is, within the athletic community of college consortiums, a brilliant strategy to deftly avoid the burden of rules; for the greater society, it reflects the essence of what is wrong, precisely because it is a deliberate attempt to avoid the literal language of the rules.  Yet, that is true of almost everything in life, is it not?

Careful study; identifying the loopholes; then initiating the strategy to maneuver around landmines and obstacles.  Is it any different than a hunting party tracking a prey, sniffing out the signs of predatory confirmation and taking in information and adapting accordingly?  Rules, regulations and laws may well be designed, initially, at least, to address a specific problem; and, out of the cauldron of an enacted statutes, comes multiple other problems and issues because of the malleability of words and imprecise linguistic pauses.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  It is a necessary prerequisite to identify the legal language of eligibility; define the issues; identify whether or not the Federal or Postal employee considering such an option “fits into” the legal criteria circumscribed; then to proceed to “redshirt” one’s own situation and devise a methodology for eligibility.

Compiling the evidence, formulating the proper narrative, and presenting 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, can thus be likened to the redshirting of a freshman – in order to extend one’s life beyond the debilitating medical conditions otherwise shortening the career of a promising Federal or Postal employee.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Happiness Goal

Whether human happiness is the goal to strive for, or as a byproduct to savor in those moments of sudden revelation, is for each individual to ascertain and abide by.  One can study the sages and philosophers and realize that there is a distinction to be made between joy and happiness, of contentment and satisfaction, and from a sense of peace as opposed to the turmoil of anxious foreboding.

Life is full of moments; but is it for those moments we live, or do such ethereal segments compel us to greater achievements?  From Aristotle’s Eudaemonism to Confucius’ focus upon maintaining the balance between family and normative behavior, or the extreme nihilism of Nietzsche and the existentialist’s embrace of the absurd, the modern approach has been to ensconce happiness as the principle of highest regard.  But life has a way of interrupting every neat packaging of human endeavor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether of physical pain, the chronicity of progressive deterioration, or the overwhelming psychiatric conditions which impact mental acuity, cognition, with symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., the desire for the “happiness principle” is sometimes merely to have a day without the symptoms of one’s medical condition.

Filing for Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal workers is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can be an intermediate goal, and not an “ultimate” one.  For, in the end, if the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the loss of job satisfaction will be exponentially heightened either by the agency (through disciplinary procedures or termination of employment) or by one’s self (through frustration of purpose, increasing recognition and acknowledgment of one’s inability and incapacity, etc.).

In the end, the “happiness goal” is often defined by who controls what; and in taking the first steps toward preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, one asserts control over one’s present and future endeavors, and fights against the winds of time and mortality by controlling the undetermined destiny of a period of life yet to be deciphered in this complex world of mysteries wrapped in a chasm of conundrums.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Structural Problem

It is what we never want to hear, and fear most:  that statement from an “expert” who informs us that it is a “structural problem“.  Not cosmetic; not superficial; not unessential; but that word, concept and image which goes to the very heart and foundation of the damage:  the center of the universe.  When the damage occurs there, and the rotting vein of progressive deterioration touches upon that central nervous system, then it becomes “structural”, and all of the rest may come falling down in a sudden dustheap of crumpled carcasses.

So long as it involves only the peripheral concerns, we keep telling ourselves that it doesn’t matter, that the foundation is still solid and they are mere extremities of lesser concern.  We do that with pain and other irritants of life.  And with medical conditions that don’t double us over or completely debilitate us.  So long as there remains a semblance of structural integrity left, one can go on and continue without regard to the symptoms which become telltale signs of impending doom.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has arrived at the point of finality where one can no longer just venture forward, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the best remaining option.

We wait because it is in the very nature and essence of procrastination that the inevitability of ignorance, neglect, disregard and sidestepping can delay the confrontation with that which we fear to know, refuse to acknowledge, and take comfort in detracting from the encounter with the truth of established verifiability.  As with science, the flat earth, and the view from a geocentric universe, no one wants to be told that there is a structural problem.

Too often, the Federal and Postal employee who finally comes to a point of needing to admit that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is and has become a necessity because he or she has worked until the last straw was placed on the back of the proverbial camel.

Medical conditions announce harbingers of events to come, by symptoms calling for attention and attentiveness.  While the news from the architect that the problem is a “structural” one may not be welcome, it was always an indicator that the inevitable was on the fast-track of necessity and predictability; we just turned our heads aside in hopes of another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire