FERS Disability Retirement: Night wanderings

Ever open your eyes in the middle of the night and, instead of falling quickly back to sleep, allow for the eyes to wander across the silent room where others are still and asleep — the dog on the floor (or perhaps curled at the foot of the bed where human warmth has gathered for the pure comfort serving the creature) and the partner beside; the quiet glow of the digital numbers in bold red reflection; the pictures on the walls — though you “know” what they depict, the shadows hide them, and yet you believe you “see” them because familiarity arouses the imagination even in darkness; and the squeezing sense of silence so overpowering that you wonder about the universe at large and who, like yourself, is awakened by silence itself?

It is in those moments that, just before the panic of realization sets in that tomorrow is just a few hours away, we realize that mortality is a condition we must face; that the child’s imagination cannot revisit yesterday’s remorse; and the saddest of all truisms: For the most part, this is a cruel and uncaring universe.  Where do such thoughts originate?  Is it just the dream-world when sleep battles with sanity and one’s night wanderings will not suppress the bustle of the day’s meanderings?

Perhaps clarity comes in the wake of slumber’s twilight; whatever the phenomenon, night wanderings bring one into the netherworld of the “in-between”, where reality is not quite recognized and a dream is not ever fulfilled.  That is the type of experience that the Federal and Postal worker experiences when confronted with a medical condition that impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position: not quite in the reality of the world’s harshness, not yet tested by the Agency’s or Postal Service’s full force of cruelty and uncaring.

Will they put me on a PIP?  Will they require a “Fitness for Duty” evaluation?  What happens when my FMLA is exhausted?  Will the agency just cut me off?

It becomes clear at some point that the Federal Agency and the Postal Service are not there as a friend or colleague looking out for your bests interests, and that you must initiate the process of looking out for yourself by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Those night wanderings often have the advantage of giving clarity to a reality beset with the quietude of pure silence, but then morning arrives and the clash of the day’s reality awakens within us the cruelty of the world around.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: The Statement

We often hear of various events or transactions in the public arena where a “statement” will be issued, and such a conveyance of information is often prepared, pre-written, read from a piece of paper or plastered upon a teleprompter where the delivering individual merely reads from a text that has been previously written and composed.

It is like a musician who varies not from the score before him, or the player who follows the conductor’s baton with precision of a mime; to vary is to veer, where error becomes the hazard to avoid.  That initial “statement” to the listeners, the recipients, the audience, or however and whomever you want to characterize it as — why is it so important that it is conveyed, portrayed, delineated and communicated in just a “right” manner?

Is it not similar to the importance of preparing an SF 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Isn’t the SF 3112A a foundational, “first impression” statement that needs to be prepared carefully, with meticulous formulation, like a novel’s opening sentence that must captivate and draw in the reader’s attention?

Granted, the SF 3112A is answered in response to questions required to be formulated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the Federal or Postal employee to provide, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; but the limitations imposed by space and the relevance of the answers given to questions queried should not detract from the importance and significance of preparing the “Statement” well, in a preconceived and well-prepared manner.

What is the sequence?  When should it be prepared?  What content must it possess?  Should direct quotes from the medical records and narrative reports be included?  How carefully should it be annotated?  Must the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A be confined to the spaces provided?

These, and many other questions besides, should be carefully considered, and to do so, the best way to be well-prepared is to consult with an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement Application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Hope springs

“Eternal”, of course, is the ending and attachment that most would declare if asked to fill in the blank.  How many of us know of the origin of the statement, what it means, from whence it comes (yes, yes, a Google search is only one finger button away)?  It is often an afterthought – a “throw-away” line that one scatters about in response to someone else’s statement about “hoping to do X” or having “hope that X will happen”.

The reactionary response that is commonly stated is, “Well, of course hope springs eternal.”   The origin of the saying comes from Alexander Pope’s work, “An Essay on Man”, where he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

What was he referring to?  It could be interpreted in many ways – of a reference to a life hereafter and the reason for living, struggling and being tormented in this life, with a view towards an eternal reward; or, that so long as there is hope, things will change for the better if you just stick around long enough.

Without hope, the devastation of life’s turmoil may never allow for a person to get beyond this day; it is with hope that is kept in the human breast that the eternal promise of a better tomorrow becomes possible; for, otherwise there is just fatalism to look forward to, or as Pope stated, a state of existence where “Man never is”.

The word-pictures evoked from Pope’s work are beautifully put, and provide images that allows for multiple interpretations.  The word “springs” is a carefully chosen word, for it gives the idea both of calm (as in the tranquility of a running spring) as well as a jump forward (as in “spring forward”), and thus establishes multiple meanings when tied to the reference point of “hope”.

Hope, ultimately, is the ingredient that allows for life to live for a future yet undetermined and yet to be defined.  That is what is important for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  For, what other hope is there than Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

As the ongoing medical condition and the deteriorating aspect of the medical condition begins to squeeze out any hope left; and the impact it is having on one’s career and future starts to question the viability of any hope to be had; it is hope from X to Y – i.e., a future with a difference – that allows for hope to foster and thrive.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes that hope in continuing in one’s job is no longer a reality, it becomes important to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because hope springs eternal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Terms

Language is a malleable vehicle.  There have been times in the history of language, when the staid and stodginess period of loss of vibrancy became the rule, followed by epochs of radical vicissitudes, upheavals and counter-conventional revolutions in the medium of language games.  Whether this encapsulated slice of linguistic alteration, upending traditional forms of communication because of electronic media and the hype of language abbreviated by Twitter, Texting and Tablet Titillations, will last the short life of technological innovation and obsolescence, is yet to be determined.

For example, the time of Shakespeare’s linguistic explosion of experimentation and expansive usage became in retrospect a richness of entering into connotative language meanings from which we benefit to this day.  But steadiness, continuity and conditions of stability are also important in order to take the proverbial breather to accept, embrace and assimilate (a term widely used for contextual purposes in modernity applied to immigration reform, as well) the linguistic revolutions that become incommensurate with meaning, communication and conveyance of terms.

Terms are important, both in common usage and in technical application.  In the arena of Federal Disability Retirement Law, different words are splayed about, sometimes without regard to proper application, especially when the “law” often requires a greater attention to precision of meaning.  Some simple and common crossovers of linguistic confusion involve:  “medical retirement” and “disability retirement” – do they mean the same thing?

If reference to either term involves the submission for an early retirement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the answer is “yes”, they do mean the same thing.  Federal Disability  Retirement is identical to “Federal medical retirement” if by such words the query is referring to filing for an early retirement based upon the Federal or Postal worker’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, and therefore the intention is to access an early annuity because of one’s early retirement based upon the medical condition, and submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Some other terms often confused or conflated:  “On-the-job injury” or “pre-existing condition”; these terms are often used in the language-arena of Worker’s Compensation issues, and rarely have any import – or applicability, at all – in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it matters not whether or not one has been disabled “on the job” or away at a skiing accident; instead, what is important is the impact of the injury or disease upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  As for a “pre-existing” condition – that, too, is more likely appropriately defined in an OWCP context, and rarely in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In any event, “terms” are meant to be used within a context-appropriate content of filings, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to clarify and conform to the applicable statutory mandates in defining and using the terms which are most appropriate and effective.

For, in the end, the explosion of language during the era of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age reverberates with critical linguistic richness to this day; yet, if we were to have a conversation with a bloke from that era, the terms employed would not only confuse us, but confound us with a profound sense of despairing lack of cogency despite our self-aggrandizing declarations of superiority and advancement in the modern parlance of greater self-esteem.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Uncharacteristic Behavior

It is the clash between an expectation and the actualization of an encounter, which determines one’s perspective of self-fulfillment of a belief, or a resulting dismay from failure of verifying the basis of a paradigm.  Characteristic behavior is thus that type of human encounter which meets with, or exceeds, one’s predetermined paradigm of what one has already believed to be so; to act out of that previously considered belief system, by definition makes it fall outside of the realm of such expectation.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker, the bureaucratic complexity of the entire administrative process of 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, is normally not a surprise, and meets with or even exceeds, the expectation of an already-formed paradigm of what constitutes the “characteristic behavior” of the system as a whole.

It is the anomaly of the century when efficiency, helpfulness and pleasantries prevail throughout the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, where one hears with surprise and shock that it was “uncharacteristic”.  Sadly, that tells us something.  While somewhat unfortunate, we must always remember that the road of every bureaucratic process is paved with personalities of every type.  We tend to lump the entirety of an administrative process into a single cup and cauldron of judgment, but the reality is that there are multiple categories, just as there are different types of people throughout the universe, distinctly compartmentalized into:  helpful; friendly; efficient; nasty; backstabber; fair; unfair; loyal; unpredictable; just to name a few.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM can be a stressful one, if only because it is based upon an obvious stressor to begin with:  a medical condition which impacts one’s ability to perform one’s Federal or Postal job.  But it is not the bureaucratic process itself which adds or detracts from the inherent complexities of the process, but the behavior — characteristic or not — of those who must help along the way or hinder the necessary transition of the Federal or Postal employee, from one of active Federal or Postal employee to that of disability annuitant.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer: The Wear of Medical Conditions

Some words have constrained, limiting and restricted meanings, available only in esoteric whispers of academic thunderings; others, of common and every day usage, but through monotony of repetition and sheer ordinariness, loses any luster of royal patronage; and yet others, because of the expansive and varied contextual applications, can be applicable afresh, when needs require service of exposure.

One can “wear” clothing; “wear” glasses or a smile; or pass the time tediously, as in, “The minutes wore onward with a tired sense of sadness”.  The word applies also when a person or object begins to diminish, to fatigue, or to slowly fade.  Medical conditions tend to do that, like worn furniture in a house dilapidated by time, where the tiredness of untempered souls and toils of life’s encounters begin to tear at the timeless tokens of tapestries, and one begins to give in to fatefulness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who wear the face of normalcy, but who must contend not only with an underlying medical condition, as well as the hostility of a workplace and a world which grants no empathy, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often seen as a surrender of sorts, a wearing of the proverbial white flag, and an admission and acknowledgment that time has worn the welcome of a bright future.

The wear of medical conditions indeed warrants a respite from the world of turmoil, and a more positive outlook is to simply grant the world its due, and instead to realize that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is merely to access an employment benefit which is merely part of the larger employment compensation package signed on to at the beginning of one’s Federal or Postal career, and in accessing the benefit, as nothing more than to assert what is available.

To contend with the wear of a medical condition is a weary challenge; to wear one’s welcome is to withstand unnecessarily.  Wisdom is to recognize one’s time and to wear the wisdom of time when welcomes wither.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire