Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Detectorists

For those of you who are fans of the British series, a sad wave of goodbyes ensued after the third and apparently final season that depicted intelligent humor, a subtle sense of British irony and a deep love for human relationships above material wealth.

Simplicity and the idealized community of pastoral lifestyles amidst the bustle of the world beyond allows for the story to capture the imagination of fans and viewers.  None of the characters in the series have much or anything in common with one another — whether in profession, personality or commonly-held beliefs — except for a love of a hobby that unites their differences and quirky individualism.

Many of the references contained within conversations must be Googled in order to attain a greater appreciation; the constant references to the musical interludes of Simon & Garfunkel are easily recognized by a generation of those who grew up with the music; and the deep historical references engendered by images of an ancient past creates a sense of mystery beyond minor relevance to the emptiness felt in the way we live today.

Who would have thought that there would be of much interest in a group of misfits scanning fallow farm fields for ancient traces of Norman or Celtic residue?  Gold and similar treasures are the unspoken goal of everyone, though such dreams of ancient discoveries remain deep within the consciousness of every such hobby-seeker; and like so many such series, there will be an abiding cult-following, for we always want more: 3 seasons of watching Andy and Lance banter among the grassy knolls of the English countryside just doesn’t seem enough, and the subtle British humor demands more despite the final episode that gave satisfaction to all treasure seekers — of riches literally falling down from the heavens.

What metaphorical lessons can be gleaned from two comics of such ordinary means — is it the pastoral background?  Of a simpler life offered?  Of human relationships that might otherwise have never been forged?  Or does it abide in the idea that the true treasures we seek are hidden just beneath the surface, where such places are stepped over each and every day without their due recognition?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the “life-lessons” from the Detectorists might be that clinging to those things we consider “treasures” while one’s health deteriorates may be a wrongheaded approach; and while obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity may not be the “answer” to all of the difficulties faced by the Federal or Postal employee struggling with a medical condition, it at least allows for the Federal or Postal employee — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — to focus one’s greater efforts upon regaining one’s health.

And like the detectorists who scan about for treasures beneath the surface, it may be that a more pastoral lifestyle without the stresses of the modern workplace may serve to bring about a healthier outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Sad stories

Is sadness relative?  Are there sad stories that are so sad that even the ones that were considered sad prior to the sadder story being told, somehow nullify the lesser sad stories and make them into not sad stories?  Do we, after hearing the sadder tale, turn to the first story teller and say, “Yours was not so sad, after all, and in fact you have it pretty good”?

If a person tells of having just buried his mother, and you ask, “How old was she?”  He responds, “She was 95”.  Then, someone else says, “I just had to bury my 5 year old daughter.”  There would be a dead silence, would there not?  Surely, we say to ourselves, the death of a person who had a long life is not nearly as sad as the ending of one so tender in years, and as death is merely a part of life, there is something inherently sadder about the child’s life ending than that of a person who had a long life?

Both represent a life ended, but it is the knowledge that the former had fulfilled the natural course of a life while the latter was the victim of an early tragedy, unnaturally ended and interrupted for all of its promise, hope and anticipation for the future – surely, there is a qualitative difference between the two sad tales?

Or of someone who was recently fired from a job and is desperately trying to seek new employment; say that person is looking through the want-ads in the employment section (yes, yes, that is entirely outdated nowadays with special apps for resume-sharing and online submissions, etc.), and in the course of searching, reads a story about a far-off country where war, famine and general devastation are ongoing, and discovers with interest a sub-story about a family that is homeless and is being hunted down by enemies, etc.  Does one at that point straighten one’s posture and declare, “Wow, even though I am jobless, I have it pretty good in comparison to that family in country X”?

Yet, if sadness is relative, does that necessarily negate the sad tale completely, or does it merely reduce its impact and value until another comparative judgment is made?  Do we go and search out a less sad tale after debunking the sadness of one’s own with a sadder tale, in order to “restore” the sadness of our own?  Or, does each sadness remain a sadness in isolation regardless of the comparative sadness to another’s?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the sadness of that medical condition becomes such and to an extent where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sadness aside, every tale of ending a career is a sadness in and of itself, but the key to getting beyond any such sadness rests in the next steps, not in the footsteps of one’s past or those of others, but in getting good legal advice and moving on into the next phase of one’s future.  Anything else would, whether in comparison to another’s sadness or not, be the truly sad tale of sadness defined.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The language divide

Why is it that language is often so far removed from the living of life?  Was Wittgenstein correct – that it is a distinct world, separate and apart, that really has nothing to do with the “reality” of an “objective” universe?  Was Russell’s cutting quips about the bald King of France a way to point out that the primitive outlook of the traditional correspondence theory of language – that words, concepts, etc. are meant to parallel the objective world “out there” – doesn’t quite fit the proverbial bill, and that we are left with a linguistic universe insularly created and forever divided from the noumenal world that Kant had identified?

Take the following short puzzle that was recently heard: “There are eleven birds sitting on the telephone wire.  A young boy takes a gun and shoots one, and kills it. How many are left on the telephone wire?” Now, the answer to that minor conundrum should be quite elementary, but depends upon how we approach it.

From a mathematical viewpoint, one simply takes the numbers – a purely “theoretical” approach, divorced from the reality of the objective world in which we live, and subtract the 1 dead bird shot by the young lad, from the original number of birds identified on the telephone wire, and come up with the correct answer: 10 are left, because 1 was shot and killed, and therefore the mathematical equation: 11 – 1 = 10.  But it turns out that the correct answer is: “None”.  Why?  Because once the boy fired the gun and killed the 1, all of the others flew away.  Now, one can scratch one’s head and say with self-effacement, “Of course!  That only makes sense!”  Or, one can pause and say, “Now, why wasn’t that as obvious as the answer now seems, after it is pointed out to me?”

Now, contrast that with “real life”:  A hunter goes with his loyal dog and flushes out 3 pheasants from the forest; he takes aim and kills 2; 1 gets away.  He is later asked, “How many did you get?”  He answers, “Two.”  He is asked:  “Any left behind?”  The hunter looks at the questioner quizzically, with some puzzlement.  Why?  Because the question doesn’t quite make any sense – why would you ask such a question?

The fact is that there is a language divide – in real life, asking “how many are left” is not a relevant question, because the reality of living one’s life has already revealed the reality of the living.  It is only when we turn reality into an insularity ensconced within a theoretical construct does it become a thinking universe divorced from the objective world around us.

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, the issue of the language divide is a reality that the Federal or Postal worker must live with each and every day of your life.  That is because you live with a medical condition – the deteriorating effects, the daily symptoms, the chronic pain, numbness, gait imbalance, dizziness, vertigo, cognitive dysfunctions, etc.  The “world of language” doesn’t quite “understand” the reality of the medical condition, and is often inadequate to describe or decipher the sensations experienced.

That being said, in order to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the language divide must nevertheless be bridged; for, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must by necessity enter the world of language – of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A), the medical reports, and legal argumentation with persuasive force; and it is the language divide itself which must become the vehicle for an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that when the single bird is shot, there aren’t any left to speak about on the telephone wire that connects language to the reality of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Systemic Problems

When the residual impact of a crisis goes well beyond cosmetic concerns, the usual and customary description is that the “cause” involves “systemic” problems.  Such foundational fissures can occur both in organizations, as well as in individuals.

For Federal agencies, it may require a need for new leadership, or a restructuring of internal chains of command, and sometimes even outside intervention.  More often than not, a call for greater funding is demanded; then, once approved, we walk away as if the problem has been fixed, until the next crisis calls our attention.

For individuals, the systemic problems can involve a medical condition.  Symptoms are normally mere warning signs portending of greater dangers; like organizational eruptions of systemic concerns, individual crisis of systemic proportions often result from neglect, procrastination and deliberate avoidance of the issue.  But medical problems have a tendency and nature of not going away; they are stubborn invaders, like the hordes of barbarians from epochs past, who keep whittling away at the weakest points of an individual’s immune system.  Then, when the medical condition progressively deteriorates until the spectrum of symptoms exceeds a threshold of toleration, suddenly, a crisis develops.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has reached that point, where the symptoms are no longer superficial, but prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, then it is time to begin considering 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, time is of the essence, as the administrative process must meander its way through a complex system of bureaucratic morass, and the timeline is often of importance in securing the future of a Federal or Postal employee.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is an arduous, lengthy task, and one which is a tool against a systemic problem; for, in the end, the best fight against an invading army is to utilize the elements of the marauders themselves, and this is true in medicine, in law, as well as in individual and organizational restructuring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: At What Cost?

The introduction of the “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA) by the French (who else?) is a quantitative approach in determining whether to go forward with a given project.  There are other approaches, of course, but the popularity of such a utilitarian paradigm is especially attractive to Americans, precisely because it allegedly places a determinable value upon the project, endeavor or issue in question.

But not everything in life is quantifiable in monetary terms; and while the CBA approach can take into account complex factors and assign methodologies of evaluating such that otherwise unquantifiable terms can be converted into numbers, the question still comes down to a simple issue of self-reflection:  Is it worth it?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have 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, a cost-benefit analysis is often taken with a singularly stark question:  Can I survive on the annuity proposed by statutory authority?

But this often ignores a parallel query, just as stark and similarly singular: What other choice is there?  If the medical condition arose as a matter of a work-related incident, certainly the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset should file for OWCP/DOL benefits; but even then, Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, and there will likely come a time when it is still necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The unquantifiable factors in any CBA are those more personal, intangible issues which we rarely desire to face:  What will happen if I ignore the present course of settings?  If I continue to work with my medical condition and somehow reach retirement age, what kind of shape will I be in to enjoy my “golden years”?  Will the agency tolerate my reduced productivity, and what will their next move be?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is never an easy decision, and should not be taken without a thorough and self-reflective analysis; but it is often an approach tantamount to negative-theology which will bring out the true answers to a dilemma — of what will result if one does NOT do X, as opposed to a quantification of values — and provide the necessary framework for a future reference of positive closure to a human condition which always seems, at the time and moment of suffering, to be a calamity beyond mere dollars and cents, and for which the famous Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill noted, that actions are right “in proportion as they tend to promote happiness.”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Another similar article previously published: Federal Disability Retirement pros and cons

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: Agency Adverse Actions

Calamities coalesce in concurrent coordinated couplings; often enough in life, when one action is engaged, another follows in reactive reflection.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who has a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the necessity to, or mere hint of the need to, file 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, often invokes a concurrent action on the part of the agency.

Whether such actions are mere coincidences (unlikely); retaliatory (a good chance); or deliberatively intentional (often enough) is anyone’s guess.  Trying to figure out the underlying motivation of agencies is merely a waste of one’s valuable time; what to do with the agency’s adverse actions, is the more productive approach to embrace.

The argument that finds some precedence for OPM in arguing against a Federal Disability Retirement case, is that somehow the Federal Disability Retirement application was merely a pretense to avoid termination, and thus is somehow invalidated.  But, in fact, the reverse can be argued as well:  Because of the medical condition, the agency’s adverse actions reflect the poor performance, the excessive taking of SL, LWOP, etc., and irrefutably confirms the validity of the Federal Disability Retirement filing.

What the agency’s adverse action states; how it is characterized; what surrounding correspondence exists; and the extent of one’s medical documentation around the time of the agency’s actions, and prior to, are all important components in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire