OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The Bridge to Nowhere

It is a metaphor which evokes images of hopelessness and futility, if such images can indeed be captured at all.  Whether of an attitude, a perspective or the existential reality of one’s personal circumstances, the question is, Why was the bridge to nowhere built to begin with?  There it stands, in mid-construction, suspended but unfinished, not leading to anywhere, not going in any particular direction, not coming from any place known.

It is often how we feel in the middle of our lives.  One has only to sit in a cafe, by a window, and watch the midday rush of people coming and going, seemingly with purpose, appearing with decisiveness, until you catch the gaze of someone passing — a knowing look, a pause, a hesitation; and at that moment of illumination, the stranger and you both know that the constant, ant-like activity is merely a whirl of coming and going upon a bridge to nowhere.

The furious pace of life; of rushing to get to work, working, then rushing to get home within a factory of people uncaring and unaware.  Then, when calamity hits — a medical condition that interrupts, intercedes and imposes its existence upon you — suddenly the routine of ferocious activity finds meaning in the very meaninglessness felt the moment before.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job because of a medical condition, the sense that one is driving upon a bridge to nowhere is common and troubling.  Of course one’s health should be a priority; and of course work, the “mission” of the Federal agency and the harassment that is initiated without empathy or understanding — all of that stuff should be secondary and subordinated to taking care of one’s health.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the recognition that the bridge to nowhere will not take you anywhere, and it is in order to regain that insight of meaningfulness that it is important to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application in order to focus upon the importance of priorities shoved aside — like one’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Except, in real life…

Isn’t that the refrain that dampens?  Whether for a child or a young adult who still possesses and retains the enthusiasm of the possible, we pour cold water upon such unfettered energy for the future yet undeclared by saying, “Except, in real life…”.  Of course, what is inserted to replace the ellipses is the clincher that determines the mood of the response.  Is it: “Except, in real life, that never happens.” Or — “Except, in real life, you’ll be broke and devastated.”

Why is it that the unspoken elongation implied by the ellipses must by necessity include a negative ending?  When have you ever heard, instead: “Except, in real life, it’s all the better!”  Is it because our creative imagination reaches far beyond what is possible in the stark reality of “real life”?

Is the universe imagined of greater potentiality than the reality of daily existence, and is that why the virtual reality of Social Media, “the Web”, interactive video games and the like are so sultry in their seductive pose — because they invite you into a world which promises greater positives than the discouraging reality of our existence in “real” time?  Is that what is the ultimate dystopian promise — a caustic alternative to Marx’s opium for the masses: not of religion, but of an alternative good that has been set up that not only promises good beyond the real good, but provides for good without consequences?

The problem is that, whatever alternative good or virtual reality that is purportedly set up to counter the reality of real time, is itself nothing more than “real life”.  It is just in our imagination that it exists as an alternative universe.  This brings up the issue of language games as espoused by Wittgenstein, as to the “reality” of an “objective world” as opposed to the one expounded by linguistic conveyances: Take the example of the blind man who has never flown a plane.  He (or she) can answer every aeronautical questions with as much technical accuracy as an experienced pilot. Query: Between the 2, is there a difference of experiencing “reality”?

For Wittgenstein, the answer is no.  Yet, the laughing cynic will ask the ultimate question: Who would you rather have as your pilot for the next flight — the blind man who has never “really flown” a plane, or the experienced pilot?

That becomes the clincher: “Except in real life…”.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 Federal or Postal job, the tendency and proclivity towards taking a dim perspective of life can be overwhelming, especially when one is dealing with the debilitating consequences of a medical condition.

Yet, it is important to maintain a balance between the cynic’s world view (that the cup is always half empty) and the eternal optimist’s myopic standard that the glass is always half full.  “Except in real life,” doesn’t always favor the former; for the Federal employee who must go up against the behemoth of OPM in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, “real life” is not necessarily the exception, but can be the rule of a successful outcome if you are guided by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Art of the Story

There is the subject itself, and then there is the art of the subject thus identified.  At some point in every civilization, the academic study of a subject becomes pedantically necessary, and a “cottage” industry developed.

Once upon a time, the “story” was an important and inseparable component of a culture; the storyteller was the keeper of the village’s identity, the protector of its essence where mythology and folklore provided meaning, relevance and its self-knowledge of who one was, where one came from, and what the whole purpose of existence meant.  Without The Story, people wandered off despondent, lost, and without a teleological force to hold the unit of peoples together within a coherent whole.

Then, writing came along and as the technological tools of the craft disseminated to other and wider cultural arenas, the shared ideas and adventures of each culture became better known, and assimilated by each over and within others.  The “Art” of the story became the study of it — of what constituted an effective story; what made people laugh, cry, and the erudite articles that explained that which was once obvious and self-evident.  Categorization and specialization soon follows; whether as it becomes more sophisticated or intellectually advanced as a reflection of it, or merely because complexity follows upon a self-satisfaction of what we deem as “progress”, who will ever know?

The “Art” of the story somehow came into being — of the study of a once human need began around a campfire where a village told of its origins, now relegated to the halls of academic “science” where dissection, analysis and discussions ensue.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a “story” about a medical condition that is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Art of the Story becomes a necessary form of application, because SF 3112A —Applicant’s Statement of Disability — requires not only the telling of one’s story about the medical condition, the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s job duties, and how it has dominated all aspects of one’s professional and personal life, but beyond: it must comply with and meet the legal eligibility criteria by a preponderance of the evidence, thus forcing the Federal and Postal employee to go beyond the story itself, and to be fully aware that the Art of the Story has more to do with the proper and effective presentation of it, than the story itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: The shaken confidence

Tree limbs can be shaken; hands can shake, evidencing some agreement or initial salutation of a wordless sort, or even accompanied by some utterances; and the earth can shake as the subterranean tectonic shifts invisible and otherwise unnoticed, which then can result in tsunamis and other natural disasters.

The shaken confidence can take many forms; and the forms themselves cannot so easily be identified.  It presumes, first of all, that there was “confidence” to begin with, lest that which is shaken could not possibly have occurred unless it preexisted the loss of it.  Yet, too often, the evidence of its very existence is merely the lack of any contrary characteristic — i.e., a negation that fails to manifest existence and thus cannot actually be proven.  Of a person who walks about without any noticeable trace of lack — do we say of him or her, “He has confidence’?  Or is it just the one who has an overabundance of it, who struts around like a proud peacock or a rooster who takes no guff of whom we attribute “overconfidence’?

In normal discourse we just assume that, unless there are indications to the contrary, everyone who stands and walks amidst and among us possess some level of “confidence” or, in more particularized form, of “self-confidence”.  What are the events or issues that “shake” it, and what can an attribution of such an event mean?  Perhaps it is triggered by some tragic source — a trauma of a very personal nature, of death or an accident, perhaps; or can it be by mere utterance of words, of a berating boss or an insensitive spouse?  Or, how about a realization that one’s presumed immortality is simply not so?

None of us believe in immortality — at least, not in the sense that we will live forever walking about this earth.  Yet, until an event “reminds” us of our mortality, we take it for granted that life goes on as the day before, and the day before that; and so the concept of immortality resides by avoidance or ignorance, until something “reminds” us that, indeed, mortality is the nature of life, and flesh is by each instance and in incremental subtlety progressively deteriorating within the microscopic cells of slow degeneration.  And of a medical condition — can it be the source of the shaken confidence?

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 Federal or Postal job — the shaken confidence resulting from the progressively deteriorating medical condition is just as real as the earth that trembles and groans from tectonic shifts that moves and crumbles the structural integrity of high engineering feats.

Federal Disability Retirement is often not a choice made in confidence, but from a lack thereof; for, a medical condition cannot be viewed within a vacuum of a mere diagnosis that can be surgically extracted; rather, a medical condition is a sequence of aggregated tragedies — of the medical condition itself; the symptoms which result; the impact upon one’s personal and professional life; of the effect upon family and friends; of the triggers upon one’s psyche as well as the physical pain and mental anguish experienced.

In short, the shaken confidence of the one who used to walk about the earth as if you owned it, and preparing, formulating and filing 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, is simply the first step in regaining that “shaken confidence” that was once a day before in a time now long forgotten presumed to have always been there.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire