Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file 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.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The period in-between

It is the squeeze that we abhor, the suspension of life during that time.  Like the craven soul that is relegated to purgatory or the mass murderer that must await the culmination of the sentence imposed, it is the period in-between that is wasted because we are frozen in time by the certainty of the past already ensconced and the future that is determined but yet to be fulfilled.  That is the rub, isn’t it?

The uncertainty; whether the future can be altered or modified; or has fate already made an irreversible decision and judgment?

When Scrooge encounters that ghostly apparition representing the future in Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, isn’t that the question posed – whether the course of future events as foretold could be altered, modified, reversed or otherwise replaced?  But while we wait, what can be done?  For, in reality, it is too often thought that only the judgment rendered can then be worked upon, worked around or somehow accepted submissively as fated karma that cannot be countered.

Thus is that the reaction of Federal and 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 the Federal or Postal position – it becomes the period “in-between”.

It is the “in-between” doctor’s appointments to see whether there is any hope of getting better; “in-between” performance reviews to see if anyone at work has noticed; “in-between” temporary teleworking arrangements to see if the Federal Agency can extend the authorization; “in-between” surgery and recovery to see if you can go back to full duty; and on and on, “in-between” the crazy universe of a medical condition and a dying hope for a future withering on the vines of other’s expectations.

It is like being stuck in mud, frozen in time, watching as the impending future comes upon you.

However, there is an affirmative step that can be taken to begin the process of altering, modifying and changing the course of an expected future event – by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

While filing a Federal Disability Retirement application may not be a solution to the medical condition itself, it is a step towards altering and modifying the course of future events that are controlled by the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, by accessing an employment benefit that recognizes that you can no longer perform the essential elements of your particular Federal or Postal job, but there may be other things in life that you may be able to pursue.

That is how the period in-between can better be embraced, by making sure that the future does not end with a definitive period at all, but merely by a comma that represents a brief pause.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: In the “not working” world

Excellence is rarely seen; the artisan is dead to the world; and we all struggle through knowing that trinkets from foreign countries symbolize the incompetence of the universe in which we must continue to exist.  Something is not working.  We all know it, feel it, worry about it and whisper in circles where such things are concealed and rarely revealed.

Life is formed by multiple concentric circles; we live within various spectrums of such parallel universes, sometimes entering into one and exiting another; at other times, remaining stuck in between.  There is the objective reality “other there”; there is, then, the subjective world of our own thoughts, emotions, anxieties and unspoken soliloquies.

There are “worlds” out there that we know nothing about – of corporate boardrooms where issues are discussed that we only read about; of high places and conspiracies; of dungeons in other countries where unimaginable torture and cruelty are conducted; and all throughout, we remain within the narrow concentric circle of our family, friends, the limited sphere of people we know, and the problems that loom large within the consciousness of our own worlds.

Throughout, we know that there was once a time, long since past, where the world worked better; maybe, perfection had never been achieved, but the age of politeness, of courtesy, of communities actually caring and thriving; or, perhaps that existed only in those old black-and-white television shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Happy Days” (yes, yes, the latter one was in color).

There is a sense, today, that something is not working; that we live in a “not working” world, and no repairman can be called to “fix it” because no one has the skill or expertise to diagnose the problem, and even if there were such a person, we don’t quite know what the “it” is, anyway.

It is quite like a medical condition that begins to impede, to impose, to interfere – like Federal and Postal employees who have dedicated their entire lives to working for a Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then are beset with a medical condition that begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

What does one do?  Can the doctor “fix” it?  Often, we have to simply live with it.

In those circumstances, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition and can no longer perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, who lives in that concentric circle of a reality of living in a “not working” world, must consider the next steps – of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to step into another concentric universe of sorts, and move on in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Game changers

Rarely do we have advantages in life.  Instead, most challenges are full of obstacles in our way, advantages tipped in favor of another’s, and an imbalance that seems to make life’s lottery of spectral choices a weighted unfairness that no amount of complaining seems to make a difference about.  We hear about them; yet, they rarely attend to our own needs nor join “our team”.

Game changers are those influences or components that suddenly make winning more favorable.  They normally become a part of the “other” team, but every now and again, life may throw a ray of sunshine down our path, and game changers become an element of one’s own “team”.  Perhaps it is a secret piece of knowledge no one else is privy to; or a piece of information that others have not yet been provided access to; or a person with exceptional talent who has given indications of sympathy to a particular cause; or even a new methodological approach that has not yet been widely disseminated.

Whatever the element of advantage, game changers open up circumstances that favor the success of one side over another, and appear at an optimum time when others have yet to prepare for the surprise addition.  At least, that is what they appear to do in novels, movies, plays and fictional life.  In real life, there are rarely such advantageous elements that make a difference.  Instead, most of life is a steady monotony of hard work, less complaining and a representation of the tortoise-like ethic as opposed to the hare that dashes off and runs ahead of everyone else.

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 concept of a “game changer” should be a familiar one.  For, when the medical condition first began to impact one’s health, that– in and of itself — was a game-changer: against you.  And when your work began to suffer because of the medical condition — that, too — was a game-changer: against you.  And when you needed to take excessive Sick Leave and Annual Leave, then LWOP, that was again a game-changer – again and too familiarly, against you.

It is perhaps time to begin preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; that, too, may be a “game changer”; but this time, in your favor, so that you can perhaps begin to focus upon the changing games that need a true game changer – your own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Staring into nowhere

Except in the slumber of darkness, it is an impossibility of a feat unperformed; yet, the metaphor itself works well, because we all engage in those periods of vacant stares where someone suddenly nudges you back into reality and comments, “It was as if you were lost in thought.”  What does that really mean?

The fact that we can stare, perceive through organically mechanistic means of refractive light upon the cornea of our eyes and yet fail to be “conscious” about the bodily functioning of organs designed to perceive, evaluate, analyze and judge so that other predators may not surprise us for their mealtime delights, is indeed a mystery that evolution cannot fully account for.  Staring into nowhere is the physical capacity to be awake, fully conscious and have perfect vision and eyesight, and yet “see” nothing beyond the point of one’s protruding nose.

In an analogy or even a metaphorical sense, it is the loss of hope because of an inability to see a future bright and with excitable anticipation.  Remember those youthful days when the future yet remained as a potentiality unfulfilled and unable to be fully foreordained because of the unfettered plenitude of energy unbounded to be released forevermore?  We could barely contain the excitement to “get out there” and “show the world” what we are made of, the unleashing of one’s creative energy ready to “wow” the universe that had never seen the likes of such talent and reserve of energetic innocence.

And then something happened.  Life intervened; love paused; a leave of senses occurred.  Or, more likely, we encountered others who had the same hopes and dreams, and recognized that others had already trampled upon the unspoiled grounds of sacrosanct altars, and there was little left for us.  Then, with wisdom and experience somewhat under that proverbial belt, we moved on and adopted some more “realistic” goals, and were perhaps all the more happier for it.

Then again, perhaps a medical condition intervened, and a further and “real” reality set in – one that continued to debilitated and progressively destroy.  Medical conditions can do that to a person, and an agency’s insistence upon antagonizing and creating a hostile work environment somehow adds to the turmoil.

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 often the only way to ultimately escape that vacant staring into nowhere, precisely because it allows for a vantage point of future security to be recognized.

Staring into nowhere, while escaping into the impractical world of daydreams, may allow for relief for a moment, but the more effective perspective is to look at one’s circumstances, assess the Federal agency or Postal Service’s capacity to denigrate and destroy, and begin taking those steps in preparing for one’s future by considering filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

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, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire