Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Qualifying Standard

What if a group of individuals gathered to compete in a race, of sorts, and trained, engaged in strenuous preparatory work and did all of the things necessary in order to “qualify”? They all gather on the agreed-upon date and, in customary athletic clothing, run a predetermined distance where 3 individuals out of ten cross a white line in sequential fashion. There is no doubt as to who the 3 “front runners” were. Yet, when the prizes are handed out, they are given to the 10th, 7th and 5th place runners. There is an understandable uproar. A protest is filed.

Umpires and referees gather (are there such people, or is that just in baseball, football, soccer and basketball?) and discuss the situation at length. Small, hand-held rule books are consulted and the audience sits in anguished silence as the outcome is debated in a deliberative fashion. Furrowed eyebrows are mashed in faces of concerned silence; the crowd that had gathered to witness the sporting event argue vociferously over the unfairness of it all; television crews have arrived, having been tipped off that a major scandal has been scented and the sharks have gathered for the afternoon kill.

No one notices that a little old man who has stood watching the entire spectacle with a peaceful, quiet calm has slowly made his way onto the platform where a microphone has been set up. He approaches the podium, adjusts the contraption and begins thus: “Ahem”. He pauses, waiting for everyone at the event to recognize the point from where the clearing of his throat originated, and continues on: “I am Mr. X; I organized this event. If you look at the last paragraph of the rules-book, it specifically states the following: ‘Mr. X is the sole determiner of the qualifying standard’. I am, as I said, Mr. X, and I determined that runners 5, 7 and 10 are the winners. End of story”. The little old man then turns around and walks back down, and away from the event.

Now, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition leads the Federal or Postal employee to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, this story may appear to parallel the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acts: As a law unto itself.

Fortunately, they are not the sole arbiter of the qualifying standard and, instead, there is such a thing as “The Law”. In order to apply the law and force OPM to follow the true and only qualifying standard, however, it is necessary to “know” the law; and, in order to do that, it is best to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. Otherwise, you might be subject to the same standard (or lack thereof) as the little old man who does what he wants on any given day depending on how he feels on that day, or in that moment.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The river of life

The evocative images of such a metaphorical phrase are immediately understood by most.  As in challenges we all face throughout life, a river snakes across different and foreign terrain; in some seasons, a drought may dry up the vibrancy of the river, while in times of plenty, flooding and overabundance may occur.

There are periods of swift currents, and days of lazy haze; and underneath the calm exterior is an underworld of activity and blur of living, both of tumult as well as those timeless memories forever remembered, and it is precisely the paradigm upon which Heraclitus staked his perspective upon with the statement that “No man steps in the same river twice.”  For, indeed, the essence of the universe is one of ever-present change; it is the one constant in a life filled with unpredictable indifference, of inchoate beginnings that never lead to any fruition; of trials encountered without reason or rationale; and the river of life leads us through the mountaintops of emotional pinnacles and down into the depths of a valley so dark that despondency fails to reach the eternal chasm of sadness undefined.

Streams flowing into rivers; unexpected tributaries swallowing up the nameless and uncharted waters; and of snowcaps that melt and flow without fluidity of purpose, so life brings about such challenges, engagements and unexpected face-offs.  What are we to make of this river?  What to do in this life?  Must we always be defined by accomplishments, or can the value of a human being be sufficient by reason of a self-fulfillment of an ego’s search?  Is it truly the person who has amassed the greatest amount of “stuff” who is considered the “winner”, and does the river of life grant any greater significance, relevance or meaning to the quantifiable monetary value than to the man who dies penniless?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates the Federal or Postal worker into preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such questions embracing the river of life can be daunting, obsessively important, and awakening of a spark in the deeper recesses of one’s forgotten past to come to the fore.  Why?  Because medical conditions force a prioritization of values, meaning and relevance in one life; and, indeed, that is the foundational essence of every river of life – of what we believe; that we believe; and for which we believe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Erasing imprints

We spend half of our lives trying to accomplish that which may never be done; go to others to obtain guidance; take medications in order to stamp out the cacophony of voices from a past regenerated in mindful moments when reflection is not what we want but quietude away from the cackle of memories.

Imprints are those stamps that remain with us, like burn-marks seared indelibly into the far corners of body parts unreachable and unseen but by the telescopic lenses of our own souls.  Perhaps the memories have faded, or we simply cannot pinpoint that precise moment when the stamp was made, the mark of the devil was inked or the scorching stab wound rutted; but it remains upon the child, grows with the malignancy of the young one, and becomes magnified into adulthood like the burdensome satchel filled with rocks, each day adding another, never able to open it to lighten the load, except here and there when one accidentally falls through an unnoticed tear before it is quickly sewn up again to reinforce the nightmares of our lives.

Try as we might, through pharmacological modalities of treatment regimens or embroiled by years of therapeutic encounters, the monsters within from our childhood past of flashes when the mother turned her back upon a child in crisis, or of anger devolved when fury left the frustrated child in a chasm of loneliness unattended; it is the trembling of innocence that remains forever, and a day.

Erasing imprints is what we try to do the rest of our lives, when all that can really be done is to contain, bifurcate, box in and restrain.  Of course, there are “good” imprints, as well – those marks which developed the personality and characteristic traits considered “positive” to our lives; the trick is to recognize the difference between the negative and the positive, and that is not always easy to do.  Further, what if we erase the “good” imprints in the process of stamping out the “bad”?

Being human carries with it the compendium of complexities all wrapped into a conundrum of puzzling packages of personality quirks, and sometimes it is those imprints we attempt to erase which characterizes the very uniqueness of our being.  Then, as we grow older, the callouses form and the attempts to replace imprints become less effective; for, presumably we have learned to resist the influence of others, or at least found ways to limit them.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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, remember that the road to obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a long and arduous one, and it is likely that you will have to encounter many obstacles, many “mean” people who themselves have likely been harmed by a lifetime of imprints.

Focus upon erasing imprints that harm, and disregard the imprints exhibited by others; for, it is a lifetime endeavor identifying the negative ones in yourself, without worrying about needing to erase imprints manifested by others.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Expectations beyond the norm

We begin the nascent origins of remembrances expecting greater things beyond the normal levels of reality; that is what we now define as a “good childhood” as opposed to a lesser, or even an ordinary one to bear and be burdened with.

We are admonished that we can “be anything”; that potentiality and possibility (is there even any conceptual clarity of distinction between the two, anymore, and what of the third in its trifecta – of probability?) are limitless; that, like child prodigies of yore, each of us are “special” (query:  if everyone is special, does the concept itself lose all meaning, as in the philosophical conundrum of nihilism, where if you believe in nothingness, where can there be a “something” to lend it any meaning at all?) and defined by the uniqueness of our own boundaries superimposed by society, artificial constructs and unattainable hopes and dreams.

With that baggage of certainty to failure, we begin to travel life’s inestimable travails and untried valleys of difficult terrain.  Yet, we call that a good childhood.  By contrast, we ascribe bad parenting to the cynic who treads upon the fragile soul of a child:  “Chances are, you’ll never amount to anything”; “You’re never going to be able to do that, so why try?” (said to a 16 year old who has stunted growth trying to dunk a ball); “Don’t waste your time; you don’t have the talent for it, anyway.”  These comprise, constitute and reflect emotional harm and verbal abuse, by the standards of today.

We are never supposed to discourage, but always to encourage; never to allow for the reality of an impervious universe to influence, but rather, to always create a fantasy of potentiality and possibility of hope and perspective of the impossible.  But what of encounters with strangers and angels disguised as visiting anonymity?  Do we say to the child, “You are special; all people are special; as special people all, welcome all”?  No, instead we preface warnings, admonish with goblins and ogres beneath every bed, and scare the hell out of kids – which, by the way, is also considered good parenting.  And thus do we become adults, weighed down by the baggage of heavy biases towards the realities of life.

Most of us realize, at some point, that being “special” merely means that we are ordinary human beings living quite monotonous lives, and that only celebrities, politicians and the once-in-a-lifetime Bob Dylan truly fit into that category of uniqueness.  Happiness is the expectation dashed, evaluated, then accepted; and that it’s all okay.  Then, when a medical condition hits, it makes it all the more so; for, as children, we also expected that our mortality was nothing more than something well into an obscure future, always touching others but never ourselves.

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 position, the reality of our own vulnerabilities and fragile nature begins to set in.  Expectations beyond the norm have to be compromised.  Dreams once hoped for and hopes once dreamed of require some modifications.  But that’s all okay; health is the venue for hope, and without it, there isn’t even a whiff of dreaming for tomorrow’s moment.

Prepare well the Federal Disability Retirement application.  It is okay to be ordinary, and to recognize the fragility of human life and health, for it is the latter that needs to be protected in order to dream of a future where a summer’s day dozing on a picnic blanket will fulfill all expectations beyond the norm.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Care to Perfection

At what point does one ascend from mere care, to perfection of accomplishment?  Is it when we determine that which matters to us most – i.e., where self-interest intersects with talent otherwise left unfulfilled?  Or, through maturity of purpose and a self-realization that perfection is preferable to a lesser kindling of care, does one simply “buck up” and seek to embrace a higher order of accomplishments?

Perfection is an impossible standard to attain; care, a reasonably easy one, because time, effort and struggled attempts compensate for any lack of natural talent.  Words themselves tend to camouflage the lack of perfection by care, for a lengthy dissertation of seeming interest and a cauldron mixed by questions of curiosity comprise evidence of “caring”.  But while perfection should always be reserved for the Pope, heavenly orbs and Platonic Forms otherwise unreachable by mortal hands and untalented mediocrity – which incudes the vast multitude of the ordinary folk that populate this earth – it is a goal worth trying to achieve.

This presents a particularly unique problem for Federal and Postal employees who are 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 – for, when a medical condition dominates, the natural inclination is to quickly put together an assembled Federal Disability Retirement packet based upon mere care, but nowhere near perfection, when the very viewing bureaucratic body (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) is often applying a higher standard than even what the law requires.

We are not saying, here, that any Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed should attain any level of perfection; rather, that when the applicant who prepares his or her own Federal Disability Retirement application is the identical person who suffers from the medical condition itself, then it is always very difficult to get beyond the standard of mere care, and will never be able to objectively strive towards a semblance of perfection.  Perfection as a standard is never meant to be attained, but merely to be striven for; and as a corollary, care is not to be acquiesced to without a pathway towards perfection.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management applies the standard of law that it is mandated to enforce, but in its zealous defense of the entire Disability Retirement system, it often goes beyond mere care, and applies the shadow of perfection upon unwary applicants.  What can be done about it?  Nothing, except to make sure that in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and submitting it to OPM, be aware that care may not be enough; rather, striving for the higher order of care – that of perfection – may be the requirement for the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Character

If a person points to another and states, “He is really a character”, is it different from positing:  “He really has character”?  Can both statements mean the same, or is the subtle difference there to denote?  The former is customarily stated in defining a person as somewhat of an oddball, or perhaps eccentric to a degree that places him outside of the conventional norms of acceptable conduct.  The latter, on the other hand, could also mean that – the possession of it modified by the adverb describes one with a plenitude of extraordinary traits.  Or, it could connote the more classical meaning:  A worthy person of honor, dignity, courage, moral foundation, etc.

That is, in the end, what most of us consider to be the pinnacle and apex of that very noun, isn’t it?  Possessing it is that which makes of us; displaying it, what demands respect and attention; and abiding in it despite trials that test to compromise, what we hope and expect of ourselves.  Indeed, character is both tested and surfaces especially in those times of tumult and tribulation; it is the mettle challenged at the depth of the soul of being.  Yet, in this age of modernity where materialism prevails, power seems to overarch all else, and the traditional reference to one’s “character” no longer means much more than a rumble in one’s stomach as evidence of hunger or impoverishment, it is clear that neither form of the meaning evinces much curiosity.

Materialism is dominant; those in power dominate; and the once-vaunted “indomitable spirit” carried forth as a burden of possessing character no longer has much substantive weight.  Where it does reveal and manifest itself, however, is in the very lack thereof.  So long as things are going relatively smoothly; while the good fortune lasts; or, perhaps during those times when monotony merely puts one into a slumber of sorts, and actions and deliberations through life’s daily routine are placed on an unthinking mode of automatic pilot, the revelation or concealment of character matters not.

But take that onerous instance – as, when a medical condition begins to impact one’s life, and for Federal and Postal employees, compels one to consider 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; does character count?  One’s own and reliance upon another’s; both come to the fore and require an evaluation that will test the mettle of the substantive foundation.

For the Federal or Postal employee who begins to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application – tested to endure the administrative process and the onerous test of the entire bureaucratic procedure.  For those coworkers, family members and other encountering Federal or Postal employees, including Supervisors, Managers and Human Resource Personnel – of how they respond and what they do to make the process smooth and seamless.  In the end, character comes to the fore, and reveals the content of who we truly are.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire