Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The out-of-tune band

There is something particularly annoying about a piece of music, an orchestral ensemble or a simple song that is out of synchronized perfection, or put quite simply, out of tune.

The annoyance can be traced, of course, to the origin of the discordant piece; the “band” itself, the group of musicians or the orchestra or symphony that is responsible for the unpleasant sound waves that drift through the molecular structure of the unseen world and pervades down into the refractive caverns of one’s ears, then interprets through neurons firing in order to “hear” the vibrations that are supposedly in consonance with one another such that it becomes a coherent song, piece or musical collection.

The out-of-tune band is indeed an annoyance, and we believe should be outlawed and made illegal.  Short of that, what is it about a discordant collection of individual instruments that makes it unpleasant?

Taken individually, perhaps each player of a particular instrument can play it with utmost perfection; yet, when two or more players come together, it makes for an exponentially complicated attempt at coalescence, harmonious combination and synchronized heavenliness.

Getting married – of two different people coming together and making a lifetime commitment without killing one another – is difficult enough; getting a band together and coordinating disparate sounds and vibrations and, through practice, creating music that approaches a pleasantness of sounds – now, that is what you call nigh impossible, and somewhat like marriage in the sounds of silence (sorry, but somehow one must always try and include Simon and Garfunkel’s classic; and, of course, we must ask the eternal question: What ever happened to Art Garfunkel?) that we all strive to achieve by perfection of heavenly voices.

A Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat like trying to put a band together, as well.  Coordinating all of the elements – the Statement of Disability; the medical evidence, making the legal arguments; delineating the entirety of the Federal Disability Retirement packet into a coherent whole such that it does not “sound” discordant, which then hints at a trough of suspicion or insincerity, which then further leads back to an “annoyance” at the originator of the Federal Disability Retirement packet, and a likely denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – is an important step towards an uncertain outcome.

Like the out-of-tune band, the success of a Federal Disability Retirement application cannot be just “putting together” a few documents here and there and haphazardly writing one’s Statement of Disability; no, it must be put together so that there is coherence, coordination and coalescence in bringing together all of the evidence for such an endeavor to be deemed “a fine tune”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Things not likely to happen

It is not likely that tomorrow morning you will wake up and find that aliens have taken over the earth (although, if one were to read various supermarket tabloids, that has already occurred many times over, both while asleep and awake); it is not likely that you will win the lottery with that last dollar spent on running a random set of numbers (though millions each day shell out astronomical sums in the aggregate with dreams – and sometimes actual plans reflected upon – of what one will do “when” the improbable event will happen); and it is not likely that the email received the other day from some banker in Burkina Faso who wants a “trusted friend” to allow for a transfer of a cool $100 million and would allow you to keep half of it just because you happen to be the only person in the universe who has a bank account and can keep a secret, will actually honor such a request.

Nevertheless, people actually consider such fantasies, and to the detriment of those who do so with serious intent, harm themselves either by delaying what could be done, setting aside the reality of what needs to be accomplished, and turning over valuable time to endeavors not likely to happen.

Often, and unfortunately, medical conditions have that same characteristic – of things not likely to happen.  It begins by happening – of a medical condition that should not have been, or is seen to be “unfairly” targeting a particular individual, and a period of disbelief ensues where the question is, “Why me?  Why not the other guy, instead?”  Then, once the phase of acceptance comes about, one begins to adapt, compromise the levels of acceptability and quality of life, and modification of expectations surely follows soon thereafter.  Then, one hopes, prays, angrily shouts to the heavens or otherwise with quiet resignation begins to ruminate – yes, the medical condition may be unfair, but so is the lot of life we all live.

And the principle of things not likely to happen applies to Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, as well, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the things not likely to happen includes: The medical condition will just go away; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service will just let things slide and be very understanding; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service will actually accommodate your medical condition; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will find you another job at the same pay or grade; the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service will grant SL, AL or LWOP in unlimited amounts so that you can attend to your illness or medical condition; and the Federal agency or U.S. Postal Service will show empathy, sympathy and understanding and make you feel “welcomed” while you endure one of the most difficult periods of your life.  Not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Messy lives

In those Eisenhower years with residual trails into the following decade, we had those perfect television paradigms – of “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father knows best” and “My Three Sons”, while the world around began its transformational process.

Hollywood decided much later that they needed to be at the forefront, leading social change and forcing cultural avant-garde transitions even if merely experimental and questionable for any positive good.  That decision is in stark contrast to the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s, where the staid and stodgy traditionalism of television series barely reflected the reality of the deconstructionism occurring in real time.

Somehow, those old sitcoms provided a paradigm of perfect lives and traditionalism that secured hope for the rest of us; for, the reality is that, like Dutch’s childhood and the rest of us, we grew up with messy lives, and paid the price for the rest of time to try and correct it and match it as against the paradigms of a reality that never was.

Medieval theological arguments always include the notion that, we would never have an idea of perfection unless there was some entity in the objective world that matched such a concept.  It is merely an extension of Plato’s argument for Forms, where the particulars in the physical world are mere imperfections striving to compare to the ultimate conceptual constructs of inviolable Forms.

That is often the problem with comparisons and arguments by extension; they make of our lives unsatisfying, precisely because we can never meet the expectations of others, let alone those we construct in our own minds.  That is why medical conditions can be so insidious; we possess and carry around with us those Platonic Forms of perfection, and when the reality of a medical condition prevents us from completing the career, the project, the lives we believe we were meant to live, the dispossessing trauma of realizing that we fell short results in a despondency because we set up paradigms of expectations that never were.

The question often left unanswered is:  What are the values involved?  What do we believe in?  What constitutes reality, as opposed to a fantasy based upon unrealistic expectations?  Isn’t “health” the priority of life?

If so, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s position, is the next logical step based in a reality-basis of an imperfect life.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fact that medical conditions further add to messy lives is no matter; we all have messy lives, and whatever fantasies we held on to when we enjoyed those old favorites, ignoring the problem never solved anything, and perfection should always be left to Platonic Forms in the dialogues of angels whispering among the heavenly orbs that remain hidden in the esoteric pages of those theological arguments long shelved in the monasteries of libraries long forgotten in the dusty bins of rotting books.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The work left undone

If life were merely a series of projects attended to, completed and accomplished with a declaration of unassailable certitude, like a period at the end of a sentence, the final paragraph of a novel, or silence upon a speaker’s conclusion; of a linear progression forever with movement on a horizontal graph; but it is not.

Instead, the circularity of life’s problems, of concerns regurgitated and revisited because unattended or otherwise reappearing, like the aunt who visits unannounced and the uncle exhaustively referred to as the “black sheep” of the family who appears at one’s doorstep with suitcase in hand; it is the boil behind the leg that keeps resurfacing, where the ill winds of unexpected vicissitudes keeping getting a second chance when redemption is unwanted and uncalled for, but nevertheless reappears for the salvation of one’s soul.

And, in some sense, it is a salvation, isn’t it?  For, if life were a series of work completed, never to be revisited but always working without need for repairs, we would realize the finite nature of the world and care not to attend to the past.  Instead, it is precisely the work left undone which compels us to keep plugging along, to rewrite the list by the items we crossed off and the ones we reordered; and it tells something about one, in the manner of how that list is reorganized.

Do the items yet remaining get full status at the top of the yellow pad in the new order of priorities, or does it remain again relegated to those unwanted and undesired categories, like the illegal immigrant somehow existing but forever ignored and unnoticed, without the full rights and privileges of the legitimized constructs arriving by arbitrary choice?  We were taught as children that the work left undone reflected a character flaw, but somehow, as we grew older, we realized that but for those things left asunder, the incompleteness of life would have no value, no meaning, and ultimately no reason to live for.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the work left undone often presents a dilemma of sorts: the completion of one’s career becomes untenable; each day, one falls further and further behind; and of life’s lesson ingrained from childhood, that we should always finish the plate of food we are served, cannot be fulfilled, and so we ruminate and worry, fret and flounder in this farcical mythology of linear fiction.

For such Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, preparing 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, is the best alternative and only real solution available.  For, what we were never told is that the work left undone is merely in the eye of the beholder, as beauty depends upon the perspective of the audience and worth upon the buyer who desires; and that the Westerner’s world-view of a linear-based universe is certainly not shared by the Easterner who comprises the greater part of the infinite panoply, as represented by Shiva’s circle of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Of true discourse and debate

A title immediately becomes “suspect” when the prefatory insertion of the word “true” is necessitated.  For, the noun which it is meant to enhance should be able to stand alone, without the reinforced embellishment that it is somehow more genuine than with the cousin’s uninvited presence.  It is like referring to a gemstone as a “valuable emerald” (what, one queries, would constitute an invaluable one?), or that such-and-such is a “very religious priest” (as opposed to an irreligious one?); and so to refer to the methodological approach of discourse and debate as one which is “true”, is to immediately undermine the very meaning of such a beginning.

But in modernity, where meaning has lost its efficacy and the elasticity of language has become epitomized by mindless You-Tube videos and an endless stream of nonsensical declarations preceded by a belief that, as pure relativism is rampant and presumed, it matters little who holds what opinion, the content of what is said, and not even the tone of intended consequences.

Once, in years past, there were “rules of engagement“, but three (3) foundational precepts needed to be followed in order to engage a valid discourse and debate.  First, that a distinction could be made between truth and falsity.  Second, that there existed a “superior” argument, based upon the combination of facts and rules of logical argumentation, in contradistinction to an “inferior” one.  But third — and this is the missing component in today’s endless shouting matches on television and radio waves — that each participant possessed a level of humility such that upon recognizing the inferiority of one’s one argument, a voluntary concession would be made, admitting to the superiority of the opponent’s argument.

While everyone recognizes and acknowledges the structural weakening of the first element, it is this last one which has devastated the entire process of today’s discourse and debate.  Of relevance to 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, is the extent, content and relevance of making a legal argument, and to what effectiveness and efficacy of substance, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

In the end, bureaucracies are based upon the power of its established conduit of administrative complexity, and OPM is no different.  The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is made up of ultra-competent individuals who take their jobs very seriously, as well as with a mixture of some who are less than stellar.  That is the general make-up of all such organizations and governmental entities.

The structure of the right to appeal, however, is why a cogent discourse and debate must be prepared.  If the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a Federal Disability Retirement application twice (at the initial stage of the process, then again at the Reconsideration stage), then the Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant can file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  There, the Administrative Judge will hear all of the arguments made, afresh and anew, and consider the lack of constructive engagement and “weak points” of OPM’s arguments.  That is where all true discourse and debate must begin — before an audience with a listening ear.  And there we have that complementing and undesirable cousin again —  the “true” X, as opposed to an untrue one?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Extreme Fatigue

The phrase itself can denote at least two connotations of conceptual paradigms, depending upon which word the emphasis is placed upon:  of an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that is experientially devastating to an exponential degree or, that one is so depleted and tired from the constant state of the extreme.

To experience extreme fatigue is to have a medical condition; to be tired of the constancy of crisis after crisis, is to live an existence which cannot be sustained forever.  Both states can be experienced simultaneously, especially when a medical condition occurs, because the debilitating effects of the disability begins to take its toll upon the individual’s mind, body and soul, and further, because outside reactionary influences tend to make an imbalance upon one’s perspective.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is experiencing both forms of the phrase, it is probably time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and tiredness beyond mere overexertion begins to overtake, it is an indicator that the medical condition is taking its toll.  When the daily circumstances of one’s life tend to be interpreted as a constancy of extremes, like the proverbial “boy who cried wolf” once too often, and the daily events become skewed to such an extent that one becomes overwhelmed by the persistence of events, and where the extraordinary becomes the daily norm, then it is also a sign of portending causes to recognize.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not an option of the extreme, although it may be one of the few and limited alternatives left for the Federal or Postal worker who has been struggling to maintain a linear level of normalcy for years on end.

Rather, it is a recognition of human frailty, and the limits of endurance, and ultimately a choice of reflective wisdom in recognizing when the extreme of life’s circumstances begin to take its toll, the resulting impact is often the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion beyond mere tiredness, and where the signs become clear that time is not on the side of health, but where health must accept the timeless constancy of changing extremes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire