Federal Employee Disability Information: Among friends

So, in the cackle of laughter and the roar of a campfire, or perhaps in the hazy heat of summer outside by the swimming pool, or wherever; among friends, enjoying an afternoon, a late morning, an early evening or into the twilight hours when children whisper sweet sounds of snoring dreams and even the dog has had enough of the friendships, especially where table scraps are no longer offered and a wagging tail barely invites a pat on the head, and certainly no more tummy rubs no matter how many times a hint is dropped; and so the vacant stares begin to take hold and the late-hour goodbyes begin to be offered.

Among friends; and yet there is an uneasiness; perhaps you learned something about one of them that you never knew before; perhaps, that couple you knew from high school or college, of whom you and your wife have always said, “Oh, not them!” Life brings unexpected traumas and turmoil, tumultuous events and interventions that one never plans for.  People whom you thought “would never” – whatever the blank narrative that follows that phrase or conceptual construct – suddenly do, are or will become.

We fail to recognize, always too late, that it is the unpredictability of life that is the predictable, and when we become ensconced with the settled comfort that guided Parmenides in his philosophical outlook, and recognize the perspective of Heraclitus, then can we take a step back and plan for that unexpected travail.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, it is precisely that sense of “being among friends” that can become problematic.

When to inform the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal workers of the intent to file; what to say, how much to divulge and in what form; to what extent this or that individual, supervisor or manager is allowed to know; what prying eyes will have access to sensitive medical information; and who are we among – friends, foes or somewhere in between?

These are questions that will have to be confronted and sensitively danced around and about, for in preparing, formulating and 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, the questions are often not, “Are we among friends?” but rather, “Who are our enemies”?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The unknown world

It is that part of the universe that is often seen as the “far side of the moon”, where shadows befall and eyes never perceive, witnesses never survive and documents don’t exist.  Mount Everest was once that world; galaxies outside of our own, despite our best efforts to invent and create greater and stronger telescopes, or ones that float in the nothingness of outer space and send back digital images that are obscure and indistinguishable from inkblots accidently spilled upon a sheet of white paper, but somehow scientists can discern great discoveries by pointing to colors, hue, magnified analogs and complex algorithms that leave the rest of us scratching our heads and declaring, “You got all of that from this picture?”

There was life once on Mars and Jupiter since contained icicles that entrapped microbes billions of years ago, and just through a photograph of a fuzzy specter that the rest of us would have interpreted as Bugs Bunny leaning against a fencepost eating a carrot stick.  But of unknown worlds and the far side of the moon where shadows rest upon and hide the human toil of secrets and conspiracies, the truly mysterious one is the subjective mind of the person sitting next to you.  Yes, yes, it may not appear that way – perhaps each time you ask a question of that individual, he or she merely grunts and states in the same monotone of boredom and unexcitable drone, “Yep. What of it?”

And so when PBS or the National Geographic Society has some show about the complexity of the human brain, the neurons and the micro-conceptual foundations that make up the universe of human circuitry, dreams, images, thought-processes, Freudian and other “-ians” that delve into the human mind of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious and all spectrums in between, you turn, look at that same person and say, “Not.”  Or, that person one day does something completely out of the ordinary and during his lunch break takes out a book – say, Kant’s classic on the foundations of metaphysics, or some such esoteric material, and proceeds to mumble to himself, and you say, “Gee, didn’t know he was into that.”  But then you again try and engage him with, “So, what are you reading?”  And the familiar refrain comes back: “Yep. What of it?”  Beyond disappointments and non-engagements with universes parallel, mysterious and already predicted, there is still that “subjective” universe where pain remains, medical conditions are hidden and plans for the future are yet to be expressed.

That is the netherworld of the Federal or Postal employee who must contemplate preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is also the world of “cat-and-mouse” – of when to tell the Federal agency or Postal service of your intentions; how much to tell; when to submit the Disability Retirement packet so that it obtains the greatest advantage against the Federal agency or Postal Service; and all of the complexities in between.

Yes, there are still “unknown worlds” and universes; you just became too much a part of it to recognize the wonder of it all, because the guy next to you keeps burping and saying, “Yep. What of it?”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Comparisons

We like making them; somehow, it allows for hope and, unfortunately, its opposite, despair, but they are engaged in nonetheless, regardless of the potentialities pointing in either direction.  Comparisons allow for a judgment of who we are, what we have accomplished and what we believe are the acceptable societal norms and standards, and whether we have succeeded or failed in meeting them.

People watch the pablum of television shows that display the ostentatious arrogance of some wealthy individuals who know not the concept of “discretion” or any sense of humility in having attained the higher luxuries of life; yet, many continue to be fascinated by such tasteless shows of comfort, and compare themselves, their accomplishments and the artificial standards of normative achievements that somehow have pervaded people’s psyche.

Of course, the corollary of such an approach to life is to redefine the definition of what it means to be “successful”, and thus to lower the standards in order to be all-inclusive, and do this each time as more and more people need to be accommodated.

Either extremes on the spectrum of man’s favorite sport – of watching, observing and comparing – constitutes the reality of that which is required to attain a level of satisfaction in life.  Of course comparisons are going to be made – for, we live in a world where everything is relative, and one can only recognize and realize the multitude of opportunities and potentialities by comparing one’s own station in life with that of what others have achieved.

Concurrently, sometimes the definition that defines who we are, what is important and where one wants to go, may need some adjustments.  Objectivity is achieved somewhere in the middle, between the comparative observance of “what is”, and the need to tinker with the language game that defines what “needs to be”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the favorite past-time of Americans – of observing, comparing and judging – meets a heightened sense of anxious awaiting because of what coworkers and supervisors begin to do.

They compare your level of productivity to what others are doing, and what you were doing before.  An “accommodation” is nothing more than the redefining of one’s essential elements of one’s job; but even with the linguistic rearrangement of those essential elements, the constant barrage of the other side of comparing continues – of supervisors, coworkers, etc., and the entire agency and postal facility judging whether or not you are doing as much as everyone else.

In the end, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be necessary, as the sharpened knives of those comparisons may be too much to bear, given the innate nature of man’s cruelty in a world where medical conditions and disabilities are deemed to be comparatively unacceptable.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Perspectives, now and then

We all have them; and, like opinions and other discarded detritus unworthy of further consideration, we can replace them with others.  It is what Plato warned against in his allegorical narrative about the shadows against the Cave walls, and how the true form of reality was presented only after we were unshackled from our lying eyes.

Perspective, now and then, or “now” as opposed to “then”, can change.  It is the “now and then” and how you interpret that dependent clause that often matters.  Is it something that comes along once in a blue moon, or a changed, modified and altered perspective that differs now, as opposed to that obscure “then” – perhaps in youth, in early adulthood or in middle age?  When does a perspective remain constant, wise, worthy and consistent with reality such that we can grasp a hold of “it” and never let go? Or, are perspectives changeable, mutable, subject to reality’s compelling of alteration based upon the fluid circumstances of life’s misgivings?

In law school, there is the classic lesson taught in Criminal Law 101, where the professor has two actors come into the class all of a sudden, struggle, argue, then a loud “bang” is sounded, and one of them runs and the other falls dead.  Then, the students are asked to write down what they saw.  The notoriety of eye-witness accounts being so unreliable is quickly shown by the disparities revealed.

Nowadays, of course, with body cameras and video mechanisms running nonstop , we are subjected to a replay of scene after scene, and perspectives can change – except, of course, as to camera angle; what is actually seen no matter the constant replay; and of when the “record” button was pushed and how much contextual evidence had been left out before, or sometimes even after.

Medical conditions, too, alter perspectives.  Sometimes, when “subjective” medical conditions such as chronic pain or psychiatric conditions of depression and anxiety are never noticed until the severity became too great to bear, the other side of the perspective has to do with believability and veracity of acceptance.

Remember that there is always a difference between having a medical condition, and proving it.  That is why in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the Federal or Postal employee must take into account the differing perspectives, now and then (in whichever form and whatever context) of your medical condition, how others see it, how it is proven, how your agency or the Postal facility views it all – in other words, perspectives far, wide, now and then, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Devising Escape Routes

What a person spends his or her time doing away from work, reveals much as to how one’s work will be accomplished.  If one attempts immediately to build protective walls around the core of a project in an effort to stave off potential marauders, as opposed to focusing upon the substantive essence of the idea itself, then perhaps the vulnerability of the project itself will begin to manifest.

Our own fears often overwhelm; but healthy fear can be a positive use of an evolutionary tool meant to apprise and alert.  It is only when it becomes an impediment and obstacle for progress and advancement that our own self-immolative actions begin to impact our capacity to grow.  There is a delicate balance between healthy fear and that which lends itself to self-destruction.  Proper evaluation and analysis of a circumstance or situation is required in order to establish the former; for the latter, a groundless allowance without facts or evaluative input.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the question often becomes, At what point do I begin to consider escape routes?  Do I need to devise them, or are the mechanisms already in place?

Escape routes are devised in response to dangers present; and often it will appear as if the manifestation of a medical condition will bring out the worst in others.  Isn’t that an anomaly in and of itself — that one’s own deterioration of health will impact the behavior of others, in a derogatory manner?  But that is precisely what a “stress test” is for, is it not?  It is never in the best of circumstances that reveals the true nature of a thing; rather, it is under adverse conditions which unravel the artificial appendages with which we camouflage.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is somewhat like an “escape route”, in that it allows for the Federal or Postal employee to exit from the adversity of circumstances, and plan for one’s future.  One need not “devise” it, to the extent that it is “already there” — a benefit for all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

For the Federal or Postal employee considering such a route, the priorities of life should always prevail:  Focus upon one’s health in an effort to remain (for those who are beset with a medical condition which is “work-related”, filing for Federal Workers’ Compensation benefits may be the first option to consider); then, if it becomes clear that one’s medical condition is impacting the ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and that the medical condition will last a minimum of 1 year (and it should be emphasized that one does not need to wait for a year in order to determine this aspect; rather, it is merely a medical prognosis that the medical condition will likely last at least 12 months or more that is required), consideration should be given to preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

In the end, it is not a matter of devising escape routes, but rather of recognizing the limits of human endurance, evaluating one’s place within the context of growing adversity, then acting upon those exit points available and allowable — then to make a proper decision for one’s self, and for one’s family and future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Shame

Anthropological commentators have variously pointed out that the human being is the only one of the social animals to exhibit the characteristic of shame, and then quip with a spirit of mocking sharpness, “and the only ones who have a need to be”.  But the problem of shame is that the responsiveness exhibiting that overwhelming sense of self-immolation is often misdirected. Shame, or being ashamed, can occur resulting from the collective behavior of others, where a majority opinion can persuade through ostracizing, manifesting group hostility, or through persistent hammering.  It can even be through the misinterpretation of the normative behavior and conduct of acceptable societal customs and social rules of engagement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, such a misdirected response is often seen when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  For the Federal or Postal employee who feels such “shame”, there is often a dual track of thought-processing:  A.  The Federal or Postal employee is unable to do all of the positional duties assigned and expected, and as a result, one feels “shame” for that lack and growing inability, and B. the medical condition itself makes one “ashamed” because it constitutes a reduction of the whole person, and the societal stares and hushed whispers reinforce one’s self-image that, somehow, one is “less” than the aggregate shown by the collective others.  And there is often a third, where:  C.  As work has become the source and sole reservoir of one’s sense of worth and accomplishment, so the potential loss of it results in a growing sense of shame, embarrassment and self-hatred.

Indeed, the loss, or the potential loss, of one’s identity at the workplace is a profoundly devastating undermining of one’s own self image.  But that is where the misinterpretation of values originates; for, by placing so much emphasis upon the goal of a herd’s collective mission, one fails to properly prioritize an individual’s sense of self-worth.  Health, and the need to recognize one’s place within the greater context of society, must always be taken as the priority of life’s misgivings.

For the Federal or Postal worker who has misinterpreted the importance of work over health and family, preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often a difficult trial to undertake.  But it must be so, and recognition that compassion is the antidote to the false sense of shame experienced when the fate of a medical condition begins to deteriorate one’s health, capabilities and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, is to merely be human, and it is not even erring which acknowledges such humanity, but a condition of life which is neither the fault of the Federal or Postal employee, nor within the control of the future, but within the soft breath of the gods who smile upon the infirm with love and empathy — those true attributes of heavenly concerns.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Predictable Pantomimes

Most of life is simply lived.  One engages, works, plans, deliberates, initiates, completes chores, gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, etc.  Little reflection or thought is required; much of it, like an automaton on a conveyor belt of cursory convenience, requires but mere human movement.

Perhaps in the mythological State of Nature, as described by Rousseau or Locke, the predatory environment creating a necessity of alertness just to survive, required greater cognitive involvement; or, as a corollary, an utopian condition of peace and tranquil coexistence with other forces of nature.  It is when one pauses for a brief moment, reflects, and has a sudden awareness of one’s self in the presence of others, that the very knowledge of acting within the confines and context of “doing”, becomes a consciousness of self-realization.

Self-awareness — that level of consciousness beyond mere recognition of one’s surroundings, but involving a direct acuteness of “being” but simultaneously “being in the world”, is what makes for human uniqueness.

Heidegger tried to describe it through linguistic mechanisms which turned out to be beyond the common realm of understanding or comprehension, and thus became relegated to the esoteric halls of academia.  Sartre and Camus attempted to capture it through fictional depictions, and indeed, it was more the texture of the novel, The Stranger, than the actual words, which came closest to successful conveyance of the experience of the absurd.

For the daily person, medical conditions tend to starkly bring out the reality of the experience.  Medical conditions suddenly reveal one’s vulnerability, and the fragile nature of one’s being.  Mortality becomes a reality beyond mere distance-reflection of some unknown future intent; it becomes the freshness of the now for a being within a body of decay.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suddenly realizes that life, career, future and the boredom of constancy can be but a moment in time because of an impending medical condition which threatens one’s security and livelihood, 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, becomes a reality of immediacy, precisely because of the urgency of the medical condition upon one’s life and livelihood.

Suddenly, the priority of “being” presents itself.  What one did before the crisis of vulnerability was merely a predictable pantomime; the reality of life and the significance of relationships becomes the true being of living.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may seem like a mere act of administrative convenience, but for many, it becomes the avenue of necessity in order to deal with the reality of illness, disability, and medical urgency.  And, as with all aspects of life and being, other predictable pantomimes will become apparent:  the agency’s hostile reaction; the looks of suspicion from others; unfriendly attitudes displayed by coworkers and supervisors; they are all merely actors on a larger stage, but yet to realize that “being” and “being-in-the-world” are one and the same, when tragedies befall and humanity acknowledges the fragile nature of life, like the soft petal from a dying flower which drifts soundlessly upon the earthen dust from which we were born, and to which we return.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire