Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Battle of Spring

There are various “battles” of historical import, including “The Battle of Britain”, “The Battle of the Bulge”, and many others besides, whether popularly so named or forgotten within the annals of history’s short memory.  Then, every year, around this time where April and May meld into a battle of morning frosts and potentially damaging tug-and-pull between winter’s discontent and spring’s yearning for the robin’s call, we wake up one morning and realize that the desolation of winter has finally passed.

Isn’t that how life is, often enough?  There is that in-between period, where tension remains and uncertainty abounds, until the final resolution appears unnoticed, like the unwanted friend who stays beyond the welcoming time of twilight conversations only to finally depart, and the unpleasantries exchanged during conversations left imagined fade into the inglorious memory of yesterday’s sorrows.

Medical conditions, too, are a “battle” of sorts, and create a tension that will not let go, will not release, and will not give up despite every attempt to ignore, placate and shun.  The stubbornness of a medical condition cannot be ignored; its impact, unwilling to be forgotten; and its tension, unable to be released.

That is why, 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 tension and anxiety formed by the very existence of the medical condition is likened to the many “battles” that we face in life.

Perhaps it is a metaphorical observation; and like the allegories that give life-lessons, maybe there is an underlying meaning that can be extracted from the trials endured.

In the meantime, what the Federal or Postal employee needs to do, is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to release the tension that exists between work and life, work and medical condition, work and ….

The Battle of Spring will come and go, just like all of the other “battles” that have been fought throughout history; and this private battle against the medical condition itself is merely a private friction that also needs to be fought, on terms that create a more level playing field by consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Perspective versus reality

One may counter that the contrast is no different than that which we encounter daily, especially in this universe of millennials and post-millennial era – of opinion versus fact, or truth versus falsehood (and now the new one, of “news” versus “fake news” or “facts” versus “alternative facts”).  But “perspective” versus “reality” has some subtle nuances that need to be explicated.  For one thing, one’s perspective may be identical to the reality one possesses a perspective upon; or, more likely, it is merely an interpretation that may differ from someone else’s.

One could, of course, argue that all of reality is merely a perspective, and this would comport with the Kantian view that our phenomenological experiences can never depict the “noumenal” universe (Kant’s verbiage) that is outside of the categorical impositions of our human make-up, and that therefore the human perspective is something that cannot be avoided, anymore than a dog’s perspective can be assumed or challenged, or a bat’s perspective (refer to Thomas Nagel on that) would be understood or comprehended by a human’s perspective.

In other words, we can never completely disown the perspective imposed by the innate structures of our own “kind”, and thus it may be an error to ever represent a contrast between “perspective” and “reality” (thus the misnomer of the title above, “Perspective versus reality”), but should always encompass and embrace a commensurate connection of “Perspective of reality” (a consonance of the two) or “Perspective and reality” (a conjoining compatibility of both).

Yet, we know that certain people interpret things differently from what we believe constitutes an accurate portrayal of “reality”.  However, so long as we stay within certain confines of accepted normative interpretations, we rarely contest or openly disagree with alternative depictions, unless it is to obtain a consensus that somehow disproves the validity of the other’s portrayal (i.e., “Yes, but John, Joe and May agree with me”, as if quantification of perspectives somehow diminishes the accuracy of another’s; as opposed to saying, “Well, Copernicus thought otherwise while the rest of the world continued to maintain a geocentric perspective of the universe” – unless, of course, you are ignoring the “rest of the world” to include China, Japan, etc.),

Yet, there are factors that have to be considered when discussing the distinction between “perspective” and “reality”, and one of them often involves medical conditions – an element of reality that often skewers perspective.  That is why, for a Federal or Postal employee who is 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, the importance of relying upon accurate information, good and sound legal advice, and a straight and narrow path towards a successful outcome with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (no matter the length of time it may take these days), is important.

For, medical conditions will often alter the perspective of an individual as to the reality of one’s situation, and so it is an “outside” source (the medical condition itself) which needs a counterbalancing force (otherwise referred to as an “objective” advocate, i.e., a lawyer) in order to present an effective, objective, persuasive representative in order to “re-present” the perspective of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant.  Thus, in short, it is a perspective versus reality issue, and thus not entirely a misnomer as previously stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: A mote in society’s dustbin

What is the greatest fear?  Is it to be forgotten, cast aside, without a mere footnote in the linear history of societal acknowledgments?  Must society now adjust to the credited observation of Warhol’s dictum, that fame’s span of 15 minutes is too lengthy, given the fast-paced nature of modern technology?  Is watching one’s self in a public forum the satisfying conduit for vicarious living, such that it makes content the populous who would otherwise revolt in the disparity of despairing livelihoods?

The Biblical reference of comparing the mote in someone else’s eye, as opposed to the beam in one’s own, is of interest beyond the failure to recognize the reflection of insincerity displayed by lack of self-awareness; more than that, it is the comparative disparity which fails to prod.  While the mote itself is the foreign substance which irritates and prompts the pointing finger, it also represents the insignificance of life’s judgments in general, to the way in which we all live.  It is the tiniest piece of substance, and yet the finger-pointing it prompts reveals a readiness to judge, and is reflective of a character defect in us all.

And when that mote is extracted and flicked away, it floats unnoticed into the greater dustbin of society, where morning mists evaporate in the rising sun of daily tumult, and where giants of men with promise and potentiality fall with a thud and a shudder for all to hear.

It is irrelevancy of which we fear; that no one will have noticed, and the imprint of our lives will matter not against the rising tides of artifices constructed in the imagination of our own awakenings.  How many nameless tombs echo the mournful solitude of an estranged life in a world devoid of warmth and snuggles?  Why are teddy bears, stuffed animals and lifeless companions purchased with purrs of gleeful delight?  We are but mere motes in the dustbin of society; moreover, we fear being extracted, even from that status of being an insignificant irritant, and flicked away where even the shadows remain unnoticed and when mice scurry away with but barely an ear’s twitch.

That is why Heidegger’s comment that we engage in projects to avoid the ultimate meaning of our lives — the extinguishment of one’s conscious soul — reverberates with haunting excess.  Of course, some would scoff at that philosopher and retort that his shame in participating in the Third Reich revealed the true nature of his philosophy; but that is for another day to reflect upon.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who believe — nay, “feel” — that their work is not “done” with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and therefore must endure the humiliation piled upon the progressively worsening medical condition despite the self-immolative process of remaining, the real fear is the underlying, subterranean seething of man’s refusal to be cast aside as a mere irrelevancy, like a mote in society’s dustbin.

In the end, however, does it really matter whether the “mission of the agency” has been accomplished (remember that bureaucracies and their foundational rationale for existence never comes to a terminus; a new one is always adopted as perpetual replacements in the linear eternity of a behemoth’s lifespan), or the last truckload of mail has been delivered?

Federal and Postal employees are known for their “dedication” and conscientious resolve; but when 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 hindrance because of an unfounded and unjustified adherence to a principle which does harm to one’s own health, then the mote in the eye of one’s brother becomes more than an simple comparison to the beam in one’s own eye; it becomes itself a mote which should be flicked aside into the dustbin of society’s joke, where the laughter is directed upon all who have fallen for the epic comedy of life itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire