FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: The Resistance

The initial reaction to such a title is the obvious one: To what?  Of course, Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes immediately to mind — of every action having an equal and opposite reaction; thus, when one posits a “resistance”, the natural query must refer to its opposition, as in, “What is it that we are resisting?”

Throughout our “stages of life”, we either comply, conform, “go along with the crowd” — or resist doing so.  There are “middle” ways, of course, and yet to compromise and resist “half-way”, or in a half-hearted manner, often seems to ruin the whole point of any resistance, doesn’t it?

If one is to be a revolutionary, the point is to be one completely, or not at all.  During the Sixties, there was the famous line (often misattributed to Abbie Hoffman, the Beatles and others) which declared that the movement’s participants would “never trust anyone over 30” — spoken by Jack Weinberg in response to a hostile interviewer.  The underlying point of the statement is quite clear: By the age of 30, most people have “sold out”, conformed, lost their youthful vigor to resist; or, put more simply, accepted the status quo and have become cynical.  Yet, isn’t there a natural inclination to “belong”, to not stand apart from the crowd, and to be able to live a quiet, unassuming life?

“Resistance” can thus have a duality of meanings — it can imply that one is part of a movement involving resistance to the status quo or, even its opposite; that one resists change and is integrally a participant of the status quo.  Resistance to change is the greater dominating force.  Change is a fearsome entity where the unknown is to be avoided at all costs.  To be a part of “the resistance” that refuses to conform — well, that is best left to those under 30, unattached and without obligations and responsibilities.

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 job, resistance to change is often the factor that procrastinates, and keeps a person in a “muddle of the middle” where conditions deteriorate but one stubbornly insists upon maintaining the status quo.

But as medical conditions deteriorate and as the Federal Agency or the Postal Service persists in seeking change — by forcing the issue and initiating adverse actions in order to fill the position with a person who is able to perform all of the essential elements of the position — resistance to change must be replaced with becoming a part of the resistance: By preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM and forging ahead into a future yet unknown.

Remember —even Jack Weinberg became a class of individuals that he resisted, and went on to become a consultant and an adjunct faculty member; in other words, he was once in the “Resistance”, then became that opposite and equal force to fulfill Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill,Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Appeal: Second Opportunities

In life, how often do we get a “second opportunity”?  To correct a past mistake; to avoid the consequences of an error committed; to rekindle a damaged relationship; and other acts of revitalized and redemptive scenarios rarely allowed.

Second opportunities, and the rare third ones, allow for erasures to be made, modifications to be incorporated and additional, corrective information to be inserted.  Of the following, what would one think? “Oh, a mistake was made in the contract which goes against you, but not to worry, go ahead and make the changes and we can sign everything again as if … “ Or: “Oh, your rich aunt disinherited you after you called her that horrible name and in a drunken rage knocked her over the head with vase, but not to worry, she forgives you and has placed you back in her will.”

Those are, to be sure, instances of second opportunities, but rarely to be had and more likely to occur in fictionalized accounts of redemptive fantasies otherwise unpublished because of their unlikely occurrences.

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 job, the “Second Opportunity” (and the “Third”) comes in the form of the Reconsideration Stage, and then an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Don’t let such an opportunity for corrective action slip through the “proverbial fingers” by making the same mistake twice.  It is, at either the Reconsideration Stage or the appeal to the MSPB, an opportunity to fill in any gaps (whether merely perceived by OPM or substantively existing, it doesn’t really matter); and to reinforce any lack of medical evidence by having the opportunity to supplement, and even modify, statements made or omissions allowed.

Some OPM Disability Retirement cases may be weak in their very essence, whether because of lack of medical support or because of other reasons undefinable; other cases may simply need further development, explanation or supplemental evidence to “shore up” the unpersuasive peripheral issues that have appeared in the case.  Both the Reconsideration Stage, as well as the appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, open opportunities to resolve one’s case in one’s favor — by being granted the ultimate end and goal with an approval of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

The road to attain that goal, however, must sometimes travel through multiple doors and second opportunities, and that is how one should see the Second (Reconsideration) and Third (an appeal to the MSPB) Stages of the process in trying to get one’s OPM Disability Retirement application approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Retirement: 2019, The New Year

It has a familiar ring to it; of a harkening to a recent past that has a melodic cadence reminding one of a famous book by George Orwell.  It is because of the “19” that we are reminded of it.  Can it have already been 35 years in passing?  “But it’s not quite as bad as all of that,” we say, and perhaps such a sentiment is right: Pox on the negativism of predictions of doom!

No, we do not have flat screens forced upon us which spy into our lives; instead, we went out and purchased them ourselves — voluntarily — and realized only later that the camera embedded can, indeed, record our every movements.  And we learned that all of that personal information shared with friends and family have been stored and disseminated to forums and facades not otherwise intended; and so everything private has become public, and there is nothing left but the shell of who we are.

But enough of that; we celebrate the coming of a new year not for the unwanted fears of the past, but because the future can always bring about change, greater prosperity and a glimmer of hope for things yet to come.  It may well be that 2019 is that very year we have been waiting for — a dawn of new beginnings.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition no longer allows for you to continue in your present job, the incoming New Year may be an opportunity for change, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective FERS Disability Retirement application.  Consult with a knowledgable attorney and begin the process early, as OPM is way behind and it is important to get in line.  2019 — Happy New Year.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The Priority of Me

The “Me Generation” has now passed, and it is no longer in vogue to focus upon the “Me, Me, Me” refrain that once permeated societal acceptance of the selfishness allowed.  There followed, in some quarters of social consciousness, a turning away from the “self” and instead focused upon empathy for others, service towards a selfless society, and a cohesion that was glued by a conscientious attitude of selfish disregard.

Except, of course, in the quiet workings of those more devious than the rest of us, it merely became a marketing tool in order to create greater wealth while declaring that it was for the greater good of society.

Thus did it become advertised that drinking a certain brand of coffee was “good for the world”, that buying certain products “helped the environment”, and driving certain vehicles cut down the pollutants and emissions in order to “save” the planet — all the while, those very same companies reaped profits and the people flew around spewing vast amounts of exhaust plumes into the blue skies above.

The fact is, the Priority of Me has never changed in this universe, ever since the first man or woman looked into the reflection posed from a placid lake or pond and saw that there was a “Me” distinct from a “You” or some other.  From that moment onwards, the Law of Self-Regard would take hold.  The “priority of me” has not changed; it is reflective of a society that constantly advertises cosmetic artifice and promotes youth, beauty and first impressions as the mainstay of relevant values.

Ultimately, one may ask, is there anything wrong with such an ordering of priorities?  If not me, then who?  If not you, then why not me?

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, it is important to recognize that the priority of me extends to the Federal agency and the Postal facility throughout — for, once you divulge the fact that you intend to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, they begin to treat you as an “outsider” who can no longer benefit the “priority of me”.

Medical conditions necessitate a reordering of priorities, and it is important to make that “me” as a greater priority by focusing upon one’s health; but always remember that the “Me Generation” that purportedly had passed has, in fact, never disappeared, and the Federal Agency or the Postal Service will begin to systematically exclude you in favor of themselves — or, from their perspective, making themselves as the “Me Priority”.

No, the “Me Generation” never disappeared; instead, like a chameleon, they simply changed their appearances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The mind’s bookshelf

Entertainment is a peculiar thing in human psychology: happiness accompanies its anticipation, but during the process of “being entertained”, do we recognize our own joy, or are we lost in the suspension of our own inner world while being completely oblivious to the suffering around us?

We toil day in and day out with a singular goal, held by many, to enjoy a period of respite and entertainment — of becoming lost in a movie; of going to a play; of putting headphones on and listening to a favorite song, piece or series of favorites; of pulling from the mind’s bookshelf an episode of imaginative adventures or a wonderland of a dream’s figment.

Entertainment, joy, happiness and contentment are the ingredients of life’s admixture of troubles, trials and turpentine creations in a universe of chocolate-ice-cream-not-quite-right, ups and downs and joining and break-ups; it is a mixed up world where everyone is trying to extract an ounce of pleasure when the last cupful has already been taken.  Then, there is the capacity of the human mind that has just had enough — where too much bombardment of stimuli leads one to withdraw, become reclusive, and seek the solitude of one’s own soliloquy of minds.  It is a rather peculiar concept, is it not?

To withdraw within the mind’s bookshelf — that corner of studied solitude where others cannot share, and only the loneliness of one’s self-induced privacy allows for an entrance and exit to the backrooms of an unlit alcove that is marked “private”, and where no admittance is allowed except by exclusive invitation only.  It is when even the mind’s bookshelf is toppled by the troubled waters of the world that too much stress, too much stimuli and way, way too much intrusiveness begins to overflow.

That is what a medical condition tends to do — for, when it becomes chronic and begins to gnaw at even the privacy of the mind’s bookshelf, then the unbearable nature of one’s condition requires a change.  For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to invade even the privacy of the mind’s bookshelf, it is time to consider 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.

When even the last refuge from life’s turmoil has been invaded and violated — of an inability to attain any restorative sleep; when profound fatigue overwhelms; when chronic pain becomes unrelenting; when one’s focus, concentration and ability to retain even a semblance of cognitive acuity is progressively being lost; then, the inconsistency between one’s essential elements of a position and the medical condition becomes quite clear, and it becomes necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Joy of life comes from having the key to the mind’s bookshelf, and when that is no longer possible, it is time to file for OPM Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of 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, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire