FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The retirement itch

It normally doesn’t come until late in life; of that picturesque paradigm of the old man sitting in a rocking chair beside a crackling fire, a dog or cat, perhaps, on the floor just beside, reading a novel or looking through a picture album; where is Norman Rockwell, and is he still relevant?

In modernity and more recently, the picture depicted is of the old couple, or in solitary state of affairs, climbing the mountains in the Himalayas or traveling to exotic lands beyond; for, the advertising agents have figured out that if old people sit around in rocking chairs, mutual funds merely sit idly in accounts without becoming subject to trading fees and other expenses, and it is best to alter the mindset for future sources of income rather than to allow for stagnation to determine the course of a past.

Is that too cynical a view to posit?  Of course, events outside of one’s control will often determine whether or not activity in old age can be embraced, or will a more placid, sedentary lifestyle consume one’s retirement?

The “retirement itch” is one that often comes late in life, after a lifetime of toil, strain, stresses and “dealing with” problems.  Is “retirement” a concept that developed only in the last and present centuries?  Did not most people just work and work and work until one “died in one’s boots” – the proverbial preference of most people who have been productive all of their lives?

Then, of course, a medical condition can cut short and impose an early retirement upon a person – and that is what Federal Disability Retirement allows for, 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 that lack of a “retirement itch” that often makes the Federal or Postal employee pause; for, he or she is simply “not ready” to file for Federal Disability Retirement.

Yet, it is not any “retirement itch” or longing to rest and relax that leads one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Rather, it is the recognition that there are more important things to prioritize in life besides one’s work and career – such as one’s health.

It may well be that you are too young to have any sense of a “retirement itch”; but that sensation may be lost forever unless you focus upon your health and well-being, such that you will live long enough to scratch that itch that tells you that tomorrow may yet bring a brighter hope for a future yet untold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement from OPM: The key

It is both a tool of utility in order to gain entrance and accessibility to an otherwise abrupt encounter with an obstacle barring further forward progress, as well as a well-worn metaphor appropriately applied to miracles, magic and moments of mandatory martyrdom.  It is a wonder that a slight defect in the metallic shaving of the implement can allow for the turning of it, and opening into the entranceway, but for that additional indentation; or of a barcode smudged which refuses to make an allowance.  In either case, whether as a physical tool or an electronic pass embedded in the plastic sheen of society’s muse, what it opens is the foundation for its very existence.

Accessibility is the key, or so we are told; and the key, well, that is what must be sought, earned or otherwise stolen by stealth or whatever other means of perpetuity engaged in order to embrace the incantations of eternal youth.  It is that mythological “fountain of youth”, after all, which we seek; and the key to gain entrance into the club of rubbing elbows can only be obtained by smarts, good looks and intellectual prowess.

Time was that we were all sold on the idea that education and hard work was the “key” to success; but then, it turns out that the system itself was somehow unfair and weighted in favor of one class or group over another, and so the tinkering began, to right wrongs which otherwise wrongfully righted past and historical wrongs, by asserting rights previously unknown to have existed, but which now could be miraculously discovered in the subtext of originalism where intentionality could be denoted through greater concentration and willpower to discern.

The greater key, then, became who you know, what levers of power could be pulled, and the insider trading of such greater knowledge, while all the time throwing breadcrumbs to the greater masses in order to appease the rumblings of starvation times yet to arrive.

It is always a key of which we seek; whether by force, by protest, by assertion of rights unearned; and when we lose them, we scream with frustration at the unfairness of the gods of fate whom we turn to only when destiny denies the promised predetermination of an outcome-based society lost forever in the hollow utterances of vote-getters, who also seek the public arena of keys revealed in goodie-bags dispensed with public funds.  For, when doors close and open by devices of mysterious barcodes, the suspicion that something else is going on behind such closure and obstacles to accessibility somehow reverberates with a truth left undeniable.

The truth is, there is no single “key” to life’s puzzles or perennial questions remaining without answers; life itself is too wide an expanse, too great a concept, and too generalized a thought to allow for a device to insert into an emptiness of soul in order to turn and open for a final solution to a door otherwise unopened but by those who expend the greater effort.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who seek the “key” to questions unanswered 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, there is no “master key” to uncover in order to understand the complex administrative process in such a greater bureaucratic morass.

Instead, the fundamental key to first determine is to prove that the medical condition suffered by the Federal or Postal employee prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  From there, the unlocking of inaccessibility will be determined by the key of legal criteria, opened only by those who possess the barcode of cogent argumentation upon uncovering the keyhole allowing for a nexus between the medical condition and the legal penumbras of technical application.  And, like all keys, it is that extra little shaving and indentation which will allow for accessibility, and turn the tides of a life otherwise barred.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Help for Federal Employees: Slices & Wholes

Short stories provide a slice of life; novels, a genre which attempts to provide a picture of a greater whole, and when it falls short, will often be an opportunity to manifest a trilogy of works.  But fiction never quite captures the essence of entirety, and we are left with the part, a necessary void, and a missing piece of the puzzle.

Every narrative of a life is merely a portion; the microcosm rarely captures the significance of the whole.  And, indeed, there are large chunks of human living which need not be repetitively revealed, as they are presumed to occur during the lapses and jumps of time:  That the character in the story (or insert:  television show, movie, novella, etc.) has gone to the bathroom multiple times during the day; has eaten more than in the restaurant scene and traveled in some kind of a transport vehicle in order to reach a given destination, etc.

At the dawn of movies, it was a common question for the audience to ask, “How did he get there all of a sudden?”  Real life was still being projected upon the new screen of depicted stories, and the loss of continuity assumed that the audience would make certain jumps of logical conclusions; time, acquiescence and acceptance of convention would yet take some getting used to, and the slice of life revealed often mistook the viewer for the wholeness of true living experienced by all.

Thus do we accept, in watching a play, the convention of a character declaring an aside but where the rest of the stage does not hear; in real life, such declarative innuendoes would result in a slap in the face.  But that is precisely the problem with people, isn’t it?  We all accept and assume, and presume that the slice of life is representative of the whole, and thereby typify and stereotype the individual, beyond mere first impressions.

The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition and therefore is unable to accomplish all that needs to be done, is now the nuisance and the “lazy one” who puts the burden upon everyone else, without considering the long history of dedication and service, or the turmoil and devastation wrought upon the greater whole of his or her life.  That Federal or Postal employee is merely known for the slice of today, and rarely appreciated for the whole of yore; for, it is easier to condemn with the tongue of today, than to take the time necessary to understand the contributory trails of yesteryear.

Thus are we left with little choice but to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  And the dusting trails of memories left behind?  Let such clouds of regret and remorse remain within the slice of a former life be, and enter instead into the panoramic view of a true whole, where the next stage of life is beyond the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and the combination of slices and wholes can once again be put together for the Federal or Postal employee who must regroup for a better tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Help: Caught in the world in-between

It is a purgatory of sorts; of the netherworld where twilight is a constancy of confusion, and when neither dawn nor dusk, between summer and winter, or of cognitive clarity and conundrums of confusion reach the pinnacle of an infinite maze.  Do we prefer clarity to confusion, or the light of dawn to a period “just before”, when consciousness of thought is suppressed or prevented by a darkness befalling thoughtful perspectives impeded by streams of dancing oracles upon a seamless stupor?

It is often uncertainty which tires the soul.  For, while wealth is preferable to destitution, and employment to its opposite, it is being caught “in-between” which engenders uncertainty and angst of future plans, and that is likened to a form of hell.

When a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker first learns of a medical condition — whether from an accident or injury on the job, or during a foray into uncharted recreational activities, it matters not for purposes of meeting the criteria for eligibility in a Federal Disability Retirement application submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — the weariness of time and the toll of uncertainty is often worse than the failure of resolution encountered through therapy, medication regimens, surgical intervention and the long delays in recuperation and rehabilitation.

It is that “waiting” which becomes the agony of life, for the questioning and incessant pondering resulting therefrom haunts the soul:  What will the future hold?  What will my job do?  What are they planning?  The “what”, the “when” and the ultimate “why” becomes a reverberating echo of repetitive songs unwavering in their monotony of questions forever unanswered.  For, it is the unanswered question and the unstated discretion of silence which makes for waiting to be just another agony of life’s challenges.

To be caught in the world “in-between”, where future plans are delayed because the present remains in a muddle of soft mush, and when past actions fail to concretize a pathway for mapping current stability, is a state of existence which is tantamount to a purgatory of eternal uncertainty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, it is thus important to take some action and begin the process of filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement.  Wishful thinking will not make the medical condition go away; and while hope is always a basis for future planning, one often knows early on, within the core of one’s soul, whether the injury or medical condition which prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties will resolve to an extent possible in order to return to full duty.

It is not knowing which is the true hell of existence; and to remain caught in the world in-between is often a choice — albeit a bad one — which is based not upon want of certainty, but enmeshed in the essence of human tragedy, when delay prevented that split-second decision that could have avoided the disaster.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Someone Else’s Argument

Have you ever sat with company at a dinner table, and engaged in a conversation where it appears as if you are continuing someone else’s conversation?  Or your presence is merely a substitute for an extension of a previous debate or discussion?  Where a topic is brought up, and immediately a barrage of critical attacks — of arguments you have never made, and of statements you don’t recall disseminating (and where this is only 5 minutes into the salad and you’ve barely tasted the first glass of wine)?

The problem with unfinished business is that the transference of what one wanted to say is normally unloaded upon the wrong subject.  Conversations, debates, forums of intellectual exercises in linguistic battles — it is a rare person who has been able to convey the full force of one’s collective thoughts and beliefs on the matter, and it is more often the case that one leaves with the regretful remorse of, “I wish I had brought that point up…”  But rarely do second chances present themselves in a satisfactory follow-up forum; unless you are the unfortunate object for an unexpected dinner invitation.

In responding to a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the applicant — through his or her Federal Disability Retirement attorney — needs to understand that the person who issues the denial will not be the same person who will review any additional submissions or legal arguments at the Reconsideration Stage.

It will be reviewed, in legal parlance, de novo.  As such, while the basis of the denial as issued by the Caseworker at OPM at the First Level should be taken into consideration, one should approach the case in light of the following question: To what extent will the Reconsideration Branch care as to the original basis of the denial of the first caseworker?  If it is being reviewed de novo, the approach should be to go over all of the elements — and to reinforce and amend those weak points, some of which may overlap what the first caseworker pointed out, others which may not.

It may not be the best approach to argue to a dinner guest who wasn’t present at the first round of arguments; the points you are trying to make may not be heard because the bell has already rung, and the fighter in the second round has been replaced with someone upon whom you have never previously landed a punch.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: OPM, Authority & Rights

The decision-making process in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is placed into the hands of an administrative agency known as “The Office of Personnel Management“.  

OPM, as the acronym which the agency is known by, is the administrative bureaucracy which makes a determination on each individual Federal Disability Retirement application, after reviewing the submitted medical records, Statement of Disability as formulated and presented by the Applicant and his or her Attorney; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation — in other words, the full compendium of the evidence, based upon a legal standard which is low on the totem pole of legal standards — that of “Preponderance of the Evidence“.  

It is helpful to understand that the Office of Personnel Management is merely following the statutory procedures as created and mandated by law:  OPM, as the first-line administrative agency, must make an initial determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, not because they want to, desire to, like to, etc. — but because they are the designated entity set up to do so.  They have the “authority” under statutory mandate to make a determination of eligibility at the “First Stage” of the process, as well as at the “Second Stage” (the stage often known as the “Reconsideration Stage”) of the process.  

As an inverse matter, however, the individual Federal or Postal applicant has the “right” to dispute any negative determination made by the Office of Personnel Management at either of the first two stages of the process.  

It is important to distinguish between the conceptual differences and distinctions between “Authority”, “Rights”, and the use of the term “right” as in “right or wrong”.  OPM has the authority to make an eligibility determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application because they are statutorily mandated to do so; the individual Federal or Postal employee has the right to appeal such a decision; the fact that OPM may have the right to deny a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS does not mean that they are “right” in doing so; they merely have a statutory authority, and nothing more.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire