OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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, initiation and submission of 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, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal & Postal Workers: The packet

The packet to be submitted in an OPM Disability Retirement filing is the entirety of what is constituted by the evidence, the statements and documentation — in other words, the compendium of all that will be used in order to seek an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

At the beginning of the process — i.e., when the Federal or Postal employee first contemplated engaging this administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement” — the Federal or Postal employee was faced with a slew of blank forms, beginning with the SF 3107 Series (Application for Immediate Retirement, Schedules A, B & C and the other forms that need to be completed by the Agency’s Human Resource Office), along with the SF 3112 Series (Applicant’s Statement of Disability; the Supervisor’s Statement; The Physician’s Statement; Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation form; the Checklist).

The “middle part” of the process is comprised in gathering the medical documentation that would support the Federal or Postal employee’s packet, as well as filling out the various questions.  Perhaps, during the administrative process — whether now awaiting a decision or still in the middle of completing the packet — the Federal or Postal employee asked one’s self: “Is it merely a matter of answering these questions, or is there a legal criteria that must be followed?”  For, while the questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, may appear fairly straightforward, do not ever think that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has assembled the Packet so that you can easily qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

The “Packet” contained Standard Forms to be completed; it even gives instructions at the beginning of each form.  However, as for the legal standard to be met and the requirements of what must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence — those little gems are nowhere contained in “The Packet”; that is something which the Federal or Postal employee must go out and seek, and the best place to begin is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The waiting room

We have all experienced the psychology of the cursed “waiting room” — that place which is assigned as the “intermediate” lull, like purgatory for the virtuous-to-be, where they think that by making you believe that you have now been chosen to wait in a separately sequestered area, your patience will become refreshed and you will allow for another lengthy wait.  The psychologists have it all figured out, don’t they?

First, you are left to wait with the “rest of them”; then, your name is called, and you leave those who have been waiting just as long, or some even longer, with a smug smile, thinking to yourself, “Whew, finally!”  But that sense of relief is short-lived, for it becomes clear that the room you have been lead into is merely another surreal suspension of reality’s cruel viciousness — for, this is merely an intermediate form of torture: The Waiting Room, where the real wait begins.

Somehow, the psychologists have figured out through studies conducted that patients, clients, potential customers, etc., will tolerate quite a bit of waiting so long as there is an “interlude” between waiting periods.  So, say you are at first forced into a queue with a group of others — the studies have revealed that 20 – 30 minutes is the maximum before agitation begins to manifest itself, unless you are “selected” and sequestered into a separate queue where your tolerance for a further waiting period can begin anew.

Of course, in reality, nothing has changed — it is simply that your waiting has been transferred from one area to another.  Can this occur multiple times?

Apparently, the studies have shown that, yes, so long as the logistics of the waiting period have been altered — as in, say, after 20 minutes for the 2nd waiting queue, a nurse walks in, looks at you and places a folder into the filing basket attached to the door.  Somehow, that momentary interruption focuses the waiting individual that your time is approaching, that we have not forgotten about you, and you will soon be seen.

The psychology of intermediate contacts increases one’s hope for the end of the waiting period, despite the fact that the same waiting period continues — it is just that the hour’s wait is broken up into segments of three 20 minute slices, and that, according to all of the psychological studies, makes all the difference.

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, one of the frustrating aspects of 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, is the long and arduous wait that must be anticipated before a decision is made.

Expect the worst; hope for the best.  There are multiple stages to the process — of the Initial Stage; of the Reconsideration Stage; of an Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board; and even of a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB.

Thus, if you took all of the multiple stages, the “wait time” is tantamount to the slicing up of that very “wait time”, and the best way to give yourself the benefit of a higher percentage of success is to make sure that you increase your chances of getting it approved at the Initial Stage by consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, lest you remain fuming in the Waiting Room where everyone else taps his or her foot while the collective blood pressures continue to rise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Confessions & public domains

Why is it that confessions and public domains represent a relief of sorts, an expiation of self-contained guilt and a sense of “righting” a wrong?  In Catholicism, confession holds a prominent place in the liturgy of that which constitutes a faithful observant; in crime novels, the taunting serial criminal is said to subconsciously “want” to confess to the crime, and leave multiple fingerprints at the scene of each devastating incident in an effort to provide a trail of enough clues to ultimately lead to his or her arrest, thus in effect “confessing” to each of the acts of psychologically diabolical intrigues; and for the ordinary person, there is added stress to the body when one refuses to confess to the public domains of one’s life, those “inner” thoughts that are somehow anathema to the acceptance of behavior in the “outer” universe of public discourse.

That conflict between one’s “true” identity as encompassed by the insular universe of one’s private thoughts and the appearance of one’s character in the public domain — what some would call the hypocritical tug-and-pull of reality-versus-appearance, or of what others would admit is comprised by the true essence of man as opposed to the public face that hides the inner soul.

Whatever the origin, truth or appearance of the matter, what we often discover is that there is, indeed, a certain sense of relief in making a confession within the public domain — whether that is satisfied by talking confidentially to a close friend (which is somewhat of an anomaly in and of itself — of merely confiding with another and creating a conspiracy of two instead of one), making a public pronouncement; “confessing” to one’s spouse; going to a group therapy session and admitting to things in front of that collection of individuals; and other similar acts that somehow expiate the inner turmoil of one’s soul.

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, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and actually filing it with the Agency or the Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is somewhat akin to making a “confession” in the public domain.

Part of the greater stresses of continuing on in this mode of secrecy — of trying to “mask” the medical condition from one’s Federal Agency or the Postal facility for fear of retaliation or harassment — is actually relieved by the “confession” of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and it is in the “public domain” of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or better known by its acronym, OPM, that one finally begins the long and arduous trek of regaining one’s health, by tapping into that traditional method of confessions & the public domains of life’s priestly expiation of the inner sanctum of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: On a tenuous ridge

How do you know whether to proceed; whether it is safe to proceed; whether the roads or pathways are safe enough? What constitutes success? Is it known before it is anticipated, or is it just a self-delusional sense of confidence that sometimes deceives and at others, proves us wrong?

To be on a tenuous ridge combines the two negative aspects of objectivity and subjectivity: Of a physical place that is sharp and often dangerous (the “objective” world) and the mental determination that encompasses a sense of weakness and lack of confidence (the “subjective” perception of a situation); and the combination of the two provides a compounding of a conceptual negation that places one is a precarious state of being.

To be on a tenuous ridge can be a metaphor for proceeding in life, in whatever endeavor or misadventure, without the benefit of experience, hindsight, wisdom or knowledge.  That is the sense and feeling that the Federal or Postal employee possesses when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue in one’s chosen Federal or Postal career — to be walking on a tenuous ridge.

For Federal employees or U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the approach that must be taken should be to get off of the proverbial ridge of tenuousness, and instead to walk upon firm ground with a sense of confidence entering into a future.

Although the future may remain somewhat uncertain during the complex process of maneuvering through a Federal Disability Retirement application, nevertheless, the knowledge that one’s case is the best one that has been put together, goes a long way in avoiding the pitfalls of a tenuous ridge.  Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, there is another adage similar to “being on a tenuous ridge” that you also might want to avoid — of “jumping from the frying pan into the fire”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: The gist of it all

When do we want the “gist” of something?  The essence or the “main idea”; or to filter it into the short version, somewhat like the “spark notes” of the thing of which we seek.  Is it appropriate if a student is sitting through a boring lecture and raises his or her hand and asks politely, “I have an activity to attend this afternoon. Can you just give us the gist of what you’re trying to say?”

Or of the greater meaning of life itself — you know, that grand design that everyone is seeking, which is why so many people believe in such things as the “Da Vinci Code” or, more recently, “The Chamberlain Key” — codes to codices that reveal the heart of ancient secrets lost in the trash heaps of history or otherwise forgotten because of wars, famines and changes of the proverbial guards.

Why is it that such “keys” must always be “ancient”, and shrouded in the mystery of “secret societies” who will murder in the dead of night to protect the gist of it all?  How does that reflect upon modernity — that we are too superficial to invent or discover such codes?  Or, is it merely that the cynicism of scientism and the reliance upon the physical universe, the influence of British Logical Positivism and the Age of Science have all subsumed such romanticizing of mysteries beyond the age of reason?

In this fast-paced society where technology surpasses by lightening speed the insular world of secret societies and the unraveling of veiled codices, what we want in the end is the gist of it all — to bypass the tangential details and get to the heart of the matter.  We have little or no time for anything else.

So, 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, what is the gist of it all?  In other words, what is the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity?

Well, to begin with, under FERS (which most people are, as the dinosaur of CSRS or even CSRS Offset have now been relegated to the Pleistocene Era of Federal employment) the Federal or Postal employee must have at least 18 month of Federal Service.  Second, we must be able to prove that a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing at least one, if not more, of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  And third, the medical condition must last a minimum of 12 months.

Now, this latter bit of a requirement is often confused with thinking that a Federal or Postal worker must therefore wait for at least 12 months after the onset of a medical condition before the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  No, that is not the case — for, most doctors and treating medical professionals can render a prognosis as to the chronicity of the medical condition, and that is all that is needed.

Of course, that is precisely the problem of getting merely the “gist of it all” — because, in the end, the annotated version of an important text, issue or pool of information can rarely be filtered down into a cup that can be gulped with one swallow, but is often an ocean full of undercurrents and dangers consumed with sharks, whales and stingrays — sort of like the metaphor of life itself, only more complex because preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a complicated administrative process full of bureaucratic pitfalls that cannot ultimately be confined by the gist of it all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement from OPM: The warmth of a thought

Does it even make sense to cross over between tactile-based sensations and conceptual transmissions?  We’ve heard variations of that muddle — of how a thought brings warmth to one’s body; meaning, thereby, that there is a causal connection between a thought and a subsequent sensation, as in, “I was sitting there one evening thinking about my childhood, sitting on my grandfather’s lap when a secure feeling of warmth overcame me”.

In such an instance, we realize the cause-and-effect consequences at play — of a thought that leads to a sensation, where mind-to-body interaction is “proven” by the symbiotic relationships and coherence of and between the two.

David Hume, ever the doubter and cynic, would likely have argued (beyond a mere declaration of dismissiveness in saying, “Bosh!” with a distinctive Scottish accent) that no necessary connection between the thought and the sensation has occurred, any more than the sequence of one following upon another.  Yet, we all believe that there is some sort of a connection, whether directly causal or otherwise.

Thus do we accept the descriptive custom when a mystery write speaks about the “cold chill” that ran up the victim’s spine just before the killer put his hands around the woman’s throat — a clear indication that observation following upon a thought resulted in a tactile sensation.  But the subtle distinction made here — not of a thought that brings about a sensation, but the “warmth of a thought”, is a somewhat slight variation of the causal connection.  Not that the thought itself links to a consequential sensation, or that there is a causal linkage between thought and tactile phenomena, but that the two are one and the same — of the very sensation within, of and encasing and encapsulating the thought itself.

In other words, the thought itself is the warmth, and the warmth is the thought, such that the “of” is not a causal consequence brought about by a sequence of X-following-upon-Y, but the space between concept and sensation doesn’t even exist.  It is somewhat like the difference between the following 2 sentences: “The discontent in winter” and “The winter of discontent”.  Is there a distinction with a difference?

Linguistic subtleties abound only within the ivory towers of academicians; for the rest of us, such separateness of meanings rarely impact with significance or relevance (ah, now that is the rub, isn’t it — to argue over the difference between “significance” and “relevance”?).  The warmth of a thought — can the tactile sensation be separated from the conceptual construct?

It is like the medical condition that a Federal or Postal employee suffers from — the one (or many such ones) that begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Can the medical condition itself ever be separated from the life that one lives?

Others talk about “it” as if the “it” (the medical condition) is some other entity or stranger, but for the suffering Federal or Postal employee, the “it” is part and parcel of the life itself.  That is why, for a Federal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is important to be clear, elucidating and coherent in writing up one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A when making one’s “case” for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to approve a Federal Disability Retirement Application — for, when the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from a medical condition and is in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the warmth of a thought is the same as the suffering felt and the anxiety one is left with for a future yet uncertain.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire