OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Ballast for the soul

It is a plagiarized phrase, from a short story written by Brazil’s (often-considered) greatest writer, Machado de Assis.  It is that heavy material, where a large quantity of gravel, iron, metals, etc., placed low in a vessel in order to provide stability; the weight itself is what “grounds” the vessel so that the torrents of waves and storms of fury will not topple it.  Or, it can refer to the coarse gravel used in order to set railroad tracks, again allowing for stability of a foundation to prevent shifting, sinking or damaging movement.

When combined with the term, “the soul”, the concept created is one of conjoining the dual ideas of (a) providing a foundation with (b) an ungraspable concept of an entity that many believe does not even exist.  The “soul”, of course, is a controversial subject; for, it still remains from the vestiges of religious and philosophical discourses, and refers to an abiding entity that defies mortality, retains an identity beyond one’s physical appearance, and contains the essence of who a person is, whether in physical form or not.

Does the soul “need” a ballast?  Without it, does it merely flit about without duration or direction?

As a literary concept, it refers to the stability that individuals need in order to become more serious, more focused, and perhaps even more “mature”.  As a general idea, it comes to convey the concept of pragmatism and the need to be “grounded” in a universe where there exists so many beliefs, so many paths to get off course; and the dangers inherent in pulling people aside from living an authentic and fulfilling life are many, as evidenced by the number of wandering souls left to rot on the roadside of discarded souls.

What is the ballast for the soul?  Is it to be married and have a family?  Is it the immediate family one already has — or the extended one?  Or can a cadre of friends and one’s immediate neighbors provide the ballast for the soul?

For each individual, the answer to that question may differ and remain a mystery; but what is clear, mystery or not, is that the vicissitudes of life’s choices, without a ballast for the soul, are so numerous and of such great variety, that liberty of endless choices endangers the essence of every person. Health itself can be an unknown ballast; for, with it, we take for granted our ability to accomplish so many things in life; without it — when it is “lost” — we suddenly realize that the ballast of health can upend that which we took for granted — career; stability; sense of worth; sense of self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose ballast has been lost because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Medical conditions are often the storms of life which topple the vessel once the foundation of stability has been robbed, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits can restore one’s sense of security such that a re-focusing upon the priority of health and well-being can be attained, so that the ballast for the soul can be reestablished in a world full of turmoil and tumult.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Except, in real life…

Isn’t that the refrain that dampens?  Whether for a child or a young adult who still possesses and retains the enthusiasm of the possible, we pour cold water upon such unfettered energy for the future yet undeclared by saying, “Except, in real life…”.  Of course, what is inserted to replace the ellipses is the clincher that determines the mood of the response.  Is it: “Except, in real life, that never happens.” Or — “Except, in real life, you’ll be broke and devastated.”

Why is it that the unspoken elongation implied by the ellipses must by necessity include a negative ending?  When have you ever heard, instead: “Except, in real life, it’s all the better!”  Is it because our creative imagination reaches far beyond what is possible in the stark reality of “real life”?

Is the universe imagined of greater potentiality than the reality of daily existence, and is that why the virtual reality of Social Media, “the Web”, interactive video games and the like are so sultry in their seductive pose — because they invite you into a world which promises greater positives than the discouraging reality of our existence in “real” time?  Is that what is the ultimate dystopian promise — a caustic alternative to Marx’s opium for the masses: not of religion, but of an alternative good that has been set up that not only promises good beyond the real good, but provides for good without consequences?

The problem is that, whatever alternative good or virtual reality that is purportedly set up to counter the reality of real time, is itself nothing more than “real life”.  It is just in our imagination that it exists as an alternative universe.  This brings up the issue of language games as espoused by Wittgenstein, as to the “reality” of an “objective world” as opposed to the one expounded by linguistic conveyances: Take the example of the blind man who has never flown a plane.  He (or she) can answer every aeronautical questions with as much technical accuracy as an experienced pilot. Query: Between the 2, is there a difference of experiencing “reality”?

For Wittgenstein, the answer is no.  Yet, the laughing cynic will ask the ultimate question: Who would you rather have as your pilot for the next flight — the blind man who has never “really flown” a plane, or the experienced pilot?

That becomes the clincher: “Except in real life…”.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 tendency and proclivity towards taking a dim perspective of life can be overwhelming, especially when one is dealing with the debilitating consequences of a medical condition.

Yet, it is important to maintain a balance between the cynic’s world view (that the cup is always half empty) and the eternal optimist’s myopic standard that the glass is always half full.  “Except in real life,” doesn’t always favor the former; for the Federal employee who must go up against the behemoth of OPM in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, “real life” is not necessarily the exception, but can be the rule of a successful outcome if you are guided by an experienced attorney.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Excellence and mediocrity

Are the two identified only by comparative existence?  Can one abide in pure mediocrity throughout a lifetime, only to be fooled into thinking that excellence has been achieved, but on the day before extinguishment from this universe, be visited by pure excellence that suddenly compels one to realize that all along, only a ho-hum level of mediocrity had been attained?

Conversely, can one maintain a level of excellence without a comparative standard against which one may know what “mediocrity” consists of?

It is like the grammatical elevation learned in former school days, of “Good”, “Better”, and finally, “Best” — how does one identify the last in the tripartite series unless there is a comparison against that which is lesser, and how does one ever realize the progressive nature of one’s endeavor unless there is improvement to realize?

One may argue that excellence cannot exist except and “but without” the coexistence of mediocrity, and thus the corollary must also be true.  Isn’t that the problem with everything in life — excellence, once achieved or realized as a goal, becomes a hollow voice of regret when once mediocrity is the standard to which one is reduced?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has reduced one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s Federal or Postal position and duties to a level of mediocrity and struggle just to maintain a lesser standard below what one has become accustomed to — of excellence in all arenas, including health, personal life and professional goals — the reduction resulting from one’s deteriorating health is often accompanied by a sense of having become a “lesser” person precisely because one has known the “better” and the “best”.

“Good” is not enough, anymore, because “better” and “best” have once been tasted.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may not be the “best” answer to all of one’s problems, but it is the better solution to the Federal employee or Postal worker who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, especially when the “good” is merely an exercise in mediocrity where once stood excellence.

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

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The concise sentence

What is the difference between being concise and performing with precision?  The former is often applied in the universe of words and communication; the latter, in areas where quantitative measuring tools can be determined, such as in science or in mathematical sectors.

We say of a person who speaks voluminously but with little substance that he or she represents the antonym of conciseness; and so a comparison is often made between volume spoken or written and concepts or thoughts conveyed.  Of Literature, most would agree that Hemingway is the representative paradigm of conciseness, whereas Joyce and Faulkner reflect the very opposite, though all three are considered classic and great authors.

Do we excuse such authors as Joyce and Faulkner because, in literature, we tend to focus upon the stylistic brilliance of their writings as opposed to the “meaning” that captures the undercurrent of their works?  In other words, although they may give us “too many” words and thus are, by definition, lacking of conciseness, we nevertheless overlook such imprecision precisely because we do not attribute “amount” as the necessary and sufficient cause of determining the worth of good authorship.

Hemingway used to say that, in writing, he had already formulated each sentence before setting it upon paper, whether in handwriting (a lost art) or at the typewriter (a manual, when those contraptions existed and where the clack-clack of metal keys pounded deep into the twilight of a writer’s life).

Why do we applaud and celebrate the concise sentence?  Does it make a difference whether or not a sentence, say, with 7 words communicates a thought as opposed to a paragraph with a thousand words that conveys the identical conceptual construct?

Take the following 2 examples: 1. Lessening of debt equals wealth. Or, 2: If you have less to owe to others, then it is the same as savings; or, as Benjamin Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and the reality of it all is that we have more to spend and retain wealth, not so much because you have more money, but you have more because less is spent on paying other people your hard-earned dollars.

Now, both sentences convey essentially the same meaning.  The first one, however, is comprised of 5 words. The second one took…many words to communicate the same thought.  Does it matter whether a concise sentence is used, as opposed to one that is not, if the same two convey identically reflective thoughts?

It might make a difference, because of one factor that has not been discussed: Being concise often possesses the added feature of being precise, and precision is important in the accuracy of conveying thought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are thinking about preparing, formulating and filing 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, there is a dual-key component to preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability: Be concise, but do not forego length for completeness.

In other words, being concise in order to convey the proper information is important; but, at the same time, do not sacrifice wordiness just because of the limited “boxes” that are provided on SF 3112A.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The minor incident

Does history alter significance of incidents as time heals or otherwise events are forgotten?  Does the perspective of the one directly (or even indirectly) impacted make a difference upon the writing of history, or is it as some cynics have countered – that history is the written narrative of the victors, and everyone else is merely annotated as mere footnotes, if at all?

As the Great War became overshadowed by World War II, or as some historians argued that it was merely a singular war with a brief interlude between; will other wars that follow, as memories fade and the dying veterans no longer appear at parades and salute the tombs of those fallen, overshadow the epic battles fought, the bravery shown and the comrades buried beneath silent crosses of lonely nights?

The private lives that each of us live, and the minor incident that looms large within the encampments of our own minds; the designation of “minor” depends upon a perspective, does it not?

Reading history is an interesting endeavor, if only because it expands by bringing in a third-person perspective of events beyond, issues not thought of, and incidents that never took center stage.  The authors, now dead, of second and third-tier fame, who may have had a book published here or there but are now forgotten upon dusty bookshelves that librarians never notice; and most of us are merely minor incidents in the greater traffic of life’s misgivings.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, perspectives matter.  A “minor incident” at work can become a major issue – and the medical condition one suffers from, or how the agency views the interaction between the minor incident and the natural consequences of working with a medical condition – and one’s viewpoint in contradistinction to the perspective of the agency can be important.

Whatever the issues that may come about or arise during the process, this much is clear: The Federal agency or the Postal Service has one “viewpoint” about your medical condition, and you have another.  The difference is, you have to suffer the medical condition, while the agency sits idly by and scoffs at the major event as if it is a minor incident.  That may mean that it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Let the determination about whether a specific incident is minor or major be left up to the historian of tomorrow; what you, as a Federal or Postal employee must do, is to contend with the issues of today, and especially the medical condition from which you suffer, and which is far from being a minor incident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: By what measure?

Does a formula, a paradigm or a standard instill in us the direction we so desire?  How is it that we compare X to something, and is the contrast a necessary prerequisite to achieving and accomplishing, or is that some artificial, societal construct that we have manufactured in order to sell ourselves a “bill of goods”?

Yes, yes – Western Civilization (remember that middle-school subject taught under the general aegis of that title?) always begins with the philosophical precept of Aristotle’s, of “First Principles” and the “causes” of events and occurrences, but where is it stated that we must have a “measure” by which to compare and contrast?  By what measure do we apply ourselves, or is not the evolutionary will to survive and the genetic predisposition to propagate a sufficient factor in the drive to excel?  Like peacocks during mating season and robins that reveal a ferocity of savagery in the spring months, is there a measure by which we are deemed a success or failure, and by a standard where comparisons are made, conclusions are reached and judgments are rendered?

Rare is the solitary figure who abandons all implements of societal judgments and goes it alone without the condoning nod of an authority figure.  Lone wolves are figments of mythological fables; the rest of us follow the herd by the measure set by others in a society of gossipers and watchdogs set upon us without warning or consistency.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the standard of measure has always been some unstated and unfairly predetermined set of rules that are governed by a bunch of words we never agreed to – i.e., “productivity at the cost of health”; “loyalty to the mission of the Federal Agency without regard to medical conditions”; “repetitive work leading to stress injuries where proving causation is nigh impossible”, and other such silent statements of accord – but where the last bastion of hope often resides in 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.

All of these many years, the Federal or Postal worker has toiled under tremendous pressure by the measures set by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility; fortunately, the standard by which OPM Disability Retirement benefits are granted is predetermined by statutory authority, and not by arbitrary fiat by a supervisor, manager or some other head of the department or agency by will of authority or changeable character of an individual.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM must follow certain eligibility guidelines and statutory confinements, as with most other set standards; but by what measure you may live your life after winning an OPM Disability Retirement annuity – that is set by you, the lone wolf.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire