FERS Disability Retirement: Who I Am & Who Am I

One is a question; the other, a declarative statement.  The latter of a more subjective nature; the former, perhaps a composite of observations by third parties together with self analysis.  Both must begin with a query — of analyzing a statement “about” myself, through others who are well-known as well as of opinions rendered and judgments passed by acquaintances and passersby strangers barely acknowledged.

“Who I am” is often answered in response to a preceding query by a third party: “Who are you?”  It might be answered with fairly objective and short statements which are incontestable: I am X’s brother in-law; I am the husband of Y; “Oh, I am Sarah’s father” (in response to Sarah’s classmate who sees you standing outside of the classroom); or, “I am nobody”.  This last statement, of course, has implications well beyond being an unresponsive nullity; for, it goes to the heart of one’s own assessment of one’s self, one’s consequential impact upon the limited universe of one’s role, and the very essence of an ego left abandoned.

The other — Who Am I — is often followed by the grammatical punctuation of a question mark.  It is often a self-reflective query — one which causes a pause, a momentary furrowing of eyebrows raised, and then a regrouping of having just previously been taken aback by a question which stabs too closely to the essence of one’s being.  Perhaps a soliloquy follows.  One will normally cast the question off with a shrug and answer the self-query with, “I am X” and then move on to take out the garbage, watch a movie, see a documentary or engage in what Heidegger refers to as an activity which allows us to forget our mortality.

Will the question inevitably haunt us and force us into facing ourselves at some point in our lives?  Perhaps.  Can we avoid the question entirely?  Maybe.  It is the former, asked by others, which fails to have the force of the latter, and merely because of the placement and substitution of positions of the two words after the “Who” that makes all of the difference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition and who must face the prospect of facing the question, “Who I am” in reference to one’s position and role in the workplace, it is often the medical condition itself which prompts the second, more incisive query of “Who Am I?”

Does a medical condition define a person?  Certainly, the Agency or the Postal Service makes it the primary issue by questioning one’s competence or capabilities based upon your condition.  Both questions go to the heart of the issue in a Federal Disability Retirement application; for, in the end, the Federal Agency and the Postal Service treat both questions with a foregone conclusion of an answer: You are Nobody if you are no longer part of the “Mission”, and that is why filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement: The Time to Decide

The process of decision-making comes in all forms: Of procrastination until one is forced into making one; of deliberative thoughtfulness until all logical possibilities are exhaustively analyzed and a default judgment is entered through rational elimination of available options; of basing it all upon an “instinct” or a desire; of randomly choosing based upon the belief that — as the universe itself is arbitrary and capricious, so should all matters be decided in a parallel fashion; of considering the alternatives and eliminating them based upon a gut-feeling; and multiple other nonconformist manners, often combining a multitude of various methodologies — if in fact one can even refer to “madness” as a method.

Regardless — whether of one method or another — there comes a “time” to decide, and that time is often relevant based upon additional factors to take into consideration: Others are dependent upon your decision; there is a time-limit on making a decision; certain contingencies have occurred which require a decision to be made; or, to simply let outside circumstances dictate the decision by deciding to engage in the act of a non-decision.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are struggling with the decision of whether to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question of “timing” is often decided by the extent and severity of the ongoing medical condition itself.  The anomaly of when is the “right time” is often offset by circumstances beyond one’s control: of actions perpetrated by the Agency; of the worsening of one’s medical condition; of the exhaustion of FMLA, SL and AL and the denial of extending one’s LWOP status; and the combination of any or all of the complex interaction of pressures and stresses which impact perfect timing.

Time is an artifice of relative events; often, there is no such thing as “perfect timing”; but what we do know is that there is a time to decide, and that time is when a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

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

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Quiet Subtlety of Excellence

Failure blares like a discordant trumpet in a confined space with no exit; success flows like the quiet stream on the other side of the mountain, barely noticed.  In law, it is the appeal, and the written order issued therefrom, which receives the attention of the daily press.  Yet, if one pauses to consider:  The reason for the appeal, is the lack of success at the trial court level.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find themselves the target of workplace hostility because of a medical condition which now prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of their job, it is often a surprise that they have become a focal point of interest.  The quietude enjoyed for so many years, in relative anonymity, is actually a reflection of one’s outstanding performance throughout the years.  It is because of the threat of departure — of the “failure” to continue to support the agency, or to provide ongoing efficient contribution to the U.S. Postal Service — that results in the sudden and unwanted attention.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who cannot perform all of the essential elements of one’s job anymore, is an option which must be considered precisely because of the limited alternatives offered or provided by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  Health should always be the primary concern; maintenance of one’s health, the focal point of endeavor.

And just as importantly, to maintain that quiet subtlety of excellence in the next important step of one’s life — to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

All these many years, the Federal or Postal worker has dedicated him or herself to the excellence of combining career, family and personal relationships; when the time comes to attend to one’s own medical difficulties, it is important to maintain and continue that standard-setting record of accomplishments, by ensuring that one’s Federal OPM Disability Retirement claim reflects what has always been known all along, but has only received the murmurings of a muffled fanfare — that quiet subtlety of excellence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire