FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: The gods of modernity

Each era has its false gods — of Greek ones that explained the mysteries underlying the universe; of religions that conquered by the sword; of Philosophers and Kings who ruled with an iron fist; of Freud, Psychoanalysis and other ghosts in the machine; and in modernity, of youth and the cult of the young, and perhaps of the authors of self-help books who have cornered the market on wisdom replaced.

The gods of modernity are different from those of a generation ago; the “I” and the “me” that pervades on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; of the perfect “me” who takes selfies at every opportunity to reinforce and remind of the hollowness of the gods we make of ourselves; and in the end, the loneliness that one is left with when the screen is shut down and one is left with the reality of facing one’s self in the loneliness of a perception that cannot be faced in the mirror of one’s own reflection.

And of the other gods of reality: Perfection in perception.  But what happens if perception must encounter reality?  That is often the problem with a medical condition — for, medical conditions remind us of the ugliness of the world around: of mortality, vulnerability, and the loss of societal empathy for all things imperfect.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows one to be “perfect” in the workplace, and where the essential elements of one’s job can no longer be met, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application so that the focus of one’s life can be redirected in order to regain one’s health.

The gods of modernity — of a career, of never-ending competence and productivity in one’s Federal or Postal job — must be replaced with a revaluation of what is truly important in life: Health, sanity, and some semblance of caring.  And while securing a FERS Disability Retirement annuity may not be the answer to all of life’s ills, it will at least secure a future in order to focus upon getting better, and perhaps reorienting one’s focus upon a future that may be different and better.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Preparations

Would you hold a dinner party without preparing?  Or attend an important meeting, host a regal gathering of accomplished celebrities or go camping in the wilds of winter’s ferocity — without making adequate preparations?

The elaborate extent of such preparations is often correlated with the importance, significance, relevance and complexity of the issue at hand, the engagement to be embraced or the event to be held.  Preparations are a vital component to the successful engagement of whatever one undertakes, and lack of it often guarantees a result of negative returns.

How does one prepare for the preparation, formulation and filing of 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?  Does one go out and ask the Human Resource Department of one’s agency, and thereby put to the winds which carry gossip about the Agency and allow the gods of the underworld to disseminate the implication that “X is filing for disability retirement”?  Do you dare test the oft-told adage in the Federal Government that “confidentiality begins with the Human Resource Office of one’s agency — and likewise, ends there”?

Or, perhaps “preparation” is merely of the ad hoc sort — of downloading the various forms (SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, at a minimum) and beginning to fill them out, and somehow sifting through the multiple instructions and packaging a Federal Disability Retirement application?

Preparation for the initiation of any worthwhile endeavor should, at a minimum, involve seeking some advice from an “expert”, and in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately filed with and decided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law should be a minimal step in such an important and consequential process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Hypocrisy

What is it about carrying about one’s state of existence with the knowledge that there is a dichotomy between that which we declare and what we secretly harbor, or between the words we convey and the actions we engage?  Is it likened to the adage of, Do as I say, not as I do?  Why do we so relish with a sneer when failure of moral dimensions become exposed — of a priest who is “caught in the act”, the preacher who is seen to embrace episodes of moral turpitude; a moralist who denies the obvious inclinations of human desire, or the purist who pounces when the mere tinge of impurity spreads its imperfect wings?

Hypocrisy abounds, and has always throughout history, and the louder the volume of protestations, the harder the fall as the chasm between reality and the theoretical purity of ivory towers only reveals the baseness of human frailty.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel like hypocrites because of a medical condition that continues to be denied, hidden and overcome by sheer will of concealment, there often comes a time where fatigue simply catches up to the fear of being “found out”.  No, it is not quite the same as your run-of-the-mill hypocrisy, like the preacher who falls from grace; but the tension is still there, nevertheless, and it is just as real as if your moral failings suddenly become unconcealed.

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have to “hide” their medical conditions and act “as if” everything is fine and dandy, ultimate pay the same or similar price as the hypocritical moralist who walks about with a puffery undeserved: the anxiety that continues to grow and fester remains so and grows beyond a bearable state of concealment.

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, is often the first step in an admission of “failure” — but more importantly, of turning that failure into a success, by shedding the cloak of hypocrisy and facing the reality of a medical condition that needs priority of attending, in order to regain that balance that should be first, foremost and in the front of the proverbial line: One’s health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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 Disability Retirement: As life passes by

It seems to come and go imperceptibly; we barely notice; then, one day, we wake up and life has passed by; the past is now an elongated prism through which we judge the remainder of our lives; the present is but the despair we feel because of wasted time allowed to blur beyond into a vestige of forgotten winds; and the future remains as the uncertainty we quivered about before we grew up.

As life passes by, we try and justify; for, language is the means by which we can validate ourselves.  Now, more than ever, it is the gymnast in linguistic contortions that seems to get the most attention, gain the greatest advantage and squeeze out the momentous timelessness.  Look at Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media forums; objectively, it is merely a blank screen where the one-dimensional universe of words and grammatical outbursts are annotated; yet, that is how the self-esteem of the greater society determines worth, relevance and significance.

All the while, however, there are real people with genuine problems, feelings quashed, personalities unnoticed and greatness tethered, that sit in corners of the world awaiting for recognition of singular episodes of kindness and accomplishments.  We can focus too much on ourselves; attend to updating Facebook too often; engage the limited characters of Twitter and worry unceasingly around circles of our own self-importance, and all the while, as life passes by, we remain ensconced in the limited subjectivity of the universe within our own minds.

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 the Federal or Postal job, the danger is that you can continue struggling as life passes by, and not attend to your medical conditions in the very “doing” of daily activities as life passes by, worrying about tomorrow and the next day as life “passes by”, and wasting the time left as the elongated past disappears into the lost memories, like those graveyards that litter the countryside forgotten and overgrown with ivy and sagebrush that obscures the memories of the dead and dying.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must get beyond the impact of the medical condition upon the ability and capacity to extend one’s Federal career, it is nevertheless an important component in now allowing important moments – like properly attending to one’s health – as life passes by.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire