FERS Disability Retirement: Life as a Series of Problems

There are television series; of “mini-series”; of a series of movie episodes once popularity of the first viewing has established the call for a following.

In television and theatrical drama, there has to be an opportunity for “character development” — of getting to “know” a person, of seeing him or her in various contexts in order to determine “who” a person is by what they do, how they react and the very essence of their belief-systems.  Rarely is a play, a story or a novel of any interest when it involves a person or multiple individuals sitting around expounding upon their beliefs or “principles” of life, and why is that?  Is it because a person who talks without being tested can offer nothing more than the sound of air?

The movie of life always presents us with a series of problems; that is what makes a good story, of course — of conflicts, their resolution; the way in which individuals are “tested”, and not merely by hypothetical presentations of analytical problem-solving gestures.

Medical conditions — whether later in life or occurring earlier— always present a challenge that tests a person in so many ways, precisely because medical issues hit at the core of everything about a person: How we see ourselves; what we are able to do; where we go and seek guidance and counsel; and all of the multitude of reverberating effects upon so many varied aspects of our lives.

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, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS is just one of life’s series of problems.

It is never a guarantee; it is never a “sure thing”; and as OPM appears to be denying more FERS Disability Retirement cases under this Administration than ever before, it is important to prepare and formulate a plan for a Federal Disability Retirement application and to recognize it as another slice of life’s problems in a series of such problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The developing case

Some things need time to develop; “news stories” are often those animals — of events that are “still developing”; or of relationships and stories, ideas and categories of things still in stages yet of potentiality and not of actualized inertia. Children develop; medical conditions, as well, are always in stages of potentiality — whether of a worsening condition or even of getting better.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in that “netherworld” of a developing case, where a medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often nothing more frustrating than the feeling of being in a state of suspended animation — “suspended” because you know not what your status will be tomorrow or the next day; in “animation” because, although everything is still moving about and around, it is your career, your health and your life which is questioned and considered as questionable.

The developing case often involves multiple issues — of whether you have a doctor who will be supportive of your case; of whether you have the necessary time in service in order to be eligible; of whether you have given it enough time — and multiple other issues that, perhaps, cannot be affirmatively answered.  In such an event, guidance by an experienced attorney is needed in order to direct the Federal or postal employee through the maze of complex legal obstacles in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Employee Disability Retirement application.

Like most of life’s struggles, the developing case needs to be planned and prepared well, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law is crucial to the successful outcome of a goal which is known, but cannot quite be reached because the path towards that goal is yet developing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The facade of happiness

There are weather-related “fronts” — of “cold fronts” and “warm fronts” bringing in the freshness of change, a sudden modulation of temperature and a gust of windy hollows echoing through valleys and down into the chill of our bones.  They change the temperature of the air around us, and often moods are impacted as well.

Then, there are also “fronts” of human characteristics — of “putting on a brave front”; of making a “frontal assault”; and of these latter, we realize that there is always something behind, like the wizard concealed by the curtain undrawn.  We all of us put on “fronts” — and like the weather fronts that fool us at first that Spring may be nigh or Winter’s discontent may be around the corner, the “brave” front may be just a put-on, just like the “frontal assault” is likely a ruse to deploy one’s forces all at once to meet the enemy head on.

Of all the fronts, it is the facade of happiness that fools the most, even one’s self, into thinking that contentment is the amassing of objects surrounding, careers advancing and problems left avoiding.  The facade of happiness works well for a season, so long as the fool who buys the bridge of smiles never lifts the veil an inch to peer into the darkness of a soul in anguish.  Happiness is a fleeting state of existence; here for a moment today, it vanishes like the spirits of yesterday’s underworld where gods were chosen to wander the earth in ashen looks of greying days.

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, the facade of happiness has likely been an essential tool for survival in this past year, if not longer.

It allows for the Federal or Postal worker to put on a “brave front”, to fool the others for a time — somewhat like the cold front that descends upon the south in the middle of summer to remind one that change is in the air, or the “architectural front” that gives an old building a facelift and draws people inward as an inviting new asset.

But don’t be fooled; for the facade of happiness can never hide for long the suffering beneath, and for the Federal or Postal worker, preparing a 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 real step towards an abiding and real happiness, as opposed to the fake smile that conceals beneath the facade of happiness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Confidence games

We all know (or, by a certain age or stature of wisdom, should know) about the psychology behind the scam:  Of gaining one’s confidence by first including one into a select group of people who are “in the know”.

There are two primary senses to the word, aren’t there?  The first being a sense or feeling of self-assurance, as in, “He is very confident in his own abilities.”  The second, and somewhat connected, is the definition pertaining to a relationship of trust and reliance, where there exists or builds upon a sense of camaraderie and intimacy, as in: “He brought me into his confidence.”  In both cases, there develops a relationship of bonded certainty, whether in one’s self or in the connection between two or more individuals.

Thus, the “confidence” games encompass those activities or endeavors that build upon a relationship based upon trust, and engender the hapless victim to possess a sense of self-assurance that what he or she is giving up is of sacrificial value because the trust relied upon has been built on a foundation of friendship, relationships entrusted, and a shared affinity of intimacy exclusive of others.

Thus does the classic confidence game begin in a parking lot where a a cache of money is found and you are roped into becoming a select group within a conspiracy of two, or maybe three, and you are asked to put up a “deposit” of trust — then, when it is all over, you open the bag of money that you were left holding, only to find that it was merely a bundle of newspaper clippings.  Or, of more complex pyramid schemes, ranging from the simple to the incomprehensible, ending up sometimes like Bernie Madoff’s decades-long game of roping in even the most sophisticated of unweary investors.

But then, aren’t we all conditioned from a very early age to believe that “confidence” games are acceptable, and that we get on through life’s difficulties by acting a part?  Don’t we teach kids to “act self-confident”, be self-assured and walk with your head held high and play the “as if” game — as if you know what you are doing; as if you are the best qualified; as if you can have it all?

That is often the veneer we put on, and how thin the veil of confidence can be, only to be shattered like the delicate china that give off the clink-clink of refinement until the first fissure begins to show, then shatters upon the hardness of the world.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job — it may be that your self-confidence is beginning to wear off.  As the Federal Agency or the Postal Service steps up its campaign of harassment and intimidation, the Federal or Postal worker has to deal with a double-problem:  The profound fatigue from the medical condition itself (which impacts one’s sense of self-assurance) and concurrently, the loss of self-confidence as one realizes that one’s physical or cognitive capacity to continue in the chosen career is beginning to wane.

We all play the “confidence game” — that of going through life winging it and hoping that no one else notices; but at times, when the “real game” of life suddenly imposes its presence upon us, it is time to become “real”.

For the Federal employee or Postal worker who must face a real-life crisis of confidence because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that the focus of one’s efforts can be redirected upon the greater importance of one’s health and well-being, as opposed to being drawn into the parking lot schemes of further confidence games.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Accuracy

How important is accuracy?  The converse of such a query, of course, is:  Is inaccuracy significant?  One would immediately posit:  It all depends.

Take the following 2 hypotheticals:  An archeological dig is conducted, and it is believed that the site of the ruins is of relevant importance concerning a time-period of “recent” history — say, during the American Revolution.  Given that scenario, the “dating” of the site should be ascertainable within a year succeeding or preceding, such that if the Lead Archaeologist declares that the event in question occurred in 1778, “or possibly in 1779, maybe as early as 1777”, we know that — given the time period in question (1775 – 1783) — such a statement conveys a fairly accurate historical context.

Now, take the same hypothetical, but this time [sic] concerning some form [again, sic] of a fossil that is deemed at least 500 million years old.  If the Lead Archaeologist declares with some hint of irony, “Give or take a few million years more or less” — what would our reaction be?  Is such a “find” just as accurate as in the first hypothetical?  Can a declaration that is numerically off by a few million years (i.e., looking at it in quantifiable terms of 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 2 – 5 million years equals how many hours for those who want a graspable perspective) be called a “science” in any meaningful usage of the term?

Of course, one could argue that even within the first hypothetical, given the limited range of years that comprises the American Revolution (1775 – 1783, or a mere 8 years), to be off by a year or so is also quite an astoundingly inaccurate assessment.  But which is “more accurate” — the one that is estimated within a year, or the one that quantifies it in terms of “millions” of years?  Can one even ask the question of “more or less” accurate, when the very concept of accuracy itself denotes precision and pinpointed, undeviated marksmanship?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “accuracy” can be a crucial one.  How “accurate” does one’s Statement of Disability need to be on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  What “precisely” does the treating doctor have to include in the medical report?  How detailed (and therefore, accurately) does the nexus between the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability does it have to reflect?

In all such questions, “accuracy” is a goal to attain in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, while the Archaeologist may be “off” by a quantifiable sum of years in a site-dig and suffer little to no consequences, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must depend upon the accuracy of the law in determining benefits to secure a future yet uncertain, and such an administrative endeavor is likened more to the accuracy of the arrow that is shot towards an apple resting upon the head of a young boy, than of a declaration made that is off by a few million years, give or take, more or less.

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

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Closet of skeletons

It is a metaphor that is familiar; of secrets, or near-secrets; of those cluttered past incidents and events that need to be kept in the hallway closet, perhaps even locked for safety and security, whether of embarrassment, regret or shame.

Yet, modernity has less of them.  With the disappearance of shame, of openness of societal mores and normative values disappearing, almost vanishing, there is then no need for the closet to exist, and skeletons are fewer and far between because we have redefined what is shameful, what should be regretted, and that which is deemed unworthy of public display.

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”  That quip is attributed to Mark Twain, of course; the grand humorist of American society, and the author of books that have touched the conscience of an unsettled people.  How does a species stop blushing?  By rearranging that which triggers such a characteristic – the words that touch, the concept that shames, the sentence that embarrasses and the paragraph that pushes.

There are, of course, positive consequences, as well; for, the openness of society and the suppression and obliteration of normative standards have allowed for silent crimes that were once unspoken to be openly displayed and cauterized.  Perhaps, sometimes, “talking about it” opens things up, allows for the public airing of that which was hidden because polite society did not want to deal with it; but since it existed, anyway, we might as well open the closet of skeletons as a society and let everyone see whatever it is that we were ashamed of.

Sometimes, or more often than not, those monsters within are greater than the reality of the objective world.

Medical conditions often relate to such a concept.  We tend to hide them, be ashamed of them, and make of them larger than what necessity dictates – except for old men and women standing in the line at the post office who openly discuss the details of their last operation and procedures, of course.

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, remember that 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, is often like the closet of skeletons; once they are out in the open, the agency and the Postal Service will have to deal with it, just like the Federal or Postal worker who had to “deal with it” – the medical condition – for all of these many years, fearful of the shame of revelation and the reaction of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire