Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Contented misery

Does the one who strives for happiness as a goal ever escape the bonds of contented misery?  It is the ecstasy of a moment’s glimpse, and then the feeling is gone; for, such is the fleeting nature of a sensation, and more of an encumbrance than a plateau of embraced attainment.  Can happiness be gauged, like a heart monitor, taking one’s blood pressure, or in that millisecond of pain in determining the glucose level through the pinprick of time?

Once, in generations past, when neighbors asked of one another the state of affairs, the politics of an era, and listened by that long-lost tradition of taking one’s hat off, lazily fanning one’s self in the sweaty afternoon of the blazing sun, people used to actually pause during the day without a watch or cellphone to check and recheck; and conversations took the meandering deliberation of voices undulating without the tense pressure of time, money and restrictive covenants imposed by society’s need to compel movement.

Happiness was not the goal, but the byproduct of social interaction.  Misery was reduced to the loss of purpose, violation of normative values and now, in modernity, replaced with contented misery.  No, it is not an oxymoron, for it is a state of Being accepted by most and recognized by few, and the duality of a seemingly conceptual friction is merely on its surface; for, such an accepted state of being exists precisely because we seek that which can never be attained but for a fleeting moment, like trying to grasp, catch and hang on to the flowing robe of an angel as that heavenly being floats by with a sprinkling of residues depicting the regrets of our lives.

We become contented with our own miseries, because we seek to attain a state of Being which can never be the essence of life, but merely the flux of sensations resulting from man’s worthy journey akin to a teleological embrace.  Worth is tied intricately and inextricably with projects; and though Heidegger’s quip that such human work and activity is merely to avoid the inevitable encounter with Nothingness, it is nevertheless driven by a need to advance, a value in accomplishment, and a sense of creativity in the process of what we do, how we achieve it, and where we are going in life.

Contented misery is to exchange all of that for a moment of sensation, extrapolated to an unattainable and unreachable state of Being, and that is why misery prevails within a plateau of accepted contentment.

Such is the state of Being for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal and Postal employee from performing the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, think for a moment – one’s career and mission in life is perhaps interrupted and impeded, and the Federal or Postal employee must consider alternatives, such as preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

But if a sensation is all that is sought, as opposed to considering the next steps into the future – such as an alternative vocation in the private sector after obtaining a successful approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – then contented misery will have won.  On the other hand, if a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is successfully obtained, there is a chance that the future may hold further opportunities, and the restrictions of a contented misery may be replaced with that which Man was compelled to engage:  a project or activity beyond the sphere of mere sensations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Illness

It is the pause button rendered by the universe, often without warning, without invitation and unwelcomed by all.  Is it the gods laughing in the heavenly seclusion, as wanton children playing with the mortality of souls unrequited, as matches in the hands of mischievous hearts undisciplined by law, life or empathy?

Then comes the triteness of wisdom, yet true but too late: “Oh, what a blessing health is”; “Is there a lesson to be learned?”; “Why me?”.  Is this the crisis of life that is merely an obstacle to overcome, or the long road towards a progressive decline where mortality is not just tested, but revealed as the weak link in the proverbial chain of man-to-gods-to the theology of our own creation?

Illness comes like that unwitting thief in the dead of night, but unlike the burglar who tries to remain silent but for creaking floors and unoiled passageways, it comes without concern for being revealed.  Does the universe test – or remain impervious like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, where perfection attracts all towards its essence and destroys everything that attempts to escape?  Who determines the criteria of such a test?  What constitutes a “passing grade” as opposed to a failure in its mere attempt?  Is the evaluation contained within the strength of one’s own character, and what results in a declaration of “success” as opposed to the failure of everyday lives?

If it is truly a test of character, then Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers certainly get enough of it to collectively get a passing grade.  Yes, fortunately, there is the option of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, but for almost all Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the reality is that such a step is the last option chosen.

It is not so much that the benefit reaped from a Federal Disability Retirement is so miserly as to not make it worthwhile; no, to a great extent, the annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest three consecutive years of pay, then 40% every year thereafter until recalculation at age 62 is generous enough to survive upon, especially when the alternative is to remain and kill oneself, resign and walk away with nothing, or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and, in conjunction with the ability to go out into the private sector and be able to make (on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity) up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays – it can lead to an acceptable level of financial security.

Ultimately, however, it is a truism that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers wait until the final possible moment before making the decision to file a Federal Disability Retirement, often allowing the illness to debilitate beyond the point of reasonable acceptance.  That, in and of itself, is a character test, and one that makes the illness itself of secondary concern, when one’s health should be given the highest priority, lest we allow the gods of wanton carelessness to have the last laugh.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: The voice of constructive criticism

It is rare for the individual to accept constructive criticism; rarer still, to invite and welcome it in any form, whether destructive, constructive or otherwise characterized as “positive”, “negative” or “neutral”.  The fact is that few of us accept any form of it at all, and quickly respond with the rebuttal:  “It’s not constructive”.  But why does it need to be?

Such a reaction assumes an inherent distinction that merely and preemptively places an obstacle to further engagement.  It may well be that, in the end, one can conclude as to the resultant characterization initially presumed, and perhaps even to attribute bad faith, unhelpful motivations and intended cuts.  But all of that should come at the end of the deliberative process, and not as the beginning firewall to prevent further discussion and consideration.

For some reason, the evolution of man has embraced the societal need to spend an exorbitant amount of time defending justifying, counterpunching and placing linguistic walls of protective measures in order to preserve the superficial appearances that we all deny we revere.  The irony of Western Philosophy is that, despite questions repetitively and exhaustively presented – with never any conclusive and satisfactory answers ever provided (like children and their eyes bulging with curiosity in a toy store) – the query never ends and the answers are forever avoided.

This age of modernity, however, has a new wrinkle:  as traditional philosophy has been relegated to insignificance and irrelevance by reducing it as a matter of language games and confusion in our thought-processes, so now the “new” approach is to avoid any substantive questions (and therefore any curiosity to have the answers) and, instead, to preserve and protect our superficial lives and appearances.

The beginning of Western Philosophy warned of this – from Parmenides and Heraclitus, and with the entrance of that irritant vagabond Socrates as related to us through the Platonic Dialogues – “appearances” were to be queried and investigated in order to get to the foundation of Being.  Now, we avoid even the appearance of superficiality in order to protect how shallow we are, and we do this by preemptively and viciously attacking the mere question in order to avoid any criticism at all.  This can obviously have dangerous consequences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who want to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to submitting a “winning” Federal Disability Retirement application is in being open to self-criticism, whether constructive, destructive or otherwise neutral.

Vigilance in life is always the key, and refining, streamlining and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application should go through a rigorous “vetting” process, such that the questions of Socrates through his dialectical methodology of getting to the “truth” should never be subverted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Coordinating the efforts

The amazement of tandem coordination is discovered in various corners of Nature – of tentacles of an octopus seemingly working without the complexity of entanglement; of an eagle’s capture in mid-flight of its prey, where the claws and wings attack and devour with perfect harmony; and in modernity, the capacity and ability to “multi-task”, as the parlance of efficiency has been noted.

The human animal is a formidable creature – perhaps not the best at any one thing (speed is set by the Cheetah; endurance, in the Wolf’s persistence; but of competence in all areas, the two-legged, vertical organism sets the standard for excellence), but able to compensate for deficiencies by exerting acceptable levels of efficiency in many.

However, we often confuse the ability and capacity to multi-task with the presentation of an objective, impervious world of multiple data bombarding simultaneously.  Thus, the fact that the tentacles of an octopus may seemingly work in coordinated fashion in swimming and engulfing does not mean that if a dozen marbles were thrown at it in a single shot, that it would be able to respond appropriately.  Similarly, speed in short bursts may be impressive, but it may not translate into an ability to adapt if objective conditions require greater endurance for quantitative calibration of speed.

There is a limit and a ceiling for tolerance in performing feats, and for the human animal, the mere fact of showing minimal competence in some forms of multi-tasking, does not necessarily convert well when the necessity arises to coordinate complex issues which are further impeded by a medical condition of an impactful nature.

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fallacy often arises that, because one has been capable in an administrative or executive capacity, one may be able to coordinate the efforts for one’s self in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Bridging the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties; conforming to “the law” in formulating one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A; of obtaining the proper medical documentation that will meet the standards of the compendium of legal opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board – these, and many others, must be taken into account when preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application.

And, like the hunter in past lives who suddenly becomes winded, becoming the hunted is not where the Federal Disability Retirement applicant wants to be when coordinating the efforts in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Leaving that legacy behind

We hear about it from ‘high-end achievers’; and every President now builds large temples to themselves, like some Greek gods with immortal canopies and call them “libraries” for the common minion to think that it is like those warm and fuzzy buildings we once visited in order to escape the ravages of our sordid childhoods.

Perhaps it is the realization of that which has come back to haunt us:  Darwinism, pure materialism, and the abandonment of faith in hobbits, gnomes and angels from beyond, that leaves us with the stark nakedness of our own mortality, and the need to fulfill that vacancy by building lasting memorials that only crumble with the decadence of time.

The traditional definition connoted a lasting gift by an ancestor, where history, lineage and human relationships provided a context of meaningful inheritance, and not merely as a tombstone to admire.  The wider, secondary meaning refers to any accomplishment or lasting residue of one’s self constructed to remain beyond a temporal season, or until that next great ego tears it down and replaces it with an image made in a reflecting pool of self-aggrandizement.

We all have a desire and a need to leave a legacy; whether a memento gifted through countless generations, or a memory of multi-generational gatherings for an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and perhaps nothing more than some pearls of wisdom handed down from a rocking chair worn by the vanished paint on the floorboards of time.

Even then; as value is rarely attached to memories invoked, people either hock the wares on eBay or the local pawn shop, and convert it into cash, where the societal glee for power is defined by paying bills and possessing goods.  Do people inscribe books and hand them down as a legacy left behind?  Or have they been replaced with electronic tablets and kindle versions where even the monks of Tibet answer to the melody of a smartphone?

Legacies are overvalued, or so we are told; and those who leave them for others to judge, never stick around to witness the lasting or temporal effects of residual emotional consequences.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition “forces” one to cut short one’s career and vocation by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the pull that holds one back and makes one pause, an artificial and wholly unfounded sense that one hasn’t “completed the mission” and the legacy that would be left is not quite up to par?

Such thoughts invoke a false sense of values.  For, in the end, it is one’s health that should be of paramount concern, and not what is left behind.

In Federal agencies and U.S. Postal facilities all across the country, that legacy left behind is often nothing more than the shattered lives who clung too long and waited beyond the point of medical necessity, when in fact the true legacy to leave behind is a focus upon one’s health in order to move forward into the next phase of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Catching with a net

Have you ever tried catching multiple entities with a net?  Whether more than one butterfly, or goldfishes in a pond, or even debris floating at the skimming water’s edge, the act of scooping, trapping and encircling with the tool of a net requires dexterity and unique hand-eye coordination.  Then, the one first caught escapes, and the frustration of gain-versus-loss ensues.  Is it greed which continues to compel despite the persistence of loss and diminishing return, or sheer stubbornness that we somehow battle against our own interests even when further escape occurs?

Ever the frustration of observing those once caught and get away, and chasing after those very ones we just enmeshed and caged within the netting of this ingenious deployment; and yet we insist.

How does that translate into a specific personality, or the manner in which we carry on in our daily lives?  Is going out and catching butterflies with a net the perfect methodology of determining a prospective employee’s “fit or unfit” personality and character for an organization?  Does it reveal a side of the person – for example, in the financial sector, or investment banking, if a person approaches the task by catching one, stopping, putting the insect or other entity into a bottle with pre-bored holes for oxygen, then proceeding in a sequential manner and attending to catching the next one, etc., does that tell of a prefatory commensurateness with careful investment strategies?

Or, take the very opposite, where the task is to catch 10 moving entities, and instead of stopping after each one, the future employment prospect goes about madly racing through the tall fields of grass furiously attempting to net the quota of requested numbers, despite imposing no time-frame in the completion of such a task – does that necessarily reveal a personality of lesser caution, of a person who may be rash and imprudent?  Does one revelation of acting in a particular context unmask a parallel semblance of reality in another, or do the specific circumstances themselves confine and define within a marginalized mirror?

Whether transferable or not, the imagery and metaphor of a person attempting to catch multiple entities with a single net, shows a side of human life which can be both comical as well as compelling.  For, as a reflection of parallel circumstances, it is somewhat indicative of the Federal or Postal employee who must begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Like the person handed the net, the Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, must make a pragmatic determination as to the diminishing returns recognized in continuing in the same repetitive venture of living.  At some point, there comes a flash of realization that the same acts cannot continue without something else giving – and whether that “giving” is the butterfly which escapes, or one’s deteriorating health further and progressively becoming destroyed – is the flashpoint of reality revealing itself in compelling a decision for today, and no longer procrastinated for some unknown time in a future left insecure.

And like the butterfly which escapes to be free for another day, the Federal or Postal employee who cannot perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties must by necessity attempt to free him or herself from the medical condition in order to reach that place in life where pain, misery, and the sense of being “caged” will no longer apply.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: To Lose a Kite

It is that loss of innocence; of a childhood cut and let go, a bifurcation of sorts, where the fluttering tail fades into the misty distance of time past, eternity unfulfilled, and the present moment shattered by a loss not valued by economic standards, but by the negation of that which was, will never be again, and won’t be coming back. The loss of anything is valued by the attachment of human passion, the trembling fear of future consequences known and yet to be determined, and the expectation of a hope left as a residue of hard work and toil.

Do we remember that loss of a kite, at a critical moment in time when the champion of winds clapped and cheered as we controlled the destiny of an artifice so flimsy in manufactured quality and yet defying the aerodynamic laws of the greater universe?  Neither the Law of Newtonian physics nor the quantum theories compromising Einstein’s theoretical constructs could defy the persistence of levitational determination, coupled with a coil of thread in the stubby little hands of a child, with but a tug and a pull; and then, suddenly, it was gone.

Is not the future of an adult like that fleeting moment? What a qualitative difference a day may make; when once free of pain, then to experience the excruciating agony of debilitating onset; or where rationality and promise set the course for future happiness, only to be overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Life is tough; but when a medical condition intervenes and tears apart the very fabric of living, that compromised life becomes almost an unbearable mesh of a twisted cathartic of impenetrable jungles of psychological, physical and emotional turmoils. For many, there is no escape, and that snap of a thin reed which left the child’s hand empty of promise, is all that remains.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have the minimum years of service under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often the best — if not the only — recourse out of a madness undeterred. Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees as part of one’s compensation package, and allows a person to stop working, receive what amounts to a lifetime annuity, while accruing more years in building towards a final retirement converted from disability retirement to regular retirement at age 62; and all the while, to live upon that rehabilitative plateau in order to attend to one’s health and well-being.

For, when a Federal or Postal worker is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the choices become stark and limited: To continue in pain and agony; to walk away with nothing to show for one’s efforts and toil; or to file for Federal Disability benefits.

It is like the child who once felt the pleasure of life through the flight of a kite, only to experience the tenuous reed of promise when the snap of the thread leaves the twirling object uncontrolled and uncontrollable, left to the nuances of turmoil and trauma; but to move on is to forge a different path, with the echoes of regret howling in the memories of our childhood consciousness, never to be regained but for a semblance of fated warmth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: FERS & SSDI

Of course one must file for SSDI (Social Security Disability benefits) when a Federal or Postal employee under FERS (the Federal Employees Retirement Systems, as opposed to CSRS, the Civil Service Retirement System) files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If approved by Social Security, there is a 100% offset of benefits in the first year, and a 60% offset of benefits every year thereafter until age 62.  The real underlying question for most people, is how aggressively one should, or one wants to, pursue Social Security benefits.  This is often determined by what one plans to do after becoming a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant.  For, if you plan to work part or full time, and think that you will be earning more than the yearly ceiling allowable under SSDI, which is around $12,000.00 per year, then it is probably not worthwhile to pursue it very aggressively.  On the other hand, if you plan on relying exclusively on your disability annuity, it is probably a good idea to pursue it with the intent of obtaining it. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Standard Forms Do Not Mean “Standard Responses”

The problem with “Standard Forms” is that they often appear to solicit “standard responses”, and in a Federal Disability Retirement case under the Federal Employees Retirement Systems (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), nothing could be further from the truth.  Indeed, it is often because a Federal or Postal employee/applicant who confronts and begins to fill out SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the very “blocked” appearance of the form, and the constricting questions themselves, makes it appear as if a “standard response” is required.  Don’t be fooled.

By way of example, take a “special animal” — that of a Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Controller who must take a disqualifying medication, loses his or her medical certification from the Flight Surgeon, and thinks that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a “slam dunk”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Or, a Customs & Border Patrol Agent who goes out on stress leave, or suffers from chronic back pain.  Are there “standard responses” in filling out an Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  There are certain standard “elements” which should be considered in responding to the questions, but don’t be constricted by an appearance of “standard responses” to a “standard form”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire