Federal Disability Retirement: The language divide

Why is it that language is often so far removed from the living of life?  Was Wittgenstein correct – that it is a distinct world, separate and apart, that really has nothing to do with the “reality” of an “objective” universe?  Was Russell’s cutting quips about the bald King of France a way to point out that the primitive outlook of the traditional correspondence theory of language – that words, concepts, etc. are meant to parallel the objective world “out there” – doesn’t quite fit the proverbial bill, and that we are left with a linguistic universe insularly created and forever divided from the noumenal world that Kant had identified?

Take the following short puzzle that was recently heard: “There are eleven birds sitting on the telephone wire.  A young boy takes a gun and shoots one, and kills it. How many are left on the telephone wire?” Now, the answer to that minor conundrum should be quite elementary, but depends upon how we approach it.

From a mathematical viewpoint, one simply takes the numbers – a purely “theoretical” approach, divorced from the reality of the objective world in which we live, and subtract the 1 dead bird shot by the young lad, from the original number of birds identified on the telephone wire, and come up with the correct answer: 10 are left, because 1 was shot and killed, and therefore the mathematical equation: 11 – 1 = 10.  But it turns out that the correct answer is: “None”.  Why?  Because once the boy fired the gun and killed the 1, all of the others flew away.  Now, one can scratch one’s head and say with self-effacement, “Of course!  That only makes sense!”  Or, one can pause and say, “Now, why wasn’t that as obvious as the answer now seems, after it is pointed out to me?”

Now, contrast that with “real life”:  A hunter goes with his loyal dog and flushes out 3 pheasants from the forest; he takes aim and kills 2; 1 gets away.  He is later asked, “How many did you get?”  He answers, “Two.”  He is asked:  “Any left behind?”  The hunter looks at the questioner quizzically, with some puzzlement.  Why?  Because the question doesn’t quite make any sense – why would you ask such a question?

The fact is that there is a language divide – in real life, asking “how many are left” is not a relevant question, because the reality of living one’s life has already revealed the reality of the living.  It is only when we turn reality into an insularity ensconced within a theoretical construct does it become a thinking universe divorced from the objective world around us.

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, the issue of the language divide is a reality that the Federal or Postal worker must live with each and every day of your life.  That is because you live with a medical condition – the deteriorating effects, the daily symptoms, the chronic pain, numbness, gait imbalance, dizziness, vertigo, cognitive dysfunctions, etc.  The “world of language” doesn’t quite “understand” the reality of the medical condition, and is often inadequate to describe or decipher the sensations experienced.

That being said, in order to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the language divide must nevertheless be bridged; for, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must by necessity enter the world of language – of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A), the medical reports, and legal argumentation with persuasive force; and it is the language divide itself which must become the vehicle for an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that when the single bird is shot, there aren’t any left to speak about on the telephone wire that connects language to the reality of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Sunshine, briefly

Life is mostly dark clouds, with a ray of sunshine briefly upon a small patch of wet grass.  Yes, yes – such a perspective is a mirror reflection of the conflict between the “half-full” versus “half-empty” outlook; but is it helpful for young people to posit a world view, a paradigm or, in the philosophical realm of ivory towers, that king of all royalties in linguistic sophistication that is dropped nonchalantly to impress and raise eyebrows –  Weltanschauung (since when did a German word rise to the level and replace Latin phrases, when one can barely clear one’s throat in enunciating such concepts?) – when reality doesn’t quite parallel such a fairytale ga-ga-land of fantasy reserved for bedtime stories and dream-filled comforts?

Do we not restrain children from engaging strangers?  Do we not warn of criminals, conmen and conspirators and step cautiously into dark alleys and isolated parks in twilight’s eyesight because the world lurks with malevolent intentions and evil thoughts?

There is no questions, of course, that there are periods of respite; of sunshine, briefly, by rays of telescopic precision warming for a time, before the inevitable clouds rub out the finite orientation of a limited gap emitting brightness of hope.  Is balance the stain of righteousness, and if so, where on the spectrum of both extremes does one draw the line of correctness, and is there a singularly myopic perspective where no other can claim moral equivalency?

Cynicism is attributable to the extreme of the “dark clouds” perspective, and naïve idealism to the other end of limitless sunshine; and somewhere in the middle is where reality protrudes into the conceptual realms of unease:  daily living, the encounters with meanness, harassment and unmitigated callousness that must endure the diminishing dereliction of youth’s untarnished cavity of hope.

It is, in the end, that ray of sunshine, however brief, that we live for, even if it only comes about once in a proverbial blue moon.  It is likened to the 80/20 rule:  Eighty percent of people you meet are not worthy of your time; it is the other 20% that you hope to encounter and engage; the identical proportion applies with work – much of it is monotonous and mindless repetition; it is for that remaining sliver that you do the treadmill stuff in order to apply the relishing technicality of challenging concerns.

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 idea of life’s sunshine, however briefly, is precisely the point, isn’t it?

The medical condition that shortens one’s promising career is but the dark clouds which have gathered and overcast upon your life, career and ability and capacity to enjoy; Federal Disability Retirement – thought as “negative” in the sense that it replaces that which you worked so hard to attain – is that sunshine, briefly, so that you can go out with an annuity, a semblance of security, and focus upon the priorities of life:  Health, family, friends and tranquility.

Now, if that is not sunshine, however briefly, no one can fathom what is.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Possibilities to pursue

In one sense, it is nonsensical to ask the question:  “Is it possible to…?”  For, is there any limitation to the concept of the possible?  Isn’t it possible that there are Martians on Mars, but in a parallel universe unseen and concealed from the human eye?  Isn’t it possible that the room you leave disintegrates molecularly, then reconstitutes itself the moment you reenter?  Isn’t it possible that it will rain tomorrow, despite the national weather service predicting otherwise (this latter example is actually not too absurd, as it is a regular occurrence experienced by most)?

Does it alter the significance and qualitative relevance of the query if, instead, we exchange the word with “probable”?   Does probability by numerical quantification of possibility negate the extremes and unfettered boundaries of the possible?  Does a statistical analysis make a difference – say, if a “scientist” asserts that the chances of Martians existing on Mars in a parallel universe unseen is 1-in-1 Billion (as opposed to 1-in-999 million – i.e., are such statements and declarations really accurate at all?) – to the extent that it somehow replaces with credibility the conceptual construct of the possible?

It is all very doubtful, and beyond some cynicism of puzzlement and suspicion that such statistical assertions constitute a perfection of any reasonable methodological approach, the reality is that for the person who is struck by lightening while golfing on a sunny day, that 1-in-a-trillion chance is negated by the 100% probability that he or she was, in fact, in reality, struck by lightening, no matter what the statistical analysis declares.

In the end, probability analysis places some semblance of constraints upon the fenceless conceptual paradigm of possibilities, but it is the latter which compels man to attempt feats beyond the probable, and it is the former which places a reality check upon the limitless creativity of fools, madmen and eccentric geniuses throughout history.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering the possibility of pursuing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often constraining is the probability consensus of “success” – and, yes, that is a consideration that the reality of a bureaucracy and administrative process should face and take into consideration.

In the end, the possibility of a successful filing can be enhanced by the probability factors that are required by law:  A methodological approach; a supportive doctor who is willing to provide a narrative connecting the dots between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties; a systematic legal argumentation that provides a “road-map” for the Administrative Specialist at OPM; and an understanding that the possibilities to pursue can be qualitatively quantified by the probability of supportive documentation.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Reconsideration Stage

Much time is often wasted upon rebutting incoherent arguments.  Such a statement is true in a great many sectors of life, as well as with an initial denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The first reaction in response to an Initial Denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to panic and become disheartened:  The Federal Disability Retirement applicant has waited many, many months, just to get to this point of being denied an application which was thought to clearly meet the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, and perhaps the medical narratives and treatment records clearly and unequivocally established the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job.

What could have gone wrong?  What was deficient?  What unanticipated mistakes were made?

To top it all off, a quick perusal of the denial letter makes it appear as if the application never had a leg to stand on –  seemingly contradictory statements extrapolated; selective quotes from doctors, supervisors, etc., that tend to undermine the proof needed; deficient documentation and multiple garbled references to the “Disability Retirement Law” that has simply not been met.

How does one counter and rebut such an overwhelming denial of one’s carefully gathered and constructed information?

There is the “proper” and “effective” way, but one’s initial inclination in reactive form is normally not the way to go about it.

The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who finds himself/herself in such a situation – of facing an initial denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – will often want to just “give up” and try to endure the pain, anguish and cognitive deterioration by going back to work (if that is even possible and the Federal or Postal employee has not yet been separated from service), or just simply walk away from one’s well-deserved Federal Pension and early Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and forego the benefits earned and vested.

Of course, that is precisely the thought-process that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants you to embrace.

It is often stated (erroneously) that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not an “adversarial” process – and that OPM is not there to “fight you”, but rather, to ensure that all Federal Disability Retirement applications fulfill the requirements of the law.

If that were truly the case, then why does an OPM denial point out only the deficiencies, and never the positive aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Why do OPM denials always present themselves as overwhelmingly unqualified and argued as if there is absolutely no basis or chance of an approval?

Precisely – because, despite stating otherwise, the administrative process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is just that:  an adversarial process which requires an advocate to fight for your rights.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The anomaly of insularity

Society’s steady progression towards greater insularity has been accepted as a mere inevitability that must be tolerated, resigned to, and ultimately embraced with little resistance and no objectionable diatribes, except by those madmen and social commentators who defy and decry and parade and parody of innovation as the essence of civilization’s manifest destiny, replacing the previous paradigm that engaged in the systematic genocide of the civilizations encompassing the plenitude of American Indians in a past century or so – but let us not digress and focus too much upon such a path (i.e., a small hint:  read the tragic but necessary work recently released, by Peter Cozzens entitled, The Earth is Weeping, if you want to understand the true heritage of our past “westward progress”).

Insularity goes against every grain of Darwinian truths:  Look around you (if you are not already distracted by your own Smartphone, laptop or other electronic device); who among you and surrounding you are looking at a screen of one sort or another?  Are heads pasted between eyes glazed and a few inches or feet beyond, to a fluorescent screen of inestimable attraction?

Concurrently, what is occurring in that “real world” that we so decry – of a reality that includes “others” in true flesh; of nature’s blossoming or closing, depending upon the season we are in; of planetary alignments and weather changes; and, in the end, of actual people reaching out in a world where virtual reality has replaced humanity’s quest for love.

Man has always had a differentiating and unique feature – of the Shakespearean aside in uttering a poetic soliloquy; of reflecting upon inner thoughts and seeing no further beyond than the mind’s eye as one wanders through an impervious universe; of reminiscing about a past already lost, calculating for a future which may never arrive, and foregoing present pleasures for delayed contentment.  But modernity has changed all of that.

The past is no longer relevant as old men and wisdom of what once occurred as generational transfer of lessons learned are shuttled into nursing homes where dementia prevails upon wasting souls; where future predictions of dystopian fantasies dominate through electronic entertainment and virtual realities that have replaced that singular tree that grows in Brooklyn; and how the world of the Internet, Skype, Instagram and Facebook constitute the entirety of one’s insular world.

Yet, insularity has its consequences.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers contemplating 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, the reality of the medical condition still maintains that anomaly of insularity, in that the world of pain, anguish or anxiety-stricken psychiatric conditions reflect back upon the individual suffering, and the “outer” world cares not a twit about the individual circumstances.

But reach out, one must – for, in order to escape that anomaly of insularity, the Federal or Postal employee must step outside of him or herself, and begin to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and that is precisely the “key” to breaking that vicious circularity that encompasses and engulfs one in the very anomaly of insularity, within a conundrum of an uncaring universe, amidst a sea of unsympathetic drones within the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Of spare things left in the world

We don’t seem to have a capacity to share of those things which we have no need, anymore.  Does scarcity of resources result in “doubling down” in ways formerly described as miserly in deed?  Does the free market principle of supply and demand explain the loss of social grace in responding to need?  What ever happened to the spare tire, the jingle of spare change, and the ephemeral absence of spare time?  Has society come to a criss-cross of contending forces, where the explosion of population growth, the rise of the middle class in developing nations around the globe, coupled with the exponential depletion of finite resources, have cumulatively coalesced to an incandescent compromise of character crisis?  Does the lack of everything mean that we can spare no more for others, or provide assistance in the event of need?

As for the spare tire issue, the fact is that modern technology has extended the wear of tires, and many people have lost the knowledge or skill to use a jack or a lug wrench.  This, combined with fear of scams and roadside robberies, in conjunction with the durability of today’s tires, has resulted in the widespread consequence of calls for help defined as a cellphone dial for professional roadside assistance.  Further, society has deemed that any caricature of a ‘damsel in distress’ is tainted with a misogynist attitude; and we certainly would never want to be charged with an ‘ism’ at the cost of helping another.  And of spare change?

Homelessness has been relegated to either a non-existent phenomenon until a different political tide rolls in, or has otherwise been linguistically redefined as an alternative lifestyle.  What remains, then, is our spare time — which we have no more of, despite the constant drumbeat to the contrary that the aggregate of modern technology is always supposed to ‘save us time’.  Isn’t that what we are told each time a new gadget is foisted upon us?  That it will save time so that we have more time for greater and more important things — like politicians who suddenly leave office or fail to seek another term in order to spend “more time” with family.  Right.

The fact is that we are left with very little of anything, anymore, other than to stare vacuously into the fluorescent chambers of computer screens and smartphone apps.  Yet, spare time, spare tires and spare change — while apparently mere arbitrary anachronisms of antiquity, alas, fading into the dim light of change itself — reflects a community of sharing now lost as art was once a defined form.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the idea of sparing a person a break, has gone the way of other spare things.  Neither the Federal agency nor the U.S. Postal Service has any spare time to spare anything, anymore, and certainly no more than the rest of society can spare.

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, can be likened to the spare tire in the back of the trunk, which is always there but forgotten but for the time of crisis or need.  When the Federal or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to OPM is like getting out that spare tire.

The problem is, as most people have lost the skill to use the ‘other’ implements hidden beside the spare tire — like the jack and the lug wrench — so the proverbial roadside assistance may be required.  As for spare change and spare time?  Pockets are a requirement for the former, and future fashion will determine the necessity of an antiquated design, as will inflation and online banking for the need of coins or paper money at all; and as for the latter, we are told that we have more of that than ever before; just not enough to spare for others.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire