OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Who we are

That is a rather presumptuous title, one might declare; for, it is always the “we” that others presume to know, as opposed to limiting the declarative within the restrictive confines of one’s self, family and surrounding community.

What is the great equalizer that allows for the collective plural pronoun?  Is it television (i.e., do “we” all watch the same shows and thus form a conglomerate of a universal consciousness)?  There was once a time when one could argue that a unity of convention existed — especially harkening back to the days when there were essentially 3 networks to choose from, and where all three were similar in content, thought and approach.

In modernity, is it the Internet?  But the worldwide “web’ is too diverse to narrowly formulate a cumulative effect of similar normative beliefs.

Perhaps that is why society in general is so diverse and fractured; where even a simple consensus amidst a small community cannot be reached, and how geographic differences have become exponentially and irreversibly altered and separated from one another.

Who are we?  Yes, the inversion substitution of the second word with the third makes the declarative into a query, and changes the entire subject matter.  It is, perhaps, both a statement and a question, and neither make sense, anymore.  And so we are left with a singular voice — of a monologue and an aside, or as in a play, a soliloquy, where the character asks the universal question, Who am I?  Am I the collective consciousness of my direct descendent, and does that have meaningfulness, anymore?  Why do we seek answers by purchasing and sending away “DNA kits”, as if the spiral spectrum of cellular anomalies would be able to answer the question which haunts us all?

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 potential loss of one’s identity within the community of Federal and Postal workers is often the step that is difficult to take.

One’s identity, purpose, drive and dreams are often bundled up into an inseparable conglomeration of work and identity, and to separate from that self-identification is often a difficult venture to undertake.  But the danger, of course, is that you may be forcibly separated if you do not take the steps necessary to protect your identity.

The Agency will ultimately terminate you, and the harassment because you have taken too much Sick Leave, Annual Leave, FMLA or LWOP is inevitable.  Better that you file for FERS Disability Retirement benefits and retain a semblance of who you are, lest the Federal Agency or the Postal Service does that to you unilaterally, leaving you with the question, Who do they think they are?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Structure and Content

The former provides the form; the latter, the character of the entity.  It is the duality in combination which creates the ability to identify the particular being in an Aristotelian manner — as opposed to the more generalized definition of “Being”.  Without the largest organ of the human body — one’s skin — the “content” of that which separably identifies one individual from another would be lost, and we would all be mere aggregations of various organs not necessarily organized in any coherent way.

Similarly, in any presentation of a written form, it is important to plan the structure and content such that the former allows for coherence and ease of understanding while the latter compels the force of persuasion to impact upon the reader.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS, it is important to provide both structure and content in order to enhance the chances for an approval at any stage of the process.  For, the Federal or Postal applicant who is preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one must first recognize that such an application is a “paper presentation” to OPM, and thus does structure and content both matter.

To merely focus upon “content” — i.e., medical records; the words in the Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) is to overlook the persuasive nature of the structure of the application itself.  Conversely, to concentrate too heavily upon the structure of the FERS Disability Retirement application — the forms to be filed; the “checklist” of necessary and required paperwork — is to underestimate the power of content.

The two must be formed [sic] in tandem; and a persuasive and powerful legal memorandum that provides both a roadmap as well as content-filled legal citations is a “must” in every FERS Disability Retirement application, and this should be formulated and prepared by an experienced Federal Disability Retirement Attorney who specializes in, and is fully knowledgeable of, Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Happiness revisited

What is it that makes people happy?  Is it constituted by generic categories (like “wealth”, “fame”, “friendships”, “popularity”, etc.), or is it specific to each individual (i.e., for Joe, it is to have sufficient time daily to become lost in reading; for Alice, the opportunity to go out with friends at least once a week; for Mary and Steve, to be in one another’s company, etc.) such that, while specific conditions can be described as the prerequisite for individual happiness, they can nonetheless be categorized into more generic forms while never losing the unique content of that which constitutes the essential ingredients for such individual happiness?

If generically-based, can it be “bottled” — i.e., advertised and sold?  Isn’t that what much of commercial advertising is all about — not the product itself, although that is the ultimate goal, but of the underlying message that by means of the product, the end will result in happiness?

Thus, teeth whiteners and dental conglomerates don’t just sell straightened teeth or gleaming smiles; rather, they sell happiness.  Otherwise, why else would everyone be smiling stupidly and pretending (for that is what actors and actresses do) that they are ecstatic in their roles?  And car insurance, life insurance, reverse mortgages and financial institutions — what are they selling but happiness through security and a sense of peace?

More importantly, should happiness ever be a goal, or is it best to allow it to remain as a byproduct and a natural consequence of a worthy life’s endeavors?

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 one’s happiness is always present in stark contrast to the current human condition of deteriorating health: for, misery is the flip-side of happiness, and to that old standardized testing torture we all had to undergo as school children, happiness is to health as misery is to ___?  What would be the appropriate word used to fill in the blank?  Ill-health?  Sickness?

When one’s health deteriorates, the priorities of life suddenly come into sharper focus, for health is the foundation from which all else flows. Happiness, one begins to realize, cannot be the center and foundation; it is, instead, a byproduct of good health, solid relationships and productive careers, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee who begins to 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, serious consideration should be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted, reviewed by and approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The factors to consider

Whenever a problem arises, are you the kind of person who immediately rushes headfirst in order to “solve” it?  Are you like a first responder who by necessity, duty or conscience of being, sprints to save and runs to resolve?  Or, in contradistinction to circumstances that require thoughtless effort but urgent actions, do you consider the factors and ask the question, What criteria must be applied?  What would be considered a resolution of the problem, as opposed to a temporary cessation of a crisis-driven implementation?

The two are somewhat dissimilar, of course, in that the first example often does not have the luxury of pausing for a query, and the latter may allow for an ebb of questioning.

Thus, one would not want a philosopher pondering the conundrum of existential posits when the primary pipe draining sewage away from one’s home has a crack that is growing into an open fissure.  On the other hand, if repetition of recurring problems have haunted for some time, and the solution appears to require something beyond mere pragmatic settlement but a higher order of principled restraint, the factors leading to an overarching criterion may be mandated for a more far-reaching solution.

This is true in much of life.  There are many who repeat the same thoughtless actions only to find that the temporary solution comes back with ever greater fervor; few who ponder the underlying principles; and lesser still of a community of thoughtful cadavers who awaken from the slumber of daily monotony to consider the underlying factors that gird the first principles of life itself.

What factors need to be considered?  Where do we go from here?  Can we live on such reduced income?  Can we make it to the age of retirement, or the required combination of service time plus age, and still be in good enough health to enjoy some semblance of a retirement?  Will my agency continue to harass, employ mechanisms of onerous leave restrictions, and ultimately impose the sanctions of constant workplace hostility, and can I survive them all?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to a crossroads of sorts, where the medical condition, the inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and the pressure that can no longer be withstood with the coalescence of such onerous burdens, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the first step in resolving the repetition of a horrendous culture of dismay.

Life is never perfect, but when a problem which appears persistent and chronic will not simply go away because being a first responder is not the right solution to the difficulty, then the Federal or Postal employee must consider the factors that underlie the problems which constitute the principles inherent, and move forward with pragmatic steps towards a brighter future for tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Avoiding the repetitive in a narrative

Why do we believe that adding the repetition of words, especially adverbs, will create a compelling narrative?  If you ascribe an adjective to an object, then ad an adverb – say, “very” – does repeating and inserting another magnify the significance of the narrative itself, or detract by placing a grammatical marker by bringing attention that the very necessity of the addition undermines the efficacy of the noun to which all of the additions point to, in the first place?  May not the noun itself stand on its own two feet, so to speak; or, at least with the supportive crutches of an adjective?

If a person posits that things are “very bad”, does the person responding who adds, “No, things are very, very bad” contribute to the discourse in that singular addition?  And what of the third in the discussion, who says, “Yes, I must agree, things are very, very, very bad”?  And what if a fourth person – unassuming and generally unemotional, who puts a sense of finality to the entire conversation by declaring:  “No, you are all right.  Things are bad.”  Did the last statement without the adverb and the repetition of additional tautological ringers, say anything less in the utterance, and conversely, did the third contributor add anything more to the discourse?

Often enough in life, that which we believe we are enhancing, we are merely detracting from in the very repetition of discourse.  It is like a signal or a marker; the red flag that arises suspicion is sometimes waved through the unintentional attempt to bring about attention through repetitive enhancement, and it is often the noun with the singular adjective that evinces the quietude of force in grammatical parlay.  Pain, anguish and medical conditions often seek to descriptively reveal through unnecessary repetition.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who is working on preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through one’s own agency or the H.R. Shared Services Center (for Postal employees) in Greensboro, N.C. (if the Federal or Postal employee is still with the Federal Agency, or not yet separated for more than 31 days), preparing adequate and sufficient responses on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, must be embraced with care, fortitude, forthrightness and deliberation of factual, medical, legal and personal weaving of a compelling narrative.

Inclusion of too many adverbs may be a distraction; meanderings of thought and unnecessary information will undermine the entirety of the construct; and while the linguistic tool of repetition can be effective and compelling, too much of a “good thing” may undermine the singularity of a narrative’s natural soul.

In the end, the Statement of Disability prepared by a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement applicant should be a compelling narrative delineating a discourse of bridging the nexus between medical condition and one’s positional duties.  It should be descriptive.  It should be very descriptive.  It should be very, very descriptive.  It should also include the descriptive, the legal and the personal, just not very, very, very so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Our narrative of discourse

Do we all carry about multiple narratives within?  Perhaps, one for public consumption; another, for family gatherings; yet another the edited version only for the ears of the young and uninitiated; and perhaps more, depending upon the audience, the susceptibility to believe, and the necessity for coherence as opposed to self-promotion and puffing up?

How about those “Service experiences” – where we get carried away in exaggerating the feats of bravery and encounters with the enemy?  How many politicians have been driven from office for telling a slight (or even not so slight) deviation from the “truth” in reenacting wartime stories and narratives of consummate manliness and Stallone-like fearless feats?  “Oh, the DD 214 doesn’t even begin to tell what I had to go through…”  Or even of high school days of athletic prowess and academic achievement in college; if only transcripts would remain silent in the archives of shrouded mystery in safekeeping for secrecy.

We do, each of us, carry multiple narratives of discourse, often dependent upon the audience we encounter and the susceptibility of suspending disbelief and the receptiveness to our meanderings.  So, why is it that we often fail to conform to the change of necessity, when it counts most?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, involves providing a narrative discourse in response to specific questions on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

This is the moment when truth must push aside exaggeration, and where some specificity of delineation must be attended.  The “nexus” or “bridge” between one’s Federal or Postal position and the impact by one’s medical condition must be established, and the targeted audience (the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – not your own agency, your supervisor or anyone related thereto) must always be kept in mind.

In the end, our narrative of discourse that we carry about in our own minds has always been about revealing some part of ourselves to an audience receptive to specific needs, and preparing an effective SF 3112A is no different from that perspective, and must be kept in mind when composing the narrative of discourse in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire