Federal Disability Retirement under FERS: Know Thyself

As to the familiar saying — of “knowing one’s self” — what can it possibly mean?  The saying, “Know thyself”, was inscribed on various temples in Ancient Egypt and was known to be one of the Delphic maxims.

Socrates, of course, taught a variation of the statement, contending that the “unexamined life is not worth living” — but the question which immediately comes to the fore is: At what point do we examine ourselves?  Is it a daily, continuous engagement?  Do we wait until we reach various stages of our lives before proposing such an examination?

For most of us, we don’t have the time or energy that Socrates had — of constantly stirring up trouble and pestering and peppering this person or that with questions that are meant to confound, confuse, irritate and provoke; and to examine one’s life is to constantly ask questions which we may know not the answers to.

Is it the questioning itself which is so important (one might posit that such an approach to life is precisely what Socrates himself believed)?  Were the questions posed by Socrates actually answerable, or were they just rhetorical flourishes meant to undermine the accepted, normative conclusions of the day?

To that extent — of questions without necessarily expecting any definitive answers — perhaps if Socrates were to appear in this age, he would be overjoyed with the way in which we live today: of therapy accepted as the modality of self-examination; of the explosion of “self-help” books and the payment-for-services of “life coaches” and “experts” on “living”.

Ultimately, “knowing thyself” is an endeavor that has no boundaries and cannot expect definitive answers, precisely because the “self” is an ever-expanding phenomena and “knowing” is never a static activity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is preventing the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the maxim of “Know Thyself” is an important element in making a decision concerning Federal Disability Retirement.

You must know what your job is; what your physical or mental capabilities are; and whether you can continue on in the job that you hold.  Further, it is the maxim itself which should lead you to consult with a Federal Disability Retirement Attorney, that is, a lawyer who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, in the end, to know thyself is to gather knowledge from all sources in an effort to “know” and to clarify the boundaries of “thyself”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Down a Rabbit Hole

The phrase originates from the novel by Charles Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) entitled, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, shortened to “Alice in Wonderland”, and has come to take on a wider meaning — embracing any experience where one unexpectedly encounters a surreal, bizarre universe or phenomena.

The phrase is an interesting one — of somehow entering a different kind of reality where a parallel universe exists.  The rabbit holes of real life are more mundane — of a nest found in one’s back yard where young bunnies huddle together in fear of being discovered, and where hope of survival depends upon people walking by oblivious to the shelter and dogs failing to sniff out the hideouts.

We all walk through life hoping that we can avoid falling down a rabbit hole, and many of us deliberately avoid areas that may be pocked full of them, like so many potholes in roads and bridges that have been left in disrepair.

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 necessity of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be file through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, may be considered tantamount to falling down into a Rabbit Hole.

OPM is a large bureaucracy, complex in its administrative procedures and processes, and the entire journey of preparing, formulating, filing and maneuvering through the Federal Disability Retirement laws, procedures and regulatory morass can be somewhat likened to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — only, the reality of it is that the surreal universe of the bizarre must meet the universe of necessity, and while the child who reads about Alice can delight in its wonderful tales and adventures, the Federal or Postal worker must live within the reality of a medical condition that remains forever.

That is why, in both cases, falling down into a rabbit hole will often need some expert guidance — like consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law so that the rabbit hole one falls into enhances the chances that the bizarre will ultimately lead to a successful endeavor out of the maze of OPM’s complex processes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The legacy

It is something that we leave behind.  Yet, unlike a wallet, a watch, a piece of jewelry or a troublesome child better left forgotten, we don’t have an opportunity to go back and get it.  We say of that laundry list, “Oh, I need to go back and get it” (except maybe of the last in the list, whom we hope will be adopted into a kindly family and simultaneously also leave the parents behind); but not of the legacy.

No one ever says of that, “Oh, I left my legacy behind, and I need to go back and get it.”  Instead, it is intimately bound up with mortality, our sense of the future minus our own presence, and a dominant desire and urge to “leave a legacy” behind, as if to do otherwise will diminish the memory of one who has now departed, will soon be forgotten and will populate the mass of unknown graves without tombstones littering the earth beneath ivy and weeds that overwhelm.

It is often money itself, which is soon spent and forgotten; or a special “something” that one remembers another by, which is placed in a drawer and also quickly, easily and without conscience soon forgotten; or, perhaps a more lasting imprint of some residual effect – a poem, an antique car (otherwise referred to as a “junk heap”), or the family farm.

Whatever the legacy left leaving lasting latitudes of lost loneliness lacking love’s longing for lengthy locutions (sorry for the alliteration, but it cannot be helped), it is something that is left behind, cannot ever be retrieved, and may or may not have a lasting impact upon the person or groups of people for whom it is intended.

Then, one can stretch the meaning to include a more modern interpretation of the concept of a legacy – of one’s own.  That is a paradigm of a “legacy” in the more common usage – of a memory of one’s life, of what kind of a legacy will one leave that will be remembers by others – that you worked yourself to death and didn’t spend the time with your kids (refer to the above, first sentence herein, where that may be a blessing), your wife or friends?  What is the point of an empty legacy of that sort?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who begins to think of one’s life, health, future and legacy, especially because a medical condition has begun to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue in the Federal or Postal career of one’s choice, the consideration of 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 and intimately tied and bound to the fragile nature of a medical condition and its impact upon one’s life.

Struggling daily with a medical condition while trying to contend with a contentious Federal Agency or Postal Facility is not only “not fun” – it is, moreover, a futile exercise that diminishes the legacy of one’s life as a greater whole.

The “legacy” one leaves behind, indeed, is not like a wallet, a watch, or a piece of jewelry; but it is like a child left behind, where regrets for the future may yet be corrected, and for the Federal or Postal employee who needs to focus upon one’s health and future orientation that can no longer include the current job one occupies, preparation of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to OPM, may be the next best thing to a legacy yet to be considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law: The Editorial Process

Every writer dreads the process; on the other side of the proverbial fence, it is the joyful perverseness of the editor, with markers in hand and metaphorical scissors and knives to slash and cut, the necessity of reducing and whittling away the creative volume of words forming descriptive paragraphs and the infancy of a birth of genius, or so one always thinks about one’s own work.

Everyone has a story to tell.  How cogent; whether systematic in logical sequence; the relevance of certain statements, sentences, and sometimes paragraphs and chapters, may undermine the greater purpose for which something is written.

The story to tell must always be refined and bifurcated into categories of recognized goals:  Who is the audience?  What is the purpose of the piece?  Is there a thematic foundation?  Who will be interested?  What is the appropriate forum for publication?  These questions, and many others, are rarely asked (or answered) beyond the egoism of the compelling need to tell.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a story to tell, the telling of the story is often the basis upon which one files for Federal Employees Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Sometimes, the story must be told in another forum — to the Office of Worker’s Compensation, or perhaps to an EEOC venue.  Will the stories change with each telling to a different forum?  Perhaps not the core of the story, but certainly some of the relevant details.

As with preparing and formulating one’s Statement of Disability for a Federal Disability Retirement application, the facts to be told, the focus to be emphasized; these all depend upon the audience of one’s target.  It is not a matter of changing or omitting; it is the necessary editorial process which makes for good print.

For the Federal and Postal employee who tries to go it alone, rarely can one be the writer and editor at the same time; and it is likely the editorial process which results in the successful outcome of any writing endeavor; and while the acclaim and accolades of success spotlight the named individual, the printed byline and the recognized author, it is the behind-the-scenes process which really wins the day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The View from the Balcony of One’s Soul

It can only be in metaphorical terms by which we express such sentiments; and some recent essays have contended that true comprehension within the context of any language game requires, by necessity and tautological argument, metaphors.

The concept of one’s “soul” itself may be entirely metaphorical — or a simile of sorts — and placed within the context of the physical terrain of a balcony, the combination of the immaterial with the material presents an image beyond mere fanciful flights of the imagination, but taxes the capacity of the human intellect to corners of comprehension stretched to its outer limits.  For, the balcony is that arena of observatory quietude from which the vantage point of reflection occurs; and the soul represents the essence of a person’s being.  Thus, for the soul (the core of one’s humanity) to view the objective world from a balcony (the vantage point of reflective quietude), is to present a moment of profound insight.  It is, indeed, for those rare moments which make life worthwhile.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties within the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, it is this loss of “balcony-perspective” which often compels one to act.  Or, conversely, there is sometimes a moment of such vantage-point realization, seen through the onerous veil of pain, stress, cognitive cloudiness or downtrodden days of breakdowns and distress depleted through progressive deterioration of mind, body, emotion and flat effect; in a moment of cohesive clarity, one can come to the recognition that life cannot be defined by work, and the worth of one’s humanity should not be determined by how much one can withstand the humiliation incurred by supervisors, managers, coworkers and hostile environments which refuse to let up or cease in their incessant poundings.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often only the first step towards recovery from a process which began years ago.  Some time ago — and time becomes a maze of forgotten refrains when one must contend on a daily basis with a medical condition which impacts one’s capacity to engage in gainful employment — there were moments when the view from one’s balcony provided that momentary quietude of reflection; and then the erasures of life began to rub away the humanity of one’s essence, to a point where one’s soul began to hurt, to suffer, and to sob in silent shudders of dry heaving for that loss of self.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may not be the ultimate solution for every Federal and Postal employee, but it is often a start.  That start will, at a minimum, allow one to again view the world around us from the balcony of one’s soul, which is the true vantage point for all of us who still retain a semblance of humanity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire