Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Admitting defeat

It is probably the single most difficult thing to do in life, and its inability reflects upon the abysmal state of education, both higher and lower.  The manner in which education is perpetuated – where “right answers” receive accolades and admitting of defeat merely alters the pecking order of who is admired and who are relegated to the detritus of human society – merely reinforces the greater loss of empathy, the destruction of civility and the coarsening of society.

Facebook, too, merely perpetuates the focus upon destroying an opponent and quieting any voices that may provide a quiet revolution, as alternate voices are silenced into submission by mere meanness of bombardment and repetition.  Some would applaud this all-too Darwinian approach as merely reinforcing the innate nature of “survival of the fittest” – for, admitting defeat is tantamount to revealing weakness, and the weak are mere fodder for the strong and stronger.

Whether in argumentation of discourse or fighting battles, wars – real or virtual – or verbal encounters characterized as harmless skirmishes on the Internet, it matters not anymore the manner in which one prevails, only that one does reach the apex of any endeavor, profession or undertaking.

Once upon a time, there were some rules of engagement – of a civil discourse where debates were conducted in quiet tones and respectful venues, and where humility called for admission of recognizing the greater argument which results in establishing the goal for the greater good.  Now, it matters not the means; for the end justifies the means and if you can shout down the opponent, lie about the facts and cheat around the strategy, it is the winner who is looked up to and the victor who walks away with the spoils.

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 positional duties, it may be that the best way to avoid admitting defeat is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, but somehow one’s priorities have become skewered in this obsessive-world where admitting a medical condition is tantamount to admitting defeat, as opposed to merely recognizing the limits of human endurance and the frailty of the human condition.

Fortunately, the rules governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for the Federal or Postal employee receiving Federal Disability Retirement benefits to go out into the private sector, or even into the state or local government, and work at another job or vocation and make up to 80% of what one’s Federal Government or Postal job currently pays, and thus, to that extent, obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not considered admitting defeat, but merely a change of venue in the pathways of life’s complexities throughout.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

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, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The narrative we write

Each of us carries a narrative within; the David Copperfield segment of our otherwise unrevealed lives.  It is who we are; the past that enlivens or diminishes; the memories of yesteryear or just a fortnight ago; and it resides continually until that day of atonement or the diminishment though dementia of fated unkindness.  What we say; how it is written; how it is related through the handed-down oral traditions of storytelling and bemused tales of a Dickensian happy endings (excepting Little Nell and other debatable few unnamed); and how it is told, in what manner, with what punctuations and unctuous phraseology applied; these matter, especially when others are listening.

Perhaps, in modernity, the oral traditions of storytelling have disappeared, like graveyards unvisited because of loss of faith.  Once, family members were buried on the plot of land in the pasture behind; now, that plot is another suburban home, easily fungible and sold if profits justify enough.  Lineage is irrelevant, except to search one’s genealogy in order to establish the bloodlines unique to resist disease and incest; and as children listen not to the storyteller at dinnertime, but to rap singers on iPods and Smartphones, and digitized voices in virtual fields of games and electronic media; even they get their sense of who the “I” is, by songs uttered with vitriol and You-Tube clips streaming for self-aggrandizement.

We lament that which we have no control over, yet do nothing to exert but a trifle of influence.  The standard adage should remind us:  “Garbage in, garbage out”; and, yet, who among us steadfastly maintains the duties of the vanguard who must imperviously maintain a standard of who is invited and what is kept out?  Or, does “popularity” rule, and the old edict by a shoe company trying to dominate the cutthroat world of sales and profitability, “Just do it” – is that the philosophy we follow?  Or, how about, “If it feels right (or good), then…”

The narrative we write is the storyline that follows, and the byline that stamps its approval at the bottom of the tale acknowledges who we are, what we believe in and where we intend to go.  What would your response be if a child suddenly came upon you and asked, “Who are you?”  Would the narrative that bespeaks include struggles encountered, battles engaged and promises kept?  Or would the story be a confused delineation of a skeletal clutter, barely recognizable as a unique reflection of the angels we fly with?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing, formulating and 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 narrative we write, especially on the Standard Form 3112A, is perhaps the penultimate component of the essence of the effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  How it is written; what information it should contain; the relevant period of discourse; the proper delineation in answer to the queries; these must all be taken into account before submitting it to OPM.  And, just as the response to the query by the curious child should give one pause, greater reflection before submitting an SF 3112A to OPM should be taken, lest the narrative we write reflects that which we no longer want to own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Time, Memories and Forgetting the Never-ending Cycle

It is well that human beings have short attention spans and memories, lest the magnification of residual retentive powers should lead one to act.  Despite daily repetition of pain, frustration and humiliation or turmoil, we are ready to repeat the process, and let our memories fade into oblivion.

Perhaps it is merely another one of the genetically-engineered traits for survivability within the evolutionary context of epochs of adaptation; or, a more proverbial mis-attribution to P.T. Barnum that there is a “sucker born every minute”.  Whether the former (which merely describes a state of “how” we act) or the latter (which explains the “why” of behavior), the determination for self-immolation gladly volunteered on a daily basis, also reveals the strength of the human essence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who daily suffer through the physical pain of a medical disability, or the cognitive dissonance of psychiatric conditions (which is also a form of pain, interpreted through depression, anxiety, uncontrollable panic attacks and other symptoms of psychological ideations), the daily encounter with one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can be a repetitive process of harassment, self-destructive engagements, and periodic spans of suffering.

Time is the void of space experienced throughout any given day; memories, the shutting aside of one’s experiential chaos; and the need to forget the cycle of turmoil reflects the necessary next step in order to separate one’s self from the repetition of progressive destruction.

Preparing, formulating and 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 a means to break the tripartite cycle of daily turmoil, pain and suffering, by allowing for the Federal and Postal employee to reach a circumstance where rehabilitation of one’s deteriorating health becomes the pinnacle of concern, unlike the lack of empathy and impassive looks of unsympathetic coldness shown by the agency, the U.S.Postal Service, managers, supervisors, and H.R. Personnel.

Time is what precisely the Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for the full working of all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, needs and requires; memories are those which one cherishes for the sake of longevity; and forgetting the never-ending cycle of progressive deterioration can only be stopped by taking affirmative steps to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Resigning from Federal Employment and Filing for OPM Disability Retirement

Resignation is what the adversary wants; it is rarely an innate condition of the human animal.  Whether one believes in the evolutionary process of incremental genetic adaption, progression and determinism, or that the gods of traditional theology puts forth a teleological foundation, the concept of “giving up” possesses an inherent shrinking away, a repugnance and a natural inhibitor to an act which constitutes surrender and, in some corners of thought, betrayal to self.

But the will of human beings is what separates from the genus of that which we derive; and as monks can defy instinct and sit in burning bonfires of self-immolation, and sheer determination of will-power can overcome fear, the rush of adrenaline and the propulsion of compulsive irrationality through reasoned guidance, so there may be times when resignation carries with it a compelling basis which justifies the action.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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 issue of resignation is often at the forefront for multiple and varied reasons:  the agency often suggests it (which, in and of itself, should not be a basis for acting, as the self-interest of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal service should not be the paramount concern during such a time of turmoil when a medical condition is impacting the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); where all Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA rights have been exhausted, and the inability to maintain a regular work schedule has resulted in the initiation of disciplinary actions by the agency (here, the language contained in any such action proposed by the agency or the U.S. Postal Service may be of some use in a Federal Disability Retirement application); or where other pragmatic decisions may be contemplated, such as the ability to access one’s TSP in order to financially survive during the process of waiting for a decision on a pending Federal Disability Retirement application, as well as multiple other unnamed reasons too numerous to discuss within the confines of this limited forum.

Whatever the underlying reasons and rationale, there is often an instinctive reaction, a repugnance and resistance, in engaging an act which is tantamount to surrendering one’s career and “walking away”.  There may, in the end, be compelling reasons to perform such an act, and not all actions involving resignation constitute a reflection of a desperate need.  If reviewed calmly, and decided rationally after due consideration of all of the factors and elements involved, such an act of apparent self-destruction may in fact be the most prudent course of action which perpetuates the genetically-determined embracing of evolutionary survivability, or the voice of gods long whispering in the echoing reverberations of Dante’s concentric circles of ever-impending escape from the fires of hell.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire