Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: Silence

Whether of the historical novel by Shusaku Endo or of the film adaptation by Martin Scorsese, the powerful images evoked (or provoked?) by the contrast between noise heard and the silence following can be felt only with the “before” and “after”.  The novel itself is Endo’s masterpiece, although he has written many; and, of course, Scorsese has a long list of accomplishments and commercial successes, but Silence is not one of them— at least not by commercial standards.

It is a serious movie with few bright moments; of contracted theological arguments and disputations revealing cultural chasms so deep that only a simple metaphor can make it comprehensible; of an agonizing series of endless torture; of the anguished, linguistic divide apparent between two countries which fail to understand each other because of the subtleties of language’s disconnect.  And then there is — silence — in contrast to noise; of a “before” and an “after”.

And the questions which foretell of the quietude: Does the lack of God’s intervention mean that there is no God?  Does “speaking” of denying and renouncing, or the act of stepping upon the image of God, determine one’s faith, or can faith be alive within the silence of one’s inner soul?  Can the Peter-like character, Kichijiro, remain a “faithful apostle” despite his breaking of his silence in actively renouncing and apostatizing?  And who has the greater faith — the priest who grudgingly passes judgment each time the apostate comes for confession and forgiveness, or the one who renounces but then confesses and asks?

In the end, Silence is too heavy a movie to be considered “entertainment”, and most people will not want to spend an evening watching a movie that has little joy and less to laugh about; for, the pain that is experienced by so many in this world in the silence of one’s own suffering is torturous enough without asking to view an even greater expansion of such pain and silence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who, similarly, suffer in silence because of a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Consulting and being guided by an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is likely the wiser course to take, as the bureaucratic morass that one must be guided through can be likened to the foreign country that the priests in Silence had to endure — through the pitfalls of dangers and caverns of unknown territories.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS: Adopting an Adaptive Plan

Most of us barely have one; and when we do, we quickly forget about it and move on, satisfied that —by the mere declaration of having one — we need not implement it or follow it rigorously beyond the mere possession of it.

The old Soviet Union (do we remember what the abbreviation, “U.S.S.R.” stood for?) had 5 and 10 year plans, and when the stated goals were not met, they simply cooked the books and declared that they were well ahead of the declared plans, and so the satellite nations under the rubric of the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” nodded its approval and genuflected to the Soviet Central Planning Committee (for, you couldn’t have a plan unless there were multiple committees to make those plans) and were grateful for the plans even though their populace were starving, despite the declared success of all of that planning.

Battlefield officers rely upon them; although, in recent years, because war is no longer fought by armies planning an attack upon other armies, the need for adopting an adaptive plan has become a survival necessity.  Life itself rarely follows a plan; most of the time, one’s day is consumed by just trying to survive.

When a medical condition hits us, of course, then all of the planning in the world — from a retrospective and myopic viewpoint — didn’t amount to much.  What is the plan, then, for a Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform his or her job because of the medical conditions that prevent one from doing so?

The Federal Disability Retirement “plan” is to allow for a Federal or Postal employee to file for OPM Medical Retirement benefits under FERS, so that the Federal employee can medically retire, focus upon one’s health and still, hopefully, enter the workforce in the near or mid-future and continue to contribute, all the while receiving a disability retirement annuity.  Now, that sounds like adopting an adaptive plan where interruption of a life plan allows for some grace beyond lack of planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The Lifetime Achievement Award

There is a sadness necessarily attached to such an award: It is an acknowledgement that a person’s worth has come to an end.  A life’s end is recognized when such an award is granted, and no one believes that anything further will be attained.  It is a dismissive award — a pinning of a goodby to the lapel of one’s mortality and an applause that soon fades because of achievements recognized and easily forgotten.

No one says of the recipient of such an award, “Boy, but does she have such potential!”  Rather, it is the very awarding of it which is the indicator that: The curtain is closing; the rocking chair is there in the corner; it is time to let others in the door; and, your time has passed.

What can it possibly mean for a person to accept such an award?  How can others determine the achievement within a span of a lifetime, and can it ever be rescinded?  What if, upon receipt of such an award, a person turns around and commits a heinous crime — do we then walk out of the ceremony shaking our heads and whisper to one another, “Well, he would have achieved it but for….”?  Isn’t that always the party-pooper conclusion, when we say of this or that: Except for; but for; if only…?

It is like saying that X was a great president except for Y, or that such-and-such was the best leader but for this-and-that.  To receive or be offered the “lifetime achievement award” is to declare the end of one’s life; to refuse it, is to embrace life and one’s future.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who believe that filing for Federal Disability Retirement means that it is an “end” to something — somewhat akin to receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award — such a thought should be reconsidered.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement is not an end, but a mere beginning: It allows the Federal or Postal employee to focus upon one’s health, and then to consider another vocation or career in the private sector by allowing him or her to make up to 80% of what one earned in the Federal sector, and continue to receive a disability retirement annuity. Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law to “get the facts”, lest you become embroiled in the fallacy that Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Perfecting life versus living perfectly

It is the latter which most of us do, or pretend to do, and which stunts the capacity to engage in the former.  And so that which we should be doing (the former) is prevented because of that which we are already doing (the latter), in a never-ending cycle of self-destruction.

Those Internet internecine attempts which include Facebook and Instagram don’t help in these matters, and perhaps exacerbate them exponentially.  For, in both cases, they encourage each one of us to “appear” to be living perfectly, when the whole endeavor of human existence should be a striving towards perfecting our lives — i.e., of recognizing the imperfect status of our current condition, having a paradigm towards which one strives in order to correct those defects, and thus towards the “end” of this prosaically-described “journey” of sorts, to be able to declare that “perfection” was somewhat achieved.

But — no — instead, we create an appearance, a facade, a dissembling image of one’s appearance and put forth a self-portrait of an already-achieved perfection: The perfect happiness; the perfect outing; the perfect couple and the perfect participle.

The origins of philosophy (i.e., Plato, Aristotle and those who followed) were always concerned with the differentiation between “Appearance” and “Reality”; in modernity, the two have been conflated, where one’s appearance is the reality of one’s existence.  By commingling concepts which were once clearly bifurcated, we prevent the capacity of human beings to strive to be better, to grow and mature towards greater fulfillment of one’s potentiality.

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, it is a familiar concept — of hiding one’s imperfections in an environment that demands perfection daily.  Medical conditions and their impact on a person’s life — these are considered “imperfections” in a society that demands nothing less than perfection.  Thus does the targeted harassment begin — to “punish” the very person who needs support, empathy and understanding, instead of the constant barrage of unneeded animosity.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may not, in and of itself, be the perfect solution; but, as imperfect a solution as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application may seem, the appearance of an imperfect solution may be preferable than the perfection expected but unattainable in a society that appears to be perfectly fine with imperfections pervasively perfected by appearances of concealed imperfections.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Preparations

Would you hold a dinner party without preparing?  Or attend an important meeting, host a regal gathering of accomplished celebrities or go camping in the wilds of winter’s ferocity — without making adequate preparations?

The elaborate extent of such preparations is often correlated with the importance, significance, relevance and complexity of the issue at hand, the engagement to be embraced or the event to be held.  Preparations are a vital component to the successful engagement of whatever one undertakes, and lack of it often guarantees a result of negative returns.

How does one prepare for the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?  Does one go out and ask the Human Resource Department of one’s agency, and thereby put to the winds which carry gossip about the Agency and allow the gods of the underworld to disseminate the implication that “X is filing for disability retirement”?  Do you dare test the oft-told adage in the Federal Government that “confidentiality begins with the Human Resource Office of one’s agency — and likewise, ends there”?

Or, perhaps “preparation” is merely of the ad hoc sort — of downloading the various forms (SF 3107, Application for Immediate Retirement, and SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, at a minimum) and beginning to fill them out, and somehow sifting through the multiple instructions and packaging a Federal Disability Retirement application?

Preparation for the initiation of any worthwhile endeavor should, at a minimum, involve seeking some advice from an “expert”, and in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately filed with and decided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law should be a minimal step in such an important and consequential process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire