Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Our place in the world

One morning, we wake up and go into the backyard or, perhaps if one is living in an apartment, simply observe some trees or a little oasis of nature — a park; a clump of bushes situated in a grove of lawns coalescing; or just a singular mulberry tree that has grappled upon a cracked corner of the concrete jungle where some soil has erupted, surviving in the middle of a desert of the city’s impervious view; and a bird sits and sings.

We don’t think about the bird:  Does it know where its place is in the world?  Did it struggle as a young bird-ling to find its place, to “fit in”, to be “unique” and thus “special”?  No — it is just us humans who engage in that sort of thinking — of the awkward youth who tries to find his or her place in the universe; of going through those difficult years finding one’s place, one’s niche, and one’s solace in the troubled waters of one’s soul.

Are those merely foolish thoughts of a young person — do we all eventually grow out of it and return to the level of cynicism and conclude that it’s all bosh, and there is no such thing as one’s “place” in this cold and impersonal universe?  It is a safe haven, is it not, to remain as one’s father and forefather’s placement offered, and not have to think about one’s place independently and separately?

To that extent, birds and others who merely survive based upon instinct and thoughtless intuitiveness possess a survival advantage over those who must search and become affirmed:  There is no need to find one’s place, for that has already been pre-determined from generations ago.  Then, in later life, what does one do when one has lost one’s identity?  If you never searched for it to begin with, will it feel as a “loss” if you lose something you never attained in your own right in the first place?

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 position, part of the fear, angst and anxiety in initiating and proceeding with the process of Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the loss of our place in the world.  For, that career that you worked so hard to sustain — whether in an administrative field, a technical niche or as an expert in this or that elite vocation — may have to either come to an end, or become modified to accommodate your medical conditions.

Your “place in the world” may become upended, and that is often a fear that must be confronted.  But like the hummingbird that seeks the nectar of life’s offerings, if health is not the first priority that makes it all worthwhile, then you’ve likely mistaken which priorities need to be first in line, lest you mistakenly think that your Federal Agency or the Postal Service will help you in the never-ending quest for one’s place in the world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: In the end…

What is it about a phrase that predictably tells us about the mood, content or direction of the mindset?  If a person begins with, “Well, it all began when…” — we will often stifle a yawn, try to make excuses and begin heading for the exits.  Self-aggrandizing, prefatory remarks that set the stage for a narrative delineation that includes private details of individual lives often bore the pants off of most people, and yet many will “tell all”, as if such intimate details trigger a prurient interest within each of us.

Then, of course, there is the opposite, as in: “In the end…”.  What fills in the ellipses?  In the end…the world will all go to the trash bin of history’s footnotes; In the end…we all die, anyway?  Such opening phrases and closing remarks leave out the vast chasm of filling in “the middle”, of course.  How does a story begin, tell the narrative in an interesting manner in “the middle” and end with a bang?  That is the problem, isn’t it?  Most of us don’t have a clue as to how to tell an interesting tale.

And what about non-fiction — of a historical narrative or of a biography?  What makes for an interesting “telling” of it — of what details of a person’s life; what incidents should be included?  What peripheral, tangential details will make for an interesting and engaging read?  Is a biography incomplete if the author leaves out certain details, or does it matter?  What “events” are presumed and should therefore be excluded, and can it really be said that certain excluded moments are considered to be excluded at all?

For example, it is presumed that a person goes to the bathroom a few times a day, at least — but what if, during the narrative of a biography or a historical period, such activities are never mentioned?  Can we call up the author and demand to know why such historical “facts” were excluded from the biography of, say, an important figure?

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, it may be necessary to begin to formulate 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.

As part of that “administrative process”, it is necessary to complete SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

In preparing the narrative story of one’s medical condition, it is important to convey the essential “story” — a historical account; a prefatory introduction; a “middle”; and an “In the end…”.

What details to include; the choice of words; whether in the first-person or 3rd-person narrative; of what legal arguments to include; whether to “exclude” certain details without being charged with “falsifying” a claim, etc. — these are all important considerations in the proper, complete and sufficient preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, and it is vitally important to do it “the right way” when preparing SF 3112A — the core and essence of the Federal Disability Retirement application — which, in the end, is the story of your tale that needs to be told.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The gathering clouds

We don’t have people saying such pithy or inane things, anymore, and the death of the metaphor is the fault of Google.  And, of course, the Weather Channel and the Smart Phone apps that give us the updated information concerning that which we can see for ourselves.

Who ever talks that way, anymore?  “The dark clouds are gathering” – a metaphor for trouble brewing, problems arising or bad people getting together to engage in no good deeds.  To which everyone whips out their Smart Phones and checks the most updated forecast, using the Weather Channel app that everyone has already downloaded onto their phones, and in unison respond: “No it’s not; today is only partly sunny, then tomorrow there is a 20% chance of rain and the temperature is…”  “No, no, no…that is not what I meant by saying that the dark clouds are gathering.  What I mean is…” And you are met with blank stares by the horde of millennials who speak a foreign language, fail to understand the generation before the Internet or Smart Phones, and don’t even own a landline.  What, is that even possible?

Time was once upon a millennium, when farmers felt the bones ache from the gathering storm; that one could sniff the winds of changed directions; and noting the behavior of rabbits, birds and the mutterings of crows in the bushes, the gathering clouds would be discerned as patterns of nature’s calling.  Technology has its place and uses, but in the end, it dulls the instincts that have survived and helped human beings to last for want of realization of a civilization lost in the silent graveyards of forgotten memories.

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 the Federal or Postal job duties, the “gathering clouds” is often hinted by the behavior of coworkers, supervisors, and other agency officials; of the tone and tenor of attitudes abounding; and though the adverse action or initiation of a PIP may appear to come as a surprise, you knew it was coming long before, just as you knew that you needed to start the process of the filing a Federal Disability Retirement application long before the time made it into an urgency, or even an emergency.

The gather clouds, no matter how much we may try to stamp out the underlying instinct felt, is still the same the world around; we just have a better way of suppressing it than in countries less technologically sophisticated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The tentative step

This is a tough and dangerous world.  No longer a Hobbesian State of Nature nor of War, the Social Contract as envisioned by Locke or Rousseau provides some nominal protection, and thus do we identify ourselves as “civilized” entities in yet a dystopian universe where a greater majority of the rest of the world acts with unconcerned insanity by engaging in senseless wars of mass killings and genocidal encounters.  In such a world, we thoughtlessly bring newborns who must contend with an uncertain future, fraught with challenges unasked for and conflicts yet to be encountered.

Those tentative first steps of a toddler – how we watch with awe and observe with wonderment.  Why is that?  Why is the transition from ambulating as most other mammals do on four legs, to engaging an awkwardly wobble as a bipedal hominid, of such significance?  Is it because it marks the steps of initiation into the club of “civilized” society – that to stand upright and walk with our two feet, as opposed to the addition of the other two appendages, signifies the next stage of growth and maturity?  Yet, that tentative step reveals all, doesn’t it?

It marks the magnification of uncertainty for the future; it reveals the imperfection of the human animal; and it manifests the symbol of insecurity by deliverance of a vulnerable entity thrown into a pit of vipers and hyenas.  We do this to ourselves, and to the ones we say we love.  And as the toddler grows up, through further steps of initiations into a cruel world, how that tentative step cements and molds itself into a characterization of so much of life’s violent encounters.  Whether remembered or not, those nascent steps of uncertainty carry along with us like Pilgrim’s burdensome backpack, weighing upon us at different and varying stages of our lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition reenacts those tentative steps taken as a toddler, one becomes reminded that we came into this world uninvited, presented without a guide as to how to go about living life, and suddenly find yourself with a challenge:  No longer able to perform all of the essential elements of your job, your choices are to stay and endure the pain; leave, resign and walk away without anything you worked so hard to attain; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

And, like the toddler taking those first tentative steps, this is a new endeavor, a next phase, but probably without those doting parents cheering you on.  As a result, you may need to consult a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, if only to steady those two feet as you jump forward into an uncertain future by submitting a Federal Disability Retirement application to the OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Quiet Subtlety of Excellence

Failure blares like a discordant trumpet in a confined space with no exit; success flows like the quiet stream on the other side of the mountain, barely noticed.  In law, it is the appeal, and the written order issued therefrom, which receives the attention of the daily press.  Yet, if one pauses to consider:  The reason for the appeal, is the lack of success at the trial court level.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find themselves the target of workplace hostility because of a medical condition which now prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of their job, it is often a surprise that they have become a focal point of interest.  The quietude enjoyed for so many years, in relative anonymity, is actually a reflection of one’s outstanding performance throughout the years.  It is because of the threat of departure — of the “failure” to continue to support the agency, or to provide ongoing efficient contribution to the U.S. Postal Service — that results in the sudden and unwanted attention.

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who cannot perform all of the essential elements of one’s job anymore, is an option which must be considered precisely because of the limited alternatives offered or provided by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  Health should always be the primary concern; maintenance of one’s health, the focal point of endeavor.

And just as importantly, to maintain that quiet subtlety of excellence in the next important step of one’s life — to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

All these many years, the Federal or Postal worker has dedicated him or herself to the excellence of combining career, family and personal relationships; when the time comes to attend to one’s own medical difficulties, it is important to maintain and continue that standard-setting record of accomplishments, by ensuring that one’s Federal OPM Disability Retirement claim reflects what has always been known all along, but has only received the murmurings of a muffled fanfare — that quiet subtlety of excellence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Fundamentalist

It often evokes a negative connotation, of a rigidness and adherence to principles which refuses to concede allowances for exceptions lest the singularity of excusable violation permeate and tarnish the very paradigm of inflexibility; and in a religious context, it represents a historical movement of a “going back” or rediscovery of basic principles of faith.

But being considered a fundamentalist in a secular sense does not necessarily result in a negative implication; strict concurrence with a standard of excellence and an unwavering fealty to ensuring that basic principles are followed, can be a positive thing. Of course, that is not how the term is usually applied, and so we shy away from such labels of convenient certitude.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is considering 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, it is important to be a “kind of” fundamentalist — of an adherence to certain foundational principles in approaching the formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application. For, in the end, pursuance of excellence can be a “kind of” fundamentalism, and insistence upon doing something “the right way” is an element of that most basic of approaches and paradigm of beliefs.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM should be viewed as a systematic, methodological endeavor which always encapsulates three basic principles (thus, as in theological circles, the trinity of fundamentalism):  Medical reports and records manifesting an impacting medical condition; a Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A; Legal argumentation of a persuasive and logically powerful delineation.

These are the three foundations which comprise an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  And if your neighbor shouts at you for being a fundamentalist in adhering to the basic principles of disability retirement faith, point out the beam in his eye, and merely wash out the mote in yours.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire