Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Whispers of a former self

It is when the hushed voices pause as you pass by the proverbial water cooler where gossip is abandoned and conversations suddenly and abruptly cease; then, when distance is the safety net like the arc of flight envisioned by species in the wild, those coworkers nod, shake their heads and disperse like so many rats around a decaying carcass on the roadside until the oncoming truck rumbles close enough to sound an alarm.

There are whispers that echo and reverberate, and it is only when the sounds bounce back from the caves of despair does it finally dawn upon the soul it effects:  Those whispers are of a former self who, as a Federal or Postal employee, blazed new trails, always came early and left late, and never shirked responsibility in promoting the efficiency of the Federal Service.

The skeleton of that former self remains; and now, but for the whispers that howl like the winter winds across plains of abandoned and forsaken times, those voices begin to sound like the din of unlikely foes. What ever happened to that person who once lead the charge of the cavalry forward in each and every fight?

Health deteriorates, and over time, age and health become the combined enemy of youthful vigor that sprouted in innocence of antiquity in former times now gone.

When those whispers of a former self begin to speak, it may be time to begin to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, lest the whispers of a former self remain to be subjected to further humiliation, like an unceremonious termination without applause or fanfare.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Responsibility

What is it about the ascription of such a word, that there can be a direct correlation or, if taken in a different context, some mere connection but no causality?  We can say of a person, “He is responsible for X”, and yet never have directly encountered X or (if a person) never even have met X.

Thus of monsters and thugs throughout history, for instance, we might say that “Stalin was responsible for 20 million deaths, at least,” or that Mao was “responsible” for a 100 million peasants dying during the late 50s; or, of course, of ascribing to Hitler the countless millions; and, so that we don’t leave out other “responsible” monsters of history, of Pol Pot, Idi Amin and many others besides, though we cannot link a causality that would pass Hume’s skeptical test of anything more than events following one upon another, we nevertheless accept that all such political figures were “responsible” for the deaths of millions.

What is the criteria in coming to such a conclusion?  Is it a negative proposition — that if X had the power or position to prevent such events from occurring, then Responsibility-Y can be ascribed?  Or must it be a positive declaration: If X engaged in Acts A, B and C, then Responsibility-Y can be attributable to Individual-W; and further, if only Acts A & B, but not C, then less so; and if only Act A, but not B & C, even less so?

Responsibility”, of course, is a malleable and transitive concept; it can change with the contextual winds of opinion, historical perspective and a cultural shift of viewpoints.  Look at how we approach our Founding Fathers — of responsibility for the slave issue in the United States, but somehow excusing each if (A) any one of them willed that they would be freed upon their deaths, (B) that one was “personally” against the issue but for economic, practical reasons were “forced” to go along or (C) they treated them “kindly” and “responsibly” (here, we have a double-meaning of the term, for such an individual was both “responsible” as well as being ascribed the “responsibility” of being a slave owner).

Or, look at the manner in which America treated Native Americans — of a genocidal history no less cruel than Mao’s starvation of the peasantry; and yet, because of such grand concepts as “manifest destiny” and the depiction of an entire populace as “uncivilized”, we can avert “responsibility” by distancing the causal agents; and the greater distance between the agents, the less we ascribe responsibility.

On a lesser scale, what about work?  If work suffers and there is no reason for it but laziness and lack of attention, we ascribe “responsibility”.  But what if a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — is that Federal or Postal employee “responsible”?

The short answer is a “no” — and that is recognized by “the Law”, in statutes, regulations and case-laws cumulatively aggregated under the conceptual aegis of “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  It is precisely because society recognizes that a medical condition itself — and not the individual — is directly responsible for one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, that Federal disability retirement exists as a benefit to pursue.

But it cannot be accessed until and unless there is an affirmative step taken by the Federal or Postal employee, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  That is where “responsibility” comes into play as a direct causal link — of initiating the steps and actually filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Wisdom’s hold on life

We never quite “get it”.  Trans-generational imputing of wisdom is not part of modern society.  In more “traditional” societies, multi-generational families live together out of practical reasons:  Not only is it less expensive if the earnings are pooled into a single resource of means, but until marriage or an offer of economic leverage pulls a member away from the core, imparting of wisdom, experience and voices of learned care may be passed down from generation to generation.  In the West, instead, the rush is to depart and fracture; to get away as quickly as possible; for, as youth is the cult of modernity, so folly of youth is the means by which we live.

That was the point of alternative interactions, as well – of apprenticeships, internships and other similar ships moored to more experienced hands; but even those are now relics of an age no longer relevant.  And of age – old men with decades of experience in handling matters of great complexity, shuttled away into homes smelling of antiseptic camouflaging of decay and devoid of respect or gratitude; women who once gained a stature of serene contentment, now deluged in a cauldron of impoverishment and relegated to the insignificance of lost memories.  Where is wisdom’s hold upon life?

There is, in the end, no means for generational transfer of wisdom, and the wheel must be reinvented at every turn, by an ignorant and inexperienced first generation where “first” is always reenacted and “generation” is merely something to submit to have a family tree drawn in order to boast of one’s genetic predisposition towards folly and foolishness.  Yet, we have come to believe that wisdom can be equated to information, and so we hand out Smartphones so that we can mindlessly look up data, soft news and questionable sources where references cannot be verified, plagiarism may be rampant, and esoteric knowledge has been forever generalized to a point of neutrality of purpose.

Where do we get wisdom?  From advice columns, gurus of booksellers hinting of “secret” formulas and self-serving wanna-bees of Dear Abby.  Once, wisdom’s hold on life resulted in an evolution of greater growth, as generational transfer allowed for each within the greater whole to advance beyond the elementary foundations of first principles.  Now, we are solitary, isolated and disconnected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, wisdom’s latent hold on life should not make one pause, but rather, as the dissemination of knowledge, information and guidance can be accessed through an experienced lawyer who has faced OPM many times, life need not be anticipated, but advanced beyond the folly of youth where wisdom’s hold on life is but a moment devoid of influence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Messy lives

In those Eisenhower years with residual trails into the following decade, we had those perfect television paradigms – of “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father knows best” and “My Three Sons”, while the world around began its transformational process.

Hollywood decided much later that they needed to be at the forefront, leading social change and forcing cultural avant-garde transitions even if merely experimental and questionable for any positive good.  That decision is in stark contrast to the turmoil of the 1960s and 70s, where the staid and stodgy traditionalism of television series barely reflected the reality of the deconstructionism occurring in real time.

Somehow, those old sitcoms provided a paradigm of perfect lives and traditionalism that secured hope for the rest of us; for, the reality is that, like Dutch’s childhood and the rest of us, we grew up with messy lives, and paid the price for the rest of time to try and correct it and match it as against the paradigms of a reality that never was.

Medieval theological arguments always include the notion that, we would never have an idea of perfection unless there was some entity in the objective world that matched such a concept.  It is merely an extension of Plato’s argument for Forms, where the particulars in the physical world are mere imperfections striving to compare to the ultimate conceptual constructs of inviolable Forms.

That is often the problem with comparisons and arguments by extension; they make of our lives unsatisfying, precisely because we can never meet the expectations of others, let alone those we construct in our own minds.  That is why medical conditions can be so insidious; we possess and carry around with us those Platonic Forms of perfection, and when the reality of a medical condition prevents us from completing the career, the project, the lives we believe we were meant to live, the dispossessing trauma of realizing that we fell short results in a despondency because we set up paradigms of expectations that never were.

The question often left unanswered is:  What are the values involved?  What do we believe in?  What constitutes reality, as opposed to a fantasy based upon unrealistic expectations?  Isn’t “health” the priority of life?

If so, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers when a medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing the essential elements of one’s position, is the next logical step based in a reality-basis of an imperfect life.

Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the fact that medical conditions further add to messy lives is no matter; we all have messy lives, and whatever fantasies we held on to when we enjoyed those old favorites, ignoring the problem never solved anything, and perfection should always be left to Platonic Forms in the dialogues of angels whispering among the heavenly orbs that remain hidden in the esoteric pages of those theological arguments long shelved in the monasteries of libraries long forgotten in the dusty bins of rotting books.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire