Federal Disability Retirement Application: Lost…

One’s age can be revealed as to whether, in the privacy of one’s thoughts, the ellipses is replaced with — “Lost in Space”, or even The Swiss Family Robinson.  The former is a television series that ran between 1965 and 1968; the latter, a novel by Johann David Wyss published in 1812 that few of us read anymore.  Another television series recalled from the dustbin of history’s classics; another novel and writer no longer read, remembered or studied.

They are stories about lost colonies, lost people, lost souls — lost individuals.  The fact that they are “lost” is a phenomena that society finds interesting enough to retell the story about which we would never know, except that they were somehow “found” and were able to convey their experiences.

As a child, one remembers the self-contradiction of that very issue: the young, fertile mind queried (and never could get a satisfactory answer from anyone ):  How come, if they are really lost, we’re able to watch them on television, or read about them?  If they were found, then they aren’t lost, anymore, are they, and if so, why is it interesting or even relevant?  Or, is it just of historical interest that we enjoy hearing about the experiences during the time of “being lost”?

The world today, of course, is different from the yesteryears of a bygone era; the world is all “connected”, such that there are no places in the world where we haven’t seen National Geographic photographs depicting of untraveled areas where the “lost peoples” of the universe reside and continue to survive.  The Amazonian forests are being depleted through mindless mining and destruction; the Himalayan monks who once medicated in silence wear jeans and sandals while selling trinkets to wandering tourists; and the polar bears that once roamed the northern glaciers wander beneath the pipelines that stretch amidst the wilds once dominated by the wolves that sniffed with suspicion.

Today, we live amidst civilization’s constant drum of progress and technological connectivity; instead of being lost in the wilds of a universe still undiscovered, we remain lost amidst the communities in which we live.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition must by necessity lead one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, there is a sense of “loss” and “being lost” in at least 2 ways: The “loss” of a career once held promising; and of being “lost” in the complex, administrative process in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  In either sense of being lost, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law — if only to get a roadmap to help one find one’s bearings.

Being “lost” does not mean simply that one does not know where one is geographically; in fact, most people are lost even in the midst of being surrounded by the daily din of civilization; and that is why consulting with an attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is an important aspect in finding one’s way out of the morass of being lost.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: What not to say

Of course what not to say is as important as the things one says.  Such a warning is true in most contexts — social; professional; personal; familial; in either private or public settings.  We are taught that at an early age, and continue to feel its social and cultural “bite” throughout adulthood, until one has (hopefully) gained some wisdom throughout the years.

Some never learn it — perhaps because they never had to endure the consequences that naturally come about, or simply don’t care or, in the very rare instance of uniqueness, do not need to care either because of wealth, power or prestige that, like the teflon individual, no amount of social crudeness will wipe the sheen away.

“Don’t stare” is an admonition that parents make early on — another form of “what not to say”, except this one in correcting a non-verbal action.  “Don’t say things that are hurtful”, or “Don’t divulge private information to people you don’t know”, as well as the one that has to be balanced with concerns about putting too much fear into a child: “Don’t talk to strangers”.

It is, indeed, the “don’ts” in life that define the social graces within acceptable normative behaviors, and as the spoken work (or the written, as the case may be) takes up so much of human interaction, what we learn not to say, how we act and are restrained from acting, often defines the extent of a person’s maturity and learning.

It is often the negative which defines the positive — i.e., what we do not see is rarely noticed, but constrains that which is revealed (the positive) so that the unseemly and rough edges have been worn away, manifesting a smoothness that borders upon beauty.  But never underestimate the destructive force of that which is negated; for, if forgotten, it will resurface and damage.

Thus, for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always remember that — in preparing, formulating and getting ready to file a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application — it is important to keep in mind those things NOT to say or reveal; for, once you admit freely a legal basis upon which a denial becomes a certainty, it is difficult to retract that which is revealed.

So, in the end, your parents are proven right: What they told you NOT to say is precisely the rule to follow.  The problem, however, is that when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to comprehend the full import of what not to say.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The avoidance factor

When does avoidance become a problem?  Say you found out something about a close friend or neighbor — an embarrassing fact, a hidden truth or perhaps a juicy tidbit of revelations that could topple a friendship or marriage — and your self-guiding principle of being honest and forthright scares you into believing that, were you to encounter the person, you fear that either your demeanor will reveal that hidden secret, or you may be a person who cannot control your emotions and you believe that you may blurt out the secret and damage, ruin or perhaps even end the relationship altogether.

Or, maybe you avoid something simply because you dislike doing it, or fear the consequences of finding out the truth, or even disregard knowing that if you seek it and find it, the discovery itself would merely confirm the fears of life’s travails that you believe are better left alone.

What we don’t know, we can deal with; that which, once uncovered, revealed and brought out into the open, we suddenly realize is a certainty that cannot be avoided.  Is work becoming that way?  Are coworkers likewise avoiding you, and you them, with eyes averted, speaking about the weather, the last sports extravaganza, how the Orioles never seem to make the final push or whether money ruins the equality of teams, etc.?

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 the Federal or Postal job, the issue of the avoidance factor looms large.

Everyone begins to avoid the obvious — that you have a medical condition; that your medical condition impacts, impedes and prevents you from performing all of the essential elements of your job; that, perhaps, even your own doctor has already hinted at the truth of your medical condition — that you should likely seek a change of career; that the ceiling of sympathy has been reached, already, and your agency has begun to grumble about termination proceedings; and many other indicators, besides, that showing what everyone is avoiding is actually just a confirmation of the elements needed to prove a Federal Disability Retirement case; it’s just that everyone has been avoiding the obvious.

For, in the end, the proof of a Federal Disability Retirement case is likely already in existence in the very avoidance factor that you and everyone else has been tiptoeing around, and it is precisely the avoidance factor that makes of certainty the issue itself: Now is the time, and not tomorrow; today is the first step that needs to be taken, and not some obscure time down the road, and the avoidance factor that leaves everyone in the dark is like the hidden secret that everyone knows about but believes that he or she is the only one with the truth that, actually, everyone already knew.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing 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, the sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Fairytales, mythologies and lies

They all constitute the arena of “make-believe”.  Yet, we excuse the first, ignore the second, and feel guilt and shame for embracing the third – or, at least some of us, do.  Of fairytales, we share in the delight of passing on such tall tales of wonderlands and Eskimo nights full of shooting stars and talking Polar Bears; of mythologies, we recognize the need for lost civilizations to have embraced a means of explaining, but consider such trifles to be beyond the sophistication of modernity, and arrogantly dismiss such dusty irrelevancies as mere fodder for a fairytale told:  Once upon a time, Man lived in ignorance and could not comprehend the complexities of science, Darwinism and the unseen world of genetic engineering by happenstance of gravitational alliances in planetary designs of explainable phenomena; but we know better, now.  But of lies, the second is more akin; the first is excusable as an exception to the rule, especially when the innocence of childhood smiles warms the hearts of parental yearnings.

Rage, effrontery, a sense of betrayal, and a violation of integrity’s core; these become bundled up and spat out into the cauldron of people’s tolerance for acceptable behavior, and from an early age, we instill in children the parallel universes encompassing Fairytales, Mythologies and Lies without an inkling of self-contradiction.  And, again, of the middle one, we tolerate as mere poppycock by arrogance of modernity, in order to explain how our forefathers could tolerate that which we reflect in the first but not the third.  And of the third, we contend that we can abandon and banish the foundation of a Commandment, while preserving the moral explication justifying the mandate of Truthfulness, and so we embrace the linguistic gymnasts provided by forgotten giants of Philosophy’s past, like Kant’s maxims of universalization of principles otherwise untethered by metaphysical concerns, or even of John Stuart Mill’s failed Utilitarianism.

Then, we allow for exceptions – such as those hypotheticals where the black boots of horror’s past that knock on doors in the middle of the night and inquire as to hidden racial divides in the attic of one’s abode, but where lies and denials are justified in the greater cause of a choice between words and existence in the face of reality, Being and human cruelty.  For the person who must live daily within the consequences of what elitists and ivory-towered cocoons revive, the truth is that there never was a problem for most of us, between fairytales, mythologies and lies.  The first was for children to enjoy and learn from the lessons of innocence; the second, for adults to study in order to understand the origins of our being; and of the third, we recognize as the soul’s defect in Man.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the identification between the tripartite elements become quickly clear:  Fairytales are the promises made by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Mythologies are the rules broken by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service, but which are pointed to so as to create an impression of integrity; and lies are those statements made and exposed, but denied daily by the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service.  In the end, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is one way of extricating one’s self from such fairytales, mythologies, and lies daily told.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The frog and the twig

Upon first encounter, the two appear not to have any correspondence or connection, leaving aside any explanatory significance to the issues of Federal Disability Retirement benefits for Federal employees or U.S. Postal workers.  Yet, it is always of interest to show how the “relatedness” of seemingly disparate concerns intermingle and intersect with each other.  The fact is, whether in a direct and non-subtle manner, or in some transcendent metaphorical context, Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset who find themselves at a point in their careers where filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes a necessity, constitutes a reflective representation of much of life’s challenges.

Loss of hope for the future; struggling with day-to-day work and family issues; contending with a medical condition; caring for one’s career and workforce, yet, being forced to make a decision contrary to the linear perspective of what is “supposed” to happen – of work, career, retirement and mandatory shuttling into a nursing home, then a tombstone with some etching of memorialized compassion.  The latter two (nursing home and tombstone) are stated in somewhat of a cynical humor, but the others comprise the core of real life in real time.

Of the frog, we know that experimentation reveals the effectiveness of methodical, incremental insidiousness where, placed in a pot of tepid water, it will sit unknowingly until the boiling point is reached, and it becomes too late to jump out.  Life has a tendency to do that to us – we wait and wait, and suddenly it becomes an emergency.

Fortunately for Federal and Postal employees who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, it is rare that the emergency situation is so dire as to undermine the capacity and ability to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, but nevertheless, one should always be wary of the metaphorical significance of the frog.  It is one of those “life-lessons” which should be considered.  Of the twig, it is perhaps a little less obvious as both metaphor and analogy.

Once a part of a greater organic whole, it splintered off and fell into the rushing waters of the river below, and drifts aimlessly down, coursing around jutting rocks and undisturbed banks of clay.  Slowly, incrementally, and just as insidiously as the frog in the pot of water, the underside of the decaying twig begins to soak in the waters which allow it to remain afloat, until sometime later, the absorbing principle reaches a point where weight of intake exceeds the capacity to remain buoyant.

That is where the connection appears, between twig and life; where unforeseen burdens weigh down the individual until one day, unknowingly, like the frog and the boiling point of unobserved conditions, nature suddenly overtakes and dominates. And so, from the time when the twig separated from the greater overhang of a vibrant life, the vicissitudes of a raging stream which carried forth the rudderless twig, pushing it to and fro and about without direction, sinks to the bottom of a silt-filled bed, until it, too, decays and becomes again part of a greater circularity of life’s regeneration.

It is with these two in mind that the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker needs to approach a 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: both the frog and the twig represent a potential condition which we believe we are too smart for, but of which we find ourselves too often quite closely related to.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Attorney: Playgrounds and the Collective Institution of Fair Play

We learn it early on; the unstated rules, the lines which may not be crossed, and to be weary of those whose reputation precedes them for the blatant disregard of both.  How they are learned; what they are; whether explicitly stated or impliedly conveyed; few, if any, have a memory where the Head Mistress of the Universe of Playgrounds sat us all down and said, “Now young ladies and gentlemen, here are the 10 rules of fair play.”  Regardless, we all somehow came to recognized and apply them.

Wittgenstein provides some valuable insight into the way we learn the language games involved in game-playing; much of it is through sheer doing, an ad hoc manner of practical reasoning and applied rationality.  And then, of course, we become adults (yes, at least most of us do; some, left behind on the playgrounds of life, remain as infantile cherubim, clueless and naive to the cynical ways of the world); and it always seems as if the same ones who violated the rules of the playground are the ones who flaunt the normative constraints of the greater universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are formulating a strategy for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one falls under the general aegis of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often must be confronted as to the Supervisor, Manager, or even a fellow coworker who is pining for a confrontation and direct disregard of the collective institutional enforcement of what everyone else knows as “fair play”.

This, despite the fact that there are multiple Federal laws governing treatment of individuals with known medical disabilities.  But the Federal “system” of retaining workers with medical conditions and disabilities, and the perfunctory requirement of accommodations and the search to provide adequate accommodations, undermines any compelling force to restrain the playground bully.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits, filed either through one’s own agency if one is still on the rolls of the agency; or if separated, but less than 31 days since the official date of separation, in either case must be filed through the Human Resource Department of one’s own agency, or through H.R. Shared Services for Postal Workers (located in Greensboro, North Carolina); or, if separated for more than 31 days, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

In the end, things rarely change much, if at all.  Those collective institutional enforcement mechanisms learned on the playground — tattling to the playground monitor or to one’s teacher; talking to one’s parents, etc. — end up with a snicker and a sneer.

Yes, society has become well aware of bullies and mean people, but they have been around longer than the oldest profession in the world, and the collective institution of fair play and the playgrounds upon which they played out, will continue to witness backstabbing and surreptitious violations, transferred universally to the places where adults play, and where the most vulnerable in need of the greatest protection, still must do things the old fashioned way:  reliance on sheer luck, or to seek the best legal advice possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire