OPM Disability Retirement: Meaningful turns

How many turns do we make on any given day?  Not just actual ones, like those turns while driving a car, but figurative ones, as well.  If a person approaches you and asks, “Did you make the right turn?” — what is the response?  Is there a “right” answer?  Is there a relationship in the English language between the terms “right”, “left” and the physical attributes we possess?

If a person tells of another, “He’s way out in left field,” is that because we attribute the term “left” with residues of the negative?  And, how did the terms “left” and “right”, when referred to in politics, come to have a meaning of equivalency?  Was the fact that right-hand dominance was historically preferred to left-handedness, to the extent that teachers once used to punish those students who naturally attempted to utilize their left hands in handwriting, drawing, etc., account for the linguistic dominance and preference given to the term “right” as opposed to “left”.

Do we understand the concept with greater presumption when a person says, “He made a left turn and got lost,” even if the person actually made a right turn and found himself in an unfamiliar neighborhood?  And what of “meaningful” turns – are there such things, as opposed to spurious and meaningless ones?  How often we confuse and conflate language with figurative speech and objective facts; and then we wonder why most people wander through life with confusion, puzzlement and an inability to cope.

Russell and the entire contingent of British linguistic philosophers, of course, attempted to relegate all of the problems of philosophy to a confusion with language – and, of course, only the British, with their history of Shakespeare and the sophistication of language, its proper usage and correctness of applicability could possess the arrogance of making such an argument.

But back to “meaningful turns” – in one sense, in the “real world”, every turn is meaningful to the extent that we turn and proceed towards a destination of intended resolve.  But in the figurative sense, it refers to the steps we take in mapping out consequential decisions.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal worker’s position and duties, the “meaningful turn” that one must consider should by necessity ask many questions:  How long can I continue in this job?  What are the consequences of my staying, both to my health as well as from the Agency’s perspective?  How long before my agency realizes that I am not capable of doing all of the essential elements of my job?  Will my excessive use of SL, AL or LWOP become a problem with the agency?  And what about my health?

These are just a series of beginning questions on the long road towards making one of the meaningful turns that confront the Federal or Postal employee in the quest for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Urban decay and the relevance of rye

There is a reason why phoniness cannot survive or endure for long on a farm, as opposed to the urban decay of mass population centers; the animals won’t stand for it, and there is no one to be pretentious for, when hard work, sweat and toil replaces the incessant striving for acceptance, consumption and coercive condescensions.  It is not an accident that Caulfield spends his time in the decay of urban life, amongst people who display a duality of faces and concealed motives, while all the time dreaming of an imaginary existence in a field of rye, catching all of the children who may run astray in the innocence of their blinded youth.

It is because the pastoral settings of American lore have always had a fascination of timeless yearning; as only a few generations ago saw the destruction of most of human existence, before the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, the desertion from rural countryside and mass migration from bank foreclosures and independence wrought and molded from self-sufficient living, so the age of modernity witnesses what the aggregation and amalgam of mass population intersection does to the soul of the individual.

Like the composite alloy which fails to fuse, the dental fillings crumble with time and decay by sheer inability to blend; the only means of survival is to pretend that all is well, that the ivory towers built, the emperor’s clothes which fail to fit, and the harmful toxicity which destroys — they all work, except behind closed doors in cubbyholes of private thoughts when the night no longer conceals and the truth of ugliness pushes to the forefront.

On a farm, or in the fields of rye where the crops must thrive and children may run in the innocence of their unpretentious exuberance, only the silent stares of barnyard animals look for judgment of purpose, and as pretending never gets the work done, so the need to put on a face of concealment does nothing but waste time and needless effort.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who witnesses the daily bifurcation between truth and reality, sincerity and concealed hostility, it is the openness of a medical condition which often breaks down the barriers of pretentiousness.  Suddenly, you become the target of meanness unspoken, of harassment barely veiled, and small-mindedness partially concealed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, looked upon this way, is really no big deal when contrasted to what has occurred just before the act of filing; for, the sores which erupted and the boils that ruptured, were already seething beneath a mere veneer of civility, and the actual submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application is to bring out the obvious.

Whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the act of filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application —  first through one’s Human Resource Office of one’s own agency if the Federal or Postal employee is not separated from Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service, or even if separated, for not more than 31 days; otherwise, if separated for 31 days or more, but less than 1 year, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — is to merely unveil the phoniness of niceties and civility engendered, but now to openly see whether the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will remain true to its promise of non-discriminatory treatment of a Federal or Postal employee with an identified medical disability.

And like the job of the catcher in the rye who stands guard for those wayward children innocently running through the fields, oblivious of the lurking dangers just beyond in the urban decay of unconstrained emptiness, it is the lawyer who admonishes with the laws to enforce, which often prevents the weakness of the nets that fail to catch that heavy tumble over the cliff of a bureaucratic abyss.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life’s Repertoire

It is one thing to have a stock of memorized pieces or performances from which one can reach back and employ, like an inventory of dusty artifacts which can be brought out for display upon request; quite another, however, to reveal it, dust off the residue, begin to showcase it, then be interrupted and, without missing a beat, to ad lib above and beyond the prepared piece.  The tape recorder (does anyone even remember what that contraption is or was, in this digital age?), the CD, the digital device; once set, it can only be altered by enforced remixing.

The human being, however, can adapt and respond according to the vicissitudes of changing and demanding circumstances.  The best jazz musicians are the ones who can go with the flow, and change from the vast spectrum of rising keys and notes in the flash of a feeling; as the blare of the trumpet, the sax or the flugelhorn rhythmically calls upon the beat of the drummer.  It is, in the end, the repertoire which we carry, from which we can wander; without the inventory left in reserve, we would have nothing to start with.  In life, we rely upon that repertoire to carry us forward each day.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who becomes beset with a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to interrupt one’s stock of daily routines, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes an important part of that inventory.  Yes, it is an inventory of change, a repertoire of alterations; and some ad libbing must be engaged; but much of life’s repertoire has been unusable, anyway, and the forced alterations may stretch one’s limitations, but rarely break.  Procrastination, avoidance, neglect and suppression of the inevitable — they are never the stock and trade of the best of jazz musicians.

Rare is the Federal or Postal employee who is also an accomplished jazz musician; but in the privacy of one’s home, the Federal or Postal employee who is forced to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM because of an interruption from a medical condition, is one who must ultimately toot his own horn, in his own time, and in his own unique way, whether forced or not, and to reach back from the vast repertoire of life in facing the challenges in confronting a medical condition both unexpected and unwanted, but there anyway, as another obstacle to overcome in this thing we call a journey of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire