FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The Art of the Story

There is the subject itself, and then there is the art of the subject thus identified.  At some point in every civilization, the academic study of a subject becomes pedantically necessary, and a “cottage” industry developed.

Once upon a time, the “story” was an important and inseparable component of a culture; the storyteller was the keeper of the village’s identity, the protector of its essence where mythology and folklore provided meaning, relevance and its self-knowledge of who one was, where one came from, and what the whole purpose of existence meant.  Without The Story, people wandered off despondent, lost, and without a teleological force to hold the unit of peoples together within a coherent whole.

Then, writing came along and as the technological tools of the craft disseminated to other and wider cultural arenas, the shared ideas and adventures of each culture became better known, and assimilated by each over and within others.  The “Art” of the story became the study of it — of what constituted an effective story; what made people laugh, cry, and the erudite articles that explained that which was once obvious and self-evident.  Categorization and specialization soon follows; whether as it becomes more sophisticated or intellectually advanced as a reflection of it, or merely because complexity follows upon a self-satisfaction of what we deem as “progress”, who will ever know?

The “Art” of the story somehow came into being — of the study of a once human need began around a campfire where a village told of its origins, now relegated to the halls of academic “science” where dissection, analysis and discussions ensue.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a “story” about a medical condition that is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Art of the Story becomes a necessary form of application, because SF 3112A —Applicant’s Statement of Disability — requires not only the telling of one’s story about the medical condition, the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform one’s job duties, and how it has dominated all aspects of one’s professional and personal life, but beyond: it must comply with and meet the legal eligibility criteria by a preponderance of the evidence, thus forcing the Federal and Postal employee to go beyond the story itself, and to be fully aware that the Art of the Story has more to do with the proper and effective presentation of it, than the story itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: The Bully and the Beast

Yes, yes, the title is all wrong; but that “other one” is for fairytales and childhood memories, and not for the ugly reality that is faced by grownups with the cynical perspective that, by age 30, has come to overwhelm and dominate.

“C’mon”, the refrain comes back, “let’s at least enjoy the childhood fantasies that still delight and enrapture the imagination, and quit being a spoil-sport!”  Yet, just as the idealistic twenty-something becomes a crotchety-old fifty-something, so the reality of the Beauty and the Beast — of the traditional story told in so many variations involving the beast that is of beauty beneath; of the nature of appearances as opposed to the substantive reality; of pithy sayings by parents who want to spare the feelings of their unattractive children that beauty is “only skin deep”; of higher academia where such childish notions then get transformed into “Platonic Forms” or the Aristotelian “substratum” — is the cold world that we all come to know.

Somewhere in one’s mid-thirties, the conclusion is reached that, No, the world is not reflected in the fairytale as recalled, but rather, the universe is occupied by the Bully and the Beast, and we are too often caught and trapped in the middle between the two.

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 — the “Bully” is too often represented by the Federal Agency or the Postal Service and its manner of treating a sick employee; and the “Beast” is the alternative — of the constant harassment; the reprimands; the adverse actions threatened or proposed; and perhaps even represented as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the entire administrative nightmare known as “Federal Disability Retirement”.

For, once upon a time we were all children and dreamed about fairytales and fantasies; but somewhere along the way as we “grew up”, we came to realize that the world was not occupied by gnomes, goblins and cute hobbits scurrying about in the wild forests of our own imaginations, but by the ugly reality that the world is populated by people who are not very nice, and that sickness does sometimes hit the nicest of us, and oftentimes filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the best choice to make between the Bully and the Beast because the Beauty and the Beast had faded long ago into the warmth of childhood memories forever faded.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: ‘To’ and ‘For’

What would be the difference if, in the title of Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop”, she had instead chosen to use the word “to” in replacement of “for”?  Would empires have fallen, world wars have been averted or earthquakes and other natural disasters have been delayed?

Likely, not; but would the countless minds that have encountered the novel, enjoyed its beautiful prose and admired its humanity and warmth in the telling of a tale of a time long past and a period now gone — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a difference with a distinction: “Death Comes for the Archbishop” as opposed to “Death Comes to the Archbishop”?

Some might dismissively declare, “In any event, the Archbishop died, didn’t he?”  The subtlety of distinction — should it even be brought up?  Would that the title was of the latter instead of the former — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a grammatical point of difference; is one “more” correct than the other?

Certainly, the “sense” that is employed exists — where, the “to” has a much more objective and distant, impersonal “feel” to it, whereas the “for” personalizes it, gives it warmth, almost as if “death” is a person as opposed to an event, and the “for” makes it a personal possessive as opposed to the “to” that connotes an arms-length relationship between the object and subject.

Are the prepositions interchangeable?  If a person is stricken with grief over a tragedy and a close friend arrives to provide comfort and says, “I came for you”, it would be a statement that would be considered heart-warming.  If, under the same circumstances, the person instead declared, “I came to you” — would we, again, mark the difference or even notice?  It is, certainly, a statement of objective fact — the person objectively traveled and arrived at destination Point B from origination Point A.

Again, the subtle distinction — the “for” connotes a greater personal warmth as opposed to a simple statement of fact.  It is, in the end, the subtle differences that sometimes makes the entirety of a distinction that makes the difference.

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, the distinction between “to” and “for” is often the difference between living a life worthwhile and one that remains cold and impervious.

Human beings are often careless in their personal relationships; and the test of such caring or uncaring attitudes will often surface when a person is going through a trial or tragedy, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the complex and impersonal administrative process of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will often test the workplace relationships because of the self-interested motives that exist with agencies and the Postal Service.

Some coworkers, supervisors and others will distance themselves immediately, and they will remain in the category of the “to” people; while other coworkers, managers, supervisors, etc., will surprisingly be there “for” you.  Willa Cather chose the preposition “for” over the “to” because she was an excellent author, and it is the excellence of a human being that is revealed in the subtle differences we often overlook.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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 Medical Retirement: Living “As If”

We all engage in it; it is a pastime, of sorts, which is enjoyed by the multitude, and reveals the imaginative capacity of the human animal, but with lingering questions concerning the evolutionary viability and purpose as to the utility of the need.

James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” (the full title of the short story, which first appeared in The New Yorker in 1939, is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) relished the inherent escapism provided by the contrasting chasm between the monotony and oppressive reality of daily living in comparison to the far reaches of one’s imagination, thereby revealing the unconstrained heights of the human mind.

Living as if the reality of the objective world is not as it is, can be both enjoyable and healthy.  In this technological age of unfettered virtual reality, of computer-generated imagery melding the borders between that which constitutes reality and fantasy; and where little room is left to the imagination; perhaps the death of the world of imagination is about to occur.  Is that a good thing?

The problem with living “as if” has always been the other side of the two-edged knife:  the value of the first edge was always the creativity and imagination which revealed the powers of the human mind; but too much escapism, and one entered the world of self-delusion and consequential harm resulting from inattentive avoidance generated by reality’s harshness.

Some things just cannot be put aside for long.  Medical conditions tend to fall into that category, precisely because they require greater attendance to life, not less.  And that, too, is the anomaly of daily living:  when calamity hits, the world requires more, just when it is the reality of human compassion and empathy which is needed.

In the world of fantasy, those values of virtue which makes unique the human animal become exaggerated.  We enter into a world filled with excessive warmth, humanity, empathy and saving grace; when, in reality, those are the very characteristics which become exponentially magnified during times of crisis.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties in the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, the idea that the workplace may reveal support and accommodation for one’s medical condition is usually quickly and expeditiously quashed.

Federal and Postal workers who have given their unaccounted-for time, energy, and lives throughout the years, and who suddenly find that they cannot perform at the level and optimum capacity as days of yore, find that reality and fantasy collide to create a stark reality of disappointment.  When such a state of affairs becomes a conscious reality, consideration should always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is an employment benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and must ultimately be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (if one is still with the agency or on the rolls of the U.S. Postal Service, then the application for Federal Medical Retirement must first be filed through one’s Human Resource Office; or, if separated but less than 31 days since the date of separation, also through one’s own agency; but if separated for more than 31 days, then directly with OPM, but within 1 year of separation from Federal Service).

In the end, of course, the wandering imagination of the human mind only reveals an innate calling and need to escape.  Whether that call into the far recesses of fantasy reveals a defect of human capacity, or a scent of the heavenly within the brutish world of stark reality, is something which we should perhaps never question.  For, even on the darkest of days, when clouds of foreboding nightmares gather to portend of difficult days ahead, it is that slight smile upon the face of a person daydreaming amidst the halls of daily reality, that sometimes makes life livable and serene despite the calamitous howls of ravenous wolves snarling in the distant harkening of time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire