OPM Medical Retirement: The Process of Decision-making

Have you ever wondered how decisions are made?  What is the process, and who determines whether or not the methodology engaged is the “right” one or the “wrong” one?  What data is analyzed?  How is the evaluative input assessed, and to what extent does “missing” information impact the process?

On a spectrum of decision-making, there is on the lower side of an imaginary graph the “process” of choosing a flavor of ice cream.  Most would agree that it is based upon a purely subjective, appetitive basis, where the foundation of the process of decision-making (if you can even call it that on such a rudimentary level) is based upon one’s taste for a particular flavor, and whether or not one has a present desire for the intended food.

Can other factors come into play?  Of course – for example, say you just read an informative article that all flavors in category X contain a carcinogenic compound, however slight in volume, that over time may cause harm, whereas all other flavors (“Category Y”) are exempted and are considered “safe”.

Now, how much of that data enters into the decision-making process of choosing the ice cream flavor?  For, in order for such information to enter into the equation, one must first engage in the prior decision-making process upon the article itself – i.e., is it factual or does it contain unfounded opinions?  How “scientific” is the evidence?  Does the author have a conflict of interest – i.e., is he being paid for writing the article, and by whom?  Perhaps the author works for the industry that produces all Flavors Y and wants to advance a competitive edge over all Flavors X by harming or destroying, or placing seeds of doubt into the minds of customers who might consider those other flavors?

Placing weight and credibility upon the article itself must first involve a process of decision-making; then, even after such a judgment on the information received, how much of it will impact upon the decision-making process of choosing a flavor of ice cream?  One might conclude, for example, that the article on carcinogenic ingredients is pure bosh and disregard it – but even in that instance, if you chose the category of Flavors Y, can you ever be sure that you discarded it completely, or perhaps in your subconscious mind you attached your allegiance out of fear and caution?  How will you ever know?

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 process of decision-making in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application can be a complex and complicated one.

One’s future is involved; one’s investment in a career; the health concerns, the deteriorating capacity to continue in one’s chosen line of work, and the increasing difficulty of hiding the medical condition – all, and so much more, must be considered before initiating the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

With all of this in mind, of the jumble of information and the complexity of the process itself, the best and first step is to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, in order to gain a balanced perspective, receive all of the necessary information, and to begin to gather the foundational data necessary in order to ultimately make the “right” decision in the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Gatherings

What is it about human beings that compel and necessitate it?  Unlike the wandering Cheetah or the lone wolf, human gatherings have been the imprint of psycho-social requirements since the dawn of day.  The tribal gatherings around the campfire; the Thanksgiving feast that celebrates survival and the new season; the corporate board, the large-scale concerts and the network of social media; and then, of course, that which is all but forgotten, and yet always yearned for: the private gathering of “just the family”.

Somehow, we lie to ourselves and soothe our own egos, suppress the truth by – again, “gathering” – the number of “friends”, “likes”, etc., and it has now become a quantitative game as opposed to a qualitative reality that determines how “happy” one is.  In modernity, we have lost the whole purpose and underlying foundation for what gatherings are meant to be – of the interchange between neighbor and neighbor, the opportunity to listen to elders and the basis for which a society survives.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, does the Agency, the immediate supervisor or fellow coworkers even “know” about the medical condition, or even show any concern or care?

Each day, we “gather” together for a common purpose – for work, for the Agency’s “mission” and the “work-for-paycheck” agreement between employer and employee.  And, yes, there is a distinction to be made between a “social gathering” and a gathering intended for purposes of work and productivity.  Yet, there is something inherently amiss when one’s humanity is lost in the process of this thing called “employment gathering” – where no one seems to care about the next person, and when once the clock ticks to the closing hour, everyone departs to their own private gatherings, whatever that may be and wherever it may end up.  Of course, to invite a coworker to a home meal may constitute some form of harassment, and any gatherings to “pray” for another – regardless of what religion or denomination of belief it may originate from – is automatically excluded because of the offensive connotations of such an act; and so we are left with going home, each of us, and gather from a distance through the technology of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email.

And yet, the Federal or Postal employee who has all along suffered from a medical condition, suffers still, and the only option left is to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, just because the “gathering” at work didn’t care enough to try and find a suitable accommodation for that Federal or Postal employee.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The worthwhile life

Is that what we are all striving for?  Is the myth that never occurs the one that urges us on?  There are multiple idioms and pithy sayings by which “wisdom” is extracted and thought to be a solid foundation for acting and reacting in certain ways.  “No one ever says at the end of one’s life, ‘I spent too much time with my kid’”.  “Live for tomorrow and you will regret a month of Sundays”.  “Time spent at work is time away from family.”

Yes, yes, all of that is true, but one must still make a living, be productive, “make something of one’s self”.  That last saying – of essentially having one’s 15-minute moment of fame (that was Andy Warhol’s generation, wasn’t it?  Today, it has been shortened by microchips and technological speeds into the milliseconds, so it is no longer applicable) – is what people do, work for, strive to attain and act without shame to achieve; and if so, does that make it all “the worthwhile life”?

What ever happened to those who made it on to some morning show or other, who were interviewed for some act of insanity, some bold moment of fame that captured someone’s imagination somewhere in some unknown sector of a now-forgotten universe?

Recently, there was a “lower-tiered” author who died, who shall remain nameless to maintain a sense of decorum for the dead; and a certain number of books of this now-dead author was obtained, which had been signed and inscribed.  Now, the inscriptions were clearly to her children, and were written with a fondness and private display of affection.  The question that is naturally posed, however, is as follows: Why were the books, inscribed by a “somewhat known” author to the author’s children with such love shown, sold to a used bookstore?  How did they end up there?

From a reader’s perspective, the author may have been deemed a person with a “worthwhile life” – for, to be published, to be well-enough-known, and to produce books that were enjoyed and read; these would, in the eyes of the world, be considered “making a mark upon the world” and deemed to have had a “successful” life.  And, yet – the sad fact of the sale of a book, inscribed to the author’s children, sold for a pittance; it harkens back the pithy saying, in whatever form, that “no one ever said on his deathbed, ‘I didn’t work too much’, but there are more than a few who have said with a last gasp, ‘I didn’t spend enough time with my kid’”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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, that is the point, isn’t it – that to “hold on to” one’s job despite the increasingly debilitating medical condition because one considers the Federal or Postal job to define one’s identity as a “worthwhile” person, is mere folly in the scheme of life’s gifts.

Health, and maintaining one’s health, should be fame enough in pursuance of a Federal Disability Retirement case.  Let the others in posterity of hope determine whether the worthwhile life has been lived, and by whom, but more importantly, for whom.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Working to preclude

Aren’t most of us perennially, incessantly, constantly and by chronic despair in that “emergency mode” of operating through life?

We are working to preclude: Some imagined disaster; some trouble just around the corner; some depth of a hole we cannot dig ourselves out of; and some problem that we are thinking about that is developing that we are not yet aware of.  Few of us actually work with a positive attitude to build; fewer still with a confidence that tomorrow will bring some answers; and rarely, of that person who does not work to preclude.  Caution is the mainstay of a troubled past that left a child anxious, uncertain, self-conscious and entirely lacking of self-confidence.

That is why that wide arc of “self-esteem” training that began to spread about in the classrooms and throughout communities took hold – in the false belief if we just kept saying to a child, “You are worthy” or poured accolades and trophies just for showing up, that somehow we would counteract the deep imprints left upon the cuts and scars that were perpetrated by homes of divorce, emotional devastation and incompetent parents.

Working to preclude is often a form of sickness; it is the constant scrambling to try and play prevent defense, and how often have we seen an NFL game where the team that scores first and many times ends up losing because they spent the rest of the game working to preclude?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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 constant effort in working to preclude the Federal Agency from putting you on a Performance Improvement Plan (acronym “PIP”), issuing a letter of warning, or proposing a removal based upon excessive absenteeism, being on LWOP for too long, or for poor performance, leaves a hollow feeling of an uphill battle that can never ultimately be won.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a step away from working to preclude – it is, instead, a positive first step towards securing a future that is otherwise as uncertain as one’s efforts in working to preclude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Preponderance of the Evidence

It is the legal standard by which civil (non-criminal) adjudications are based upon, and whether or not it can be rationally demarcated as against other standards – i.e., “Clear and convincing evidence” or “Proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is a question for legal theorists and the schools rendered under the general aegis of, “The Philosophy of Law” – is a valid question in and of itself.

For, we can dress prettily and puff up the definition of what it all means, and bifurcate and explain how the three standards are distinct and differentiated by the increasing severity of the criteria to be applied, but in the end, the juror who goes back into the room to consider the guilt or innocence, the fault or apportioned negligence, is entirely subjective.

For, is there a clear demarcation as to what “reasonable” is?  Can one delineate what is “clear” to one and “convincing” to another?  If a witness has perfect recall and a persuasive manner of telling a “story”, if one juror blurts out, “Oh, but his eye twitched and he was clearly lying through his teeth!” – what then?  And the concept that one side has a “preponderance of the evidence”, or to put it in different but equally confusing terms like “more likely than not” or “the greater weight of truth” – what do all of these analogies and metaphors mean, in the end?

Surely, there are the “easy” cases – an entire football stadium who saw a man shoot another, and the assailant who confesses to the murder; these, we can say are “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but even then, a single juror who has a beef against societal constrains can “nullify” a verdict by holding out.  So, what is the answer (or, for some who are still confused, “what is the question”)?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are entering the legal arena of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the expectation, of course, is that the OPM Medical Retirement application will be approved at the first or second stages of the process – i.e., at the Initial Stage of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM, or at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process after an initial denial.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee must – and should – consider the Third Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, which involves an Administrative Judge before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  That is when the legal standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence” will ultimately become relevant and operative, and where the evidence gathered and the amalgamation of arguments proffered becomes a basis for testing the validity of legal standards and the meaningful application of the law, evidence, and statutory interpretations.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The Echo Chamber

In media, it is the homogenizing effect of drowning out all non-conforming ideas, such that truth becomes the repetition of a lie, or at least the dominant perspective envisioned via a safe environment of simplicity.  To be different is to challenge, and any disruption or potential pause to the status quo means a necessary change to present circumstances.  That is why bureaucracies tend to resist alteration, like the chameleon which stands before a world changing at a pace of warp speed, ensconced in its evolutionary rigidity, unable to adapt but for its genetic code of survivability.

Medical conditions often represent such a threat to the status quo; it is something “different” to deal with, and when asked in terms of “accommodating” an individual with a medical condition, it may mean that others are called upon to alter the staid old ways of doing things.  Further, it is a reminder of one’s mortality and vulnerability, as a walking exclamation point that “but for the grace of…”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must contend with such a dualism of reminders, the resistance is palpable, sometimes hidden, often open in hostility and uncaring.  Does filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee who is injured or suffers from a medical condition, seem like “giving up” and “giving in”?  Is there a further point to be made by the Federal or Postal worker who continues to hang on and stay in, “fighting the good fight”, but now more towards internal acrimony as opposed to the “common enemy” of those outsiders who oppose the mission of the agency?

Once, when life was carefree, and we were caught in the womb of warmth where ignorance was bliss and the worries of our youth amounted merely to whether our moms would tuck us in at night, the shattering of reality and of “grown-up” things suddenly came to the fore, and then we stood, alone, facing that uncertain future which our forefathers whispered about, and to which we giggled and strained to hear.

But for the Federal and Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, beware of the echo chamber of life’s misgivings, as it may drown out the only voice of reason which calls for filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits and “moving on” with life, leaving behind the rest and residue of causes long forgotten and left unopened, like a gift without a child, and a teardrop absent knowing eyes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Avoidance and Delay

Human beings have an uncanny capacity for avoidance.  In the greater genus of the universe we identify as the “Animal Kingdom”, where survival of the fittest determines the genetic viability of the evolutionary scales of neutral justice, avoidance means potential death, and delay constitutes a certainty for an untimely demise.  For, as thought and reflection is the pause between an event and a necessary response, so avoidance and delay is that interlude between necessity and regret.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties as a Federal Employee or a U.S. Postal Worker, the avoidance of the inevitable, and the delay for the obvious, often becomes an intransigent approach to life’s misgivings.

The act of 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, is thought of as a step of finality — an admission to one’s self that the battle has been lost, the war’s outcome has been determined, and the cards dealt must now be played, with nothing left to trade in or replace.  That is the “short view”, as colored by the perspective of avoidance and delay.  The “long view” is that there is actually life after Federal Service, and potentiality for growth beyond the U.S. Postal Service.

We become entrenched in the habits of our own making, and while filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM may seem like a step of finality, it is actually just a step in a different direction, where one can open up new avenues for a second vocation, while at the same time securing a financial future for stability and further growth.

Avoidance and delay — they are the price one may pay for the limitations imposed by our own lack of imagination, but the greater canvas of life opens up the power and creativity hidden within the deep recesses of a childhood potentiality we once held on to, but somehow let go in this journey we call “life”, which often puts us down and tramples upon the flights of a child’s wide-eyed vision of the greater universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire