OPM Disability Retirement: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

The linguistic/philosophical conundrum, to begin with, is the question: Can a person lie to one’s self?  Conceptually, it is an interesting phenomenon; for, the same person to whom one is lying to is identical to the one who is conveying the falsehood, and so — assuming that individual X does not suffer from some psychological state of a “split personality” or has a disengagement between one side of the brain with the other — is it even conceivable that a “lie” could be told if the person to whom it is told cannot possibly be duped into believing it?  For, isn’t the purpose of lying to someone to persuade that someone of its truth?

But if the falsehood is known from the outset, then what would be the purpose of lying to that person in the first place?  Of course, there could be a more subtle form of the phenomenon — sort of like the “world’s best-kept secret — known by everyone” type of experience where, although X knows that it is a lie, X feels comfortable in living the lie and thus continues on “as if”.

Take the following hypothetical: X’s kids are spoiled brats.  Everywhere they go — to restaurants, friend’s house, Grandma’s home — they fuss and whine and throw tantrums.  But instead of trying to correct the problem you say to yourself (and everyone else affirms it): Oh, they are just such brilliant kids that their rambunctiousness is merely a testament to their inner creativity — or some such similarly meaningless fodder as that.  Or, what about a health issue which is becoming progressively debilitating?  Don’t we lie to ourselves about that?  Oh, it’ll go away.  It’ll get better.  Today, I feel better, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition continues to progressively worsen, and has impacted one’s ability to continue in one’s career — it may be time to stop lying to yourself, and to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, while the lies we tell ourselves may not always be harmful, it is often the one that we secretly know to be a falsehood that comes back to haunt us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Presumptuous Act

What would we say about a person who, having bought a lottery ticket, goes out and spends lavishly, quits his job and becomes indebted far beyond his means — all prior to the day when the “winning numbers” are declared?  We would consider that he or she is: Crazy; irresponsible; or, perhaps, has some “insider knowledge” that we are not privy to.

Most acts lack a presumptuous intent; many, merely of thoughtless motivations; and rarely but some, of such egregiously bold-faced assault upon common decency that we disbelieve and attempt to substitute some rationally-based justification to explain away the presumptuousness of such an act.  Would our opinion of such a person — the one who buys a lottery ticket, then quits his or her job and proceeds to spend lavishly while abandoning all “reasonable” displays of conventional wisdom — change if additional facts were to be posited?

How about: The doctor has given him 30 days to live, and when we ask the person about the lottery ticket, the response is: “Oh, I don’t expect to win; it is just a metaphor for my life’s prognosis”.  Would such a response change our opinion; for, no longer is the person “crazy”; perhaps somewhat “irresponsible” in that the debts left behind will still have to be paid by someone; but yes, we would likely lean towards the third option in our thought processes: that the “insider knowledge” was the very private knowledge held close to his or her heart: Mortality suddenly betrays careful living, and abandonment of conventional lifestyles is a natural consequence of having nothing left to lose.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer a similar (but perhaps not quite as devastating a scenario) situation like that of the hypothetical individual noted above, the “presumptuous act” that others may deem so may not be so outlandish as one may first assume.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not quite like the example above, but often, some see it as such; for, to “give up” a well-paying job, a reliable career or a secure position in the Federal System is certainly a drastic situation; and the alternative may not allow for much of a choice: To remain and suffer, and continue to deteriorate until one’s body or emotional state has been so damaged as to suffer through life for the rest of one’s allotted time on earth; to ignore that is indeed the height of presumptuousness — of taking things for granted.

Health should be a priority, and preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not a presumptuous act; rather, its opposite is what presumes too much — that your health will continue to withstand the deteriorating condition that you have all along experienced for these many years.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Fear and trepidation

The first may lead to the second; the second, exacerbating the first, may establish a vicious cycle where fear is feeding the trepidation and the trepidation continues to exponentially increase the fear because non-action only expands the tension that grows without containment or restriction.  It is, indeed, a conundrum of paralysis; and the will to change, alter or modify necessitates action, but action cannot come before fear is vanquished and trepidation is overcome.

This is a dysfunctional society.  There is a lack of stability, and perhaps the instability is as a result of the greater freedoms and liberties enjoyed.  But where a culture and society are founded upon unfettered liberty, there must be some internal mechanism that contains the extent of choices offered and the pathways opened.

Once upon a time, ice cream flavors numbered within the fingers of a hand, or perhaps both hands; but once the Pandora’s box of alternatives was unleashed, the paralysis that follows betrays the fragile nature of a human psyche.  Fear and trepidation go hand-in-hand precisely because it is an insular, self-contained cycle of self-immolation feeding each upon the other.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers 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 his or her job, it is understandable that fear and trepidation continue to paralyze any movement away from a career that has been invested with such high costs.  The choices here, however, are limited. You can stay put; walk away and abandon; or file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  It is the last option which is normally the most viable, the most vibrant and the one to pursue because it protects and preserves the future security of one’s livelihood.

Do not let fear and trepidation paralyze and overwhelm; a consultation with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law is often the first best step in moving forward.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The title itself

Sometimes, it is good to go “back to the basics”.  Throughout these blogs for these past and many years, the attempt has been to relate common everyday experiences and life’s challenges to the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker struggling daily to maintain one’s career and to extend a career in the face of a medical condition.  Yet, the primary focus has always been to try and remain informative; to give some sense of the process of filing 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.

Sometimes, however, the title itself is sufficient, and one does not need the additional analogy, metaphor or “connectedness” to try and understand the process, and instead, all that is required is the title itself.

OPM Disability Retirement is a “medical” retirement.  It is based upon a medical condition that prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Yes, it can be a very, very complicating process, especially because there are potential pitfalls throughout the multiple administrative steps.  At each step of the procedural paths, there may be legal consequences that may not be correctible once the Federal Disability Retirement application has been submitted and a case number has been assigned at Boyers, Pennsylvania – i.e., a “CSA number” that begins with the number “8” and ends with a seemingly irrelevant “0” appended as the last of series of numbers.

Aside from the inherently complex questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the initial question that one must face and answer is (A) Whether, as a practical matter, Federal Disability Retirement is worth it, and (B) Whether there is a good chance to become eligible for it.

As to the first question, the factors that must be considered are: One’s age (for, at age 62, all disability annuities are recalculated based upon the total number of years of Federal Service, including the time that one is on Federal Disability Retirement, and as it now takes at least a year to get approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question needs to be asked as to how old one is, how close one is to reaching regular retirement, and whether one can last until such age of retirement and the accrual of enough service computation years of Federal employment, etc.), how many years of Federal Service, and whether the Federal agency or the Postal Service is threatening to proceed with termination or separation.  And as to the second question, issues concerning the type of medical condition, the severity, the impact upon the Federal or Postal positional duties, the extent of support, how much reliance of such support is based upon a VA disability rating, and multiple other factors.

The “title itself” is often quite simple; it is the subtexts, the parenthetical unknowns and the hidden potholes along the road to filing a Federal Disability Retirement application (here we go again with the analogies and the metaphors) that makes for a complex and complicated journey.  But, then again, hasn’t that always been the case throughout life – facing the title itself that seems simple enough, but finding out that it is a bit more difficult than first thought?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Content

What do we mean when we distinguish between “content” as opposed to “context”?  Are the two always distinguishable, and if so, are there any features or characteristics that make inseparability a potential difficulty?

We have all heard the famous phrase from King’s speech about being judged by the “content” of one’s character, as opposed to the “color” of one’s skin – a deviation of sorts from the more customary reference to the distinction made between appearance and reality, form versus substance, or even of spiritual versus material (although, as to the latter, one will often hear the metaphysical argument that it is the spiritual which is the “real” reality, and that the material is merely that fleeting, temporal existence that lasts for only a limited time).

Can the two truly be separated so cleanly as to allow for harmless independence – or, like the Siamese twins that share a vital organ, would any attempt necessarily devastate both?  For, isn’t it the very appearance of a thing that attracts and allows for an investigation further into the inner depths of the thing attracted towards?  Doesn’t context always matter when looking into the content of a thing, whether it is an incident, a conversation or a person of whom one is interested in committing to for a lifetime of relational considerations?

We often like to make such grandiose claims of bifurcating distinctions, when in fact the reality of the matter is that both are needed in order to complete the picture of the whole.

One may argue, of course, that content nevertheless is “more important” than context, or that substance by definition is of greater consequence than appearance, and by fiat of ascribed significance, one often argues that the former is necessary but perhaps not sufficient without the latter, whereas the latter is not unnecessary, but nevertheless cannot be made without unless one wants to walk about through life with a missing leg or a part of one’s soul left behind.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, always remember that – in preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for both content and context, and thus must one always be wary and cautious about the implementation of both.

SF 3112A is a trick form.  The questions seem simple enough, but what is put in there; the legal consequences of what medical conditions are included; the result of failing to include certain other conditions that may later be of greater consequence; these, and many more pitfalls, obstacles and unknown legal impact that may or may not be made aware of – well, OPM is not going to tell you beforehand, or help you out, and will indeed judge the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the content of what is included, and not by the “color” of contextually missing information.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Chekhov’s gun

It is the ultimate principle of substantive minimalism, where extraneous and peripheral elements should be eradicated unless used, essential, or otherwise central to the narrative.  Teasing merely for the sake of itself is denied; a serious venture if always pursued, and open honesty with the audience forever relied upon.  Chekhov disdained and avoided the superfluous; his short stories and other works were paradigms of linguistic economy, where words were valued and cherished, without room left for an unused element.

Compare that to modernity; of Franzen and works where volumes are spoken to merely illustrate a simple point contrary to Ockham’s razor.  The “gun”, as the metaphor of utility or otherwise, first introduced in the first chapter or Scene I of a play, must by a few chapters hence or a scene or two later, be fired, pointed or struggled over; otherwise, never introduce it in the first place.  And of the razor of rational argumentation, the lex parsimoniae of scientific observation, let not human complexity and self-delusions of grandeur in constructing untenable principles of convoluted thought-processes cloud the simplicity of nature’s design; for, in the end, it is in the simple that complexity finds its apex, and of the complex, where simpletons gather.

In the end, economy of words allows for room of thought and invitations of acceptance; it is only in the crowded gallows of condemned men where cries for space echo into the chambers of unheard cries.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in the process of preparing, formulating and 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, the principle of Chekhov’s gun, or its correlative paradigm of linguistic economy, Ockham’s razor, should always be applied:  Keep to the centrality of one’s narrative, and never allow the teasing of an unloaded gun direct the masthead of a sinking ship to tip too perilously towards the unforgiving winds of want and self-importance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Social Contract Theory

In modernity, what is the “Social Contract”, and does it still hold any meaning?  Or, is the bundle of bureaucracy, the conflict between the competitive predatoriness of capitalism left to its own devices resulting in a cronyism of wealthy interconnections, as opposed to the growing girth of Federalism with a pittance and breadcrumbs left to State governments to fill in some minor gaps — does the aggregate of such entities, comprised of regulations, statutes, laws and a compendium of languages isolated in fine print, all together reflect the vestiges of the Social Contract we once revered as the awe-inspiring product of the Age of Enlightenment?

Would Rousseau, and to a lesser extent Hobbes, and further explained in Locke’s Treatise, represent anything of value, anymore?  Or are we left to our own devices, as Darwin proposed those many decades ago on the lapping shores of the Galapagos, where survivability is determined by genetic origin, environmental refinement, and ultimately the devices used in subterfuge when societal niceties require at least a surface semblance of genteel behavior?  In the end, the concept of a “Social Contract” means little if the basic legal constructs are not adhered to.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers, such legal constructs are represented by the cumulative promises made by the bureaucracy which employs them, comprised of statutes, regulations, executive orders and corollary mandates.  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 positional duties, the idea of honoring the Social Contract becomes important, because part of that agreement is to fairly treat the Federal or Postal employee when the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able, because of a medical condition, to continue working in the same job.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is each day a test as to the continuing resolution of the viability of the Social Contract.  While not every Federal or Postal employee may be automatically eligible for the benefits to be received through Federal Disability Retirement, it is the fairness of the process which is important, and whether a proper course of administrative protocols are followed and met throughout the entirety of the bureaucratic process.

In the end, those vestiges of that grand idea originating in the minds of philosophers — the highfalutin concept of a Social Contract — are only as good as the promises made and declarations kept in the things that impact the everyday lives of ordinary people, like those dedicated public servants who toil daily in the Federal Sector and the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire