OPM Disability Reirement under FERS: Dylan Revisited

The British have the Beatles; America has Dylan.  Martin Scorsese’s ongoing documentaries covering the life of Bob Dylan (“No Direction Home” and “Rolling Thunder Revue”) reveals the obvious differences as well as depicting interesting tidbits of entertainment value, for those even remotely interested.

Dylan is the quintessential American — of the lone troubadour; the composite of a self-made star from multiple personalities, including Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters; and despite playing off and on with “The Band”, forever the loner — remote, distant and undefinable.

Bands come and go — The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc., and when they disband and disburse, some individually go on to similar heights of fame; but of Dylan, he has always stood apart with his soulful voice, his trance-like story-telling, and the enchanting universe of words conveyed on the airlift of music that brings one into a lyrical fantasyland.

In the end, Robert Allen Zimmerman remade himself from the outskirts of a rural town into the spotlight of musical genius over a span of a time when cultural revolutions were shaking the very foundations of a country at war.  We all yearn to be like him — if not for the fame, then for the uniqueness that becomes apparent when you listen to his voice: Not quite on beat and never able to be defined.

Whoever “Zimmerman” was, we will never know; for what we know is the folklore surrounding even the whispered utterance of “Dylan” — a name and word which provokes images, stories and memories that have cluttered the shadows of a legend like the barnacles encrusted on the underside of a drifting boat.

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 tragedy of the medical condition can be likened to the duality found in Dylan Revisited — that the person who is beset with the medical condition is not the same person who once forged ahead with a promising career with the Federal Government or the U.S. Postal Service.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law; for, in the end, the Dylan of today is not the Zimmerman of his past, just as the Federal or postal employee who suffers from a medical condition is not the same person as before the medical condition, and the whole point of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is to get back to a place where we can define ourselves within the uniqueness of who we are and were.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Tomorrow and the day after

Tomorrow is for delay; to procrastinate, the day after.  Isn’t that the adage that recognizes what is truly going on — of saying, “Oh, I will get to that tomorrow”, but when asked about a project you dread (perhaps the unfinished novel that has sat in the bottom desk drawer for the past year; the basement that needs cleaning; the shed where all unused items and discarded castaways need “straightening up”, etc.), it is always to be accomplished “the day after tomorrow”.

Why is it that tomorrow may yet come and become realized, but the day after that somehow never arrives?  Is a single day delayed beyond the thought of tomorrow somehow too far from the reality of today such that it never arrives beside the closeness of tomorrow?

Saturday brings the smile of Sunday yet to be enjoyed, and leaves Monday too far to worry about, just as Sunday brings the anxiety of Monday because Monday is merely tomorrow and not the day after that.

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 delay in postponing the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often understandable because it is, indeed, a “major step” into the unknown beyond, where careers must change, life enters a period of upheaval and the future holds a modicum of uncertainty.

But while delay until tomorrow may be reasonable, don’t let the “Day after Tomorrow” catch you into a trap where tomorrow never comes except in a rush where tomorrow’s exigency suddenly becomes an emergency too far delayed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is something no one thought about for tomorrow; but tomorrow quickly becomes today, and for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the today that was once tomorrow’s comfort of delay will not change the reality of what must be done the day after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The performance fallacy

The disproportionality that occurs between reality and make-believe is nowhere more apparent than in the Federal sector involving performance reviews prepared for Federal employees across all agencies and departments: of being “fully successful” and having those “outstanding” appraisals year after year, and yet….  You don’t feel that such appraisals, despite the blush that it may evoke, reflects the reality of what you have been doing.

The body that warms a position, despite its declining productivity, is the one the Supervisor or Manager does not want to lose; for, to retain a known quantity is better than to lose one and gain an unknown one.

Then, of course, there is the reality of the Federal employee who experiences a deteriorating medical condition, and has come to a critical juncture and decision-making point of what is often referred to as a “Gestalt” moment, or that “Aha!” experience, where one comes upon the realization that one is not immortal; and despite being brought up on Star Wars, the “Force” and other fantasies that human frailty can be overcome by sheer will of the mind — that, disregarding all of that childhood nonsense, we are growing old and beset with medical conditions that remind us that we are no longer the spry chickens just hatched from the warmth of a hayloft beyond the red barn’s rooster call.

Then, there is the “performance fallacy” — somehow, no matter how terribly we feel; no matter the amount of recent sick leave taken, or LWOP requested, the appraisals continue to exceed our level of productivity.

Considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under FERS?  You have the medical condition and, more importantly, the medical support to move forward.

Then, you pause because of the “performance fallacy” — the question being:  How can OPM approve a Federal Disability Retirement application if the performance appraisals continue to reflect the “outstanding” columns of productivity?  The short answer:  That is why the foundation of a case must be built upon a strongly-worded medical narrative, which implicitly rebuts and preemptively answers all such concerns, and that is where consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law can be crucial to the successful outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Admitting defeat

It is probably the single most difficult thing to do in life, and its inability reflects upon the abysmal state of education, both higher and lower.  The manner in which education is perpetuated – where “right answers” receive accolades and admitting of defeat merely alters the pecking order of who is admired and who are relegated to the detritus of human society – merely reinforces the greater loss of empathy, the destruction of civility and the coarsening of society.

Facebook, too, merely perpetuates the focus upon destroying an opponent and quieting any voices that may provide a quiet revolution, as alternate voices are silenced into submission by mere meanness of bombardment and repetition.  Some would applaud this all-too Darwinian approach as merely reinforcing the innate nature of “survival of the fittest” – for, admitting defeat is tantamount to revealing weakness, and the weak are mere fodder for the strong and stronger.

Whether in argumentation of discourse or fighting battles, wars – real or virtual – or verbal encounters characterized as harmless skirmishes on the Internet, it matters not anymore the manner in which one prevails, only that one does reach the apex of any endeavor, profession or undertaking.

Once upon a time, there were some rules of engagement – of a civil discourse where debates were conducted in quiet tones and respectful venues, and where humility called for admission of recognizing the greater argument which results in establishing the goal for the greater good.  Now, it matters not the means; for the end justifies the means and if you can shout down the opponent, lie about the facts and cheat around the strategy, it is the winner who is looked up to and the victor who walks away with the spoils.

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 positional duties, it may be that the best way to avoid admitting defeat is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, but somehow one’s priorities have become skewered in this obsessive-world where admitting a medical condition is tantamount to admitting defeat, as opposed to merely recognizing the limits of human endurance and the frailty of the human condition.

Fortunately, the rules governing Federal Disability Retirement benefits allow for the Federal or Postal employee receiving Federal Disability Retirement benefits to go out into the private sector, or even into the state or local government, and work at another job or vocation and make up to 80% of what one’s Federal Government or Postal job currently pays, and thus, to that extent, obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is not considered admitting defeat, but merely a change of venue in the pathways of life’s complexities throughout.

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 Employment: The narrative we write

Each of us carries a narrative within; the David Copperfield segment of our otherwise unrevealed lives.  It is who we are; the past that enlivens or diminishes; the memories of yesteryear or just a fortnight ago; and it resides continually until that day of atonement or the diminishment though dementia of fated unkindness.  What we say; how it is written; how it is related through the handed-down oral traditions of storytelling and bemused tales of a Dickensian happy endings (excepting Little Nell and other debatable few unnamed); and how it is told, in what manner, with what punctuations and unctuous phraseology applied; these matter, especially when others are listening.

Perhaps, in modernity, the oral traditions of storytelling have disappeared, like graveyards unvisited because of loss of faith.  Once, family members were buried on the plot of land in the pasture behind; now, that plot is another suburban home, easily fungible and sold if profits justify enough.  Lineage is irrelevant, except to search one’s genealogy in order to establish the bloodlines unique to resist disease and incest; and as children listen not to the storyteller at dinnertime, but to rap singers on iPods and Smartphones, and digitized voices in virtual fields of games and electronic media; even they get their sense of who the “I” is, by songs uttered with vitriol and You-Tube clips streaming for self-aggrandizement.

We lament that which we have no control over, yet do nothing to exert but a trifle of influence.  The standard adage should remind us:  “Garbage in, garbage out”; and, yet, who among us steadfastly maintains the duties of the vanguard who must imperviously maintain a standard of who is invited and what is kept out?  Or, does “popularity” rule, and the old edict by a shoe company trying to dominate the cutthroat world of sales and profitability, “Just do it” – is that the philosophy we follow?  Or, how about, “If it feels right (or good), then…”

The narrative we write is the storyline that follows, and the byline that stamps its approval at the bottom of the tale acknowledges who we are, what we believe in and where we intend to go.  What would your response be if a child suddenly came upon you and asked, “Who are you?”  Would the narrative that bespeaks include struggles encountered, battles engaged and promises kept?  Or would the story be a confused delineation of a skeletal clutter, barely recognizable as a unique reflection of the angels we fly with?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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 narrative we write, especially on the Standard Form 3112A, is perhaps the penultimate component of the essence of the effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  How it is written; what information it should contain; the relevant period of discourse; the proper delineation in answer to the queries; these must all be taken into account before submitting it to OPM.  And, just as the response to the query by the curious child should give one pause, greater reflection before submitting an SF 3112A to OPM should be taken, lest the narrative we write reflects that which we no longer want to own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Time, Memories and Forgetting the Never-ending Cycle

It is well that human beings have short attention spans and memories, lest the magnification of residual retentive powers should lead one to act.  Despite daily repetition of pain, frustration and humiliation or turmoil, we are ready to repeat the process, and let our memories fade into oblivion.

Perhaps it is merely another one of the genetically-engineered traits for survivability within the evolutionary context of epochs of adaptation; or, a more proverbial mis-attribution to P.T. Barnum that there is a “sucker born every minute”.  Whether the former (which merely describes a state of “how” we act) or the latter (which explains the “why” of behavior), the determination for self-immolation gladly volunteered on a daily basis, also reveals the strength of the human essence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who daily suffer through the physical pain of a medical disability, or the cognitive dissonance of psychiatric conditions (which is also a form of pain, interpreted through depression, anxiety, uncontrollable panic attacks and other symptoms of psychological ideations), the daily encounter with one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can be a repetitive process of harassment, self-destructive engagements, and periodic spans of suffering.

Time is the void of space experienced throughout any given day; memories, the shutting aside of one’s experiential chaos; and the need to forget the cycle of turmoil reflects the necessary next step in order to separate one’s self from the repetition of progressive destruction.

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, is a means to break the tripartite cycle of daily turmoil, pain and suffering, by allowing for the Federal and Postal employee to reach a circumstance where rehabilitation of one’s deteriorating health becomes the pinnacle of concern, unlike the lack of empathy and impassive looks of unsympathetic coldness shown by the agency, the U.S.Postal Service, managers, supervisors, and H.R. Personnel.

Time is what precisely the Federal and Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for the full working of all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, needs and requires; memories are those which one cherishes for the sake of longevity; and forgetting the never-ending cycle of progressive deterioration can only be stopped by taking affirmative steps to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire