OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The intransigent excuse

Much of life is spent in retrospectively justifying actions; the remainder of the time, of making excuses where we can, and when we need to (which is often).  The great thing about excuses is that the reserve of them can never be depleted; like the never-exhaustive stars in the universe, we can always discover, make up, or otherwise concoct another.  Thus, to counter that a person has “run out of excuses” is to defy reality; we can always, if the need requires, go back to one that we long ago abandoned, and stick to it.

It is that intransigent excuse that tends to defy – the one that, though unreasonable by most accounts, nevertheless provides a shield of protection for the one who clings to it.  For, the one who tightly embraces an intransigent excuse never, of course, considers it as such; it is, instead, the fault that rests upon the rest of the world in a conspiracy of illogical motives that attempts to change course and offer alternatives as to facts, opinions or best avenues for future courses of action.

As to the one clinging to such excuses, it is never characterized as such.  No, instead it is an explanation in light of reasonable circumstances; a logical conclusion based upon facts as interpreted; and, even if the rest of the universe fails to comprehend the logic of the stated foundation, the intransigent excuse is the last bastion of the proverbial wall that may force us to do, acknowledge and admit to that which we vehemently resist.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are in need of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the primary concern is to get beyond an intransigent excuse.  While there are very few circumstances in which filing for Federal Disability Retirement is “too late” (other than the obvious one, of course, of complying with the Statue of Limitations of filing within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key is to file before it becomes an emergency.

As OPM has a large backlog of cases and they are taking longer and longer to review, evaluate and make decisions on a case – leaving aside the problem of even first having them to assign a case to a reviewer/ administrative specialist – there must needs be some forward planning and foresight of future-oriented perspectives, and it is often the intransigent excuse which defies, builds a wall against, and creates seemingly insurmountable obstacles in moving forward.

Life is full of obstacles, and the ones we build ourselves are often the most difficult to overcome.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a big decision to make; thought, preparation and formulation of a plan is often necessary.  Just do not allow for the intransigent excuse to be the wall that prevents the reasonable approach to prevail.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The sweater draped over a chair

You look in the room and see the sweater draped over a chair.  You turn your gaze elsewhere, engage the ongoing conversations and the din of others distracted.  Later, you turn back your gaze again, and the sweater is gone.  You look about to try and see whether someone picked it back up, is wearing it, or perhaps put it somewhere else.

You imply and infer – yes, one must follow the general grammatical rule that the speaker implies while the listener infers; but you are both the speaker and the listener, the one who observes and the same one who steps outside of the conscious universe to observe the observed.  You imply that someone put the sweater over the chair, and that same person (or someone else) took it at a later time – all during a period when your eyes were diverted elsewhere.

You assume that the world continues to operate even outside of the purview of your deliberate and conscious observation, as we all do.  You infer the same; of a world otherwise not within the limited perspective of observation, either by visual or audio awareness.  Yet, where is the evidence of such inference or implication; and that is, of course, what Bishop Berkeley’s restrictive definition of “existence” and Being was meant to encapsulate in perfect form:  Not that there are no mountains on the far side of the moon when we cannot observe them, but that we limit the definition of Being such that peripheral philosophical conundrums created by language’s difficulty with implied Being and inferred Existence can be avoided.

Perhaps we dreamt the draping of the sweater over the chair, or had a fit of phantasm and imaginative discourse that went astray.  In any event, you never saw the person either drape the sweater over the chair, nor dispossess the chair of its warmth and concealment.  Instead, you infer and imply – ignoring the grammatical rules previously mentioned.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the relevance here concerns writing up an effective narrative of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s position, and the legal argumentation to make in order to persuade OPM:  to what extent should facts and other statements be directly delineated, as opposed to leaving certain matters presumed or otherwise to be inferred or implied?

OPM is a bureaucracy, and with all such administrative entities, is made up of varying levels of competence and acuity of observation.  For the most part, in writing up the narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the general rule should be to make that which is implicit, as explicit as possible, and never to leave the room where a sweater is draped such that disappearance of the garment may leave a mystery otherwise unable to be solved except by implication and inference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire