OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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, initiation and submission of an effective 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, may become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Losses

How many losses must one accumulate before being deemed a “loser”?

Was it just yesterday that Cal Ripken, Jr. won with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983, after a mere couple of years in the minors, but with that World Series ring on his finger, would then see decades of losses mount as a result of poor decisions in trading players, acquiring “has beens” and being in the unfortunate AL East where the Yankees and the Red Sox seem always to vie for the top tier of the elect?

Can a team win a World Series one year, then go on for thirty-plus years without ever winning one again, and yet be deemed “a winner”?  Or, can one always pause, give a grin, and say, “Yeah, but we were winners in 1983!”

Does one win wipe out an avalanche of losses such that the singularity of glory negates the overwhelming statistical significance of unending disappointments?  Or, what of the person who once had a promising career, but through a series of unfortunate circumstances considered by most to be no fault of his or her own, cannot quite achieve that level of promises dreamed of but never materialized?

Do we, in our own minds, create conditions which are impossible to attain, and then deem those unreachable goals as “losses” despite the artificial nature of the criteria imposed?  Do losses mount and exponentially aggregate because failure seeks after failure, and somehow the subsequent one is a natural consequence, inevitably by inherent nature, of the previous one?

Does bad luck come in bunches because of some Law of Nature, or is it just in our imagination that it seems so?  Are much of losses artificially created — i.e., we set the proverbial “goal post” in our own minds, then miss the metaphorical field goal and become despondent over the “loss” created within our own imagination within contextual circumstances fantasized that have no connection to objective reality?

For Federal and 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, that sense of “loss” can be an admixture of both objective reality and subjective, artificial creations.

The medical condition itself is an “objective” loss; but the Agency or the Postal Service’s efforts to compound the adversarial circumstances can be created in an ad hoc manner, where there are no rules or criteria to follow except upon the whim of the supervisor or the department’s reactionary intuition.  The interruption to one’s career; the constant struggle with a chronic medical condition; of being forced to deal with deteriorating health — these are all real “losses”.

On the other hand, adversarial initiations by one’s Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these, too, are “real” losses, though artificially created and unnecessary, in many instances.

Both must be dealt with when preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — but the fact that one must “deal with” so many “losses” does not, in the end, make one a loser.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The strange story of X

He was always reserved, and became even more so in the last few years.  Never one to first say hello, but always quick with a smile whenever anyone passed by his desk, those in the office kept away from him – not because he was unlikeable, or even because he himself initiated any enmity or scorn, but merely because that was the way things were.

He was a stranger among coworkers where working together brought individuals of different perspectives, outlooks, backgrounds and personalities together to form a union of common objectives. He was older than most of his fellow compatriots, but not too old to stand out as stodgy or unwelcomed. Most others simply knew him because he had been there for as long as they could remember, and some, of a time when he had not yet arrived.

The strange story of X is just that – it is not so strange, and he was just another individual whose anonymity was pronounced by the very likeness to everyone else’s story.  In this world where people work together for years and years, but where neighborliness stops at the clock that shows when office hours end and the compensation to be received will not exceed the ticking of a minute thereafter, lives are lived in close proximity, but never known.

In other universes, in different civilizations, in foreign communities and amalgamations where the human species congregate in tribes, townships and collectives of human detritus, the strange story of X is often not of that stranger described, but of the others who never took the time to invite that stranger into one’s home.  The story always continues, of course – of the sudden disappearance, of rumors abounding, then the dissipation of any notice, until time concealed and the question went away; until the strange story of X became focused upon the next person who everyone passed by as a nobody amongst a universe of somebodies thinking that the strange story of X was unique in some way.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability or capacity to complete and fulfill all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the strange story of X is often a familiar one – except that, instead of the “person” himself, it is the medical condition that everyone, or most everyone, “knows about” but never acknowledges, and treats as if it doesn’t exist.

This is a funny and strange world, where the suffering of others is barely spoken about, and anonymity is preferred over empathy expressed.

Perhaps it is time to “move on”, and to do so, preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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 a necessary first step.  For, in the end, the strange story of X is in the very estrangement of human beings from the humanity we have left behind, and fighting for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit may be the best hope of leaving such strangeness behind, where neither the workplace nor the coworkers will query much beyond a day’s absence when the clock ticks five.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Greener pastures

We all engage that game of the “other” side of things, don’t we?  Greener pastures; the pristine lawn on the other side; the “why-is-it-that” game, as in, Why is it that the ‘other guy’ has a better life than I?  Is it merely because of the age-old problem that Plato pointed out – that appearances are deceptive?

The problem is that one will never truly know the circumstances of another unless one has an “insider” perspective on the matter.  The neighborhood that you drive through that always seems like a friendly conglomerate of families laughing, having picnics together, presenting with a coherence not known in your own neighborhood; or the “perfect family” that seems to always get along and shows such support and love for one another; do these entities of inviolable perfection really exist?  Likely, not.

That is why an interview with an “insider” always turns one’s ear and contains revelations of salacious details of internal discord, concealed disharmony and bitterness untold.  Thus do the halls of the Vatican scream with priests who committed unforgivably abusive acts towards children – yet, to the “outsider” for all of those years, the men in flowing robes appeared upstanding and caring; and what about the actor and actress with the perfect marriage – how many times have they appeared since on the cover of multiple tabloids once the crack of separation and divorce occurred?  But for the publicist who wanted to control the exposure, no one would be the wiser.

Greener pastures are always attractive nuisances; they attract precisely because they do not reflect the reality of one’s own situation, and they are nuisances because we know inside that it cannot possibly be real, but the appearance of perfection is oh-so salivating by invitation of concealment.

For Federal or Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates the filing of an effective 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 greener pasture may be a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.  However, before one goes down that road, the Federal or Postal employee contemplating such a move should get an “insider” perspective on the matter, and this is done by simply getting the facts.

Obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity may not be the answer to every problem, but it can certainly resolve some of them.  The Federal Disability Retirement annuity itself will be a pay cut of sorts, but the focus upon one’s medical condition and its treatment, as opposed to continuing on in the turmoil of a hostile work environment, may be green enough to consider those “greener pastures”.

Whatever the appearance, it is obtaining the facts that is most important, and consulting with an experienced Federal Disability Retirement attorney is the first important step in getting an “insider’s viewpoint” on the matter.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The Steps to Take

Life is often overwhelming enough.  Then, when a medical condition make its initial entrance, remains for more than a fortnight and begins to impede, curtail and prevent one from doing the things one has taken for granted –  the problem becomes more than just a nuisance, but a magnification and exponential exaggeration beyond that which was a burden to begin with:  another problem adding to a host of problems.  In life, we often know what needs to be done, and sometimes even the “how” in going about solving problems.  But the capacity to prioritize and organize, to sort a jumble into a linear coherency, and to gather the necessary components into a cogent whole, is often the problem that prevents one from moving forward.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the condition (or multiple medical conditions) begin to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the normal sequence of events often take on the following incoherent pathway:  An inquiry is made with the Human Resource Department; two sets of Standard Forms are presented to the Federal or Postal employee (SF 3107 series; SF 3112 series); the Federal or Postal employee is told to read through them and “fill them out” and bring the entire sets back to the H.R. Office.  They will be there “to help”.

When such a development occurs, 2 issues immediately come to one’s attention, or should.  First, is there a sequence and methodology one should follow, that is better and more effective?  Second, if the Federal Disability Retirement application is submitted and denied at the initial stage of the process, will that same Human Resource Office or person be held accountable, and continue to “help” for the second and subsequent stages of the process?

The answer to the first question is an unequivocal “yes”; the answer to the second question is a bit more complex.  There are, indeed, many helpful H.R. offices and personnel.  The point of creating an H.R. Office is to guide, help and assist the employees of the agency or organization.  But filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a different “animal” from most other processes.  Think about it; it is not like setting up an allotment from one’s pay, or changing the number of deductions for tax purposes.  No, it is a complex administrative process that, once out of the hands of the agency’s H.R. Office, is under the direct control of a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Further, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can become a contentious issue – once a denial is issued by OPM, and even a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage, then an appeal will need to be filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board within 30 days.  Then what?  Will the Human Resource Office that was so helpful, represent you there?

Every future holds a pathway for successful maneuvering, and yes, there are sequential steps to take in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  For that, a knowledgeable lawyer who is experienced in Federal Disability Retirement law can be helpful in guiding the Federal or Postal employee onto that pathway.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Levels of Argumentation in OPM Disability Retirement

In a perfect universe, logic should prevail and the superior argument would be identified, recognized and accepted.  In a less-than-perfect universe (the state in which we unfortunately find ourselves), pragmatic factors involving power, authority, competency and non-substantive, peripheral issues must always be considered, and incorporated accordingly.  In the “unofficial rules” of argumentative methodology, three elements must be present:  (A) The ability and capacity to recognize a superior argument, (B) the willingness to concede one’s own inferiority of the proffer, and (C) acceptance of one in replacement of the other, which is to admit and submit.

In modernity, however, loudness and persistence, even without a basis in systematic logic, will often prevail, and one need not accede to a different position so long as ownership of the microphone or loudspeaker is never contested.  Which brings us to the pragmatic realities of the Federal Disability Retirement application, and the denials issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  First, it is important to recognize that all denials of Federal Disability Retirement applications by OPM “sound like” they are based upon “the law”.  They are meant to appear that way.  But are they?  If read too carefully, the internal inconsistencies, the lack of logic, and the repetitive nature of declarative conclusions without any supporting methodological argumentation will be quite evident.

How should one approach and rebut such a decision?  Does each and every point brought out by the “administrative specialist” need to be addressed, or just the “main points“?  Should the rebuttal arguments form the basis of the step-following the Reconsideration Stage of the process of attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits — the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board?  Are there any repercussions for not addressing each of the “points” delineated in a denial by OPM?

These, and many other questions, should be addressed by a Federal lawyer who is experienced in handling OPM Medical Retirement applications through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, as some Federal or Postal employees attempt to begin the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits without the aid, guidance, counsel and assistance of an OPM Disability attorney, when a denial of the Initial Stage is received from OPM, more extensive analysis and “corrective” efforts may be required.

And those three elements of argumentative methodologies discussed herein, are they relevant to the process?  Perhaps.  But OPM is a powerful and large bureaucracy which holds the future security of Federal and Postal employees in their hands, and a denial by OPM must be taken seriously, both in substantive form and qualitative content.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Poverty of One’s Soul

The locus of one’s soul has been much debated throughout the history of Philosophy; Descartes, of course, took the incommodious step of actually identifying the central point, but left some “wiggle room” by declaring it merely as the “principal seat of the soul” (is there a secondary, back-seat area for the soul, as well?), but of course, the French can be excused for such seemingly drunken issuances of localities, when belief in supposedly impenetrable defenses can provide for a mirage of security.

The question itself is non-sensical, if one pauses for a moment of reflection.  For, as the soul is not part of the physical universe, to ascribe to it a point of defined location is to misunderstand the conceptual paradigm itself.  Rather, it is the state of the soul which is of greater relevance, and whether enlivened, invigorated, or impoverished.  What deadens the soul?  From Plato to Scruton, the argument can be made that music is an important component in the cultivation or demise of soulful activity.  Repetition of meaningless and monotonous actions, engaged like Camus’ Sisyphus, can also inflict harm; but even he, along with other French existentialists, found meaning in the absurd.

Medical conditions, obviously, can have a profound impact and effect upon the soul.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the relationship between “meaning” and “employment” can remain the single most significant obstacle to 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.

For, it is often fear of the future and the unknown elements which pervade the dark recesses of nightmares abounding in the subconscious of one’s mind, deep in the caverns of sleep, or interrupted, non-restorative slumber, where childhood visions of dancing daisies and carefree summers have long been replaced by the reality of adulthood, ogres and goblins as real today as when the child once watched with innocent eyes; it is from those vestiges that grown men weep and feel the tiny droplets of fear, and we call them “insecurities”.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is indeed a large step into the unknown.  Poverty, let alone poverty of one’s soul, is a fear of real proportions in these uncertain economic times; but in the end, one’s health should be the priority of ultimate concern, precisely because health engenders the continuing viability of the soul, and for the Federal or Postal worker who fears for one’s future, to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is a positive step towards securing a safety net to further prevent the impoverishment of the soul, whether located in the pineal gland, or in the ethereal universe of a childhood summer long gone and lost in the innocence of daisies returned to the bosom of the earth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire