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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Observing Dogs

They belie conformity of thought, though they are willing to obey and follow strict adherence to rules and commands; and while “experts” in clothing of meandering letters, capitalized after the patronymic lineage displayed proudly as designators of validity and knowledge, may conclude that they neither smile, nor exhibit greater intelligence than primates deemed closer to our ancestral genetic heritage, what constitutes a test of possessing such a quotient is often irrelevant to defining the species.

They can defy; they can doubt, and be suspicious; anticipate by mere thought or look; and know the scent of danger from miles afar, long before any human capacity to fathom such instinctive acuity.  We think we are the great observatories of behavior and time; but dogs can as well decipher with watchful eyes, and smell the aroma of turmoil and disease, oftentimes long before a diagnostic tool can determine the course of future treatment.

We can learn much from observing dogs; for, while we may marvel at the obedience displayed, we mistake such adherence to commands as mere acts of automatons, as opposed to the want to please and the love they possess.  And how much of one’s life is characterized by a need to please, even when it is refused and countermanded with cruelty and crass contempt?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who continue to remain in a Federal or Postal job, despite all indicators from their bodies, minds and spirits to leave for the sake of health, is it any different than the observations gleaned from dogs who obey despite the cruelty of a contemptible master?

It is like the famous quote from Hemingway, that in modern warfare, a man will “die like a dog for no good reason.”  Sometimes, obedience and adherence is nothing more complicated than a desire to please, and to “stay the course” because no other way is known or shown.

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 no different than the curse of the cur; and while we may applaud our own superiority by making grand conclusions based upon observing dogs and other creatures, the wonder of it is what those observing dogs must consider of our own plight, as fellow mongrels in a universe replete with stupid cruelty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Early Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Setting up the Parameter of an Argument

What we argue depends upon identifying the criteria already established, which is why arguments will often become prolonged engagements of meandering shouting matches, thrown at cross purposes, never agreeing to disagree upon the elements which represent an actual conflict.

How many wars have been fought because of a simple failure in identifying the issues; how many costly divorces originating from misunderstanding and loss of communication, and who suffers but the collateral damage issued to non-combatants who must witness the devastation wrought more by ego than by elevated principles worth contesting?

The parameters themselves can be manipulated, such that we can “require” things unnecessary, and “mandate” prerequisites never called for.  That is how individuals can perform the proverbial act of “kicking the can” down the endless road, by talking about issues which rarely matter, but somehow confuse the mind without rational forethought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, there are many ways to delay or cease the necessary starting points even before you begin, because of the many difficulties and roadblocks which must be faced — the least of which is certainly not the medical condition itself.

In the end, such mechanisms of procrastination can be understood in light of fear, angst and foreboding dread; the fear of the unknown, the angst of change, and the foreboding dread of losing one’s place in society, the work force, and the belonging to a community of Federal or Postal workers.  We can always dredge up a reason for not; it is in doing that our acts justify our unmatched words.

In the end, the parameters we set for ourselves are merely window dressings for delaying the inevitable, and so when next the excuse to not engage comes to mind, simply replace it with a more mundane reason, like when Meursault referred to the bright sun as the justification for his acts, as well as the prosecutor who denounced it because of his lack of empathy for his dead mother.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement: Those Rare Moments of Clarity

They come under unexpected circumstances, in inconvenient durations, and by the twilight of moon when sleep is required but the sought-after lull of morning sunrise interrupts despite the caverns of echoing remembrances of memories once savored, but like wisps of willows floating effortlessly down valleys of dreamy cascades, we reach out to them in the middle of the night, only to grasp at the emptiness in darkness surround.

Poetry was once upon the lips of strangers, as the Elizabethan Era represented the golden age of linguistic fervor; but like all such resurgences of purported renaissance, the period lasted but for a moment in history, as epochs of fallen dinosaurs became fodder for oil slicks and Disney movies.

It is often in the very contrast of opposites that clarity comes to the fore; and thus does the mundane and the boredom of constancy do a disservice, by maintaining a semblance of normalcy and unfettered favor.  When does that moment arrive?  Often, it is in the midst of pain that we see through the hypocrisy of that solemn friendship; and in the endurance of suffering, the truth behind the facade of relational contentment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who finally come to a realization that the “mission of the agency” is not quite as important as one’s own health and well-being, it is often almost too late, but never quite so.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits are there for Federal and Postal employees who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, due to a medical condition — whether physical, psychiatric, or a mixed emotional combination of both — which prevents them from doing so.

The problem is one of self-flagellation; of thinking that to file for Federal Disability Retirement is to somehow have let others down, become a turncoat, or have failed in the eyes of “them”, as their expectations have not been met and the crestfallen expressions demean and devalue the efforts expended thus far.

Clarity comes in small caches of catatonic canopies of cornered consciousness; when it does come, one must grab it and never let go.  Society always tries to bamboozle; but when the Federal or Postal employee faces the stark choice between the greater organism of harm, or the lesser evil in favor of one’s health and future security, that rare moment of clarity must be decided upon within a wink of time, before the door of perceptual horizons slams shut again, and you are left forever in that darkness of ignorance where shrieking gnomes are tortured by day and flesh-eating gargoyles creep about through the night.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire