FERS Disability Retirement: The Garden of One’s Mind

The metaphor has been used often enough; whether it enhances or enlightens one’s knowledge of one’s self is of dubious prospects.  The physical, objective entity identified as a “garden” is simple enough in being defined: it must include some plants and soil; perhaps a few rocks or boulders to enhance the natural contours of the landscape; and a person who “tends” to the garden — i.e., a “gardener”.

Can there be wild gardens without a gardener?  In other words, can you walk through a forest and come upon a clearing where there are flowers and various plant lives, and declare, “Oh, what a beautiful garden!”?  Similarly, can a person who lives in an apartment who has a collection of potted plants have the “right” to say to someone, “You should come and admire my garden sometime.”?

Purists may object to the application of the term “garden” to either of those described scenes, but a looser definition is still widely accepted in this modern age where malleability of language is a given.  Then, of course, there is the “stretching” of language’s boundaries by applying the metaphor of a “Garden of one’s Mind”.

What can it mean?  It often refers to the state of one’s mind: Of whether one has allowed for too much neglect and has failed to “prune” the overgrowth or let the weeds overtake; of failing to replenish the soil or allowed by disease and decay to overshadow.

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 concept encapsulated in the metaphor of the garden is appropriate.

For, like the untended garden, the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition must apply the same principles as the gardener who must begin to prune and replenish: decisions about the next steps, of what to cut out or whether one can leave things as they are; these are all contained in the metaphor within the Garden of One’s Mind, and it may be a first step to consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law before making important decisions like career changes and leaving the Federal government.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Help with OPM Disability Retirement: Wintertime flowers

What do you tell a young child who tries to plant seeds in the fall, and when asked about the activity, responds, “I want flowers for the winter and am planting them now so that they will bloom by the time the cold comes”?

Do you: (A). Laugh and tell the child that he or she is being foolish, (B) Explain to the child that flowers don’t bloom in the wintertime, (C) Direct them to the proper plants that will produce the intended effect or (D) Let the child discover for him or herself as to whether such an effort will have any positive results?

Clearly, options A and B would not assist the child in learning and advancing one’s knowledge of the world (Answer B, while generally the case, ignores the greater effort required in explaining that some flowers do, indeed, thrive in the dead of winter or, alternatively, that this particular region is not conducive to certain plants); and choice D, while perhaps allowing for a greater lesson to be learned — may instead attain the wisdom of the harsh reality of the world through explanation and discussion.

Explanation and a proper understanding of the circumstances, context and limitations of one’s activities in light of the surrounding universe is the key to gaining wisdom and knowledge.

Given that, Choice C would obviously be the “best” option towards greater understanding.  Thus, it is not merely the vacuum within which what one is doing that matters; rather, it is the effective interaction between one’s activities with the greater world beyond that produces a balanced comprehension of one’s place in the universe, how one can be effective and even influential.

Camellias are wintertime flowers that continue to thrive despite the harshness of the environment; whatever the genetic make-up that allows it to remain in bloom while others wither or die, their hardiness in environments others hibernate from and shun is a testament to the reality that, indeed, there are such things as wintertime flowers.

That is sometimes a difficult reality and lesson to learn — for we too often categorize times of our lives in similar ways: In extremes where it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal job, it is important to understand that the end of a Federal or Postal career does not necessarily mean that it is an “all or nothing” proposition.

There can be life even in the wintertime of one’s career; for, Federal Disability Retirement allows for the individual to work in the private sector, the state, county or municipal job, and continue to receive the OPM Disability Retirement annuity, so long as you remain under 80% of what a person’s former Federal Salary pays, and to the extent that it is medically justifiable that there is a distinction between the former Federal job and the non-Federal job.

Like wintertime flowers, you just have to find the right circumstances in order to thrive in the season of your life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Cost of Character

Being daily denigrated is an expected course of treatment for some; for those who perpetrate it, the sport of demeaning is often thoughtless, reactive, and toxic to the core, and reflects a fundamental void in one’s own life; and for the victim of such caustic characterization, the incremental pounding to one’s ego, self-esteem and capacity for abuse results in diminishment of the identify of worth by small slices of reduced stature.  Such attacks may be overt and direct, while others may be subtle, privately targeted, and intentionally out of the earshot of witnesses.  In both cases, the damage can be devastating.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must confront this type of daily abuse in the workplace, the avenues of outlet are complex and varied.  Complaining or filing lawsuits often results in the mere circling of the proverbial wagons around the perpetrators, and suddenly an invisible fence appears where the victim is the “outsider” and the caustic character the one needing protection.

For those Federal or Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, and who receive the brunt end of such ill treatment because of the medical disability which impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to deal not only with the toxicity of a hostile work environment, but concurrently with the underlying medical conditions, makes for an admixture of overwhelming circumstances.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best and only course of action left.  For, to stay becomes an untenable option which impacts and further deteriorates one’s medical condition precisely because of the toxicity of the environment; to walk away and do nothing is an act of idiocy, given the years already invested in one’s career; and thus the alternative of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the most enlightened of choices to be made:  It allows for the recuperative period away from a denigrating source of pain, while securing a foundational annuity for one’s financial security and future.

We often talk daftly about “character” and the need to “stick it out” when the “going gets tough”.  But the cost of character is the price paid by the Federal or Postal employee who must withstand the onslaught of a bureaucracy which is faceless and relentless, while at the same time dealing with the deteriorating health administered by a medical condition which will not just go away.  The cost of character means nothing if the essence of one’s worth is not protected, and filing for, and securing, a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is meant to do just that:  pay for the cost, and safeguard the character of worth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Subtle Warnings

Subtlety is not an inherent trait of the American psyche.  As pragmatism and materialism dominates the prevailing thought-process, the capacity and ability to recognize and act upon indirect signs and hints is underdeveloped and considered a disadvantage.   From recognizing the early warning signs of a medical condition, to responding to an agency’s initiation of adverse administrative proceedings, the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker is marked for his or her naive forthrightness.  Thus the recurring quip:  “Why can’t they just come right out and say it?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the need to recognized and act upon subtle warnings becomes a necessity crucial for survival.  Timeliness matters; planning for the future requires a thoughtful recognition of harbingers of hazards.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Service worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often like the childhood game of  “cat and mouse”.  As a game involving constant pursuit, avoidance of capture, near-misses and resumption of pursuit, staving off administrative sanctions, actions and similar initiations of contrivances by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service while the Federal or Postal employee is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is simply part and parcel of this complex process involving a burdensome bureaucracy.

Filing early for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is often the key; ignoring those subtle warning signs, both about one’s own medical condition as well as the underlying substratum of intentions as indicated by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, is to disregard the inevitability of life and its complexity of meanings.  For, in the end, that which is subtle must unravel and manifest, but it is the one who first senses the forewarning of fate who ultimately can control one’s destiny and divert from the determinism of fatalism.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Causality

Worker’s Comp requires it; Social Security disregards it; and OPM Disability Retirement shifts the issue into a different arena.  “Causality” encapsulates the relationship between two or more events, where one is thought to result from another, or put a different way, where “responsibility” for a given effect is attributed to a prior conditional occurrence fulfilled as sufficient to warrant as being the “cause” of that event.

In a Federal OWCP case, administered through the Department of Labor, one must prove that the injury or medical condition was “caused” as a workplace incident or occurrence, such that the “event” occurred or was somehow connected to the employment itself.

For Social Security Disability cases, causation is normally not an issue, since the basis for eligibility is not concerned with any singular event, but rather, whether the person filing for Social Security Disability benefits meets a standard definition of being “totally disabled” from gainful employment.

For Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is not one of causation, but rather, the relationship between one’s medical condition and the attributable impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Thus, there is, in a different sense, a case of causality to be made, but the relationship between A and B has shifted, where it matters not “how” it occurred, but rather, “whether” the medical condition prevents (causes) one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

In the end, causation in a Federal/Postal Disability Retirement application is irrelevant in the traditional sense that one normally accepts, but the shifting focus of causality is important to keep in mind in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire