Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: The image we cling to

Whether of a “bad boy”, a “choir boy” and some other like, “He is such a quite, obedient and unassuming young lad,” or even, “She is a real go-getter” — whatever the image created, whether by our own manufacturing or by the reputation pasted upon by others, the image we cling to can remain with us such that it haunts and trails like the residue of those ghosts of Christmas past.

Are reputations and images one and the same?

They certainly cross over from border and fence to similar lines of demarcation, such that the jumble of what others say, think and believe about you are an admixture of one’s self-image, the reflection of how we think about ourselves and what we believe others believe about ourselves.  Changing the image we cling to is often difficult; believing in the change, nigh impossible and rarely achieved.

Whether from the incremental and sometimes insidious perpetuation from the subconscious destructiveness haunting one from a childhood past, or of reinforced negativity from bad parenting or abusive relatives, an image is a residue of a tapestry complicated by those unknown circuitry making up what is generically identified as one’s inner “conscious” life.

It is, as some philosophers would put it, the “ghost in the machine” — of that something “other” that eerily floats about above and beyond the collection of cells, genetic matter and neurotransmitters.  It is “who we are”, or more aptly, “who we think we are”.

For Federal and 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 image we cling to is often the one that prevents us from doing that which is best for ourselves.

We think of ourselves as hard-working, conscientious, never-a-slacker, and conflate that self-image with performance ratings, step-increases, promotions and awards, and it is that compendium of reputation-to-self-image that marks our downfall when a medical condition hits the brick wall of reality.

What are our priorities?  Do we cling to the images manufacture, at all costs — even to our own detriment?

Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a silent admission that the image we cling to may not be the reality one hoped for; but to live in an alternative reality when one’s health is at stake, is to ignore the obvious, and to fall prey to the destructive tendencies of an uncaring world.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not to destroy the image of ourselves that we cling to; rather, it is merely a recognition that we, too, are human and imperfect, and it is the shedding of perfection that is often the greatest problem we face.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing an effective 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, the sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The festering mistake

There are mistakes; then, there is the compounding one where we fail to identify X for what it is, and continue to make excuses by deflecting with Y, excusing with Z or replacing it with XX.  This is called the “festering mistake” – that mistake which, like a wound that could easily have been attended to, is allowed to become infected, then spread, then become so serious as to require further and drastic means to save a life.

Think about it: it may have begun with a minor cut; it is dismissed and ignored; and from there it can develop into a spreading infection, sepsis, incurable and incalculable damage.  That is what often results from ignoring a mistake; failing to recognize the mistake and attending to it; refusing to identify the mistake and attend to the symptoms; avoiding the direct confrontation and culpability of it with unintended consequences of greater reverberations beyond that which was originally the core of it.

We all make mistakes; it is the festering mistake that leaves us devastated – not only for the mistake itself and the growing complexity of trying to make up for lost time in failing to attend to the mistake itself, but further, for the failure of identification.  Just as the seat of wisdom is the recognition of one’s own ignorance, so the engine of success is the identification of mistakes early on.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to file 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 key to a successful outcome – no matter how long the process, and regardless of the difficulties to be faced – is to recognize the mistakes potentially there to be made, identify the pitfalls to be avoided, and realize that you cannot put “blinders” on OPM once they have seen that which was neither necessary nor any of their business to review or entertain, and to never allow a festering mistake to occur in the first place.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Avoidance

There are always activities and interests to pursue; that is the “stuff” of which life is comprised.  Heidegger referred to the multiple and endless projects as a means of distracting ourselves from the ultimate fate of our existence; but in truth, it is far less complex than that.  Keeping busy is a means of filling in the void of daily toil, and where activity tires the soul, thoughtfulness is replaced with silence.

Have you ever met a person who talks a mile-a-minute, and is seemingly always on the way out, never to have time to pause for breath?  It is as if the grim reaper of time and eternity is just behind, on his tail, about to determine the inestimable worth of a life pursuing the unfulfilled dreams of gnomes, children and elves who jump into hobbit-holes like the white rabbit which Alice followed into the hole of Wonderland.  It is, in the end, an avoidance of sorts, where one knows in the subconscious of harbored secrets that a time in the near future will come, and fall upon the waiting soul like a weight of gold.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer in pain, or in psychiatric modes of inconceivable anguish, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often delayed by deliberate avoidance.  And that is certainly understandable.

The direct confrontation with the problems of life and daily living is less preferable than the enduring activities which keep one’s soul busy with the flurry of thoughtless projects.  But as time tolls regardless of one’s efforts to procrastinate, so the politician who kicks the proverbial can down the chute of endless and moronic drones of discussion, focus-groups and formed committees for further study, is merely avoiding the inevitable.

It is first and foremost the entrance of the medical condition.  Then, slowly, the realization that it simply won’t go away, no matter how busy one is, and how unfair life has become.  Then, the progressive impact upon one’s physical and cognitive capacities ensues.  When the two roads converge, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Avoidance of necessity may work for a fortnight, but the projects which make up life’s “stuff” can only fill the void for a season, if that.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Systemic Problems

When the residual impact of a crisis goes well beyond cosmetic concerns, the usual and customary description is that the “cause” involves “systemic” problems.  Such foundational fissures can occur both in organizations, as well as in individuals.

For Federal agencies, it may require a need for new leadership, or a restructuring of internal chains of command, and sometimes even outside intervention.  More often than not, a call for greater funding is demanded; then, once approved, we walk away as if the problem has been fixed, until the next crisis calls our attention.

For individuals, the systemic problems can involve a medical condition.  Symptoms are normally mere warning signs portending of greater dangers; like organizational eruptions of systemic concerns, individual crisis of systemic proportions often result from neglect, procrastination and deliberate avoidance of the issue.  But medical problems have a tendency and nature of not going away; they are stubborn invaders, like the hordes of barbarians from epochs past, who keep whittling away at the weakest points of an individual’s immune system.  Then, when the medical condition progressively deteriorates until the spectrum of symptoms exceeds a threshold of toleration, suddenly, a crisis develops.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has reached that point, where the symptoms are no longer superficial, but prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, then it is time to begin considering 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, time is of the essence, as the administrative process must meander its way through a complex system of bureaucratic morass, and the timeline is often of importance in securing the future of a Federal or Postal employee.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is an arduous, lengthy task, and one which is a tool against a systemic problem; for, in the end, the best fight against an invading army is to utilize the elements of the marauders themselves, and this is true in medicine, in law, as well as in individual and organizational restructuring.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Relative Importance of Minutiae

Triviality is in the eye of the beholder; though, there are some aspects of certain information which almost all can agree upon to be insignificant; but in this universe of informational overload, it is often the small, precise and extended bits which make up for the connecting bridges of relevance.

For the culinary sophisticate, the fact that an octopus has four pairs of arms makes for a greater feast, and if one were to pause and consider that the loss of an arm in its flight from a fisherman’s net might be insignificant from a human standpoint, the capacity to survive in the treachery of the undersea world may depend upon that lost tentacle.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering 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 overarching focus is usually upon the grand scheme of things — of the relative importance of the key elements which make up for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the rush to quickly put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is easy to fill out and answer the Standard Forms, especially SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, attach a compendium of medical reports and records, and hope for the best.  But it is often just as much the attention to detail — the minutiae of the little things, the world of microcosmic bits and floating information in the body of office notes and progress reports, like insignificant algae which forms as a film upon the pond’s surface, which results in the basis of a denial by a scrutinizing OPM Specialist.

Like the tentacle found in the fisherman’s net, it is only the keen eye which can tell which of the four pairs of arms it came from, except of course for the octopus, who well knows from the sensation of pain from which it derives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire