Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The elixir of life

Is the substance we expunge necessarily the opposite of the positive?  Does the mere fact of expiation denote that which is unwanted, or merely no longer of utility?

In ancient times, an elixir was considered to be a substance of great desirability; it possessed multiple meanings, including a reference to that substance which was used in alchemy to alter base-metals into the gleaming riches of the natural order found deep beneath the chasms of the earth – gold.  Or, alternatively, it meant the potion or mysterious concoction that prolonged and extended life into an eternity of ecstasy; and in other definitions, a curative medicine that attended to all diseases, corrected every malady felt and balanced the unbalanced humors within the human body.

A further meaning has encompassed the concept of an essential principle – that core of something that provides an Aristotelian connection of all first causes such that when one discovers and comprehends the elixir of life, one has attained a pinnacle of wisdom next to the gods who otherwise mock the foolishness of human suffering and striving.  But back to the original query: What about the waste that is squeezed from the substance we desire – of human detritus, urine, scatological excretions and the leftovers of those thought to be unproductive; are they not necessary in that, without the capacity to expiate, it would rot within the cavities of the human tissue and destroy the very fabric that retains them?

We often fail, at the expense and detriment of our own thoughtlessness, to consider an inversion category of the original posit; we accept, at face value, that human functions of expiation and riddance constitutes just that – of throwing away, expunging, extricating and discarding – as a categorization we simplify into elementary concepts: what we consume and embrace is “good”, and that which we expiate is “bad”.

Thus do we build toilets in unassuming locations within a residence; outhouses are just that – some dilapidated structure constructed away from the home, and somewhat upwind from the wind currents that carry the daily odors of life’s contrariness.  But is that the proper way to view things?  Should we not, instead, liken our activities to that which a messianic proverb once elicited: How we treat the least among us reflects the true character of our inner nature?

Inversion thinking is a process that is too often overlooked, and because of this, we often walk through life passing by opportunities and gifts otherwise there to be accepted.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows for one to continue with the present course of a Federal or Postal career, it was once believed that the elixir of life was intricately wrapped up in continuing the Federal or Postal job because it allowed for a certain career, standard of living and measure of self-worth.

This is where inversion thinking needs to be considered.  For, at what cost, and what price to be paid?

Preparing 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 often a necessary step in order to attain a level of continence such that the proper balance and focus can be reached – of one’s health, as opposed to continuing in a job that has become harmful; of separating from Federal Service or the Postal facility in order to escape from the daily harassment of somehow being “lesser” because of one’s medical condition; and all of the other garbage that is thrown at the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition.

For, the elixir of life is not always that substance we thought was the pathway to a mythological fountain of youth, but an inversion of that thought – of removing, as opposed to taking more on; of separating, in contradistinction to enduring the pain; and of expiating, in contrast to accepting.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Parting grace in silence

Does grace extend even when the intended recipient is unaware of its attachment?  Can the undeclared withdrawal of revenge justified have its own inherent rewards, without the unsolicited admission left silent by anonymity undaunted?  If given the choice between leaving the scene where injustice prevailed and dominated – of wreaking revenge or parting grace in silence – which would we choose?

Of course, there is a greater contextual awakening to be narrated before such an event would occur – of quietly enduring the daily harassment, the constant criticism and demeaning remarks; of refuting, rebutting and reacting, as against an agency that initiates adverse actions one after another in sequential persistence of unfettered meanness.

From that erupts the natural tendency in thinking:  “They can’t get away with this”; or, “If I have to spend my last dime, I am going to get even with them.”  Yet, is the cost of revenge worth the time, effort and expenditures depleted?  What does it mean to attain “justice” in an unjust world?  If a verdict is rendered or a settlement reached, what is the barometer by which one has regained one’s reputation, reestablished that one was ‘right’ or recuperated the toil of anguish and angst expended?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not a surrender of one’s soul to an agency that has not, will not or otherwise cannot accommodate one’s medical conditions.  Rather, it is an admission that there exists an incommensurability between the particular position occupied and the medical conditions suffered.

That is the point made in the case of Henderson v. OPM, in which the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board reiterated the alternative but equally valid approach in proving a Federal Disability Retirement case by a preponderance of the evidence:  a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an essential element of one’s Federal or Postal position is not the only methodology in establish a medical condition such that the Federal or Postal employee becomes eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits, but additionally, a showing that there is an incompatibility generally between the position occupied and the medical conditions suffered is also a basis for granting a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Whatever workplace issues have been a part of the content and context of a Federal or Postal employee needing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, once that decision is made to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement, one might consider this:  The past has passed; the present must be endured while waiting upon a decision by OPM; the future is based upon the decision of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and in the meantime, where do you want to expend your energies?  You may want to consider parting grace in silence, instead of spinning the proverbial wheels heaping reactive acts of futile counterpunches upon those who know not the terms of justice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Natural empathy

Is there such a thing, or do we just fake it even when we do not naturally “feel” it?  If the official, technical definition fails to make the distinction between “feeling” and “understanding”, does it not discount the differentiation of the traditional bifurcation – that of rational capacity as opposed to part of one’s emotional quotient?

Further, if it is merely an emotion, do some have a greater capacity because of a genetic predisposition, while others at a minimal level acquired through accident of birth, and thus can one be held responsible for merely being who we are?  On the other hand, if it has a closer affinity to an “understanding” one possesses, then can it not be cultivated and enhanced, and therefore within the purview of an educational system that includes “empathy instruction”?

How would one “teach” empathy?  Would you present slide shows of unfortunate events, and by instructional imprinting, have the teacher or headmaster unravel with emotional turmoil and manifest tears of sorrow, and hope that the students will by some mysterious osmosis embrace that capacity to experience such travails “as if” one were in the other’s shoes?  And, what do we mean when we attribute empathy as a “natural” course of human characteristic – is it counterintuitive to the distinction made of its opposite, of an “artificial” construct?

In Darwinian parlance, of course, there is little room for Natural empathy – the weak merely dilute the sacrosanct genetic pool of the strong and those fit to survive, and time wasted in trying to protect the weak or to understand those less fortunate will only succumb to the inevitable devouring by prey otherwise in waiting.

In the “civilization” of the human animal, there are certainly historical instances of unexplainable natural empathy, but whether there was always even therein a hidden agenda, a personal motivation, or a self-centered glint of purpose, we shall never know.  The naïve will posit that natural empathy is central to the human character; the cynic, that it is neither natural nor a tendency discovered in any species known, but just another societal construct forced upon the strong as part of the social contract to defend the weak.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the health condition has resulted in testing the natural empathy of coworkers, supervisors and managers at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, there may well be a division and diversity of opinions on the matter.

Whether natural or artificial, unfortunate events do indeed test the capacity of human character, and when the Federal or Postal employee prepares a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the uncaring and impervious attitudes of those encountered along the long and arduous process in attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can indeed test the attitudes of a generation yet to experience the cruelty of an otherwise imperfect universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Counting coup

It is not always in the outward and very-public display of emotions, in which a battle is fought and won; often, it is the restraining of a capacity and potential to reflexively counter, but held back just at the point of harm, that determines the pinnacle of gaining prestige.

Acts of bravery for a Plains Indian did not necessarily require harm inflicted upon an enemy; counting coup and the subsequent rise in respect and prestige could involve the mere touching of an enemy, while escaping unharmed despite that close encounter with the savage face of danger.  It is not always in the completion of an intended act that the standard by which the success or failure of the act is judged; rather, just at the point of fulfillment, the holding back or the deliberate withdrawal can be the penultimate evidence that one could have, but by sheer will of grace of self-control, did not.

In Western Civilization, perhaps the parallelism can only be embraced with an analogy of sorts; of the subtle remark with a duality of meanings, placed just at the right time in response to an otherwise untamable tongue wagging about with destructive force by its aggressive tone, ugly words and offensive remarks.  Or, of the realization that one is now a prisoner in an “enemy” camp, and the escape out is to stealthily retreat in the quiet of a proverbial night, without harming the members who may once have been counted as friends and colleagues.

This is often the situation the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker finds him/herself in, when a medical condition arises and the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  Suddenly, the Federal or Postal employee is treated as an “enemy”, and the initial reaction is to counterattack, as the initial onslaught by one’s coworkers, supervisors, managers, etc., was neither deservedly received no invited by any act or statement by the innocent Federal or Postal worker.

But is the battle – the actually harm inflicted and the legal imbroglio ensuing – worth the hassle?  Or, is it better to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted (ultimately) to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and like the warriors of past in the battles fought in the far-off Plains of the American West, before the white settlers came to decimate and exterminate with the modern technology of weaponry unheard of in its efficiency as a killing machine – is it preferable by counting coup and withdrawing unharmed, in order to secure a future brighter for tomorrow, and less left with the residue of bloodstained wounds harboring lasting pain in the essence of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirements: Focus away from ‘self’

The heightened problems emanating from a chronic medical condition cannot be quantified; as the medical issues themselves become exacerbated while attempting to work and engage in other “major life activities”, the pain, psychiatric debilitation and interruption of things once taken for granted, become all the more magnified and exponentially exaggerated in significance, relevance and focus of daily contention.  Or, to put it in more common parlance, it makes us grouchier as the day goes.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered for all FERS employees (and any in the older CSRS system who may still be around – a rarity, like dinosaurs and gnomes of past ages), and is meant as a progressive paradigm of inestimable worth.  Unlike other systems of compensation, it encourages the (former) Federal or Postal employee to seek employment in the private sector, because the generous allowance that the former Federal or Postal employee can make up to 80% of what one’s former salary currently pays, on top of the annuity itself, allows for “the system” to be a self-paying entity, because such individuals then pay taxes and contribute “back into” the very system which is being accessed.

The fact that it is such a thoughtful, progressive system is rare – for, government bureaucracies tend not to embrace an insightful program of wider application, but this is a case in point where the system “works”.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee who continues to try and extend one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service by “hoping” – and, do not misunderstand, for hope as an element of human focus for events yet to occur, is a good thing – that the medical condition will get better, and thus to delay initiating the complex process of preparing, formulating and filing 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, does so at the peril of self-focusing immolation.

The point of getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits is just that – to be able to attend to the medical condition itself; to attain restorative sleep; to not be embroiled in the vicious cycle of having to work at a job where one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties cannot be met because of the medical condition itself, and therefore a stark reminder, on a daily and sustained basis, upon one’s self, the limiting aspects of the medical condition, and the inability to escape the constant gravitational dissection of “me, myself and I”.  That’s the rub, isn’t it?

As you try and get better, those around you – supervisors, coworkers, etc. – begin to harass, criticize and compound the problem by redirecting your shortcomings resulting from the very medical conditions from which you are trying to get better.  Federal Disability Retirement is the next step in that process – where, once attained, the stress of focusing upon one’s self is relieved by being able to actually focus upon what is important:  one’s health, and the pathway to a secure future through getting approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Standard Forms and the Proverbial Blank Slate

The paradigm of a tabula rasa is a frightening one.  It implies a complete negation of historical context, of evolutionary influence, and therefore denies instinct, nature, and pre-conditional implications.  But clearly there are confines and parameters of behaviors, and different species of animals will act in specific ways peculiar to the individuality of the entity, while taking on certain imprinting models if surrounded by members of other species.

To assume, however, that no context exists, either in prefix or suffix form, is to deny a fundamental truth at one’s hazard in doing so.  For Federal employees and Postal workers who begin to complete the required forms for a Federal Disability Retirement application — whether the informational requirements queried in SF 3107 (or SF 2801 for CSRS individuals); or the series of SF 3112 forms which inquire into the foundational questions of one’s medical conditions, their impact upon the essential elements of the job, etc. — it is important to approach any and all such standard forms with a view towards denying the existence of a tabula rasa, or the concept of a blank slate.

Such pristine states of being do not exist, neither in nature, nor in the complex world of administrative bureaucracies.  The history of the forms, of SF 3107, SF 2801, or SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D or SF 3112E, all have a history preceding and superseding the date of the formulation and printing of such forms.  Statutory underpinnings, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board rulings, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, and expansive legal opinions, all provide a context for each question queried, and each piece of information requested.

Thus, to approach any such OPM Disability Retirement standard form as if it is merely a blank slate, is to proceed down a dark and curving road with ignorance and fail to realize that it is not a quiet, rural road with nary a car, but the Autobahn busy with high-powered vehicles testing the limits of speed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112A

OPM Standard Form 3112A: Applicant’s Statement of Disability:

The constraint of a standardized form, by its very appearance, is itself a self-evident anomaly of conformity; forms, by the very nature of their format, constrains and delimits the ability to respond.  Space is limited, and it is intended to be that way.

By mandating the completion of specific forms in an uniform, consistent, and universally standardized approach, the applicant who must complete the form must by necessity conform to the regulated approach. Further, the appearance itself often lulls the individual into a certain mindset, such that the response is constrained, limited, and by necessity of conservation of space and in attempting to answer the specific question queried, of brevity and devoid of critical details.

Bureaucracies create forms, and the regulations promulgated in the preparation and response to such forms. For the Federal and Postal employee who must by necessity file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the forms needed to be completed in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, are numerous, complex, and cumbersome.

Of the multiple forms which must be completed, the Federal and Postal employee must at some point encounter and face the most critical one of all: SF 3112A. The content of the form itself appears simple enough; the complexities inherent in the form is constituted almost by an endless array of a history of court decisions, opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as well as by OPM issuances of denials in thousands of cases.

Just by way of example, after the very first question asked upon requesting the applicant’s name, date of birth and SSN, it makes a simple but profoundly limiting statement: “We consider only the diseases and/or injuries you discuss in this application.”  That statement seems fair enough, and perhaps even reasonable.  The single word which is operatively significant, one would assume, is in the word “consider”.

But beware; for, it is the next-to-last word in the statement which is the onerous thousand-pound boulder which can fall upon the head of a Federal or Post Office Disability Retirement applicant, unless one is very, very careful. It is the word, “this”, and the consequences of such a word must be given great weight, and consideration beyond what the legal ramifications will later reveal.

Just a word of caution to the wise, for those who intend on jumping into the proverbial waters of bureaucratic complexities without first dipping a cautious toe into the lake of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire