Attorney Representation OPM Disability: Analogies and life

Life is lived by analogies.  It is how we understand, comprehend and make sense of a world in turmoil.  By identifying a resemblance between two or more particulars while perhaps remaining somewhat different in other aspects, we are able to relate things, understand them, comprehend the isolation of differentiation between X and Y and yet embrace those differences despite the lack of commonality in all other respects.

Without the tool and transporting impact of an analogy, most of the objective world would remain isolated, irrelevant and separated from the subjective coherence that we bring to the world.  Explanations and argumentation would often lack any comprehensible understanding; scientists would simply speak in technical languages that non-scientists (i.e., laymen like most of us) would fail to appreciate; and life would continually remain a series of isolated islands of conceptual conundrums that would be separated from civilization as a whole.

That is essentially why the administrative laws governing Federal Disability Retirement must by necessity be spoken of in analogic terms – precisely because, in order to make sense in the greater context of life, everything in particular can only be “explained” and “made sense of” through analogies that we can relate to.  Without relational contexts and reference points, life’s various complexities would remain in isolation from one another.

Thus, analogies, life and Federal Disability Retirement benefits all share a common perspective – that of human beings who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, and that a particular “condition” or life shares with all other conditions of life the reference points that we can all understand: Law, Complexity, Human suffering, Pain, The fear of change, The need for change; Confusion; Trauma; Medical conditions, etc.

Analogies allow for understanding; life, left in isolation, is confusing as it is, and even after a lifetime of trying to understand and simplify, still remains a mystery.

And for the Federal or Postal employee who is at a point in one’s career where a medical condition impacts the ability to continue in that career, the reference point that needs to be kept in mind is that there are lawyers who specialize in getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and we are here to help.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer for OPM Disability Claims: The interrupted signature

The signature is the great identifier of a person.  It is, in some countries and cultures more than others, and even here in the United States, a feature that distinguishes, a type of rite of passage into adulthood, and in many ways a revealing characteristic.

It allows for the voluntary identification of a feature emanating from one’s own free will; an act which seals a compact; a stamp that distinguishes the person who completes the signature, from that of another; and declares to the world that this act, the signature stamp, with all of its unique swirls, crosses, dots and turnabouts, like some spinning basketball move that tells everyone else that you have arrived, is different, distinctive and peculiar to only the very individual who has picked up the pen at that moment in time and inked the singular characteristic upon a piece of paper.

Consistency in the written signature is important in establishing the uniqueness and distinctive feature; that, in and of itself, is a kind of oxymoron, is it not, when one pauses to reflect upon it?  For, to be “unique” and “singular” is to be a “one-time” event and a distinguishing peculiarity that cannot be reenacted or copied beyond the soliloquy of the act itself; and yet, for a signature to be effective, one must be able to repeat the same curves, the mimic again and again of the lines, crosses, dots, etc. of the signature hundreds of times over and thousands over a lifetime of signing one’s signature.

And then, once one has mastered the ability to sign one’s name in a unique, singular form, and be able to repeat it over and over again – have you ever notice how difficult it is to complete the interrupted signature?  It is as if the body itself is separated from the mind, and it is the hand and fingers that hold the pen that “remembers”, and not the eyes that guide or the brain that follows.  When once the flow of the signature has been interrupted, the uniqueness remember is suddenly forgotten.

It is likened to a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  The medical condition intervenes and begins to interrupt, “preventing” one from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position that the person has been so uniquely qualified to do for so many years.

That is the insidiousness of a medical condition.  Such an interruption, however, is much more serious – for it doesn’t merely interrupt or impede the completion of a signature, but of a career, of goals, of family financial support, and every other aspect of a person’s life.

Preparing, formulating and filing a 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 an important next step in taking up the proverbial pen and completing one’s signature.  And like the signature itself, the Federal or Postal employee need not fret about the uniqueness lost; you are still the same person, singular in every respect, whether your health has forced you to move on in life, no less than the signature that distinguishes you from all others.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Arrive with bluff, depart with bluster

That has become the motto of universal exceptionalism; it is the bravado of the incompetent, the arrogance of the ignorant and the methodology of the unwary:  besides, it is a funny line plagiarized from a work by Evelyn Waugh (no, that is a male writer, not a female).

It is to come into a circumstance, a job, an assignment or a social conduit acting like one knows what one is doing, messing everything up, then leaving the desecration of incompetence and a heap of human detritus for others to deal with, while all the while turning up one’s nose, shaking the proverbial head in disgust, and departing with an unjustified defense of one’s own incompetence with:  “You guys are hopeless.”

That is the guiding declarative foundation of all self-help books, advice columns and Oprah-wanna-bees in columns of suspicious pearls of so-called wisdom:  “The key is to act like you know what you are doing, with confidence and assertiveness; the rest will follow and everyone will believe in you.”  Or, in other words, believe in yourself despite not knowing anything; act with declarative arrogance; be self-confident (of what, we are never told) and take charge of your life.  Then, if things don’t work out, don’t be too hard on yourself (or, better yet, not at all) and don’t ever allow others to get you down.

Such a foundational folly of methodological madness fits in very well, and is completely commensurate with the cult of youth; for, even if we all know that the younger generation knows not anything but having been coddled throughout their educational years (hint:  a euphemism for indoctrination for heightening self-esteem), the world generally operates on its own in spite of massive and daily incompetence, but that is precisely why there is a need to hire a dozen people for every job:  quantified incompetence somehow makes up for qualitative lack.

Once upon a time, bluster was known, recognized and dispensed with; and bluster was laughed at, mocked and ridiculed.  Now, it is an everyday and common occurrence, because the substantive basis has been ripped out and the soul is now an empty cavern of echoing banter steeped in words of meaninglessness topped by nonsensical linguistic cacophonies of boundless chatter.

Yet, there are times when substance matters, as when a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker experiences a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to threaten one’s ability and capacity to continue in the position one is designated in.  That is the time when neither bluff nor bluster is desired, needed nor welcome.

Honest answers and forthright advice is what needs to be obtained, both from Supervisors, coworkers and Human Resource personnel; in the legal advice rendered and received from one’s Federal Disability Retirement lawyer; and from friends, family and loved ones in pursuing this very difficult bureaucratic process couched within a cauldron of administrative nightmares.

We arrive into this world without a clue; we learn to bluff, even when we don’t want to; and when we depart, it is up to us as to whether there needs be an imprint of bluster, or whether the honesty that still resides in the essence of our soul may still reveal a vestige of the true character we maintained, in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Leaving without a Blip

Remember those old films, of silence, submarines and sonars (an acronym we have forgotten from the combination of terms, SOund, Navigation And Radar)?

There were those tense moments of complete silence, where heartbeats and perspiration could be palpably heard when life and death depended upon it, and the moment when someone coughed or dropped an object at the crucial moment; then, the sudden entrance of old Navy footage of depth charges being flung like spitballs from a rubber band, splashing into the ocean, then the angst of awaiting the slow sinking until the violent detonation of that camera-shaking explosion.

Was it close enough to have caused damage?  Can the heavy metal doors be shut in time to prevent deadly flooding?  Can the engineer fix the dent in the tin can just enough to chug along to the nearest base for further repair?  In the end, it all depended upon the blip on the screen, as the clockwork motion of the round screen revealed the positioning of the enemy vessel as the ghostly residue of existence left behind one’s presence, if only for a brief moment in time.

It is, in many ways, a metaphor for all lives; as merely a blip on a screen, and whether we are noticed, to what extent, by whom, and if one’s location deserves the catapult of a depth charge, or to be ignored as not warranting an adversarial response.

That is often how Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers contend with a medical or health condition which threatens to cut short one’s career with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service:  Has enough of a blip been made?  Will a greater blip, or a longer presence of that ghostly residue on the clock-like screen, make up for the difference of extinguishment of existence?

There are those who enter a room quietly, and leave without notice; others, who must make a splash with each entrance, and falter in the exit because they have extended their welcome beyond polite niceties; and still others, who refuse to leave until formal recognition has been wrought from gated societies of diminished returns.  Which is preferable —  a blip which returns with a detonating device, or barely a yawn with the resulting quietude of an unnoticed exit?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates a filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, a OPM Disability Retirement application — the question of being noticed or leaving a lasting mark is often a subconscious pull which unknowingly damages or delays.

But like the submarine in those old films, it is always the capacity and ability to control that moment of anxiety and fear which propels the successful endeavor of formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM; and lest we forget, avoidance of the depth charge is just an indicator of how much of a blip we really were, and not a precursor of what ghostly residues the Federal or Postal worker may become on the clockwork screen for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire