OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Responsibility

What is it about the ascription of such a word, that there can be a direct correlation or, if taken in a different context, some mere connection but no causality?  We can say of a person, “He is responsible for X”, and yet never have directly encountered X or (if a person) never even have met X.

Thus of monsters and thugs throughout history, for instance, we might say that “Stalin was responsible for 20 million deaths, at least,” or that Mao was “responsible” for a 100 million peasants dying during the late 50s; or, of course, of ascribing to Hitler the countless millions; and, so that we don’t leave out other “responsible” monsters of history, of Pol Pot, Idi Amin and many others besides, though we cannot link a causality that would pass Hume’s skeptical test of anything more than events following one upon another, we nevertheless accept that all such political figures were “responsible” for the deaths of millions.

What is the criteria in coming to such a conclusion?  Is it a negative proposition — that if X had the power or position to prevent such events from occurring, then Responsibility-Y can be ascribed?  Or must it be a positive declaration: If X engaged in Acts A, B and C, then Responsibility-Y can be attributable to Individual-W; and further, if only Acts A & B, but not C, then less so; and if only Act A, but not B & C, even less so?

Responsibility”, of course, is a malleable and transitive concept; it can change with the contextual winds of opinion, historical perspective and a cultural shift of viewpoints.  Look at how we approach our Founding Fathers — of responsibility for the slave issue in the United States, but somehow excusing each if (A) any one of them willed that they would be freed upon their deaths, (B) that one was “personally” against the issue but for economic, practical reasons were “forced” to go along or (C) they treated them “kindly” and “responsibly” (here, we have a double-meaning of the term, for such an individual was both “responsible” as well as being ascribed the “responsibility” of being a slave owner).

Or, look at the manner in which America treated Native Americans — of a genocidal history no less cruel than Mao’s starvation of the peasantry; and yet, because of such grand concepts as “manifest destiny” and the depiction of an entire populace as “uncivilized”, we can avert “responsibility” by distancing the causal agents; and the greater distance between the agents, the less we ascribe responsibility.

On a lesser scale, what about work?  If work suffers and there is no reason for it but laziness and lack of attention, we ascribe “responsibility”.  But what if a medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — is that Federal or Postal employee “responsible”?

The short answer is a “no” — and that is recognized by “the Law”, in statutes, regulations and case-laws cumulatively aggregated under the conceptual aegis of “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  It is precisely because society recognizes that a medical condition itself — and not the individual — is directly responsible for one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, that Federal disability retirement exists as a benefit to pursue.

But it cannot be accessed until and unless there is an affirmative step taken by the Federal or Postal employee, by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  That is where “responsibility” comes into play as a direct causal link — of initiating the steps and actually filing.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Today (pause), and Tomorrow

The parenthetical insertion creates a “real-time” interlude, and the addendum of the grammatical mandate, the unnecessary comma, extends the strained quietude of wanting to engage the sequential utterance.  There is the reality of “now”, which we occupy, fill and exist within, and the expectation of a tomorrow which never exists as a wholeness contained within a specified time period, but merely in anticipated form within the imagination of our cognitive universe.  To this, we can always add “yesterday”, as well, but that is merely of memories passed, reflected in the neurocognitive cellars of stored images.

It is of today and tomorrow which matters for the survival of a species, with yesterday reserved for learned experiences allowing for avoidance of mistakes in order to enhance one’s probability for remaining today and advancing into tomorrow.

Of yesterday, there is nothing that we can do, other than to learn from it and squeeze out the corners of lessons presented.

Of today, there are the problems known, the concerns we have to deal with and the stresses we are forced to tolerate.

And of tomorrow, we have to place into bifurcated boxes of manageable sizes, lest the overwhelming contents spill over to make us all go mad.

For, without the ability and capacity to filter, store and set aside, the extent of problems encountered, stresses envisioned or the troubles tormenting, would be of such quantitative overload as to leave us paralyzed daily.  Of chores left undone, relationships needing tethering, obligations still remaining and work much wanting; where will it all end except in the tombstones of unfinished business?

We are thus stuck in the rut of negation; some, in memories reflected over time enhancing in magnitude and perfection as duration allows for the fissures, wrinkles and ugliness of that once “today” to disappear, such that the retrospective life becomes the paradigm of lost souls.  Or, of those tomorrows yet to come, where we ruminate over troubles that have not yet occurred but we imagine them to become, and crisis that have yet to rear its horrific head, or so the expectations grounded in fear and loathing would have us believe.  Of the before and after, we spend so much time worrying about, and lose sight of the ambiance of today.

Today is what matters; today is the time to plan for tomorrow; today is the moment of applying principles failed by yesterday’s lack of discernment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the focus upon “today” is the parachute that will catch the wind stream for tomorrow’s security. And of the past?  Let it remain with memories foretold of positive thoughts and lessons learned for tomorrow, and not of haunting nightmares forgotten but for awakenings in the middle of the night.

Prepare well a Federal Disability Retirement application, and formulate it effectively, and file it today – not tomorrow, and certainly do not ruminate upon yesterday’s failings, as that has already passed without fruition of a future left unseen.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Silent lives defying interpretation

Life is a mystery, and individual lives a puzzle untold.  It is the calluses that we develop throughout our lives that diminish our individual and collective curiosity to get to know the “other”.

We are born with a teleological intellect striving to unravel and unmask the depths of human essence; but modernity, technology and the singular focus of tangents often involving prurient asides distract and envelop with unwavering obsessions, but it has gotten worse:  no, not in any violent manner or upheaval of historical significance; rather, the electronic means of texting, emailing, Facebook-ing and other such means – which, if one pauses for just a moment to reflect, is merely a white page on a screen of illuminating blindness where symbols representing communicative ignorance are exchanged through the ethereal conduit of airwaves – give an artificial semblance of comfort that we are still engaging in the essential project of destined human activity:  getting to know one another.

When, in fact, the distance between words and the human touch; the distinction between the beep apprising one of receiving a message and the subtleties of an eyebrow raised, a grimace faintly made or a sparkle from eyes admiring; or the differentiation between black lettering upon a lighted page as opposed to the intonation and undulating mellifluousness of the softly spoken word – these, we are losing as each day passes, unnoticed, unconcernedly, and without any real hope of recovery.

It is, in the end, those silent lives defying interpretation which are lost forever on the doorsteps of unwritten historical accounts, despite the stories never told, the narratives forever undeclared and the characters uncharted because of the mystery of life and the conundrum of human lives.

History, it has been said, is written by “winners”; and if there is indeed truth in such a statement, then its corollary opposite must be similarly true:  unwritten and unknown accounts are forgotten or never written of those “losers”.  But that is only half of the truth; for, there are those countless bystanders who are never acknowledge, but fail to be inserted and included in the narrative of unmarked graves unacknowledged through the accounts of history untold.

We all want to be “significant”; we all want to “make a difference”; and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition cuts short a promising career, a relevant contribution to the “mission” of the Federal Agency, or make a difference to an old woman living alone who waves hello to the Letter Carrier as the high-point of her day – filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may seem like the end of that teleological journey that we are all engaged in.

But always remember that there is life after the Federal workplace, and whether you are an active Federal or Postal employee, or getting ready to take that step to initiate a Federal Disability Retirement application, there are still silent lives defying interpretation, and yours is one of them.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Designing a different biography

Each of us has one, but we know not what it states; for, it is what is written and carried by someone else, and not from ourselves.  Yes, yes, we also have an “autobiography”, as well – a narrative of how we see ourselves, in what manner, of what form, in what scintillating and scandalous light.  But it is the collective viewpoints of all whom we have encountered that comprise, constitute and in the compendium of the aggregate, tell the story of “that person” – you.

What would you gather if you went about to all family members, friends, relations and relatives, and to a lesser extent neighbors and acquaintances, whether close or distant, and interviewed each as to the narrative they have about you; collect them into a coherent whole and arrange them into a comprehensible amalgamation for self-reflective, unpublished anonymity?

It would likely be surprising, with tidbits of disconcerting salaciousness – not necessarily involving any vice, but if honesty were to be an unequivocal mandate in the responses to each query, it is likely that one would be taken aback by the responses received, not only in content and substance of answers, but from whence the source of information came.

Would we, if given the opportunity, begin to design a different biography in response to the amassing of such a narrative?  Or, like most people, would we merely engage in defensive self-justification, cutting off relations, reacting with anger and disappointment, and like a child without remorse, regret from wisdom or any greater understanding than the idiot savant who can mimic brilliance from learned behaviors, sit glumly with self-pity and blame those who provided their honest opinion and perspective, and continue on in the same mold as before?

Designing a different biography requires, at a minimum, a capacity to still process information for the intended purpose of alteration of behavior; and like the metamorphosis depicted by Kafka, there are few who have the self-reflective capacity in order to initiate that which cannot be comprehended by an ego which refuses to change.  What chance, then, do we have for redemption?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition requires designing a different biography for a future event (becoming a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant) because of a present circumstance of altering issues (a medical condition that has arisen, worsened or become exacerbated over time, such that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessity), the concept of designing a different biography may require an honest assessment and evaluation of one’s physical and mental capacity, what the requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job entails, and when the time is ripe to consider initiating the long, arduous and complex process of considering the submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the end, designing a different biography always requires a moment of self-reflection – something more complicated than editing our own unsolicited autobiography.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Recognizing Problems

Why are some better at preemptively addressing recognizable foreshadowing?  Is it a genetic predisposition related to the capacity of surviving?  Like the instinctive responses of animals, is it an inherent trait that favors those who are more “fit” with such a characteristic, and thus to the disadvantage of those who do not possess it, where recognition and preemptive engagement allows for survival and thus the genetic pool favoring by dominance of avoiding the mortality trap?  Have we replaced such instinctive abilities by relegating most problems to linguistic identification and capacity to solve?

For, in the human world where language prevails and electronic communication is now the preeminent engagement of consciousness, the “problems” to recognize are no longer the danger of an approaching predator nor the oncoming storm out in the middle of the ocean (although, a burning house or a hurricane imminent if you live on the coast are still real dangers), but for the most part, language games that need modification, curtailment or adjustment in order to correct the inconvenience of social constructs that have gone amok or astray.

Yes, the furnace may break down, the water heater may have sprung a leak, or the roof shingles may need replacing; but even those, the resolution is rarely one that is initiated by us; rather, it is to utilize the mode of communication and either by phone, email or text messaging, we make an appointment for someone else to fix the problem.  Recognition of the concern was still contained within the world of language, and the physical work attended to is relegated and delegated to some strange entity in another universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker to take the next step by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – the process begins with a “real” problem:  the medical condition itself, which will not go away no matter the treatment modalities or the constant attempt to work one’s way through the chronic and progressively deteriorating situation.

Then, from the reality of the problem itself, the jump to recognizing the further concern must inevitably manifest itself – that of the incompatibility and incommensurate nature of the medical condition and being able to do all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Thus, recognizing the problem is the first step in resolving the issues; however, resolution may sometimes need some expertise and advice beyond what the Federal or Postal employee can foresee in the foreshadowing of approaching dark clouds.  For, not all problems are equal, and certainly not all solutions, and while recognizing problems may resolve some of the concerns, the greater issue is whether the Federal or Postal employee will have all of the information available “out there” in the netherworld of an administrative and bureaucratic morass as that of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the problems one cannot recognize may be the one that defeats the solution never known.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Answering Questions

How do we come to learn how to do it?  Certainly, we come across certain eccentric individuals who defy every conventional norm, and somehow manage to appear as if they have done what otherwise we recognize as not having been completed.

Have you ever come across someone who just isn’t “quite right” – such that, when you ask a question, the tangents that flood forth and the meandering thought processes make it an arbitrary conclusion as to whether it was the specific question asked that prompted the incommensurate response, or just the mere fact of a tonal posit of a question-like query that compelled a verbal reaction, even if it has nothing to do with the substance of the question itself?

How do children learn how to answer questions?  Is it natural; is there a systematized process of acceptability; is it taught in any course with a heading like, “Elementary Basics 101: How to answer a question”; and do we presume that acceptable and normative constraints are just learned effortlessly?  Certainly, the classical educational approach of dialectical methodologies – of a question posited; raised hands, chosen orders and an answer provided; then the reinforced positive feedback by the teacher in either affirming or rejecting the response – is an approach that somewhat answers the mystery.

But what of that “weird” kid?  The one where the teacher asks:  “Is the earth round or flat?”  The kid answers:  “That is an oversimplification, as the geometrical constructs require a perspective that betrays ignorance of quantum physics, where flatness is a relative concept to roundness, and vice versa.”  Now, one may smile and wonder whether, perhaps such a child prodigy reveals an intelligence quotient beyond his age or class assignment, but all the rest of the kids would just roll their eyes about as the class bullies await for recess hour in order to beat that kid to a pulp.

But was the question answered, and to that end, satisfactorily?  Or, what if another kid, perhaps half-daydreaming, suddenly blurts, “It’s blue!  It’s blue!”  Did that kid answer it any less adequately than the first?  How do we learn to answer questions?

What if the questions are essentially legalese and incomprehensible, or of a “tricky” nature and makes one pause before moving forward?  Do questions posed, for instance, by law enforcement officials evoke greater caution (as in, “To the best of my recollection…”), and if so, why?  Is it because the stakes may be higher and the suspicion of the double entendre is always there?  Which brings us to the problem of Federal Disability Retirement applications, and specifically SF 3112A – Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The questions posed on the Standard Form 3112A seem simple enough; but simplicity does not necessarily mean straightforward, and indeed, when a Federal or Postal employee is completing SF 3112A, it is best to go back to fundamentals and ask yourself, How did I learn to answer questions, and are these questions the type that may need additional help, because – though they may seem simple enough and not quite in legalese – there is some trickiness in the very simplicity of the query.

And it is the rule to remember, that the simplest questions require the greatest pause, where suspicion will warrant a more extensive pondering of reflective repose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire