OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Footprints in the snow

Snow makes a flashlight irrelevant.  Even without a moon to shine, and of clouds to mask the twinkling stars, somehow the pure whiteness allows for visual acuity.  At dawn, the footprints betray the activity that once was; and the current inactivity shadowed by the early morning yawn makes one wonder: who noticed, and what if I were standing quietly under the elm tree, making myself a part of the stiff objects in the wintry twilight?

It is similar to the Zen query of the Sixties — of a falling tree with no one around, and the pondering: Was there a noise?  And then the rush of activity as the daylight dominates and the darkness recedes and the purity of the blanket of white that once betrayed the footprints in the snow is replaced by human trudging, winds blowing and the mere vestiges that are now only images in one’s memories.

People are born daily, live their lives and die; and like footprints in the snow that appear for a moment in history’s unmentioned footnotes, they disappear with barely a trace but a few words in the obituaries. Oh, try as we may in our futile attempts at being remembered — of graveyards with larger stones; of “memorials” pasted on the back windows of cars; or even of yearly vigils; the fact is that we are mere footprints in the snow.  Yet, what is important is that the footprints did, in fact, once exist, even if the windswept vanishing of once-seen imprints disappear like vapors of steam curling into the midnight sky.

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, it is sometimes like footprints in the snow — you realize that you were once “relevant” in this world and that the Federal Agency once looked upon you as a “valuable member of the team”; but now, you are treated as the windswept footprints that were once clearly visible in the snow, and now no longer.

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the last act before the wind sweeps away the footprints; it is a means of recognizing what is important in life, and to focus upon your health and well-being and to leave behind the footprints in the snow that are so easily forgotten in the hubbub of the world’s daily activity.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Palatable possibilities

We often hear of that which is “possible”, then immediately pause to consider the probabilities of such declared possibilities.  For, isn’t it possible that there are martians on the far side of the moon, or that we all live in a dream, dreamt by the fragile whisperings of a butterfly, or that everything that we see, hear and experience is just nothing more than pure bosh, and Bertrand Russell was quite right after all, that our rumblings of metaphysical yearnings were merely a result of a stomach virus that needed an antacid to cure?

At what point are possibilities presented no longer palatable, and where are the limits of our imaginations such that reality clashes with fantasy and the medium between the two becomes so stretched that we cannot fathom their practical effects?  Have we come to a point now where supermarket tabloids are just as believable as mainline newspapers that cross the thresholds between truth and opinion?  Is virtual reality just as pleasurable as “real” reality, and does the realness of reality depend merely upon one’s perspective and opinion and how we view things?

Then, of course, there is the reality of a medical condition, and everything comes crashing down into a singular reality: mortality and health tend to bring us “back to the basics”.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, what possibilities are palatable; whether possibilities presented are meaningful; it all comes down to the pragmatic choices from three: Stay, walk away or 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 real possibilities in life are generally quite simple; it is the luxury of the healthy to entertain the greater expanse of palatable possibilities, but for the Federal or Postal employee who is faced with a chronic and progressively debilitating medical condition, the choices are stark and limited.  It is within those limitations that the palatable possibilities must be carefully chosen, and such course of actions to be chosen should be advised and guided by a consultation with an attorney who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement, lest the palatable possibilities turn out to be an unpalatable probability chosen out of a mistaken belief in the existence of palatable possibilities.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Pension: In between preparations for vanishing

The Biblical reference is where John the Baptist declared that his role in the historical narrative would naturally diminish by relevance in order for the primary character to loom large upon a world in need of a coming Savior.  Each of us strive daily to accomplish, achieve and advance (ah, the 3 “A’s” might be the title of the next New York Times Bestseller on the mass marketing list of self-help books); that is the natural inclination from birth to death – or, at the very least, until one has expended and exhausted the reservoir of stamina each retains for the daily battle of life itself.

What we fail to recognize is that, as another book of wisdom in an age prior to the declaration of a coming earthquake that would split the earth and crack the old barrels of fermenting wine (figuratively stated) pointed out, there is a time, a season and the proper context when certain acts should be considered (paraphrasing here), and prominent among them the capacity to recognize the appropriate time to begin paring back, preparing to recede and allow for the next generation to take its successive position of assertive presence.

Do we embrace the in between preparations for vanishing, or do we fight against it because that is what we have done all throughout our lives?

It is important, for instance, to apply the principle of eventual vanishing when one becomes a parent, in order to foster the self-confidence of a son or daughter; to slowly, incrementally and seemingly naturally allow for the opinions and views of the younger ones to grow in stature, relevance and significance, such that when adulthood is reached, the lowering of the parent’s perspective becomes equal to the rising of the child’s self-image.

At that point, when the balance between childhood and esteem for one’s parents meets in the middle upon a spectrum of wide variance, parent and child can become co-equals of a sort, and “friends” as much as a parent and child can be.  In order to achieve that goal, however, it is necessary to engage in “in between” preparations for vanishing – not to totally obliterate the relevance of one’s historical accomplishments, but to incrementally diminish in magnification and presence.

Fighting against the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often based upon the lack of recognition that in between preparations for vanishing is a natural and necessary part, at a certain stage in life, during a particular season of one’s career, and when the time necessitates.  Yes, the Federal career and the Postal work provided a sense of identity and granted a purpose, focus and compelling force during the productive career – but now, the season has changed, the context has altered and the time has ripened in another direction.

It is time to engage the in between preparations for vanishing – not to totally disappear, but to diminish, such that when a Federal Disability Retirement is attained, the next stage of one’s life can be opened for that which we term the greater adventure of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: The topic of conversation

How does it come about – that “topic of conversation”?  Is it merely and completely randomly selected, and in a spurious manner caught like the quiet embers that ignite an out-of-control wildfire?  Or, does someone Google on the Internet, something like, “Good dinner conversation topics”, and then proceed to print them out so that silence does not pause the ebb and flow of a party’s chatter?

If you listen carefully at conversations (which, by the way, are becoming a rarity these days, as one becomes ensconced in one’s own insular world of smart phones and Facebook postings, Instagram obsessions and Twitter feeds of inane utterances), you realize the randomness of subjects embraced, and how they often travel like a drunken driver meandering without lights or signals to brace the passersby.  Is that how Darwinian evolution looks like as an analogy of sorts?  A senseless, meandering coveting of erupting utterances without guide, meaning, direction or purpose?

But what if you become the topic of conversation – does it suddenly change, where the ear is suddenly turned red, the interest enlivened, and the aura of disinterestedness suddenly lifts?  And what if you are not in the room, but left to freshen up or take a break, and upon your reentrance, the silence suddenly pauses and the topic of conversation reveals a fissure and a gravitational shift that suddenly embarrasses and shames?  The ears burn – is that merely an old wives’ tale, or does that really happen?

Isn’t that what occurs with Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

As an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, the undersigned is often asked as to when the agency or the Postal Facility should be informed, prior to submission of an OPM Disability Retirement application, of one’s intent to file. It is a rather complicated question, and can have consequences unforeseen and not always positively received, and thus should be specifically tailored to each individual circumstance.

But do not be fooled:  The Federal or Postal employee who files a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM, at some point during the process will inevitably become the topic of conversation; whether that should bother you, or you should care, depends upon many factors, and not the least of which is often influenced by sound representation by a Federal Disability Retirement lawyer who has guided the Federal Disability Retirement process throughout the gambit of the administrative process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: Life’s Scarring

It builds through repetition of wounding, or because it is deep, jagged, or otherwise unable to repair through normal processes of cellular regeneration.  It remains a mark of a person; over time, fading through exposure to sunlight, disappearance of discoloration, and the slow erasure of the damage done through the healing process of the linear course of a lifetime, may allow for one to forget.

Traumas, medical conditions and chronic maladies takes time to heal, and time is the commodity which society relishes, values, and measures by the worth of productivity.  It is that segment of immeasurable continuity which determines the markings of a lifetime’s work; like prehistoric epochs which we name in order to neatly fit in the existence of dinosaurs and their disappearance through volcanic and meteoric catastrophes, we bifurcate the unconquerable continuum with significations of memorable moments in time.

Medical conditions and their disruptions to lives require time for healing; and whether it is the impact of psychiatric conditions upon one’s psyche and soul, or the physical manifestation of a chronic illness or injury, that commodity of value in the world of economics remains unsympathetically beyond the reach of most.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the acquisition of time becomes ever more important and critical as one awaits the winding morass of a Federal Disability Retirement application through the bureaucratic maze of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Bureaucracies grind forward as if time is nonexistent; but all the while, life must continue to flow, as rivers unfettered by dams and natural obstacles, the course of life cannot be interrupted by mere tragedies of fate.  The problem is, of course, that the rest of the Federal bureaucracy — agencies, coworkers, supervisors, managers, etc. — does not have the patience to wait upon Federal and Postal employees during a daunting administrative process in which it is already known that, if successful, the Federal or Postal employee will be leaving the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

So, what is the reaction during this administrative process?  Sometimes, it results in an administrative separation; more often than not, to simply allow the Federal or Postal employee to remain on LWOP and remain forgotten, lost in the maze of time immemorial.

In the end, it is life’s scarring which remains; how one has been treated; whether the burns of fate scorched upon flesh or memory were deliberate or through an uncaring indifference. No matter; as life’s scarring is like an organic monument of one’s test of endurance, so the manner in which one approaches the wound will determine the character of an individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OWCP versus OPM Disability Retirement

I still get periodic telephone calls with much misinformation, mixing terms applied to FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement with “Department of Labor Retirement” or Worker’s Comp retirement.  While there are indeed people who remain on OWCP temporary total disability for years and years, OWCP/DOL is ultimately NOT a retirement system.  It is a system meant to pay for injured Federal and Postal workers while he or she is recuperating from an on-the-job injury.

The Department of Labor thus does everything in its power to get the injured worker back to work, by various means:  assigning a nurse to “oversee” the treatment and “progress” of the worker; by sending the injured worker to second opinion doctors to see if there is a medical opinion different from one’s treating doctor; and other means which have nothing to do with the patient’s best medical interests.

I don’t handle OWCP issues; however, because many individuals who file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS have intersecting OWCP issues, also, I have some “on the job” knowledge of such issues.  Ultimately, a worker must decide between the two systems, although one can file for both benefits concurrently, one can only receive from one or the other — not both at the same time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire