OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The Before & After

In once sense, there can always be the identifiable spectrum bifurcated into the “before” and “after”, and the conditions, the context and the significant differences characterized by each.  There is the time “before” the 1929 stock market crash, and then the “after”.  There is the “before” period in Nazi Germany, and the “after” timeframe subsequent to defeat.  There is “before” television and “after”; there is the time period before X-presidency and after, and before the advent of the computer, the laptop, the smart phone, etc. — and after.

How can we identify and bifurcate based upon relevant contexts?  For example, one can point to the legendary bank robbers — of “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Pretty Boy Floyd”, “Baby Face Nelson”, etc. — and it is much fun to watch movies romanticizing such characters.  But how would they fare today in the era of cellphones and electronic tracking devices, modern technologies of security apparatus, etc.?  Could a person “get away” these days using the same tactics and strategies, or would any of the famous bank robbers have been smart enough to change tactics and adapt to this world of technological intrusion? Are the old bank robbers of “before” the new cyberspace hackers of “after”?

Before the Great Dust Bowl and the Depression was a country that was mostly agrarian and independent of the Federal Government; after, we became a nation where the greater populace looked to a more centralized nation.  Good or bad, we tend to view contexts upon a spectrum of “before” and “after”, and the same is true of individual lives.  “How” we view it all depends upon which events we consider as significant enough to posit as the bifurcating dividing point that separates the “before” and the “after”.

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, the “before” is quite simple: Before the onset of the medical condition.  It is the “after” that becomes problematic, and filing for Federal Disability Retirement is the next step in completing the process of the “after” so that you can go on to the next phase of your life and make the “after” the next “before” in a life that doesn’t remain stuck in the “before” of one’s medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The Venn Diagram of Life

Venn diagrams reveal the logical relationships between a finite collection of different sets.  Unlike concentric circles which all share a common center and thus fail to show their interconnectedness, Venn diagrams unravel both the connected relationships as well as the disjointed and isolated parts.  Thus, while all of X may also share in Y, some of Y may not connect with X or with Z, etc.

It is emblematic of our personal lives — where some part of us may be shared at work, but not all; and the personal side which is “not known” at work may be a private side of us that no one ever knows, and need not know.  Medical conditions are often those sets of conditions which represent a part of Y (personal side) but which are left isolated and private, outside of the reach of knowledge, yet nevertheless a part of X (work side) precisely because we bring to work our medical conditions (because we have no choice about the matter), even though we try and hide them.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has begun to increasingly impact one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the Venn Diagram of Life is a familiar concept — trying to leave the impact outside of the circle of work becomes increasingly difficult, and the “work-circle” more and more notices the infringing nature of the medical condition itself through greater use and exhaustion of Sick Leave, LWOP and reduced performance efficacy.

The key, then, is to recognize the logical and real relationship between one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  Once that relationship has been realized, then you can make the proper decision as to whether it is time to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

As part of that Venn Diagram of Life, you may want to look at the diagram of concentric circles, as well — where the common center of a successful disability retirement application is often in consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Sincerely,

Robert R.McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The concise sentence

What is the difference between being concise and performing with precision?  The former is often applied in the universe of words and communication; the latter, in areas where quantitative measuring tools can be determined, such as in science or in mathematical sectors.

We say of a person who speaks voluminously but with little substance that he or she represents the antonym of conciseness; and so a comparison is often made between volume spoken or written and concepts or thoughts conveyed.  Of Literature, most would agree that Hemingway is the representative paradigm of conciseness, whereas Joyce and Faulkner reflect the very opposite, though all three are considered classic and great authors.

Do we excuse such authors as Joyce and Faulkner because, in literature, we tend to focus upon the stylistic brilliance of their writings as opposed to the “meaning” that captures the undercurrent of their works?  In other words, although they may give us “too many” words and thus are, by definition, lacking of conciseness, we nevertheless overlook such imprecision precisely because we do not attribute “amount” as the necessary and sufficient cause of determining the worth of good authorship.

Hemingway used to say that, in writing, he had already formulated each sentence before setting it upon paper, whether in handwriting (a lost art) or at the typewriter (a manual, when those contraptions existed and where the clack-clack of metal keys pounded deep into the twilight of a writer’s life).

Why do we applaud and celebrate the concise sentence?  Does it make a difference whether or not a sentence, say, with 7 words communicates a thought as opposed to a paragraph with a thousand words that conveys the identical conceptual construct?

Take the following 2 examples: 1. Lessening of debt equals wealth. Or, 2: If you have less to owe to others, then it is the same as savings; or, as Benjamin Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and the reality of it all is that we have more to spend and retain wealth, not so much because you have more money, but you have more because less is spent on paying other people your hard-earned dollars.

Now, both sentences convey essentially the same meaning.  The first one, however, is comprised of 5 words. The second one took…many words to communicate the same thought.  Does it matter whether a concise sentence is used, as opposed to one that is not, if the same two convey identically reflective thoughts?

It might make a difference, because of one factor that has not been discussed: Being concise often possesses the added feature of being precise, and precision is important in the accuracy of conveying thought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are thinking about 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, there is a dual-key component to preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability: Be concise, but do not forego length for completeness.

In other words, being concise in order to convey the proper information is important; but, at the same time, do not sacrifice wordiness just because of the limited “boxes” that are provided on SF 3112A.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The image we hold

What picture do we carry?  No, not in one’s pocket or wallet, but in the eye of one’s mind.  Is it one that has been frozen in time; an imprint from a bygone era, a specific day in one’s past where childhood memories once floated upon a cloud of dreams and wishes?  Or, is it of more recent vintage – wrapped in layers of cynicism and denied opportunities, huddled in a corner where bitterness, wrongs and outrages of blames and byproducts of what others have “done” have emasculated and left that image we hold with disdain and dank disgust?

Where we are in life, at what stage we find ourselves; often, how we act and engage the world depends upon the image we hold of ourselves.  It is, after all, the one person whom we have no idea about.

Oh, yes, we try and fool ourselves by claiming to know ourselves better than any other, and we do this because we are the only ones who have access to that “inner” soul that speaks soliloquys and bitter asides when we believe no one else is listening.  But that is merely a subjective understanding of a subject that lives in the world of pure subjectivity; it is not, after all, an “objective” perspective and assessment of who we are.  For that, we must turn a dispassionate eye in reverse-form upon the image we hold of ourselves.

In the end, are we anything more than the aggregate of a language we have learned, and the very usage of the language we have acquired, the sense-impressions we have encountered and the image we hold – is it any more or less than what others have of ourselves?

That is why, in 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, it is important to have a greater sense of who we are when we write that “Statement of Disability” on SF 3112A.  For, SF 3112A requests certain and specific information about one’s self, the nexus between one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s positional capabilities and essential elements of one’s job.

But the narrative we write should have a certain sense of objectivity about it, precisely because it is going to be some “other” person who will be reading it, assessing it and evaluating the sincerity and persuasive impact of the delineated discourse.

From that perspective, the image we hold of ourselves can be an impediment, precisely because it may not be an objective viewpoint, but one wrapped in the perspective of pain, turmoil, anger and despair, which is understandable, taking the medical condition into account.  Perhaps, an advocate who has a more “objective” perspective – like a lawyer who is well versed in Federal Disability Retirement law — might be of some assistance in the process.  Just a thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Systems: The sacristan

There was once such a job.  Now, of course, the closest we can come to it is forever hidden in the secrecy of our own private lives.  For, there is nothing sacred, anymore, and everything private has been allowed to be revealed in the public domain of electronic declaratives.  Whether of protecting holy oils, ensuring that decretals are unblemished in their interpretation; of maintaining the decorum, orderliness and cleanliness of the altar and the implements of worship; and initiating the timeliness of church bells to call upon the loyal throng to approach with the sacraments of piety.

When did such an important position become extinguished?  How did it become an anachronism and extinction of necessity, and who made such a determination?  Was it with the conflagration of the public domain upon the private – when formerly private deeds, of the sanctity of intimacy behind closed doors reserved by those who commit themselves into a tripartite unity of matrimony?  Was it when youth allowed for the destruction of dignity and defiance of decorum and all manner of discretion, of sending through electronic means photographs of acts beyond bestiality merely for prurient interests and chitter of laughter and good times?

The sacristan is unemployed; he or she is now merely a vestige of an arcane past where holiness, purity and the sacred have been sacrificed upon the altar of inconvenience and guilty consciences replaced by the King of Human Folly:  Psychology.  What do we hold sacred, anymore, and behind what closed door can we find the remains of a past forever absolved?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the question related to one’s own circumstances with the obsolescence of the sacristan, comes down to this:  In the course of dealing with my medical conditions, what altars of holiness have I compromised just to continue my career with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service?  For, as the desecration of the public domain has increasingly harbored the sacred into the domains of private thought, so those reserved altars of inner sanctuaries concern the essence of one’s soul and the inner-held beliefs that remained forever the last vestiges of a sacred self.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement, 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 always just a means to an end.  The means is comprised of extrication from an untenable situation; the end is to reach a plateau of life where the sacristan may be reemployed, if only within the inner sanctum of one’s own conscience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The measure of sincerity

How do you measure a concept?  By application of, or comparison with, another?  Or, does it require a meta-application — an algorithm from a different dimension?  We measure linear horizontal distances by coordinated precision of segmentation, and vertical sedimentary deposits by arc designs manifested and revealed in nature; so, what of conceptual distances and chasms of thoughts?

Can more words validate the sincerity of previously spoken words merely uttered in an informal setting of pleasantry and conversational discourse?  Does a track record of broken promises undermine the sincerity of future intentions conveyed by more words?  Does volume, either in the form of numerical countenance or in terms of decibels emitted, change the validity, tone or tonal significance of a person’s overt meaning?  Can a person state one belief at one moment, in a slice of time of historical irrelevance, where only private ears can confirm the spoken words; then, in the very next instance, make a public declaration affirming the very opposite of what was previously made known to a microcosm of friends and associates, and still cling to a claim of consistency, logical and rational thought processing, ignorance of any hypocritical intent, and sincerity as well?  How many chances does a person have, before words become meaningless by means of consistent refutation and reversal of one’s stated intent overturned by further disputation?

In the world of practical living, of course, each individual applies a threshold of judgment and determination.  The test and measure of sincerity is not to merely pile on more words upon previously-uttered communication; rather, it is actions which follow upon declared intent which confirms the validity of a meaningful statement.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who state that he or she is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, action must follow upon words of medical significance.  If a medical provider advises that continuation in a certain profession or duties required by a position in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service is prevented because of a medical condition, then thoughts, words, conceptual daydreaming and wishful thinking are no longer enough.

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, is the next logical step subsequent to, and in post-sequence, following upon words which have significance and import.  Ignoring words is one thing; denying truth is quite another.  For, in the end, how we measure sincerity is quite easy; we take the sum of the words spoken, divide it by the number of actions taken, and multiply that by the dividends previously accounted for in prior instances of similar motives stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Employees from the Postal Service and Other Federal Agencies: Things That Go Bump in the Night

The nightmare of filing for FERS Disability Retirement in times of financial, emotional, and medical needs

Whether or not childhood fear and traumas have a long-term impact in determinable ways upon reactive capacities later in life; to what extent regularity of behaviors, consistency of habitual living, and early imprinting mechanisms influence subconscious firings of synapses, remains within the mysterious realm of esoteric knowledge investigated and analyzed by the coalescence of science, philosophy and psychology; but it is the lay person who must, during the process of unfolding discovery and wisdom, live the consequences of actions impacted by others.

Sometimes, however, it is not what others do, but rather, circumstances which manifest of untold trauma and misery, for which no explanation but a shrug of one’s shoulders can presume.  Medical conditions fall into that category.  How one reacts to it; the extent of the impact upon one’s life, livelihood and future; and the preparations one must undertake in order to secure the betterment for one’s life when once you get beyond the condition itself, if ever; these are all concerns and pathways of responsibilities which fall upon a person who suddenly finds him or herself with a medical condition of significant magnitude.

Whether physical in nature — where orthopedic pain, limitation of flexion and movement; chronic pain, profound fatigue, or neurological issues resulting from disc desiccation, internal derangement of joints, etc.; or of psychiatric issues encompassing the many complex diagnoses, including Bipolar Disorder, pain and anxiety issues, Major Depression, depressive disorders; it matters not in the end, for either and both impact those decisions which one must make in determining the pathway of one’s future.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find that a medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration must always be given to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For Federal Disability Retirement, preconditions and pre-existing conditions matter not; it is not like an OWCP claim where the focus of query may attempt to undermine a claim based upon the origin of the condition; and so the “how” and the “why” are not relevant issues, as in “how did it happen” or “why did it occur”?  The relevant inquiry does not encompass the “time before”; it does not delve into the deep reaches of one’s damaged psyche, or of preexistent traumas in the far recesses of damaged lives.

Whether or not things go bump in the night when once we become adults matters less, than the experiential trauma of having to deal with present issues that impact one immediately.  Taking care of life’s interruptions is a necessary component of living, and for Federal and Postal workers whose future avenue of livelihood is impacted by a medical condition, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement is of paramount importance.

Bumps always tend to occur in the night; it is what the “thing” is that we must identify and resolve, and what bodes for the uncertain future into which we must venture.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Complexity in the Hidden Background

To prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, is seemingly an uncomplicated matter.

As one’s medical condition impacts the ability to perform one or more of the essential element of one’s job, it is up to the treating doctor to establish the nexus and provide an opinion as to the connecting bridge between the medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job.

How does one do that? Must it be comprised of a 1-to-1 ratio between job elements and medical conditions? How important and prominent are “symptoms” considered, as opposed to the mere clinical declaration of the diagnosis, in persuading the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that a particular medical condition should qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? To what extent is one’s own statement of disability, as described on Standard Form 3112A, important in establishing the foothold towards gaining an approval from OPM?

Also, what algorithm or comparative analysis does OPM use in evaluating a case, and how does one enhance the chances of success at the First Stage of the process? If denied at the First Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, does the basis of the denial (often characterized by a plethora of multiple reasons given) require a point-by-point refutation, and is the Reconsideration Division at OPM using the same standard of review, or a different application of laws in evaluating the additional evidence submitted at the next stage?

If one watches a gymnast, a ballerina, or even a mathematician at work in solving or unraveling a complex problem or exercise, one is immediately struck by the ease with which the feat is performed. But it is almost always the unseen preparation which has preceded the actual performance that sets the stage of an uncomplicated presentation.

It is that mystery of the uncomplicated, which tends to trip us all, and that is no different in the preparation, formulation and submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application, applied through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Striving for an Unobtrusive Life of Quietude

When first entering the adversarial universe of trial lawyers, a kindly but seasoned opposition who easily made foolish mincemeat out of the flustered composite of inexperience and youthful exuberance, but later approached to compliment the young whippersnapper to give some sagely advice: “You have a yellow pad. That is good. You kept looking down at it as if it was a security blanket. That is revealing”.

Whenever I see a man with a roadmap, and it is my job to disrupt the travel route from Point A to Point Z, it makes my job easier to make the opposition take some circuitous routes to force the journeying adversary onto more interesting pathways, to make him take in the sights and travel in a zig-zag manner, rather than in the straight line he desires to take. Point taken.

Revealing too much can have the negative effect of allowing the opposition to know one’s travel route; and if the purpose of one’s mission is to make miserable any goal-tending individual and preventing him or her from attaining a life of unobtrusive quietude (as is often the superficial purpose in life of Supervisors, Managers and other minor dictators who control multiple miniature fiefdoms throughout the Federal and Postal Sectors of employment), then providing an insight into one’s itinerary is like posting a copy of the newly discovered treasure map on Facebook and expecting secrecy because you clicked on a few privacy settings.

It is, indeed, a sad world in which we live; for, if the goal of most is merely to attain an unobtrusive life of quietude, the minimalism of expectation is for each to respect the privacy-space of one another. But perhaps that is asking too much of humanity.

For Federal and Postal employees, whether under FERS or CSRS, who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition has interrupted the unobtrusive life of quietude, filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits through one’s agency (if one is not yet separated from Federal Service, or has been but still within 31 days of such separation) is the administrative requirement. If separated for more than 31 days, then the Federal Disability Retirement application needs to be filed directly with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In either event, of course, all Federal Disability Retirement applications end up at OPM.  But in so doing, timing, the extent of any prefatory information to be revealed to the agency; to whom; for what purpose; and the ultimate question: When? These are all questions and concerns which must be dealt with in a sensitive, thoughtful manner, and particularized to each situation.

Mapping out a strategy on the proverbial yellow pad is an intelligent approach to take; providing a copy of what one has prepared, to whom, when, and to what extent, will determine whether one’s journey is an unobtrusive straight line from point A to point B, or a zig-zagging line of confusions beset with multiple points of disquietude.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire