Federal Disability Retirement: The Problem with Familiarity

“Familiarity breeds contempt” — was the unspoken rule within the military class which built a wall between officers and enlisted, supervisors and subordinates, bosses and workers, etc.  Why is that?  Is it because, beneath the veneer of superiority, we all know that we’re no better than others, and once the imperfections cleverly concealed are unraveled for others to witness, the scoffing laughter and the smirking undertone will openly splatter with a defiance of disdain?

Familiarity, over time, likewise brings us to take things for granted — of the monotony of everyday rhythms, that what we experienced yesterday will similarly occur today; that the sun will rise tomorrow with perhaps a cloudy interlude that hides the radiance of a clear sky for a brief respite, but knowing that regularity will return with a force of continuity.

What does it mean to “take X for granted”?  Whether of people, events, objects, pets or circumstances, it is how we approach things — whether with a freshness of purpose or an old rag of expectations.  What did we do differently “before’ the problem of familiarity?  Did we bring flowers every day to win the heart of a loved one — only to later expect that, well, since the heart has already been won, why waste the money upon such frivolities?  Does familiarity lessen the fervency of love, or does “commitment” undermine the urgency of conquest?

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 problem with familiarity is that the basis of constancy breeds not contempt, but comfort.  It is “comfortable” to stay where you are — despite the harassment, the adversity and the problems inherent in remaining; nevertheless, that which is “known” is preferable to the unknown.

Becoming a Federal Disability Annuitant may be a scary thought, but a necessary next step.  Taking that first step is to break away from familiarity, and that is where the problem lies — of stepping into the abyss of the unknown.  To smooth the pathway away from the road of familiarity, think of Robert Frost’s poem and consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  It might make all the difference in your life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: OPM’s Methodology

There may be a single criteria to meet, with subsets of requirements that must be complied with; yet, multiple methodologies in approaching the singular.  How can that be?  Isn’t it all simple, where you read what is required, then gather up all of the evidence that appears to meet it and simply send it all in?  That is the “volume methodology”.

Can a single sentence in a medical report ever meet the legal criteria in an OPM Disability Retirement case — i.e., a “qualitative” methodology, as opposed to a quantitative one?  Sometimes.

Isn’t the law clear in what is required, and isn’t it a matter of just amassing the medical evidence to meet the requirements as stated?  Hmmm…. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is important to understand, somewhat, OPM’s Methodology in reviewing and deciding upon a case.

First of all, not all medical conditions are equal.  Perhaps that is self-evident, but for the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from one or another medical condition, and must endure the daily pain, restriction and limitations imposed thereby, it may not be so self-evident.

Second, OPM is not some “neutral” Federal Agency that reviews a Federal Disability Retirement application with dispassionate objectivity, ready to grant an “approval” because you “believe” your medical evidence is “sufficient” to meet the legal requirements as stated.  Sufficiency is the gatekeeper that denies many a Federal Disability Retirement case — and it is not a methodology that is satisfied by quantitative (volume) means, not even necessarily by qualitative standards; rather, it is the reviewer (i.e., the “Medical Specialist” at OPM) who determines by some unknown and unknowable standard when the goal-post has been crossed.

Thus, in an OPM Disability Denial Letter, one may read a reference to one’s doctor’s note or a quotation from a medical report from one’s doctor, and think, “Good, this is very supportive” —then, with an appended end to the paragraph stating, “Such medical evidence does not sufficiently meet the standards to qualify for OPM Disability Retirement”.  Huh?

Think about it this way: “Sufficiency” may mean different things to different audiences; for example, what is a “sufficient” amount of food for a lion, as opposed to a domesticated kitten?

OPM’s methodology is, at best, malleable, as language in law is likewise changeable.  It is good to know this for Federal and Postal employees who are either getting ready to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or who are in the middle of a fight to obtain it; for, in the end, consulting with an OPM Disability Retirement lawyer allows you to arm yourself with knowledge for the battle that OPM’s Methodology in determining Federal Disability Retirement cases must be prepared, like any legal battle that involves “criteria” to be interpreted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: That carefree child

Whatever happened to him or her?  That child who would shrug the shoulders, move on to the next thing and be free of worry or concerns.  “Carefree” is not a synonym for “careless”, or even of “uncaring”; rather, it is the capacity and ability to maneuver throughout this complex universe without allowing for life’s burdens to weigh upon one so heavily that past events prevent future actions of progress and advancement.

That child that is now lost was caring; he or she was also careful in every endeavor, every project and helpful in many ways; yet, that same child was known to be carefree.  Where is that child, now?  What happened such that life interrupted, anxieties developed and stresses multiplied?  Does that same child – now a hunk of an adult sitting in the corner somewhere – stay up at nights worrying about tomorrow, “stressed out” about the next day, paralyzed with panic about the future?

Often, the troubles we face within the confines of our own minds are greater in horror and imagined size, than the reality that is actually to occur.  Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar spectrums of manic and depressive phases, coupled with suicidal ideations, agoraphobia and other psychiatric diagnoses – these can comprise the lost paths of a child who is no longer carefree, but has grown into adulthood and experiences the commonality of society’s growing problems, exponentially expanded because the rest of society has indeed become uncaring and careless in its treatment of that child who was once carefree.

If that once-carefree child has become a Federal or Postal employee who is suffering now from the cares of the world, and the medical condition no longer allows for the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, it may be time to consider 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.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits will not be the solution to all of life’s problems, but it can at least begin to pave a path towards “coming home” to a time that we remember, when that carefree child walked about with less of a burden and more of a smile.  Federal Disability Retirement is meant to do that – to allow for the Federal or Postal worker to focus back upon one’s health and well-being and not become burdened with the stresses of work and performance, where love is anything but unconditional and the summer days of tomorrow may still have some warm moments to enjoy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: What to do

Does anyone really know what to do?  From the very beginning, we are brought into this world without having been asked, and never with any instructions entitled, “Life instructions in ‘how to’”.  Instead, we are thrown into the ravages of this impervious universe.  We are lucky if we have some kind parents; otherwise, as with most of us, they are as clueless as we are, and sometimes even more so.

What do we do with the rest of our lives?  How do we determine if the course we have chosen is worthwhile?  When do we determine if the choices presented are the ones that will forever be offered, or will others come along after we have long committed to the limited ones we face?  Who tells us if what we are doing is “right”, and does the concept of “right” or “wrong” even matter, anymore”?

When problems arise, who do we turn to?  Do we turn to the priesthood that has been forever discredited, to the shamans who drive in expensive cars, or the Wall Street wolves who live in mansions afforded upon the backs of ordinary people?  And since parents are now told that honesty about their own lives are important in feeding the ingredients of success for their children, do we count on them to give us the same clueless directions that we can expect of ourselves?

Who knows anything, anymore, in any expectantly significant or relevant way, other than the puffery we encounter in our daily lives?  And when medical conditions interrupt and intervene – who tells us what path to take; where we go with the career choices given; and what about the legal issues that arise when it concerns a Federal or Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?  What to do – isn’t that the question we always have to ask ourselves?  And how do we know if the choices we make are the right ones, the wrong ones, or perhaps just “the best under the given circumstances”?

It is important to know; relevant to apply the correct criteria; significant for understanding the issues that need resolution; knowing what to do, how to do it and when to begin.  Medical issues that arise make for hard questions that need relevant answers.  And when the medical issues themselves impede, interrupt and intervene in negatively impactful ways, they exacerbate the capacity and ability to arrive at the proper judgments, and make it that much harder to decide.

Maybe there is no “right” answer, but only some minimal instructions and restrictive directions.  Whatever the case may be, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is important to gain some initial insight and directions on what to do, and that may require seeking a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Preparing properly for each stage

We often hear (and perhaps secretly scoff at?) the modern verbiage of a “Holistic” approach, where the missing consonant makes all the difference – as in the non-word, “Whole-istic”.  It is the approach often ignored and replaced by its cousin – of looking at each stage of every unit in and of itself without taking into account the entirety of the process of an administrative procedure.

For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, that is entirely and wholly a wrong approach.  No unit or stage is an island, entire of itself; every stage of the process is a piece of the whole, and we should never doubt for whom the bells of legal limitations toll; it tolls loudly for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – to misquote and paraphrase John Donne.  For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who is considering preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, the thought of having it denied at the Initial Stage of the process rarely – if ever – enters one’s mind.

Why?  A tentative answer must always include the following: A person who suffers from a medical condition, and feels the chronic, intractable pain, or the turmoil of psychiatric trauma with loss of mental acuity and cognitive dysfunctions, cannot fathom a bureaucracy denying that which would seem self-evident to the preparer of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

There would be, of course, other explanations just as viable and valid, and dependent upon each person’s individual circumstances.

A simpler explanation can also be posited, which would more closely follow the rule of Ockham’s Razor —  that in the rush to put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, anything but a focus upon the “First Stage” of the process is simply too complicated, and cannot be envisioned by an applicant who is mired in the complexities of just “living” – of trying to still work; of dealing with the medical conditions; of trying to gather all of the medical and other evidence required in putting forth an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Is this short-sighted?  Perhaps – but it is what is called “reality”.

It is only the Federal Disability Retirement lawyer – one who has “dealt” with hundreds, if not thousands, of cases of Federal Disability Retirement, who can preemptively prepare for stages beyond the Initial Stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process.

In the end, preparing properly for each stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process means that you should lay the groundwork for the possibility of beyond – not much different than planning for tomorrow, for a year from now, or of taking into account the possibility that the entirety of the process includes multiple stages, and that is precisely the point:  Federal Disability Retirement is made up of multiple potential stages, and the proper preparation of each should always include a view which encompasses the next, and the one after that, and even perhaps the last of the multiple stages.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Knowing where to stop

In life, it is often just as important in knowing where one is going, as it is to recognizing where to stop.  We all know the individual with “a mission” – always self-confident, never tentative, and rarely pausing to catch one’s breath except to regain one’s composure before blindly forging ahead with uninterrupted fortitude and resolve.  Military men and women are like that; born leaders and megalomaniacs follow suit; and only the timid bear the brunt of being pushed aside and trampled upon.  Overreaching is a problem in a society that knows only excess and limitless pleasure.  In the midst of being human, we forget our own humanity.

In the history of Philosophy, Rationalism has been usurped by Idealism; the latter, superseded by the reality of human depravity, and science the victor in the tension between theology and pragmatism.  In the end, Darwinian declarations of equality among the species have come to prevail, and in the post-Existential era of seeking merely pleasure above purpose, and the more modern parlance of embracing the “Happiness Principle” – where one’s minute-by-second assessment of one’s emotional quotient has trumped obligation, duty, convention and rational essence of an Aristotelian definition of Man – we now have no boundaries, no social conventions of constraints, and so long as we can avoid violating the basic laws that govern our society, we can do what we want.

In such a state, society and civilization, how can we know where to stop?  If everything is okay to do, how do we determine that which may harm ourselves, or otherwise breach the boundaries of decency and what it means to be human?  If all species are of equal value, then what worth is there in having humanity?  How do we know where to stop?  This applies, as well, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Often not knowing all the current laws that govern Federal Disability Retirement Law, the initiating applicant will proceed forth and barrel ahead like Military men and women and born leaders, without first consulting a lawyer who is knowledgeable about OPM Disability Retirement Law.  For, never underestimate the underlying principles behind questions posed on a Federal Disability Retirement application – especially as it relates to one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s official position.

SF 3112A can be a landmine of sorts, and while it is well and good to proceed in a forthright and affirmative manner, it is equally as important in knowing where to stop, as it is in realizing the direction the Federal or Postal employee must go in order to file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire