Physical and Mental Conditions in Federal OPM Disability Retirement Claims: Ahead of the Proverbial Curve

Trends are often characterized by the actions of a few.  Whether in cultural expectancies via movie moguls, fashion designers, technology innovators and convention-busters, the known so-called leaders who stay ahead of the proverbial “curve” which maintains the continuum of linear stability in a given society, often dictate the direction of an otherwise directionless future.

The ivory tower of academia is another such bastion of proclivities where, if observed carefully, can infer a discernment for future waves to come. The views of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and economists (to name just a few “ists” within the self-vaunted world of esoteric penumbras; note, however, how the “philosopher” is not termed the “philosophist” — why is that? Perhaps because there was a desired disassociation with sophistry?) preview a trend of forthcoming conundrums impacting a society.

In the pragmatic world in which most of the rest of society inhabits, however, the dualism pronounced (and in many sectors of philosophy, denounced) concerning the bifurcated universe of the cognitive as opposed to the physical, continues to be debated. Dennett, consciousness, Nagel, Scruton, and the continuing debate over whether human consciousness can be reduced through the scientific language-game of mere biological processes, rages on in the ivory towers of conceptual constructs.

In the real world, this debate is reducible to the pragmatic question of whether psychiatric conditions are “as acceptable” as physical manifestations of traumatic conditions. For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the question of whether it is “more difficult” to win a Federal Medical Retirement claim from OPM is one which overwhelmingly can be answered in a positive, pro-worker manner: today, fortunately, there is little distinction to be made between psychiatric health problems and physical health problems.

Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, suicidal ideations, nervous breakdowns, etc. — all are viable bases upon which to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, on a par with physical conditions of chronic pain, cervical and lumbar dysfunctions, shoulder impingement syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, etc.  Descartes’ dualism cannot be found in the world of OPM and in the filing for a Federal Medical claim of disability.

The proverbial curve of societal trends is often determined by those at “the top”; but in the case of acceptance of psychiatric conditions in comparative analysis to physical conditions in the filing for Federal Disability benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the trend of acceptance on a par for both was established long ago, probably as a result of the reality of either and both conditions, and the realization by the bureaucracy that however you term the condition, the importance of a Medical Disability Retirement claim finds its essence on the impact of one’s ability or inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Stress, Anxiety, Depression…

Stress is often the noun which triggers.  As the originating causation, it is often considered the evil cousin who brings about other ailments. It is a state of mental or emotional strain which is encountered under extraordinary circumstances, often hostile in nature, and involving a lack of calm or quietude.

Workplace stress is a reality of the modern technological age; hostile work environments have been identified as causative agents of stress; and demands for overburdened, repetitive work habits contribute exponentially.

Attempts to reduce workplace stress are always welcomed but often ineffective

Attempts to reduce workplace stress are always welcomed but often ineffective

While the goal for a “stress-free environment” is generally unattainable and a mythological state existing only in one’s imagination, it is thought from a medical perspective that engaging in stress-reducing activities, whether incrementally throughout the day, or during one’s leisure time, remains an important facet of healthy living.

The noun which triggers — stress — is that which, if left unchecked, can result in the debilitating effects of an explosion of psychiatric (and physical) medical conditions, including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, homicidal thoughts, intrusive nightmares, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, gastric and abdominal dysfunctions, chronic and profound fatigue, general malaise, chronic pain, debilitating migraine headaches, and a host of other medical conditions.

At some point, when the seriousness of a medical condition brought about by stress cannot be relieved or reduced through pragmatic means of altering key components which cause the stress, then complete removal from the stressful environment must be considered.

Generalized anxiety disorders appear in physical and psychological ways. Headaches are a possible physical symptom. So are muscle aches, sweating, and hot flashes.

Federal Disability Retirement, available for all Federal and Postal employees who have the minimum number of years of service, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, and filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must always be considered when one’s medical condition — whether triggered by stress or some other causative agent — begins to impact and prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.

Sometimes, when the visiting cousin who carelessly and thoughtlessly spreads germs and destructive diseases comes for a short visit, subtle hints as to the unwelcome nature of the visit may simply fail to move.  In such cases, it is time to move out, leaving behind the unwanted cousin to drown in the misery of his own making.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: To Be a Squirrel, for a Day

Watching them is an exercise of fascination; with nimble flight, to jump from a rooftop to the tip of a branch 10 feet away; scurry up and down trees with little thought (or is that merely a human projection without justification?) and no hesitation between the daredevil act and the graceful landing; and then to sunbathe in the midday warmth on a protruding ledge of the fence.

What a carefree existence; or so it would seem.  For, upon an extended observation, one realizes that there is never a moment when the squirrel is unaware of its surroundings, and that the anxiety-filled existence of human beings is not too different from that of the animal kingdom from which we conceptually separate ourselves, but of which reality forces a recognition of kinship.

One wonders how the ordinary individual can survive the daily stresses of life; but in turning to an uncomplicated animal such as a squirrel, you quickly realize that we are created as a bundle of stress-resistance nerves.  For the squirrel, the probability of a predator ready to pounce requires a heightened spectrum of awareness that approaches constant vigilance.  For the individual human being, the technological, artificial, but nevertheless just-as-real “stressors” of stimuli which require minute-by-minute responses, are readily received by the evolutionary adaptation first developed in the dangers of wildlife.

Thus, it is little wonder that when a medical condition hits an individual, the quickened pace of deterioration and progressive chronicity of the condition turns to debilitating impact.  By then, the stress-overload has reached its maximum impact.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is beset with a medical condition such that one must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the time between the onset of the medical condition and the need to file is often short.  This should not be surprising, given that the Federal and Postal employee has often ignored or otherwise overcompensated for the warning signs of impending consequences.

OPM Disability Retirement can take some time to obtain.  Whether under FERS or CSRS, every Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the waiting time tends to be arbitrary, but in each case, somewhat lengthy.  Given that, once the crisis point of “needing” to file has been identified, it is important to take the next giant step and initiate the process.

And, like the squirrel of whom we imagine is merely frolicking in the sun, the lack of outward appearance of a need is never the true indicator of what is going on underneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Problem of Perhaps

Perhaps it is time to approach the problem from a different perspective; perhaps it is not.  We often engage in games of self-delusions, of allowing words of self-justification to interfere with sequential and linear lines of thinking, in order to bypass the harsh reality of what is often an inevitability.

The allowance of bifurcation of thought — of the logical disjunctive of choices and options to choose from — makes an allowance of pretense to procrastinate in intellectually acceptable ways.  We sound thoughtful and intelligent when we weigh the various alternatives.  And, indeed, it is normally a “good thing” to gather, review and evaluate the options open to us, and to make the proper decision based upon such an analysis.  But at some point in the process, continuing in a morass of intellectualization becomes problematic.

When the choices are limited, clear, and necessary to act upon, to play the “perhaps” game becomes merely a way to delay the inevitable.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must contemplate a drastic change of circumstances by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, engaging in such mind-games merely prolongs the process.  At some point, action must proceed from thought; and for the Federal and Postal Worker whose medical condition is such that it impacts one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, it is the action which must prevail over the perhapses of our mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Indicators

The technology of automobiles has changed radically in the past 2 decades.  No longer do we rely upon intuition, the automotive “ear” for that strange sound which, when talking to the service department, we attempt with futility to reenact with absurd pitches and tones in an attempt to accurately depict that which fails to occur when brought to the attention of the mechanic.  Instead, there are electronic warning lights and the computer sensors which specifically and with great detail indicate a past occurrence, a present problem, or a needed future course of action.

If the human body is the ultimate composite of neuro-sensors and complexities of the physical, the psychological, and the coalescence of mind, body and soul (including the philosophical “ghost in the machine“), then pain must be the warning indicator for past transgressions, current anomalies, and future need for servicing.  Those who ignore automotive warning signs do so at their peril; similarly, to ignore such signs emitted by the human body and transcribed in no uncertain terms via the daily chronicity of pain, do so with a singular certainty of progressive deterioration and decline.

Ultimately, the decision for the Federal or Postal Worker to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, must be accomplished once warning signs are heeded, and a blunt discussion with doctors, family and friends are engaged; but it is the pure and unadulterated ignoring of all signs which results in crisis and disaster.

The warning signs are there to heed; the future course of action is still left up to the recipient of such indicators.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Apparent Normalcy

One can venture and maneuver through this world with a semblance of normalcy, where from all outside perspectives, a person is untroubled and unencumbered.

There are multiple complexities inherent in such a perspective, of course: what constitutes “normal”; to what extent do individuals have a responsibility in assessing and evaluating a person’s private world; as well as the problem of infringing upon the privacy of others, and the desire of the other to allow for any intrusion, whether consciously or subconsciously.

For, each person constructs multiple layers of privacy zones — from the proverbial picket fence, to one’s own private bedroom; to the gates of a home; but always, the foundation begins within the walls of the skull of one’s brain.  For, the gatekeeper is always maintained by the individual, as to what is allowed in, and what is manifested for others to observe.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who is beset with a medical condition, such that he or she must contemplate filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is often the preparation of the actual forms which is the first manifested evidence of an impacting medical condition.

All throughout the previous many years, the apparent normalcy has been closely protected; great performance ratings, minimal leave taken, and daily smiles and platitudinous greetings; until the Federal or Postal worker arrives at a crisis point.

This is the apparent face and semblance of normalcy — the surprise of others, of the regretful and remorseful comment, “I just never would have realized.”  Or, perhaps it is the indicia of the busy world in which we all live, which allows us to lack any compassion to notice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Stress & the Workplace

Taking off from work for a few days because of “stress” may be entirely appropriate; basing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, upon a “stress claim” may not be the most effective way of formulating one’s case.

Stress is a pervasive factor in all employment atmospheres; whether resulting from overly demanding supervisors, or the self-imposition of time and due-dates, stress is a daily occurrence and reality of the modern technological world.  If we ever thought or believed that technology would reduce the burden of stress, we have been sorely mistaken; for, in this world where instantaneous responses are expected, where emails are sent and received within the blink of a button being pushed; where smartphones hound you with texts and emails; where phone calls and faxes are merely afterthoughts in the business world; stress is an inherent aspect and element in all workplaces.

How one deals with stress; the varying tolerance levels particularized to individual personalities; the level of trigger-points which result in tertiary and consequential medical conditions — it is the latter which must be focused upon when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. For, while stress itself may not be an acceptable basis for a Federal Disability Retirement application, the resulting medical conditions which manifest themselves as a result of stress likely are.

In the end, attempting to create a stress-free environment is in itself a stressful venture; and one which is not likely to succeed.  Similarly, while stress itself may not be a valid basis for a Federal Disability Retirement case, the medical consequences of stress are likely the foundational basis of an effective application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire