CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Shrinking Attention Span

Social commentators have noted the prevalence of the decline of genuine empathy, often linked to a greater entanglement with the virtual world, as created by television, movies, media, the internet, and the exponential use of social media.  When emotions are spent and expended upon a lifeless screen of images and words, with limited encounters with actual human interaction, one wonders about the inevitable march of human evolution towards a world of emotionless drones and androids.

Science fiction is no longer a genre about the future; the future is now.  As part of the defining phenomena of our times is the shrinking capacity for holding one’s attention; for, as we become attuned and disciplined to view the entire lifespan of an individual or event within a 2-hour period — as that constitutes the estimated time of a film or play — so the capacity of a person to endure the patience to listen to, attend to, or otherwise sustain one’s attention for the true lifespan of an individual becomes correspondingly diminished.

Society no longer has the ability to focus, concentrate, or have sympathy for, conditions and events which last a real lifetime.  This presents a growing problem in our society, and one which is reflected in daily life.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s employment arena in the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the sustained reaction from one’s coworkers, supervisors and managers is a telling tale of increasing impatience with anyone and everyone who is not “fully productive”, as defined by a society of working drones.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option which provides an outlet away from the compassionless environment of a workforce which, once not too long ago, viewed themselves with greater empathy by embracing disabled workers and with great fanfare declared programs of accommodations and patience.  But somewhere along the way, the virtual world caught up with the reality of human nature; we are what we seek to become.

Federal Disability Retirement is an avenue of relief for the Federal or Postal Worker who requires an attention span greater than the time needed to view a movie; it is there for one’s lifetime, to attend to the realities of a world otherwise distracted by the glow of an electronic screen while one’s neighbor suffers real human needs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Expectations

Puppies are special creatures.  They give their loyalty and love unconditionally, and only ask to explore the world we present within the constraints we define.  They are expected to grow old with us; and when they die young, it is a tragedy beyond comprehension.  To cease before one’s time is difficult to bear, precisely because one’s expectation is that the next generation will carry forth where the previous one left off; and so we view the world in this logical, sequential manner of linear progression.

The puppy grows; he may not live as long in terms of human dimensional existence, but we expect our companion to accompany our linear presence.

Careers are formed that way.  We expect incremental progression; for the Federal and Postal Worker, step increases and annual recognition through monetary incentives for the valuable work which is performed.  But life has a way of interrupting our expectations; and just as the life of a puppy may suddenly and without reason end through an accident or illness, so a career may be cut short because of reasons beyond one’s control.  When life’s harshness intersects with human expectations, a change of one’s linear thought processes must occur.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is available for all Federal and Postal employees who have met the minimum eligibility rules of 18 months of Federal Service (for FERS) and 5 years (for CSRS employees).  It is that benefit which must be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, for those whose expectations have been cut short because of a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

As the precious life of a puppy may unexpectedly encounter the harshness of the world in which we live, so the Federal or Postal employee may face the same hardships; however much we may try to cushion and protect, both for the Federal and Postal employee, as well as for that special creature.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Narrative & the Audience

Anton Chekhov’s short story, “Grief”, is often accompanied by a subtitle, variously interpreted as, “To whom shall I share my grief?”  It is both about the need inherent in human nature to tell one’s story of grief, as well as the cold, unreceptive world which has no time to hear the story.

As the horse-driven cab picks up various passengers and fares, it becomes clear that the audience to whom the father’s grief must be told, is characterized as unfeeling and uncaring towards a man who has experience a tragedy in life.  It is thus the search for the proper audience — and how the narration must be told, in the right manner, at the proper time, within the appropriate setting.

That is how all stories must be told, including a Federal or Postal Worker’s statement of disability, as formulated on Standard Form 3112A in a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is with a heightened sense of sensibility that one must put together the narrative form, with a view towards the audience; what facts and minutiae should be included; with a coherent beginning and an appropriate ending; where to begin and when to end; what details should be included, such that it does not divert one’s attention from the centrality of one’s story; all of this, and much more.

Chekhov teaches us much in his writings; how we apply it in our every day lives is left to the reader — his audience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Human Element & Application of the Law

It may well be that technological advances will one day allow for imputed algorithms to precisely calibrate and decide everything in life; but for the time being, we must all deal with the human element in the process of decision-making.  

Comparative stories abound about how X obtained disability retirement benefits with minimal documentary proof, and even less of an actual medical condition.  It is always an anomaly as to how one can possibly answer the query which involves the following:  “X told a friend of Y, who knows of Z who filed and got his Disability Retirement benefits approved within T-amount of time”.

The particulars of each case must always determine the outcome of the case; some stories become inflated with the telling of the narrative when passed through third parties multiple times; but, on the other hand, there is the possibility that the final narration of the story is entirely true.  The reason is because the human element is still the determinative factor in any Federal Disability Retirement application.  

There is no computerized algorithm which is applied in making a determination at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  And, so long as human beings continue to remain a part of the administrative, bureaucratic process in scrutinizing a Federal Disability Retirement application, by analyzing the content and substance and applying the relevant laws, there will never be a perfect continuity or consistency of application.  

In some ways, this is a good thing; for, as each human being is unique, so the story of each medical condition and the impact upon one’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is also particularized and unparalleled.  May it be so in the future, lest we ourselves become mere drones in this world of conventionalized perspectives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The Unique Story

This is a world which requires conformity and uniformity; eccentricity is a leisure which few can afford, and as the world operates on a factory-like assembly line, where productivity is the measure of one’s worth, so the uniqueness of a story gets lost in the fading echoes of a scream one hears in a solitary cave, where the sound of one’s cry reverberates deep into the chasm of darkness and the silent quiescence of water dripping upon a moss-covered granite surface.  That is why the poignancy of Chekhov’s story about an old man’s grief and his need to tell his story of the death of his son, resonates with us.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to strike the proper and delicate balance between recognizing the “uniqueness” of one’s case, and the pragmatic acknowledgement of the bureaucratic need of the Federal Agency (both one’s own as well as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) to have a conformity of one’s story.

Yes, some history and background can be told in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (although one must be careful in avoiding the pitfalls of ‘situational disability‘ and other issues); yes, one can provide some additional details of one’s ‘story’; but, ultimately, the issue which must be addressed is the legal one:  the essence of the case remains the same throughout.  Throughout, always prepare the Federal Disability Retirement case to conform to the law.

One’s story is unique; the uniqueness must be conformed to a standard of legal proof in order to meet the requirements of Federal Disability Retirement law; once told and conformed, you can still go out and relate your story to those who have a willing ear.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: More than a Story

Re-reading Anton Chekhov’s famous short story, “Grief”, is instructive in multiple ways — the effective use of limited dialogue; creating of word-pictures which set the tone of the story; the metaphorical use of language; and the answer to the question, What makes a particular aggregation of words effective in their linear combination?  It is a very short narration of events, even for a “short story”.  Yet, as a classic piece of literature, it stands alone in its powerful evocation of the plight of man:  the need to relate human suffering, in its proper manner, in a particular way — so as to relieve the sufferer from the very essence of his turmoil.  To whom it is told, of course, is not important; how it is stated, is the point of the story.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both the “to whom” and “how” are equally important, and that is the difference and distinction from fictional prose.  The audience in a Federal Disability Retirement application must always be kept in mind — a Federal Government bureaucrat, who has seen many Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Like the passengers to whom Iona Potapov attempted to relate his story, the Claims Specialist at OPM will have a calloused view of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — not necessarily because of an inability to empathize, but because any singular Federal Disability Retirement application will be merely one of thousands to view, and after time, the conglomeration of words simply spill over one into another.  As such, “how” the narrative portion of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is told, becomes all-important.  The type of prose, of course, is far different than Chekhov’s fictional account of the suffering of a man; but the metaphorical use of language should be invoked where applicable, all the while understanding that being concise and conservative in choosing the right words is the most effective way of communicating.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire