Reflections on Federal Disability Retirement this Independence Weekend

Each country has a symbolic date for celebrating independence; that historic marker which represents the freeing of a populace from the chains of tyranny.  Some may view it as an anachronism, and in such a mindset, it is merely another day off from the daily toil of work. Others, with half-hearted attempts at joining the revelry of the occasion, may actually convince themselves of the celebratory relevance of the extended weekend.

How does one keep alive the historic importance of past markers?  As veterans of past wars begin to decrease in number, so the present fervor of an event parallels the diminishing stature of the occasion.  Why is World War II more prominently featured than the “Great War” some mere decades preceding; and what of the cost of the Civil War?  As living memories fade, so the pages of history remain kept on dusty bookshelves left for college professors and their students to ponder. In the end, relevance of an event must be personalized; that is how connections are made.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition itself becomes a tyranny of dependence, it is precisely that marker which separates one from confinement which reveals a revelatory relevance to the greater world.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is an option available to all Federal and Postal employees who seek to become independent from the chains of turmoil and turbulence caused by one’s medical condition and the exacerbation of such conditions upon one’s Federal or Postal position.

Independence day is often a marker of historical significance, but it must always relate at the personal level for each individual. Otherwise, it remains merely an extension of another weekend.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Quiet Walks of Einstein and Godel

The name of the former evokes an immediacy of recognition coupled with awe; of the giant in physics and intellectual greatness beyond ordinary excellence. The latter is lesser known, but within esoteric circles of academia, particularly in mathematics, of equal stature in accomplishment familiar in his chosen field; of the intellectually formidable Incompleteness Theorem.

The two knew each other, and enjoyed the company of one another. They took long walks together. One wonders what Einstein and Godel spoke about. Of theoretical constructs and intellectual exercises so beyond the capacity of common people, that a mere snippet of eavesdropping would explode the mundane mind’s limited ability to comprehend. But, just as likely, they may have conversed about ordinary events, of wars and rumors of wars; of cars, classics and carpeted hallways in your home and mine. It was a time of quietude; of solitude between two great minds; of ordinary walks by a pair of extraordinary men.

Such paths of convergence enlivens one’s imagination, of what was, and could have been. And for lesser minds (which includes all of us), the need for a quiet walk is a human desire. Yet, despite his brilliance, Godel suffered, and suffered greatly. Perhaps the proportionality of greatness and suffering is to be expected.

For Federal and Postal Workers who suffer from a medical condition, it does one well to pause as to the lessons which can be learned: from suffering; of the need to find a respite from such human turmoil; of finding a path; and of friendships forged. Often, when a medical condition explodes upon the horizon of one’s life, it is important to find a pathway out of one’s traumatic microcosm.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, allows for a rehabilitative period for the Federal and Postal Worker — if only to begin a second vocation in the private sector after a partial recovery from the medical condition which cut short one’s chosen Federal or Postal career.

All Federal Disability Retirement applications are ultimately filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in order to qualify, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence one’s eligibility for the benefit. And in attaining the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement, perhaps the focus of the Federal Disability Retirement annuitant can turn to a less troublesome walk down a path of solitary quietude. Or, if one is lucky, to find a soul mate, as Einstein and Godel surely were to each other, to enjoy the conversations which life’s moments of friendship and warmth are meant to embrace.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Linguistic World of Mirrors

Mirrors are peculiar human inventions; they play to the vanity of men and women, while at the same time revealing the cosmetic warts and boils which remain unhidden and starkly open on display.  But linguistic mirrors take away that disadvantage of visual perception; instead, through the vehicle of words, one can create reflections of a fantasy world of make-believe, without ever having to confront the ugliness of reality.  Thus can we go through the day by surrounding ourselves with platitudes:  “It’s not that bad”; “You look good, today”; “Things will get better tomorrow”.  Linguistic mirrors avoid the direct reality of one’s reflection, and instead create a mythical world of statements bouncing back to the bearer of siphoned and filtered news.

Further, the one who surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men can continue to live in a surreal world of compliments and make-believe for countless years, without suffering the consequences of objective reality.  And we can do that with medical conditions, too.  One can survive through years and years by avoiding the signals of progressive physical and cognitive deterioration.

Federal and Postal workers are quite good at this game of mirrors — that is why it often comes to a crisis point before Federal and Postal Workers consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS; and that is why Supervisors and Managers are surprised; and, moreover, at least one of the reasons why performance appraisals reflect “outstanding” throughout the years of pain and debilitating conditions.  But in the end, mirrors fade, crack, and reveal the ugliness beneath the cosmetic surface; and even words begin to fail.  Pain in the human body is an innate alert system that is fail-safe, and when the medical condition begins to manifest itself to the point where one can no longer mask the symptoms, the seriousness of it all becomes apparent.

Federal Disability Retirement is at least an option for Federal and Postal Workers to consider, in order to be released from the “true picture” of one’s conditions.  There are legal criteria to meet; medical statements to obtain; narrative statements to write; but all in good time, as we see the reflection in the mirror, and apply more cosmetic means to hide the reality of our true condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The Response to the Denial & Properly Reading the Signs

Responding to an OPM Disability Retirement application denial is fraught with dangers of addressing the right issue; whether such a response does so adequately; and the determination of the extent of what constitutes “adequacy” in such a response.  Properly reading the “road signs” is the key to a successful response.  For, to begin with, cogency and brevity are not characteristics which are common in an OPM Disability Retirement denial.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management utilizes multiple templates in referring to the sufficiency of legal and documentary proof, and will often shift arbitrarily in declaring why, and to what extent, a Federal or Postal disability retirement application did not meet the standard of proof required, which is governed by a “preponderance of the evidence”.  They will, of course, often cite various legal “criteria”, and number them accordingly, as in:  “You did not meet Criteria Number 4 in that…”

In responding, it is important to address the critical issues which OPM regards as central to its decision, and as all roads lead back to Rome, so it is with a response to a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in a Federal Disability Retirement case: All roads lead back to the original nexus of whether a Federal or Postal employee can perform all of the essential elements of one’s job within the context of the severity and extent of one’s medical conditions, and to the issue of whether or not a “reasonable” accommodation could have been provided by the individual’s agency.

Broken down into its foundational components, the pathways can be ultimately discerned, and the proverbial fork-in-the-road leading one to the right way back to Rome will often depend upon how the traveler interprets the signs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire