OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Ballast for the soul

It is a plagiarized phrase, from a short story written by Brazil’s (often-considered) greatest writer, Machado de Assis.  It is that heavy material, where a large quantity of gravel, iron, metals, etc., placed low in a vessel in order to provide stability; the weight itself is what “grounds” the vessel so that the torrents of waves and storms of fury will not topple it.  Or, it can refer to the coarse gravel used in order to set railroad tracks, again allowing for stability of a foundation to prevent shifting, sinking or damaging movement.

When combined with the term, “the soul”, the concept created is one of conjoining the dual ideas of (a) providing a foundation with (b) an ungraspable concept of an entity that many believe does not even exist.  The “soul”, of course, is a controversial subject; for, it still remains from the vestiges of religious and philosophical discourses, and refers to an abiding entity that defies mortality, retains an identity beyond one’s physical appearance, and contains the essence of who a person is, whether in physical form or not.

Does the soul “need” a ballast?  Without it, does it merely flit about without duration or direction?

As a literary concept, it refers to the stability that individuals need in order to become more serious, more focused, and perhaps even more “mature”.  As a general idea, it comes to convey the concept of pragmatism and the need to be “grounded” in a universe where there exists so many beliefs, so many paths to get off course; and the dangers inherent in pulling people aside from living an authentic and fulfilling life are many, as evidenced by the number of wandering souls left to rot on the roadside of discarded souls.

What is the ballast for the soul?  Is it to be married and have a family?  Is it the immediate family one already has — or the extended one?  Or can a cadre of friends and one’s immediate neighbors provide the ballast for the soul?

For each individual, the answer to that question may differ and remain a mystery; but what is clear, mystery or not, is that the vicissitudes of life’s choices, without a ballast for the soul, are so numerous and of such great variety, that liberty of endless choices endangers the essence of every person. Health itself can be an unknown ballast; for, with it, we take for granted our ability to accomplish so many things in life; without it — when it is “lost” — we suddenly realize that the ballast of health can upend that which we took for granted — career; stability; sense of worth; sense of self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose ballast has been lost because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Medical conditions are often the storms of life which topple the vessel once the foundation of stability has been robbed, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits can restore one’s sense of security such that a re-focusing upon the priority of health and well-being can be attained, so that the ballast for the soul can be reestablished in a world full of turmoil and tumult.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: ‘To’ and ‘For’

What would be the difference if, in the title of Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop”, she had instead chosen to use the word “to” in replacement of “for”?  Would empires have fallen, world wars have been averted or earthquakes and other natural disasters have been delayed?

Likely, not; but would the countless minds that have encountered the novel, enjoyed its beautiful prose and admired its humanity and warmth in the telling of a tale of a time long past and a period now gone — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a difference with a distinction: “Death Comes for the Archbishop” as opposed to “Death Comes to the Archbishop”?

Some might dismissively declare, “In any event, the Archbishop died, didn’t he?”  The subtlety of distinction — should it even be brought up?  Would that the title was of the latter instead of the former — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a grammatical point of difference; is one “more” correct than the other?

Certainly, the “sense” that is employed exists — where, the “to” has a much more objective and distant, impersonal “feel” to it, whereas the “for” personalizes it, gives it warmth, almost as if “death” is a person as opposed to an event, and the “for” makes it a personal possessive as opposed to the “to” that connotes an arms-length relationship between the object and subject.

Are the prepositions interchangeable?  If a person is stricken with grief over a tragedy and a close friend arrives to provide comfort and says, “I came for you”, it would be a statement that would be considered heart-warming.  If, under the same circumstances, the person instead declared, “I came to you” — would we, again, mark the difference or even notice?  It is, certainly, a statement of objective fact — the person objectively traveled and arrived at destination Point B from origination Point A.

Again, the subtle distinction — the “for” connotes a greater personal warmth as opposed to a simple statement of fact.  It is, in the end, the subtle differences that sometimes makes the entirety of a distinction that makes the difference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between “to” and “for” is often the difference between living a life worthwhile and one that remains cold and impervious.

Human beings are often careless in their personal relationships; and the test of such caring or uncaring attitudes will often surface when a person is going through a trial or tragedy, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the complex and impersonal administrative process of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will often test the workplace relationships because of the self-interested motives that exist with agencies and the Postal Service.

Some coworkers, supervisors and others will distance themselves immediately, and they will remain in the category of the “to” people; while other coworkers, managers, supervisors, etc., will surprisingly be there “for” you.  Willa Cather chose the preposition “for” over the “to” because she was an excellent author, and it is the excellence of a human being that is revealed in the subtle differences we often overlook.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from OPM: All problems suspended

We all seek those moments, don’t we?  A period of respite, that time of suspended ecstasy where all of life’s problems are suspended, if only for a temporary span in order to regain our equilibrium, retake the focus lost and remake the moments wasted.  Isn’t that why people become obsessed with silly arguments on the Internet, in Facebook confrontations and twitter feeds, because it provides for a temporary assertion of power, the sense of winning, of defeating and devastating another, if only for a brief moment in this timeless continuum of problems to be encountered, embraced and finally solved?

In a perfect universe, all problems suspended would be tantamount to a conceived heaven where one need not worry about the daily problems of living a life – the human condition – that confronts everyone all the world over.

All problems suspended – every financial difficulty, relational complexities, consequences intended or otherwise resulting from neglect, negligence or simply thoughtless actions; for all and every one of them to be relegated to a heavenly sequestration like purgatory without judgment.  But that life could be discovered within such a state of joyous reprieve; we would all be dancing and praying to the gods that gave us such a present.

In reality, that is what going to the movies for a couple of hours of distraction, playing a video game, going out with friends, or spending a weekend reading and taking the dogs out for a long walk – these are activities engaged in where all problems become suspended, if only for a brief stint of relief from the daily struggles we all have to confront and “deal” with.

Unfortunately, there is one problem that can almost never be suspended – a medical condition.  The medical condition pervades and remains no matter how hard we try; and though we may be successful in “forgetting” for a brief moment, the problem is never suspended, only delayed in “remembering”.  For people who are in chronic pain, one cannot even forget for a brief moment.  Instead, whether actively in thought or lulled through a sleepless night, the medical condition is always there, never suspended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents an even greater set of problems – of not being able to be accommodated and beginning to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job duties – it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Delaying does not suspend the problem, but may only add to it; neglecting will not solve the problem, and may only magnify it; and while temporarily “forgetting” by engaging in another activity may distract from it, the brief nature of such thoughtlessness will only roar back with a greater sense of urgency, especially when dealing with the bureaucratic morass of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the agency that makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Of other’s misery

It may give one a sense of short-term satisfaction; sort of like Chinese carry-out, it satisfies for an hour or so, then seems to lose its efficacy for fulfillment.  Whereas, there are other foods that tend to last for greater time; and so it is with receiving news or information of other’s misery.  It certainly allows for a comparison of sorts; of tilting balances imagined, or even for contrasting accomplishments forsaken, dreams yet unfulfilled or misery unabated.

Of other’s misery – we condescend, conceal our delight and contend that we care and “feel terribly”; in other words, we sit and do nothing about it, even if we were able to.  Oh, we give the proper lip-service, of course: “How terrible”; “What a shame”; “What can one do?”  But all the while, inside, we whisper in soliloquys that harbor those feelings of secretive annoyances that say, “Thank goodness it is the other guy,” and begin to take an inventory of relief and comparative analysis of how best to take advantage of the situation.

Is that too cynical a viewpoint?  Does Machiavelli live within all of us?  Perhaps not to the extent described.  Then, what of other’s misery?  At a minimum, it provides a contrast and places us in a state of reality that says, Maybe our situation is not so bad after all.  Contentment by contrast of balancing the misery of others, however, is no way to live.

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, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to preparing a successful and effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not by comparing the content of other’s misery, but by a direct creation of a nexus between one’s own medical condition and the essential elements of one’s position description.

Forget the instinctively wrong-headed approach of asking, “Well, does X-medical condition qualify if so-and-so had the same condition and was still able to work?” Or: “There are others more bad off than I am, so…”  So what?  Federal Disability Retirement is a specific legal basis that requires specificity as to individual circumstances.  It is irrelevant as to issues of other’s misery; it is one’s own that one must focus upon.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Benefits: Remorseless solitude

How often is there a cry to be “left alone”?  By how many people, in what quantifiable slice of life and order of living despite obligations and responsibilities that may be abandoned, do we embrace those periods of remorseless solitude?

We are commanded to be “social animals”, by way of anthropologists who devise intricate paradigms of cultural historicity and ancestral heritage from mere fossils of partial bone fragments; via condemnation by psychologists who warn of the danger of those who are “loners” and become lost in the deviation of secluded thoughts and fantasies of vengeful imaginations; and by Mom and Dad who worry that the teenager who locks the door and surfs the enticements of the Internet undermines the very fabric of societal cohesion, and allows for deviancy to determine the dice of droll durations.

And so the guilt resides with a negation; for, when we do not interact, socialize and remain in the company of others, we are considered as rogues, antisocial occultists who harbor resentments like hermits who climb into caverns of caustic catacombs to care only of remorseless solitude.

Yet, in this din of modernity, where the endless cacophony of drumbeats, raised voices and electronic media bombardment ceaselessly invading, interrupting and interceding, where has the delicacy of inviolable solitude gone to?  At what point does self-reflection, thought, the play writer’s  “aside” and the soliloquy that contemplates the role of one’s self in the expansive universe become a self-possessing journey of mere selfish egoism?

Instead, we allow that being constantly “connected” with one another – through social media, Texting, Facebook, Instagram, Skyping and all of the other multitudinous methodologies of electronic communication and “connectivity” have become normalized, such that that which used to be a productive use of the proverbial “down time”  – enjoying the remorseless solitude by writing, or reading, or just reflecting —  is now considered strange and dangerous, while its opposite – of becoming obsessed with the persistent din of socialized life – is considered the normative ordinariness of daily living.

Remorseless solitude is the delicious walk in the woods alone; of meditating upon the quietude of a morning’s red dawn; and of communing with nature, whether in one’s backyard or in the outbacks of nature’s delight.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are forced and compelled into a status of remorseless solitude – not by choice, but by reason of a medical condition which targets the Federal or Postal employee into being “that person” who is considered the outcast, almost as if diagnosed with leprosy or some other horrible communicable disease – the isolation and separation by being identified with a person with a disability will have its negative effects.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will not make things at the Federal agency or the Postal facility any better, until an approval is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Then, once the Federal or Postal employee becomes a Federal Disability Retiree, perhaps you can enjoy that period of remorseless solitude that previously had been involuntarily imposed upon you by casting you as that deviant occultist no longer part of the mythical “team”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Reversal of Fortune

Life itself rarely reflects a steady, linear progression on a graph; the zig-zagging representing times of economic turmoil more accurately profiles a person’s span of existence.  Moreover, one’s career is not necessarily the essence or paradigm of a given life’s experience; there are multiple factors, including emotional, births and deaths, marriages and medical conditions.  How does one quantify an experience?

The methodology we seek is often purely in monetary parallelism:  if one receives pay raises and cash rewards, then one’s career is considered to be on an upward trajectory; if one gets a reduction in salary (with or without a concomitant demotion in position), then the loss of linear progression is deemed a failure of sorts.  But like marriages, and life itself, careers never merely reveal a positive path of progressive purity; ask Elizabeth Taylor, who skews every statistical analysis of marriages and divorces.  And then, of course, there is the interruptive influence of a medical condition.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the daunting doldrums of a medical disability reveals many things not reflected on a graph of life:  the bother; the interruption of a career; the fear imposed; the dealings with coworkers; the reaction of the agency or Postal Service; the need for surgical and other procedures; a whole host of activities not previously contemplated.

For the Federal and Postal employee who finds that a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration then needs to be given for filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, or CSRS Offset, of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Yes, unfairness is a characteristic of life not reflected in the graph of microeconomics; yes, sometimes experience teaches us that the proverbial cards are stacked against us; and yes, reversals of fortune constitute a reality rarely taught in classroom social studies.  But as life’s experience is never accurately or fully represented by mere lines and numerical paradigms, so a biography of a historical figure can never be captured, as fortunes and reversals thereof can never embrace the complexity of human folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Application: Eligibility & Entitlement

The two concepts are often confused; for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal Service worker filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, the frustration is often voiced precisely because of the misapplication of the legal import between them.

Eligibility is determined by the contingencies which must be met, the thresholds of prerequisites which must be satisfied:  The Federal or Postal employee must be either under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; the minimum number of years of Federal Service must have been accrued; the Statute of Limitations must not have already passed; further, then, some age limitations need to be considered as a practical matter, to allow for pragmatic justification to even apply.

Entitlement is based upon proof.  As the law is set by statutory authority, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management requires that the Federal or Postal applicant meet certain preset standards of acceptable proof, based upon that which constitutes sufficiency of satisfaction.

The legal standard is based upon a “preponderance of the evidence“; the evidentiary requirement provides that a tripartite nexus be established between (A) the medical condition, (B) the Federal or Postal position which the Federal or Postal employee occupies, and (C) evidence showing that as a result of A, one or more of the essential elements of B cannot be satisfied.  Further, there is the “D” component, and that involves the issue of “reasonable accommodations” and whether the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service can reassign the Federal or Postal employee to a similar position at the same pay or grade.

It is only upon the initial satisfaction of eligibility requirements that the Federal or Postal employee can then further investigate whether entitlement is feasible or not.  Thus, “entitlement” in this sense is not based upon meeting eligibility requirements; rather, satisfaction of eligibility prerequisites allows for entrance into the gateway of establishing entitlement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire