Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Dickens, Salinger & Capote, Continued…

One could easily spend a lifetime on each, separately; of the first in the trilogy, he mercifully died before the advent of the industrial revolution, whence he may have witnessed even greater upheavals of economic unrest and labor turmoil; of the latter two, they were contemporaries who followed divergent paths — with Salinger left in the hermitage of his insular world of fears, paranoia and distrust of a world which had offered only experiences which validated such churning for a tortured soul, and for Capote, a premature death prompted by a life of public destruction.

Today, we embrace the sophistication of paying strangers to listen to our meanderings of troubled psyches; for the three in question, the times for acceptance of such ways remained unkind and untested.

By standards of modernity, the childhood experiences of Dickens would have caught the attention of social services and the authorities in tow to save the poor boy; but then, we likely would never have had the pleasure of knowing his miscreant characters strewn throughout the ghettos of boundless imagination.  Of Salinger, who turned more towards mysticism in order to feed the slow withering of his wanting woes, the need to flee from the cruelty of the world resulted in the greater insularity protected only by the memories of his haunting past.  Of the three, it was Capote who openly laughed at the scorn of the world, and like the Clowns and Fools in Shakespearean tragedies, we watched as a major figure committed public seppuku in a slow and agonizing fashion.

They represent, unfortunately, the manner in which most of us live; either of haunted pasts and tortured presents, or of ongoing meanderings in troubled waters.  Then, when a medical condition hits the seemingly clean and linear timeline we live and embrace, the disruption becomes magnified with an even greater exponent of sorrow.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positions, the need to file 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 becomes part of the tragedy of human life.

A life cut short is one which failed to be fulfilled; and, similarly, a career shortened is one which failed to accomplish its stated goals.

But, sometimes, it is of comfort and substantive contribution to see that others — even major figures like like Dickens, Salinger and Capote — had to endure the torture of life’s fated despair.  For, in the end, there is little dissimilar in the human essence of all three in relationship to the rest of us; each suffered, lived a life of fated misery, and had to “deal” with the cruelty of the world, thereby validating Hobbes’ description that man’s life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short…”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Self-Image of a Postal or Federal Employee after a Disabling Injury or Other Medical Condition

Thurber’s Walter Mitty is not an anomaly; each of us carries a fiction within our insular souls, of lives extended into a world of fantasy, trespassing between daydreams and thoughts of heroic deeds beyond the mundane routines of daily living.  Perhaps there are those in the world whose lives are so adventure-filled that such retinues of alternative parallelism within universes of imaginations becomes unnecessary; but that is a rarity, as human beings are partly unique because of the creative outreach beyond the present circumstances of life.

It is only when such creative imaginations directly encounter and contradict the reality of life; where one begins to imagine beyond the imagination, and talk and act “as if” the virtual reality constitutes the real reality, that problems can occur.   The fragile demarcation between sanity and insanity may be arbitrarily imposed by an unforgiving society, but it is a boundary wide enough to entrap the unwary.  Medical conditions have a tendency to stretch that line.  Whether because of the stresses encountered in this age of modernity and technological complexity; or perhaps the inability to adapt, where evolutionary tools have not been able to keep up with the pace of change; whatever the reasons, medical conditions force the facing of reality, the starkness of our mortality, and the need for change.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, the primary need is often the time of recuperation.  But the unforgiving nature of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service will often refuse to grant that necessary time in order to reach a plateau of recovery.  Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through one’s agency (if you are still on the rolls of the agency, or have been separated but not more than 31 days has passed) and ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a means to an end.

Often, one thinks of “disability retirement” as an end in and of itself; but because Federal Disability Retirement allows for, and implicitly encourages, the Federal and Postal worker to consider employment opportunities outside of the Federal Sector after securing Federal Medical Retirement benefits, it should instead by seen as an intermediate component of one’s life.

Making a living is a challenge enough; the loss of one’s self-image through the impact of a medical condition can be a devastating interruption to the challenge; but for the Federal and Postal employee who can secure a Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefit, the interruption can be seen as a mere interlude, for greater opportunities extending into the future, and thereby allow from the daydreams of Walter Mitty to be enjoyed as mere reflections of pleasure, instead of wishful swan songs of a closing chapter as the curtain descends upon the epilogue of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal and Postal Worker Medical Retirement: The Unnavigable Epistemological Gap

The phrase itself is borrowed from Roger Scruton, who is perhaps one of the most influential philosopher of recent times.   To be “influential” is perhaps problematic, for if the general public denies knowledge of an individual, to what degree can influence be determined?   Public figures — known entertainers, authors of general fiction, news anchors and talk show hosts — are considered societal giants whose comments on culture, trends, values and norms demand attention and guru-like following.  But philosophers tend to be relegated to academic ivory towers of irrelevance.

From biodynamic farming to a proper appreciation of fine wines; from complex fiction to esoteric writings questioning cognitive dualism; Scruton covers the expanse of categories of thoughtful exchanges relevant to an era which denies significance to subjects, anymore.  The only thing that matters today is the individual and the fame of singularity.  And so it goes.  The concept of an unnavigable epistemological gap implies a barrier to knowledge and a chasm between what something is, and what can be known about it.  Or, in another sense, a privacy of concerns which cannot be verified in a strictly “objective” manner.

Medical conditions have a tendency to fall into such a category.  While MRIs, X-rays, and to a large extent, consistent clinical examinations over a long period of time may establish an objective medical basis for certain medical conditions, the problem still abounds as to how to convey, delineate and effectively narrate one’s statement of medical disability and the impact upon one’s Federal or Postal position in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

As an OPM Disability Attorney who exclusively handles Federal Employee Disability Retirement claims for all civilian Federal and Postal workers, the concern is always in taking the medical condition as described by a doctor’s report, treatment notes, etc., then to interpret and fashion a narrative which effectively establishes the nexus, or bridge, between the medical condition and the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee.

For the disabled Federal or injured Postal employee who tries such an endeavor without any prior experience, it is indeed one of an “unnavigable epistemological gap”, in that — not only must the proper bridge be created between one’s positional duties and the medical conditions described but, moreover — it must be presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in such a way that persuasion and force will carry the day in order to attain the goal of efficacy:  an approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

Such an endeavor, indeed, is one which constitutes an unnavigable epistemological gap.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Delaying the Filing of Your OPM Disability Retirement Application

Delay temporarily suspends for a time in the future; sometimes, at the cost of immediacy of pain, but the human capacity to ignore and obfuscate allows for procrastination to be an acceptable act of non-action.  But certain issues defy the control of delay; medical conditions tend to remind us of that, where attempted suspension of dealing with the pain, the progressively debilitating triggers, or the panic attacks which paralyze; they shake us to the core and pursue a relentless path which betrays procrastination.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement becomes an employment option.

When to file has some room for delay; it is, after all, the underlying issue which must be attended to first and foremost — that of the medical condition.  But the Statute of Limitations in a Federal Disability Retirement case imposes a structural administrative procedure which cannot be ignored.  The Federal and Postal worker who is separated from Federal Service must file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service.

So long as the Federal or Postal worker is on the rolls of the agency, the tolling of the statute of limitations does not begin; but once separation from service occurs, the 1-year clock (with some exceptions, but ones which you should not rely upon to subvert the statute of limitations) begins.

Delay for a specific purpose is sometimes acceptable (if one is still on the agency rolls), as in undergoing a medical procedure or seeing if a treatment regimen will work; but delay beyond the bureaucratic imposition of a statute of limitations is never one which should be allowed, as the benefit of a OPM Disability Retirement annuity will be barred forever.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Reconsiderations & Additional Medical Information

The denial comes in the mail; it is a further delay, a negation of prior efforts; for many, it undermines and constitutes a condemnation of sorts, and a refusal of an affirmation sought in places and from people where none is offered.  It is, after all, another piece of correspondence which negates the negative:  the medical condition itself and the loss of one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, represented the first foundation of negation; now, a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management merely confirms, via a second negation, the loss of positive forces inherent in failure and Federal bureaucracies.

But all things in life must be kept in their proper perspective, and a reaction of disproportionate magnitude must be kept in check; life is often a series of mishaps; yes, it just seems that such unfortunate events happen to certain individuals, and as the old adage goes, when it rains, it pours.  Once the initial shock of the denial is withstood, then the trepidation and cautious perusal, followed by an obsessively careful scrutiny, of the reasons for the denial issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is engaged; but the futility of such efforts will become apparent.

The monotony and disinterested voice behind the volume of verbiage and almost bellicose verbosity becomes more than apparent: either the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management did not read the medical file or, more likely, selectively chose to extrapolate statements and findings out of context in order to justify the denial of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At this Second Stage of the process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee is under FERS or CSRS, it matters not what the words say with respect to the denial issued by OPM; the file is immediately transferred to a general, unassigned file, awaiting further instructions from the person to whom the denial has been issued:  if left unanswered, the file will disappear within the cauldrons of bureaucratic warehouses; if a Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, then it will ultimately be assigned to someone in the Reconsideration Division at OPM; but, in either case, it is no longer the responsibility of the OPM representative who issued the denial, and no amount of phone calls, venting or sending of additional information to that person will make a whit of difference, until (a) the Request for Reconsideration is timely filed, and (b) the Federal or Postal employee addresses some of the concerns brought up in the denial itself.

The Reconsideration process itself is fraught with dangers and potential pitfalls; it confirms that perhaps the Federal or Postal employee should have sought the advice, counsel and guidance of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law, but moreover, as most mistakes are correctable, it may be a wise avenue of choice to seek legal assistance, finally.

In any event, time factors must be considered, and the time lost today by extension of a denial, further confirms the oldest adage of all, that being penny wise is to be pound foolish,  a saying that is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but can be traced to those earlier.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Uncertainty and Confusion: The Federal Employee’s Sense of Identity

It is through ascription from third parties, over extended time periods, where the development of self-identity takes root, through subtle, incremental ways, until one day, unnoticed, without fanfare and unheralded, it becomes a known quantity of acceptance within one’s social circles, professional associations and the greater macrocosmic world we encounter.

The day or the time can never be pinpointed; having a name plate designed and placed upon one’s desk does not provide it; and calling yourself repetitively the title or nomenclature doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements of the sought after.  That is the anomaly; one’s identity is who one is; yet, it cannot be established by the is-ness of being; it is dependent upon the declared identification of that is-ness by others who recognize the being-ness of the individual seeking the is-ness of the person within a specified time, constrained by the community of place, and bordered by the parameters of choice. “Oh, that is so-and-so”; “Yes, Linda is the Director of ____”; “Our Letter Carrier? He’s John ___”; and so does one live within the identity of third-party ascriptions, and how we develop the self-reflection of who we are.

When lost, the crisis of self-identity comes to the fore. When it is stripped prematurely; when choices must be made to abandon the identity; when external circumstances necessarily dictate a change of identity; the crisis is exponentially quantified.

For the injured Federal employee or the chronically ill Postal Worker who must file 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, the crisis of identity is often inseparable from the anxieties driven by an overwhelming sense of fear, loathing, and anxiousness over a future unknown and unanticipated. For, having a medical condition which suddenly dictates the terms of one’s choices, is essentially a negation of all that one has worked for; and to top it all, one’s very identity which has been ascribed — almost without thought, presumptively and assumed throughout without daily payment or homage for retention or reapplication to maintain the worth and value of that title — is about to be stripped, lost, taken away, and thrown into the greater heap of forfeited titles.

Abandonment, release, and sudden absconding from a known and identifiable context of life; that is how it often feels when one loses one’s identity. The medical condition itself, however, must dictate the terms of disengagement; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a necessity and the urgency of doing so will allow for that plateau of rehabilitation in order to attend to the priorities of life; for, without life, there can be no identity, whether one’s past, present, or future ascription of the honorific title is grand or insignificant. In the end, one needs to recognize that the title most prominent and of greatest priority, is the given life as recognized in one’s reflection, and not the fleeting glory attained through accolades from others, no matter how great it all felt at the time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire