FERS Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The Difficult Case

At the outset, all Federal and Postal employees should know that there are rarely any “easy” cases in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Are most cases, therefore, “difficult”?  Yes.  And the reasons why they are difficult vary and are many — for, in the end, Federal Disability Retirement is not merely a matter of the nexus between the medical condition and the Federal employee’s inability to perform all of the essential elements of his or her position; rather, it is about meeting the legal criteria and passing the scrutiny of a Federal Agency — the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — in becoming approved.

Yes, yes, of course the medical condition matters; and, yes, where the impact of the medical condition upon the essential elements of one’s job can be established, a great part of the case has then been proven.  But then there are the “details” of the case; of accommodations previously requested and provided, or not provided; the input of the supervisor’s statement; the question of any misconduct; whether and for what reason a person was separated from Federal Service prior to submission of the FERS Disability Retirement application, etc.

Every case is filled with potential difficulties, and thus is it important to consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law, lest the “difficult case” turn into an “impossible” one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Lies We Tell Ourselves

The linguistic/philosophical conundrum, to begin with, is the question: Can a person lie to one’s self?  Conceptually, it is an interesting phenomenon; for, the same person to whom one is lying to is identical to the one who is conveying the falsehood, and so — assuming that individual X does not suffer from some psychological state of a “split personality” or has a disengagement between one side of the brain with the other — is it even conceivable that a “lie” could be told if the person to whom it is told cannot possibly be duped into believing it?  For, isn’t the purpose of lying to someone to persuade that someone of its truth?

But if the falsehood is known from the outset, then what would be the purpose of lying to that person in the first place?  Of course, there could be a more subtle form of the phenomenon — sort of like the “world’s best-kept secret — known by everyone” type of experience where, although X knows that it is a lie, X feels comfortable in living the lie and thus continues on “as if”.

Take the following hypothetical: X’s kids are spoiled brats.  Everywhere they go — to restaurants, friend’s house, Grandma’s home — they fuss and whine and throw tantrums.  But instead of trying to correct the problem you say to yourself (and everyone else affirms it): Oh, they are just such brilliant kids that their rambunctiousness is merely a testament to their inner creativity — or some such similarly meaningless fodder as that.  Or, what about a health issue which is becoming progressively debilitating?  Don’t we lie to ourselves about that?  Oh, it’ll go away.  It’ll get better.  Today, I feel better, etc.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition continues to progressively worsen, and has impacted one’s ability to continue in one’s career — it may be time to stop lying to yourself, and to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, while the lies we tell ourselves may not always be harmful, it is often the one that we secretly know to be a falsehood that comes back to haunt us.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Tomorrow and the day after

Tomorrow is for delay; to procrastinate, the day after.  Isn’t that the adage that recognizes what is truly going on — of saying, “Oh, I will get to that tomorrow”, but when asked about a project you dread (perhaps the unfinished novel that has sat in the bottom desk drawer for the past year; the basement that needs cleaning; the shed where all unused items and discarded castaways need “straightening up”, etc.), it is always to be accomplished “the day after tomorrow”.

Why is it that tomorrow may yet come and become realized, but the day after that somehow never arrives?  Is a single day delayed beyond the thought of tomorrow somehow too far from the reality of today such that it never arrives beside the closeness of tomorrow?

Saturday brings the smile of Sunday yet to be enjoyed, and leaves Monday too far to worry about, just as Sunday brings the anxiety of Monday because Monday is merely tomorrow and not the day after that.

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, the delay in postponing the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often understandable because it is, indeed, a “major step” into the unknown beyond, where careers must change, life enters a period of upheaval and the future holds a modicum of uncertainty.

But while delay until tomorrow may be reasonable, don’t let the “Day after Tomorrow” catch you into a trap where tomorrow never comes except in a rush where tomorrow’s exigency suddenly becomes an emergency too far delayed.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is something no one thought about for tomorrow; but tomorrow quickly becomes today, and for the Federal or Postal employee suffering from a medical condition, the today that was once tomorrow’s comfort of delay will not change the reality of what must be done the day after.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Pathway of Choice

Pathways are peculiar entities; pre-Google Map times, they were a maze of forbidden routes, romanticized by a generation who were familiar with the television series, Route 66, and about hitchhiking, wrong turns, Robert Frost’s famous poem and Rand McNally road maps.

Now, of course, Google guides, directs, and (sometimes) allows for avoidance of unnecessary delays.  But is it the pathway of choice, and even more importantly, is the pathway chosen the best one for each one of us, the most advantageous for us, and the one which ultimately is in our best interests?  If the pathway that is chosen is simply so because all others are never known, or merely because that is the Robert-Frost-look-alike, when in fact it is delimited because of our lack of knowledge, is it really out of choice or of necessity?

Perhaps the career chosen is not turning out to be the realization of one’s dreams; or, as sometimes happens, an unfortunate set of circumstances has intervened — like a medical condition — and suddenly the pathway of choice that we thought would fulfill our hopes and dreams no longer seems possible; then what?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Service workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows us to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal positional duties, the pathway of choice for the immediate future may seem constricted:  Stay put and suffer; walk away with nothing; or, prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

That is the tripartite fork in the immediate road on the way to one’s pathway of choice; but then, there are other “forks in the road” beyond, such as being able to work at another job after one has been approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether in the private sector or in a state, county or municipal employment scenario.

Don’t be restricted to the immediacy of one’s pathway of choice, for there are many forks beyond, and the pathway of choice as dictated by Google maps only tells you which turn to make in the next quarter mile, and not about what may be chosen in future lives yet unforeseen.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The sweater draped over a chair

You look in the room and see the sweater draped over a chair.  You turn your gaze elsewhere, engage the ongoing conversations and the din of others distracted.  Later, you turn back your gaze again, and the sweater is gone.  You look about to try and see whether someone picked it back up, is wearing it, or perhaps put it somewhere else.

You imply and infer – yes, one must follow the general grammatical rule that the speaker implies while the listener infers; but you are both the speaker and the listener, the one who observes and the same one who steps outside of the conscious universe to observe the observed.  You imply that someone put the sweater over the chair, and that same person (or someone else) took it at a later time – all during a period when your eyes were diverted elsewhere.

You assume that the world continues to operate even outside of the purview of your deliberate and conscious observation, as we all do.  You infer the same; of a world otherwise not within the limited perspective of observation, either by visual or audio awareness.  Yet, where is the evidence of such inference or implication; and that is, of course, what Bishop Berkeley’s restrictive definition of “existence” and Being was meant to encapsulate in perfect form:  Not that there are no mountains on the far side of the moon when we cannot observe them, but that we limit the definition of Being such that peripheral philosophical conundrums created by language’s difficulty with implied Being and inferred Existence can be avoided.

Perhaps we dreamt the draping of the sweater over the chair, or had a fit of phantasm and imaginative discourse that went astray.  In any event, you never saw the person either drape the sweater over the chair, nor dispossess the chair of its warmth and concealment.  Instead, you infer and imply – ignoring the grammatical rules previously mentioned.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the relevance here concerns writing up an effective narrative of one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s position, and the legal argumentation to make in order to persuade OPM:  to what extent should facts and other statements be directly delineated, as opposed to leaving certain matters presumed or otherwise to be inferred or implied?

OPM is a bureaucracy, and with all such administrative entities, is made up of varying levels of competence and acuity of observation.  For the most part, in writing up the narrative on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the general rule should be to make that which is implicit, as explicit as possible, and never to leave the room where a sweater is draped such that disappearance of the garment may leave a mystery otherwise unable to be solved except by implication and inference.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Living beyond chance

Perhaps we engaged in it as children: making sure to skip over the jagged cracks in the sidewalk; turning suddenly in the opposite direction, believing that fate and determinism would be defied if an unexpected act were to be embraced; and later, the purchase of a lottery ticket, or to become more seriously addicted to gambling.

Chance provides the thrill of the unknown; but it need not rise to the level of daily obsessions in order to be caught in the delicate web of its enchantments; indeed, in fantasizing daily for circumstances to alter, becoming lost in daydreams of living a different life, or imagining subconsciously of occupying another, we surrender ourselves to the nirvana of chance and the enticement of make-believe, leaving us forever in the neutral rut of illicit anticipations never to be realized.

But problems rarely just go away on their own; and no matter what the chances are that fate and karma coincide to provide alternate universes of better circumstances, it is ultimately the affirmative will of the individual which makes the difference before the now and the moment thereafter.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from 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 job, the intransigent situation of waiting for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service to “act” in either accommodating the Federal or Postal employee’s medical condition, or to otherwise do something positive to resolve a hostile work environment ongoing because of the medical condition and the deterioration of one’s health, is to leave one’s circumstances to the winds of chance.

It must be by the affirmative steps taken by the Federal or Postal employee, to force the issue, and begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that “things” actually happen.

The fickleness of chance should be left behind, like childhood notions of gnomes hiding behind green hamlets of dream-filled universes; for the ugliness of the adult’s world requires us to live beyond chance, and the future depends upon awakening from that warm and cozy slumber of fate determined by avoidance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Life as a Byproduct

When it happens, or how, is of insignificant notice; the incremental arrival, where past segments of time seemed to traverse epochs where memories captured mere millennia of lifetimes; and then, one day, you wake up and yawn, and your life has taken on an incidental, tertiary level of importance.  One has been living by negation for so long, any positive or affirmative step has become a ghost of not just a Christmas past, but of decades evaporated.

Can life long be lived as a mere byproduct, where time, space and the centrality of one’s essence is shoved aside, and separateness of identity is relegated to occasional hellos and furtive glances of suspicious canopies?   Can a life of negation — of avoiding pain, trying to merely survive the day, or of constantly worrying about the next adverse action which might be initiated against you — is that “living”, or merely life as a byproduct?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition (whether physical exclusively, psychiatric, or a cross-combination of both) prevents the Federal or Postal worker from being able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the daily grind of avoidance, fearful of the next stressor of the day, and the constant battle to get some recuperative period of rest and peace away from the turmoil of work and one’s constant fight against the medical condition, leaves the human soul depleted and defeated, to the extent that life is merely a secondary and incidental experience; the true and focused task is intertwined with fear, angst and dread for each day.  Is that really a way to live?

Filing 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, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems; but for that segment of society, the Federal Sector and the U.S. Postal Service employees — it is at least a small step and a beginning.

Life’s problems did not aggregate in a single day; and just as the ancient Chinese proverb admonished that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so the life of a Federal or Postal employee can return to the essence of being, as opposed to a mere byproduct, when once we take steps to attain a level of restorative peace and begin to fulfill promises made but broken in past moments of progressive deterioration, when health was once taken for granted but now considered the gift of blessings forgotten in previous baskets of happiness and joy, lost but never forever regretted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire