Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Believing in something

It is difficult, these days, to do so.  One can, by rote of habit, engage in the taciturn void of Gregorian chants, of hardened wood to kneel upon in prayerful silence where altar boys were muffled in horror in backrooms somewhere behind the hidden conscience of priests who, holy though they appeared, were but men of fleshly wants; or of giving when the televangelist prayed for miracles and allowed the camera angle to capture the piety of a winking heart.

Modernity defies believing in something.  We scoff at piety because we learned long ago that priests in dark robes were merely cloaked in outward appearances while engaging in acts of desecration behind closed doors, and gurus who rode around in expensive cars while preaching the gospel of meditative calm possessed devious thoughts untold behind craggy beards and beady eyes; and so we have lost the capacity for believing in something, anything, and let our children roam the streets of nihilism, sensual extortions of human bondage and the virtual reality of video consoles, only to be disappointed when they find emptiness in their lives reflective of an endless chasm of dreamless nights.

Once upon a time, Johnny believed in things; and then the marching band stopped when wars became endless, where speeches no longer carried the weight of conscience and greed seemed rampant in the daily lives of believers and beggars alike.  A priest once told this writer that he wished that the Church would sell all of its assets and go back to being the mendicant preachers we once were; but that was years ago, and not much has changed.

For most of us, we continue to cling to the thin reed of possibility; for the rest of us, we must contend with the reality of life’s trials: of work; family; health and friendships; and perhaps the belief in a tomorrow yet to be fulfilled with promised days of warm memories.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition has begun to prevent one’s ability and capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, believing in something is a foundation for the next steps to take: Of a Statute in Federal Disability Retirement Law that sets forth a criteria to be met, and then to set about proving that one has met them.

Often, believing in something is nothing more than acting upon a need and setting about fulfilling that need; and for Federal and Postal employees who need to file for a FERS Disability Retirement, consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is the first step towards believing in something that you have a right to believe in.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Distractions

They are the projects of life of which Heidegger recognizes, allowing for avoiding the inevitabilities of life’s challenges; of fate, mortality, future insecurity, and death.  What quantifiable slice of one’s life is governed by distractions?  Must it always be less than 50% in order to remain so, and if it exceeds that halfway point, does it then become something substantive and not merely the peripheral meaning of what it means to “be distracted”?  If a distraction is considered to be an aside – that which waylays a person’s attention by focusing upon a central project of life’s endeavor – what then defines an inversion of that perspective?

Take, for example, the following:  A mechanical engineer is working on a technical project that consumes one’s focus, concentration and attention to detail, but has a unique and eccentric ophthalmological condition, whereby the eyes are compelled to follow any and all red objects that pass by.

Now, the company has attempted to accommodate the medical condition by requesting that no employee shall enter into the mechanical workshop wearing red, but on this particular day, some investors are visiting, and a man in the troop of intruders is wearing a red tie, and a woman in the entourage is sporting a red sweater.  They go from bench station to the next cubicle, within the purview and arc of dimensional periphery of the eccentric man’s attention, and with each movement, every sidelong blur, his eyes are “distracted” by the red moving objects.

Out of every minute of work, fully 45 seconds are spent on focusing upon the red objects that detract from the necessary mental acuity attending to the project at hand, and indeed, while they are far enough away such that from an objective viewpoint, the objects are mere inches in proportion and are of a distance as to almost be unnoticeable to others in the group of engineers, for the eccentric mechanical engineer, it is the focal point of his attentions.

The distraction is such that it disrupts the sequence of testing conditions and interrupts the validity of the technical precision required, and a coworker finally declares, “You’ve been too distracted and the project has to be scrapped.”  Would we agree that, because of the numerical disproportionality of concentration attributable, “red-object observation” takes precedence as the primary project, and it is the engineering project that is the distraction?  Or, because it is a medical condition of which he “cannot help it”, do we excuse the distraction in its entirety?

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 positional duties, the central point made here is precisely how the Federal agency and the Postal facility views the issues significant in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Federal Agencies and the U.S. Postal Service possess a myopic view of “work”, and even if the Federal or Postal employee is able to continue making valuable contributions to the workplace, they often see the differentiation between “work” and “distractions” as one quantifiable by time alone.  This is too bad, but a reality that must be faced.  For, medical conditions are not mere distractions; they are life’s interludes that can often be faced and overcome, if only outmoded ideas about what constitutes workplace contributions are set aside, and realize that even distractions delaying the central mission of a Federal agency or Postal facility are not the most important, or even of much significance, when it comes to the worth and value of a human life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Usual Dialogue

Much of our daily dialogue is determined by rote repetition.  Discourse throughout a typical day need not be given much thought; breakfast routine; interaction with colleagues and coworkers; declarative statements which have been repeated hundreds of times, both by one’s own voice as well as by others; salutations which require merely an audible sound; and the sun sets upon another closure of human inertia.

Then, some dialogues awaken the soul.  A sudden discovery of infidelity (though, given the pervasive appearance of popular culture, that, too, is quite commonplace); a perpetrated criminal act; a discussion with one’s doctor concerning a medical condition.  Even the latter, of course, from the doctor’s viewpoint, can be quite commonplace.  But for the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has been pursuing one’s Federal or Postal career for years, decades, etc., the self-realization that a medical condition may end the financial security represented by one’s job, is a traumatic event in and of itself.

All options for the future must be considered; and the daily dialogue of rote routine must be cast aside.  This is not a time for niceties; it is an event for thoughtful action.  Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an affirmative step which one must pursue aggressively.

The inertia of past repetition of life’s puzzlements; the frightening prospect of an uncertain future; these must all be cast aside, and the reality of facing a time of forced creativity must be fully engaged.  And then, of course, there is the added anxiety that the administrative specialists at OPM will view your own application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits as just another ho-hum event, one which is merely part of their usual dialogue.

It is up to the Applicant him/herself, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to ensure that the Federal Disability Retirement application is cogent, clear, concise and convincing — in other words, not part of that daily dialogue of thoughtless repetition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire