Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: The story

Everyone has one; some, more interesting than others; others, less interesting than most; most, told in disjointed streams of subconscious dilemmas often coopted by deceitful tellings that leave amiss the juicier elements that would otherwise offend.

Is there “the” story, or just many little details comprised of “a” story here, a story there, and in the aggregate, it makes up the total picture of a person?  Can one ever know a person in his or her fullness, or must there always be left out an element of surprise, mystery and a deficiency otherwise not noted?  Can people be married for 50 years and still be surprised by something in the other spouse’s past?

How are memories triggered to begin with — say, for example, a couple has been married for half a century or more, and one night they get a carry-out from a newly-opened restaurant in their neighborhood that serves a special Moroccan dish from the menu, because the restaurant owner’s wife’s late husband’s third cousin twice removed recently visited the country and brought over a recipe that could not be resisted.

The two older couple (yes, you may infer from the fact that they have been married for over a half-century to connote that the couple are rather elderly) sit down for this delectable dish, and as they begin serving the various food items and transferring them from the paper boxes onto dinner plates, the wife takes in the aroma of the vegetables, cooked in a certain sauce, and declares to her husband, “Oh, this reminds me, I was in Morocco when I was younger.”

Now — for fifty some odd years, this couple has been married; they have had children; they have shared the many stories to tell, both included and some where each experienced a slice of life separately; and one would think that such a detail as having been to a foreign country which not many Americans visit in the first place, would be something that was told during the course of their long and lasting relationship.

What would be the explanation for not having told?  How about: “Yes, I was kidnapped and held for ransom for months, and I repressed the memories these many years”; or, “Oh, I was just 2 or 3 and don’t really remember much about it, other than my parents dragging me to Morocco just to get away”.

Such explanations might be understandable; but how about the following: “Yes, I was there for 5 years, from about the age of 10 – 15, and it was the most impactful experience of my life.”  Now, this last explanation — one would wonder, of course, what kind of a marriage this elderly couple could have had if the spouse had never related the most “impactful” period of her life, would one not?

“The Story” of one’s life will always contain some omissions (that is a conundrum and an oxymoron, is it not — to “contain” and “omit” at the same time?) about various experiences encountered, but that is a natural course in the very “telling” of one’s narrative.  Most narratives have a beginning and an end; some are interesting, others not; but in the telling, the narrative itself must be coherent and comprehensible, as well as containing relevance and significance within the meat of the narrative itself.

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 ones’ Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

During such an administrative process, it is necessary to “tell one’s story” by completing SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  It is a “slice of life” story, and should be as compelling as the aroma that triggered the admission of one’s Moroccan past — for, every story is a unique one; it is in the telling that brings out the mystery of a person’s singular tale of painful experiences, and this is one more slice that needs a coherence within a narrative required in order to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Today’s tomorrow

Yesterday’s today is different from today’s today, just as tomorrow’s imaginary today will be considerably changed from the actual tomorrow of tomorrow.  How to test that theory?  Just read a book, a novel, a short story when you are a teenager, an adult, a “mature” person or in your old age – say, Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or some other similar-type work, or even Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge or even a truer test like a children’s book — the classic Seuss series, The Cat in the Hat, etc.

Perspectives alter and become modified with time, age, experience and encounters with reality, bifurcating between the monster within one’s own imagination, the projection of fears, anxieties and trepidations, and the reality of the world that one finally engages.  The memories one holds of one’s childhood may soften and become tempered over time; the harshness of judgment one may hold of one’s parent’s – their actions, punishments meted, words spoken out of turn and thoughtlessly – may be modified as one becomes a parent as well and encounters the same difficulties, trials and tests; and so the yesterday experienced at the time may alter from the yesterday remembered and ensconced within the context of one’s own life experiences.

Today’s today, or course, is the reality we must always face, but of tomorrow’s tomorrow, can we set aside the suppress the anxieties and fears we project?  The real problem is almost always today’s tomorrow –  of that projection into the future, not yet know, surrounded by the anticipation of what we experience today, fear for tomorrow and tremble at because of all of the various factors and ingredients of the unknown.  Yes, it is today’s tomorrow that we fear most.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition begins to prevent the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it is the tomorrow that we consider and ponder upon today that makes for the fears to arise, the anxieties to develop and the trembling to occur.

How best to treat today’s tomorrow?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must consider 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, the first step towards assuaging the fears projected unto tomorrow before tomorrow arrives, is by taking affirmative steps today in order to prepare for tomorrow, and that first step is to consult with an expert in the field of Federal Disability Retirement.

For, today’s tomorrow will come sooner than tomorrow’s today’s blink of an eye and bypass yesterday’s today in the memories of a childhood steeped in tomorrow’s yesterday.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Early Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Setting up the Parameter of an Argument

What we argue depends upon identifying the criteria already established, which is why arguments will often become prolonged engagements of meandering shouting matches, thrown at cross purposes, never agreeing to disagree upon the elements which represent an actual conflict.

How many wars have been fought because of a simple failure in identifying the issues; how many costly divorces originating from misunderstanding and loss of communication, and who suffers but the collateral damage issued to non-combatants who must witness the devastation wrought more by ego than by elevated principles worth contesting?

The parameters themselves can be manipulated, such that we can “require” things unnecessary, and “mandate” prerequisites never called for.  That is how individuals can perform the proverbial act of “kicking the can” down the endless road, by talking about issues which rarely matter, but somehow confuse the mind without rational forethought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, there are many ways to delay or cease the necessary starting points even before you begin, because of the many difficulties and roadblocks which must be faced — the least of which is certainly not the medical condition itself.

In the end, such mechanisms of procrastination can be understood in light of fear, angst and foreboding dread; the fear of the unknown, the angst of change, and the foreboding dread of losing one’s place in society, the work force, and the belonging to a community of Federal or Postal workers.  We can always dredge up a reason for not; it is in doing that our acts justify our unmatched words.

In the end, the parameters we set for ourselves are merely window dressings for delaying the inevitable, and so when next the excuse to not engage comes to mind, simply replace it with a more mundane reason, like when Meursault referred to the bright sun as the justification for his acts, as well as the prosecutor who denounced it because of his lack of empathy for his dead mother.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: That Sudden Urgency

It happens all of the time in life; we leave things to fester, then suddenly the matter becomes important, then vital, creeps into a state of urgency, until it finally develops into a crisis.  The underlying impetus is based upon procrastination; the psychological explanation is deemed avoidance behavior, and the reality of experience merely recognizes it as the nature of human living.

We ask ourselves in wonderment, where did all of the intermediate phases dissipate to?  How did the incremental steps and half-steps in reaching this point of sudden urgency disappear unnoticed?  It is tantamount to children and puppies; that exuberance now gone, when yesterday they were seen with the innocence of youth and folly running through the field.  How does time suddenly evaporate and necessity emerge and develop into the here and now?  Is it mere hope of resolution, or laziness neglected upon a return of minimal investment?

Time was that once, in childhood years of visionary glories, we sought refuge in the calluses of existence where others took care and nurtured, and suddenly those “others” were no longer around, and growing up meant that responsibilities became our personal ownership, and we had to embrace those very things long neglected like faded photographs left discarded in the garden heaps of memories and fears, loathing and angst.

Medical conditions tend to be like that.  They are conditions of human existence which require attending to, and tending to like gardens left dying on vines of eternity; and suddenly it becomes clear that no one else really cares, but for self, family and the closest of friends.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have suffered for many months, and perhaps years, because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, there comes a day when the realization of reality suddenly comes upon us, and there is no more tomorrow, no room left for delay, and no time reserved for excuses.

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, is a long and arduous process involving multiple levels and stages of a bureaucratic morass, and it is this long and hard road of an administrative nightmare which must be dealt with when the sudden urgency of recognition and realization hits home.  And as home is where the heart and hearth are, so finding that restorative space of grace and fulfillment requires planning, deliberation, and a will to win, especially when dealing with a Federal agency such as OPM which views all medical conditions and Federal Disability Retirement applications with analytical suspicion.

Finding that it is suddenly necessary to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits did not become an urgent state of being overnight; but through many nights and days of toil, it crept upon us like that unseen monster laying wait under the bed in the childhood fears of yesteryear, where protective mothers and fearless fathers long ago left for destinations still unknown, leaving the wide-eyed child of former days to fend for him or herself in this world of cavernous carnivores and restless winds of change.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Those Nagging Questions

“What if” questions constantly haunt, and persistently undermine.  They are the questions which people repetitively ask of themselves; and yet, like questions in Philosophy spanning multiple millenniums, they defy answers, and merely trouble the mind.  Or, as Bertrand Russell once quipped, If such questions continue to bother, it is probably a problem of indigestion.

“What if I had done X?”  “What if I go in today and tell the Supervisor Y?”  “What if I ask for an accommodations by doing Z?”  “What if…”  The game of “what if” serves to delay and obfuscate; it kicks the proverbial can down the dusty road of oblivion, and rarely solves the concrete problem facing the individual engaged in the meaningless query.  Almost always, the solution is instead to take affirmative steps towards reaching a goal.

Experience serves to defy repetition of questions left unanswered, and the best way to satisfy the linguistic hypothetical is to act in accordance with one’s need.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is impacting one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the questions of “What if” may abound:  “What if I am able to recover in 6 months?”  “What if my agency fires me?”  “What if the doctor will not support me?”

Some such questions are valid; others, emanating from fear and lack of knowledge.  As gathering information is the key to satisfying questions unanswered, it is well to make inquiries and obtain facts as opposed to opinions and conjectures.

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, is a major step in the Federal or Postal employee’s life; but the alternatives are often untenable and leaves one with an empty hand to continue asking those unanswerable questions which leave the stomach churning with fears, doubts and unresolved issues.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM as a concrete step in taking an affirmative hold of one’s life, future and undiminished aspirations.  And like grabbing a handful of sand in the dry desert of questions, to ask and query without a rudder to direct one’s efforts, is to meander through life with a blindfold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Agency’s Options Letter

Options presented in life often depend upon the preparatory avenues previously correlated over months and years in reaching such a point and destination; alternatives and the plenitude of opportunities rarely “just happen”, and like the football team which seemingly seamlessly executes its game plan, the practiced work left unseen behind the scenes is what allows for the openings to occur, both in sports jargon as well as in business life.

Whether the limits of available alternatives are constrained by the apparently known universe, or continue without knowledge, matters little; for, in choosing from a list of openings, one must know the menu before placing an order.  Thus, can a person choose a sixth option when presented with only five?  Or does lack of knowledge and negation of foresight delimit the available resources untapped and unencumbered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, there is often that dreaded “options letter” which the Federal agency or the Postal Service issues, as if the universe of actions to be considered is restrained by the content of the issuance serving the needs of self-interest, and not with concern for the Federal or Postal employee.  Such options presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service are often 3:  Come back to work; seek accommodations; or resign.

For Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has resulted in exhaustion of Sick Leave, Annual Leave, and all FMLA benefits, the refusal by the agency or the U.S.P.S. to extend the granting of LWOP is often accompanied by the threat of sanctions, punitive actions and placement of the Federal or Postal employee upon AWOL status.

The options presented are thus onerous and unreasonable; for, as Option 1 is untenable (the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from coming back, and the agency and the U.S. Postal services knows this, as otherwise Sick Leave, Annual Leave and FMLA would not have been unnecessarily exhausted), and Option 2 (seek accommodations) is somewhat of a “given”, it is Option 3 (resignation) which the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service hope and expect the Federal or Postal employee to initiate.

Such an option allows for the least amount of thought and effort by the Federal agency, and it is this expectation, along with the threat of placing the Federal or Postal employee with imposition of AWOL status, that often wins.  But are there other options besides the ones presented by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service? Perhaps.  But as life’s choices are revealed only through knowledge and wisdom, it is the one who seeks the avenues of counsel who discovers that universes besides the insular one within the parameters of the Milky Way portend of other life on planets yet undiscovered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire