OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: Of human endurance

We marvel at the cheetah, at the graceful way in which it can outrun a prey, overtake it with such effortless ease and kill its target with efficiency and purposive aplomb; but of a longer race, we all know that only endurance can defeat such focus of a killing machine.

Endurance is the unique reserve of human beings; for, what other animal can withstand the overload of stimuli bombarding each of us on a daily, persistent and incessant basis?

The city dweller who must contend with the noises unrelenting from all directions; even a drive through the countryside requires such focus and concentration to avoid pitfalls and potholes; and, of course, daily living in the modern era can no longer allow for a quiet, plodding existence in a pastoral setting where the milkman arrives to deliver morning freshness and the bells of a church can toll in the midday sun of lazy summers.

Of human endurance we think is limitless, and so technology marches on, ever creating faster and more efficient interconnections, and with each new invention we are told that — not only will it save us time and allow for greater comfort — hardships will resolve and melt away.

Certainly, the minimal technology has brought comfort to us all — you know, those things we take for granted, such as electricity, central heating, air conditioning, etc.  But of the Internet — of this constant need to be “connected”, and to amass hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of “followers” or “friends”; of human endurance, can it be withstood?

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, it is the test of human endurance that is often the issue.  For, how much more can a person stand?

Things were once going “smoothly” — if by “smoothly” is meant that one’s existence with the balance between work, family, rest and health had been maintained within a tenuous string of efficiency and lack of disruption.  But once the medical condition was added to the mix, suddenly the test of human endurance was being stretched beyond its limitations.

That is what FERS Disability Retirement is meant to alleviate — the overload of stimuli, responsibilities, the proverbial “to-do list”, etc., in order to focus upon the one thing that both cheetahs and human beings require in order to test the limits of endurance: health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: The formulation

There is, first, the preparation; then, the formulation; and finally, the filing and the waiting.  Are the sequence of steps necessarily separate and identifiable — cleanly bifurcated such that there is no overlapping of concerns?  Of course not; but the three elements in a OPM Disability Retirement application are necessary for the successful outcome of the endeavor.

The “preparation” is often skipped in order to get to the “filling out the forms” portion, which is contained somewhere between the preparatory stage of the process, extends into the formative arena and comes to fruition just before filing, as the finishing touches are placed in refinement of the final product.

The analogies are numerous: of baking a cake — first, one must have a “recipe” (the preparatory stage of the process); then, in between the preparation and the formulation, one must gather all of the ingredients necessary to fulfill the recipe: i.e., the medical documentation; the legal citations to be applied; perhaps other ancillary supportive presentations; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the multitude of other papers which will ultimately accompany the Federal Disability Retirement filing; then, the filing itself — of placing it into the oven and waiting while it bakes to final product.

It is, in many ways, the “formulation” part of it that fails the Federal employee or Postal worker putting together an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the rush to get it done is often comprised by a furious sense of desperation in gathering whatever medical records can be amassed in the shortest time possible; of quickly jotting down the things “wrong” with you on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and then quickly “shoving” it into the oven hoping that it will bake quickly and come out well.

Yet, while the “recipe” is important, and the filing is crucial, it is the “formulation”of the OPM Disability Retirement packet — of the putting together in a thoughtful and persuasive manner the legal memorandum which cites the case-law, argues the evidence and providers a “road-map” for OPM to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — that is often overlooked and becomes the unintended nemesis for a successful outcome in a OPM Disability Retirement application.

In skipping over that part —the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — it is likened to that “uh-oh” moment when you realized that you had forgotten to put any butter, milk or other essential ingredients into the cake after you have already put it into the oven.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Detectorists

For those of you who are fans of the British series, a sad wave of goodbyes ensued after the third and apparently final season that depicted intelligent humor, a subtle sense of British irony and a deep love for human relationships above material wealth.

Simplicity and the idealized community of pastoral lifestyles amidst the bustle of the world beyond allows for the story to capture the imagination of fans and viewers.  None of the characters in the series have much or anything in common with one another — whether in profession, personality or commonly-held beliefs — except for a love of a hobby that unites their differences and quirky individualism.

Many of the references contained within conversations must be Googled in order to attain a greater appreciation; the constant references to the musical interludes of Simon & Garfunkel are easily recognized by a generation of those who grew up with the music; and the deep historical references engendered by images of an ancient past creates a sense of mystery beyond minor relevance to the emptiness felt in the way we live today.

Who would have thought that there would be of much interest in a group of misfits scanning fallow farm fields for ancient traces of Norman or Celtic residue?  Gold and similar treasures are the unspoken goal of everyone, though such dreams of ancient discoveries remain deep within the consciousness of every such hobby-seeker; and like so many such series, there will be an abiding cult-following, for we always want more: 3 seasons of watching Andy and Lance banter among the grassy knolls of the English countryside just doesn’t seem enough, and the subtle British humor demands more despite the final episode that gave satisfaction to all treasure seekers — of riches literally falling down from the heavens.

What metaphorical lessons can be gleaned from two comics of such ordinary means — is it the pastoral background?  Of a simpler life offered?  Of human relationships that might otherwise have never been forged?  Or does it abide in the idea that the true treasures we seek are hidden just beneath the surface, where such places are stepped over each and every day without their due recognition?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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 “life-lessons” from the Detectorists might be that clinging to those things we consider “treasures” while one’s health deteriorates may be a wrongheaded approach; and while obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement annuity may not be the “answer” to all of the difficulties faced by the Federal or Postal employee struggling with a medical condition, it at least allows for the Federal or Postal employee — whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — to focus one’s greater efforts upon regaining one’s health.

And like the detectorists who scan about for treasures beneath the surface, it may be that a more pastoral lifestyle without the stresses of the modern workplace may serve to bring about a healthier outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and 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.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: The Novel Approach

The genre represents the highest form of literature.  Poetry possesses its eccentric beauty; the short story its ease of brevity for the reader to pick up and finish in convenience of time, and thus its popularity; the biography and the epistemologically privileged cousin, the autobiography, its authentic historicity; and others by design of self-promotion, as Truman Capote’s “non-fiction novel” (an oxymoron?).

But the novel is the king of prose; of a narrative form which allows for many rooms in an endless castle of hidden trap doors and secret galleys full of antiquities and doorways yet to be revealed.  Perhaps that is why, used as an adjective, it defines a uniqueness of approach, akin to the traditional use of the word as a noun representing the highest form of art.

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 positional duties with the Federal government or the U.S. Postal Service, engaging in a “novel” idea may be the best and only option left.

Where the medical condition no longer allows for the continuation of one’s career, and yet the Federal or Postal employee believes that he or she can still remain productive in the employment arena, it is indeed a novel approach for a benefit to pay for one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and yet allow concurrently for the Federal or Postal employee to enter into the private sector, obtain a second vocation, and make up to 80% of what one’s former position currently pays.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is considering 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, it is precisely that allowance of continuation of productivity which fairly recognizes that there is not necessary incompatibility between a medical condition and contribution of talents.

Like the novel genre and the novel idea, they both acknowledge the penultimate value of human creativity, and allow for the characters to develop in the unfolding saga of a story yet untold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire