Disability Retirement under FERS: Balancing the Unfair Advantage

It is the advantage itself — whether by one side or of the other — which creates an imbalance to occur, and it is thus the greater weight on either side defines and constitutes the unfairness of it all.  A weighted scale; a pair of loaded dice (it was once the case that such a phrase — “pair of dice” — was unnecessary, because the singular of “dice” was die, and to identify ”dice” was to necessarily state the obvious that it was a pair; but in Modern Standard English, the word “dice” now represents both the singular as well as the plural; but we digress); a biased referee; a bribed umpire — do these all have something in common?

No, this is not an IQ Test (remember those questions where you are given a series of words and you had to either choose the one that would fit into the same category or exclude the one that was a misfit?), but it does symbolize the state of affairs in so much of life.

Where unfairness abounds, it is often the concealed aspect which tips the balance in favor of one side or another.  Thus do politicians allow for silent exceptions within the detailed language of legislation; undeclared biases determine advantages otherwise unidentified; insider information gives the unfair advantage to stock traders and members on financial boards and subcommittees; and the team which steals the rubric of the other’s signals and signs gains the advantage both in predicting future behaviors and battles.

In law, who has the unfair advantage?  Is it the entity who fails to explicitly define the criteria which determines success?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, just remember that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application guarantees nothing.

The legal criteria inherent in the process; the administrative procedures which must be advanced; the supporting documentation that must be submitted; the answers on standard forms which must be completed — these are all within the purview of knowledge by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and is not easily comprehended by the unwary applicant. Seek the counsel and guidance of a FERS Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and begin to balance the unfair advantage that OPM naturally and already possesses.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement: Recognition

At some point in one’s life, there is a recognition that a “gap” has been established between the dreams of one’s youth, the expectations of reality embraced in adulthood, and the lack of achievement one has attained in the final stages of one’s life.  It need not be a final moment of a gestalt-like profundity, where we suddenly realize with a declarative “Aha!” at some critical juncture in our life; rather, it can be a subtle realization over time, concluding with an expectation of acceptance, or of bitterness towards life’s unfairness.

Life is, indeed, unfair.  Two people can toil and sweat at one’s work and have starkly differing results.  One may become very wealthy; the other, constantly struggling just to live from paycheck to paycheck; and yet, the extent of cognitive or physical effort expended by each may be of little difference.  One may counter: It is not the effort expended, but rather, the value of the product or service offered.  But even that is not quite true, is it?

The classic example is the pay scale of a teacher — irrefutably of greater value than the sale of vehicles or mink coats, yet of relatively paltry return.  One never hears of a wealthy teacher; one hears of wealth attained through frivolous services based upon an idea engineered in the basement or garage of a computer whiz-kid.

Recognition is an important crossroads; of the disparity between what one expected and what one has achieved; of determining early on what is of value, of how one defines “success” as opposed to “failure”; and of resisting the idea that all of youth’s folly must be realized in order to be deemed a success, leaving aside whether success itself must be narrowly defined by a person’s pocketbook contents.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, there is often a necessary prerequisite of a recognition that one’s Federal or Postal career is over.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS is not, however, a recognition that one will never achieve or attain what one originally set out to do; rather, it is a recognition that there is life after a Federal or Postal career, and that the medical condition has merely revealed an incompatibility between one’s Federal or Postal position and the medical condition that one never asked for, but a reality with which one must deal with — a recognition itself that is an important first step.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Benefits: Intolerable conditions

We all have a threshold of tolerance; it is, in the end, a spectrum and a range which cannot be generalized.  The MRI that reveals degenerated tissue or organic dysfunctioning may parallel the pain experienced, but it does not determine the level of tolerance for any given individual.  Yet, while thresholds may vary, there is a limit to human toleration, and the question for each individual is: At what point do conditions reach the limit of my tolerance, and do I wait until I reach that ceiling, or is it then too late to have waited so long?

Most people wait until the intolerable conditions reach a critical juncture.  That is the rub of the matter — that, yes, human beings possess a great tolerance for the intolerable, but the further question that is too often missed, is: Should we?  Is it healthy to?  And: What damage is incurred by resisting the warning signs that our bodies and minds give such that we reach beyond those warning triggers and milestones of caution, and when we get beyond them, we leave them behind as sirens which have faded and been forgotten?

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 intolerable conditions which have erupted often includes: Increasing harassment from one’s Federal Agency and the Postal Service; exhaustion of SL, AL and FMLA; dealing with the medical condition itself; the failure of coworkers and managers to empathize or understand; the stress that is placed on personal relationships because of the deteriorating conditions in the workplace; the loss of stability; the increasing loss of livelihood, etc.

Any one of these, or all in combination, create those intolerable conditions, and when it becomes apparent that the proverbial rubber band that has held the whole together is about to snap, then it is time — beyond the time, maybe — to prepare an effective FERS Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Castles in the air

Is it the same idea as Cervantes’ Don Quixote who charges at the wind mills?  Or of Don McLean’s soulful lyrics when he wrote, “And if she asks you why you can tell her that I told you, That I’m tired of Castles in the Air.”?

Is there a difference between dreams and visions realized, and those that remain as castles in the air?  Are such unrealized castles merely the childish remnants that were left behind within the bundled laughter of grown-ups who saw the folly of youth, or are they they vestiges of frustrations discarded because, when we “grow up”, we realize that reality doesn’t quite share the optimism of youth’s unfettered vision?

Whatever the origin, wherever the spark, it is important to preserve a semblance of a dream, even if never realized.  The “dungeon” is its antonym, where all such dreams drain because the lowest point of any location is where the water flows and the desolation of a desert abounds.

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 may well be that castles no longer exist in the air or elsewhere; that the medical condition itself has become the “reality” that one must deal with, and castles — in the air, on the ground, or somewhere far away — is a luxury one cannot afford to even consider.

And filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the farthest thing from childhood dreams of what you saw yourself achieving; but in the end, it is the best option available precisely because it frees you from the workplace harassment, embarrassment and resentment where work is no longer compatible with your medical conditions; and as for those castles in the air?

They may still be there once you can focus upon and regain your health; for it is the dream even unrealized that allows for human creativity to spawn and spread, but the pain of a chronic medical condition is what makes of us all the Don Quixote who charges at harmless windmills.

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

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The imperfect image

There is, to begin with, the “perfect image” — that which we hope to project; those which appear on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook postings; and further, the public domain of our selectively chosen, carefully manufactured and manicured condescensions of carved lives.

The imperfect image is that which haunts us; it is the opposite of what we wants others to know about us; the very antithesis of what society allows for and deepens within the fears of our psyche where nightmares begin to boil over, anxiety begins to percolate, and stress-induced heartbeats rise to the level where dangerous palpitations lead to sudden onset of a terminal feeling.

The latter feeds upon the former.  It is precisely because the former exists that the latter becomes the illegitimate child of a figment of an unreality, and yet gnaws and destroys despite everyone’s recognition of its impossibility.  It begins perhaps with the age-old theological arguments — of the query, How can man have a concept of perfection unless there is such an entity that exists?

The classical counter-argument has often been: Well, we are able to imagine 3-eyed monsters with green-colored tentacles, are we not, even though they do not exist?  And the counter to the counter-argument was: Yes, but that is merely a matter of the imagination amalgamating all of the separate components — of 3 different eyes; of the color green; of tentacles like an octopus’ appendages; then, by creativity of the mind, to put them together.

Thus does one imagine perfection because there is such a Being as a perfect Being; and from that, Man views himself, sees the inadequacies and determines his or her own sin— unless, of course, you are on Facebook or Instagram, in which case you are the Being of Perfection itself…at least to all others who view you on such mediums of communication.

It is from that held-concept of perfection that when the early rash of imperfections begin to spread, we think in error that life is no longer worthwhile, and the despair of a false belief begins to pervade the inner psyche of our private lives.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the sense of despair and hopelessness often begins with the manner in which you are suddenly treated by others — by coworkers, supervisors and managers — where your imperfections are suddenly highlighted.

You are no longer as “productive”; your attendance becomes “unacceptable”; you begin to make too many “mistakes”; you are deemed less than “perfect”.  The reality is that there is no such thing as perfection — only a concept forever unrealized but put forth falsely into the arena of public consumption.

The imperfect image that we hold onto — of a deteriorating body or stress-filled mind that begins to show wear and tear over the years — that is merely the reality of who we are: Imperfect beings, frail and fraught with error and (used in the old-fashioned way) filled with sin.

For the Federal employee and Postal worker who comes to the realization that imperfection is a reality not to be ashamed 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, is not merely an admission of such imperfection, but rather, a facing of a reality that we all must embrace — of the imperfect image surrounded by false notions of a perfection never to be realized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire