FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Application: The tumescent narrative

The pendulum between a swollen ego and a timid conscience can be wide and vast; or of the difference between panicked shyness amounting to a hermit’s refuge, and arrogance in man that betrays the smallness of one’s heart.  Being “puffed up” is one thing; demanding one’s rights without persuasive argumentation, quite another.

In formulating one’s “story” in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, specifically on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the undersigned lawyer has seen – when a person has tried this on his or her own at the First Stage of the process, been rejected, and has come for assistance and legal guidance at the Second Stage of the Process (called the “Reconsideration Stage” before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) – an underlying tinge of what may be deemed a tumescent narrative:  A delineation of demanding, as opposed to persuading, of asserting, in contrast to revealing, and one of puffing up, in contradistinction to allowing the facts to speak for themselves.

Fear is often the explanation for engaging in a tumescent narrative; for, to cover that fear, arrogance and puffing up is thought to conceal the stench of fright.  What should be the voice, tone and approach in a narrative statement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?

Certainly, every story has a tonality that undergirds the telling of it, and even if the voice is absent, the speaker not present, the written delineation will still spill over with a cadence of unmistakable clarity.

Should the voice reveal humility, a begging for an approval?  Should it be demanding, overreaching, iconoclastic in its compelling movement?  Would it be better to be neutral, state the facts and respectfully request a fair review?  What of the references to legal precedents – is there an appropriate tone and gesture to the argumentation and methodological road-map presented to guide and persuade?

Every written narrative – even a few sentences – can reveal a “voice” behind the static nature of the written words.  In preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability will be a central component of the application packet; and, if an attorney is involved, a legal memorandum should always accompany it by providing a statutory roadmap to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

What most people do not understand is that the tone and voice of a Federal Disability Retirement packet – with the compendium of medical reports, narrative statements on SF 3112A, legal memorandum and argumentation for persuasion to an approval – can have a shifting tone depending upon what is being addressed.

The tumescent narrative is one which is likened to a mono-tone, and therefore, to a great extent, tone-deaf.  Circumstances should dictate the voice of the narrator; where facts are stated, neutrality is called for; when persuasive argumentation is encompassed, a bold and confident assertiveness.

The effective Federal Disability Retirement packet must embrace a variety of voices, and never allowed to be relegated to the quivering reaction of a tumescent narrative, where fear becomes the guiding principle for an ineffective voice.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Civil Service Disability Retirement Benefits: Human activity

The dizzying pace of it all defies comprehension.  We are, indeed, busy-bees, always engaged in this project, that protest, intervening in the affairs of others when our own are in such a state of disarray; up at it early in the morning and continuing until exhaustion sets in or wayward dementia in old age where even nursing homes impose human activity every night – bingo, dance, meditation, Tai Chi, family visitation day; not even a break for the aged.

Then, when we see those documentary films in foreign lands, of men taking hours to untangle the fishing net in preparation for the next day’s work; of sitting with family members in gathering for a meal; and of mountainous monasteries where gardening for supplemental food sources is an act of reflective repose, we wonder if the lives we live – so full of human activity supposedly for a purposeful end – is the only, the best, or the pinnacle of options left for us?

Did we ever choose the quantification of human activity we engage in?  Did we, at some point in our lives, sit down and say, Yes, I will accept to do that, agree to embrace this, and refuse all others?  Or, did the incremental, subtle and always insidious wave of requests, obligations and pressure to perform just overtake us, until one day we wake up in the middle of the night and recognize that our time is not our own, the human activity is without purpose or conscious constructiveness, and the projects we think are so dear to us, merely destroy and debilitate the human spirit?  That is the alienation talked about by Camus and the French Existentialists, is it not?

Human activity cannot be so senseless or purposeless; it must be to build, to advance, to secure for the future; and yet, as we lay in the quietude of nightly sweats, it becomes evident that we perform it for means otherwise intended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to alienate one’s sense of mission and purpose from that of the priority that should be recognized – one’s health and the ability to have joy in life – the contradiction and conundrum is in “letting go” of that which has been a part of our lives for so long:  The job, the career path, the sense of “belonging” to a community of people who believe in the mission of the agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Like barnacles clinging to the underside of a ship’s belly, we grapple and travel through life without quite knowing why, where we are going, or for what purpose we originally attached ourselves.

Preparing, formulating and filing 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 of CSRS Offset, is a way of:  A.  Recognizing the priority of health, B. Beginning the process of detaching ourselves as mere barnacles upon a ship’s underbelly, and C. Reflecting upon the course of one’s future.  Human activity is great and all – but it is the things we choose not to do that often define who we are in the hubbub of this mindless frenzy.

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 for Federal Employees: Expectations beyond the norm

We begin the nascent origins of remembrances expecting greater things beyond the normal levels of reality; that is what we now define as a “good childhood” as opposed to a lesser, or even an ordinary one to bear and be burdened with.

We are admonished that we can “be anything”; that potentiality and possibility (is there even any conceptual clarity of distinction between the two, anymore, and what of the third in its trifecta – of probability?) are limitless; that, like child prodigies of yore, each of us are “special” (query:  if everyone is special, does the concept itself lose all meaning, as in the philosophical conundrum of nihilism, where if you believe in nothingness, where can there be a “something” to lend it any meaning at all?) and defined by the uniqueness of our own boundaries superimposed by society, artificial constructs and unattainable hopes and dreams.

With that baggage of certainty to failure, we begin to travel life’s inestimable travails and untried valleys of difficult terrain.  Yet, we call that a good childhood.  By contrast, we ascribe bad parenting to the cynic who treads upon the fragile soul of a child:  “Chances are, you’ll never amount to anything”; “You’re never going to be able to do that, so why try?” (said to a 16 year old who has stunted growth trying to dunk a ball); “Don’t waste your time; you don’t have the talent for it, anyway.”  These comprise, constitute and reflect emotional harm and verbal abuse, by the standards of today.

We are never supposed to discourage, but always to encourage; never to allow for the reality of an impervious universe to influence, but rather, to always create a fantasy of potentiality and possibility of hope and perspective of the impossible.  But what of encounters with strangers and angels disguised as visiting anonymity?  Do we say to the child, “You are special; all people are special; as special people all, welcome all”?  No, instead we preface warnings, admonish with goblins and ogres beneath every bed, and scare the hell out of kids – which, by the way, is also considered good parenting.  And thus do we become adults, weighed down by the baggage of heavy biases towards the realities of life.

Most of us realize, at some point, that being “special” merely means that we are ordinary human beings living quite monotonous lives, and that only celebrities, politicians and the once-in-a-lifetime Bob Dylan truly fit into that category of uniqueness.  Happiness is the expectation dashed, evaluated, then accepted; and that it’s all okay.  Then, when a medical condition hits, it makes it all the more so; for, as children, we also expected that our mortality was nothing more than something well into an obscure future, always touching others but never ourselves.

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 position, the reality of our own vulnerabilities and fragile nature begins to set in.  Expectations beyond the norm have to be compromised.  Dreams once hoped for and hopes once dreamed of require some modifications.  But that’s all okay; health is the venue for hope, and without it, there isn’t even a whiff of dreaming for tomorrow’s moment.

Prepare well the Federal Disability Retirement application.  It is okay to be ordinary, and to recognize the fragility of human life and health, for it is the latter that needs to be protected in order to dream of a future where a summer’s day dozing on a picnic blanket will fulfill all expectations beyond the norm.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Civil Service Disability Retirement: The value of properly preparing

Each and every stage of a Federal Disability Retirement process is important to view in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  You cannot take any stage of the process in a vacuum; for example, answering SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, in and of itself forces one to consider stages beyond the Initial Stage of the process.

Questions to ask:  Are you bound by your answers without the possibility of further amendments to the narrative delineation you submit?  Can changes, amendments, additions be made even after a CSA/Case number is assigned by Boyers, Pennsylvania and sent on its way to Washington, D.C. for an initial assessment and determination by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  What if, in the meantime, a “new diagnosis” is provided, one which has not been included in the original Statement of Disability?

Should the language used in describing one’s medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job be elastic enough to allow for greater content at a later date, or should it be concise, precise and without room for maneuver or wiggle?  To what extent will prioritizing of diagnosed descriptions be used, either for or against, one’s Federal Disability Retirement, and are there consequences in submitting a non-sequential order of non-prioritized conditions, whether in terms of a spectrum from severity of pain or relevance based upon conditions recognized to be “serious” as opposed to secondary, more exacerbated-based symptoms that are considered corollaries more than central conditions?

To view the world from a perspective of bifurcated and compartmentalized episodes, where each circumstance of life has no impact or connection to any other, results from the insularity of lives we lead.  But reality forces upon us the realization (note the close connection of the two words – reality and realization) that our own mental insularity does not impose a compelling argumentation upon the objective world; instead, we continue to delude ourselves into thinking one way, while the universe goes on and exists with impervious fortitude until the two contradict and ultimately clash.

For Federal employees and U.S. Post workers who try and defy the universe by ignoring the reality of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, and further, by attempting to sidestep the methodology of analytical determinations made by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the onus is on you:  take care that you consider preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application carefully and with full view as to the value of knowledge and information, lest it come back to haunt you with a denial because you did not foresee the burden of proof.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The cog in the process

Does perspective have an influence upon one’s approach in engaging an endeavor of any sort?  For instance, does it matter whether or not the cynic and the one who sees the world consistently as “half-empty” or unwittingly cruel, nevertheless succeeds at every turn and venture?  Or, conversely, of the person who always has a “positive attitude” and sees good in every corner, but nevertheless fails at every attempted feat; did “perspective” and viewpoint make a difference?

Perhaps life requires a balance between the two, and such extremes on a spectrum of outlook is never a healthy thing.

In the end, does it matter whether or not we see ourselves as an insignificant cog in a wider process of unending turmoil, or as an Oprah-like shining star where we persuade ourselves that we matter as a mere cog precisely because the loss of a singular and unique “you” would have a devastating impact upon the well-ordered universe where the gods watch upon each hair of our scalps and wait to quiver with laughter when we express our hopes for relevance?

We often “feel” like a cog in the process – even if, on a more objective and brighter viewpoint, such an analogy and imagery represent an inaccurate put-down of major proportions.

That is the problem with bureaucracies – seen from the “other” side, our involvement in an administrative procedure invites us to ascertain that which we always suspected:  Stand in line; be assigned a number; be asked for standard information and data; a stamp is pounded upon a piece of paper and … “Next!”  What constitutes the accurate portrayal of our point of being caught within a world devoid of normative constructs, anymore?

This generation of youthful cadavers have it the worst, of course, as there is no longer a belief to die for, a value to live by, nor an encounter that can pass for pure friendship without an underlying suspicion that more is intended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the entrance into the social club of the “cog” is just beginning.  OPM is a vast juggernaut of an administrative process, and the miniscule feeling one will be exposed to, presented with and suddenly thrown to the bottom of a pitiless cauldron will become evident from the very beginning.

That “feeling”, however, should never be confused with the relevance, importance and significance of preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application properly and to a perfection made to order, at least as much as humanly possible.

For, in the end, to be a cog in the process does not mean that one should become processed as a mere cog; rather, that the line which extends around the block and down into the next needs to be acknowledged, yet prepared sufficiently such that when that call for “Next!” comes your way, all of the papers, relevant data and significance of evidence are in undiluted order, such that the cog in the process will flow smoothly when next your turn is up before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Law: The cruelty of our nature

Note that we are not positing that nature in general is cruel; for, in nature, predatory behaviors and devouring of one another is merely a tautological definition of nature itself, in the constant balance between prey and predator, betwixt overpopulation and dominance of one species over another, etc.  No, the “our” refers to a specific species – of the human kind.

Whether engendered and triggered within our genetic predispositions, or as Rousseau and Locke would have it, spurred on by the artificial constructs evolved from the social contract created for self-preservation, there is little denying that “our” nature is the cruelest of them all.  Little evidence needs to be pointed at in order to establish the case proving such a perspective – of wars, treatment of others, disregard for fellow members, neighbors and even strangers; no, the cruelty of our nature betrays the inherent meanness of our selves.

Yes, yes – there are always sociological and anthropological explanations – of mistreatment by a structural and inherent canopy of defiance; people left without hope for any future; lives destroyed by government regulations and other societal pressures; wars driven by sectarian and genocidal triggers further explained by economic changes and shifts of monetary and global policies; and of the rise of dominance by a few over the general populace.

There is little doubt that we are cruel because of who we are – at the top of the food chain, everyone struggling to merely survive.  Yet, it was always the belief that within us, there was a spark of the angel – of being just above the beast, and slightly below the heavenly orbs where wings of perfection remain yet to strive for.

When medical conditions erupt, necessitating the Federal or Postal employee 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, it is well to keep in mind the cruelty of our nature – not necessarily in ourselves, but in the capacity and human capability of acting upon it by revealing to others the vulnerabilities caught in the web of our own genetic predispositions.

Care needs to be taken in protecting privacy; never underestimate the reactions that might occur by a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and always bear in mind the wisdom of Shakespeare, who recognized the cruelty of our nature, “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.  They kill us for their sport.” King Lear, Act IV, Scene i.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire