OPM Medical Retirement: The silence erupting in the room

You go out for a moment – perhaps to smoke a cigarette (do people actually do that these days?), to “freshen up” (is that necessarily a sexist presumption, in that women are the only ones who need to do so, or wasn’t it more likely just a euphemism to avoid the crass declaration that one has to “go to the potty”?) or just to get away from the din of dinner conversation; and, upon reentering the room those eyes look askance, askew, and away from you.

What happened?  Does suspicion abound, or is it merely paranoia that prevails?  Does sudden silence simultaneously synchronized with one’s reappearance constitute enough evidence to conclude that the gossip previously directed at someone other than yourself had shifted to include the reentering individual just previously having disappeared for a brief interlude?

Perhaps, instead, just before coming back to join the fray, there had been a pause in the conversation; or, it just so happened that everyone was taking a sip or gulp of whatever people were drinking, and as you reentered, the cumulative silence just so happened to prevail at the precise moment of appearance.  Coincidences of such natures do occur; yet, there is always that nagging feeling that the exact opposite is true – that, yes, they were all talking about you, and the embarrassing silence suddenly pervaded like a heavy London fog suddenly extracting its shroud of mystery and burden of conversation upon a topic well-worn by clawing swipes and innuendoes otherwise left undefended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering 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 position, that is often the fear and the gloom of dread, isn’t it?  That you – the absent Federal employee; the Postal worker who has filed for FMLA protection; the Federal employee who has been on extended LWOP – are the subject of constant gossip, and the grumblings and lies disseminated become the silence erupting in the room.

In the end, there is little that can be done about people who engage in gossip, whether in the bathroom, the kitchen or at the workplace; people will talk, and somehow believe that it makes them superior.

Ultimately, the best revenge is to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application and file it through one’s agency or U.S. Postal Service H.R. Office, and submit it to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to escape from the din of cheap talk and chicanery, such that it becomes irrelevant whether, upon reappearance into a roundtable full of gossipers, the silence erupting in the room had to do with you, or just a mere coincidence of unexplainable phenomena coalescing just at the moment of reentrance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Reconsideration Stage

Much time is often wasted upon rebutting incoherent arguments.  Such a statement is true in a great many sectors of life, as well as with an initial denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The first reaction in response to an Initial Denial received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is to panic and become disheartened:  The Federal Disability Retirement applicant has waited many, many months, just to get to this point of being denied an application which was thought to clearly meet the legal standard of preponderance of the evidence, and perhaps the medical narratives and treatment records clearly and unequivocally established the nexus between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job.

What could have gone wrong?  What was deficient?  What unanticipated mistakes were made?

To top it all off, a quick perusal of the denial letter makes it appear as if the application never had a leg to stand on –  seemingly contradictory statements extrapolated; selective quotes from doctors, supervisors, etc., that tend to undermine the proof needed; deficient documentation and multiple garbled references to the “Disability Retirement Law” that has simply not been met.

How does one counter and rebut such an overwhelming denial of one’s carefully gathered and constructed information?

There is the “proper” and “effective” way, but one’s initial inclination in reactive form is normally not the way to go about it.

The Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who finds himself/herself in such a situation – of facing an initial denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – will often want to just “give up” and try to endure the pain, anguish and cognitive deterioration by going back to work (if that is even possible and the Federal or Postal employee has not yet been separated from service), or just simply walk away from one’s well-deserved Federal Pension and early Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and forego the benefits earned and vested.

Of course, that is precisely the thought-process that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management wants you to embrace.

It is often stated (erroneously) that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not an “adversarial” process – and that OPM is not there to “fight you”, but rather, to ensure that all Federal Disability Retirement applications fulfill the requirements of the law.

If that were truly the case, then why does an OPM denial point out only the deficiencies, and never the positive aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application?  Why do OPM denials always present themselves as overwhelmingly unqualified and argued as if there is absolutely no basis or chance of an approval?

Precisely – because, despite stating otherwise, the administrative process of trying to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is just that:  an adversarial process which requires an advocate to fight for your rights.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirements: Focus away from ‘self’

The heightened problems emanating from a chronic medical condition cannot be quantified; as the medical issues themselves become exacerbated while attempting to work and engage in other “major life activities”, the pain, psychiatric debilitation and interruption of things once taken for granted, become all the more magnified and exponentially exaggerated in significance, relevance and focus of daily contention.  Or, to put it in more common parlance, it makes us grouchier as the day goes.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit offered for all FERS employees (and any in the older CSRS system who may still be around – a rarity, like dinosaurs and gnomes of past ages), and is meant as a progressive paradigm of inestimable worth.  Unlike other systems of compensation, it encourages the (former) Federal or Postal employee to seek employment in the private sector, because the generous allowance that the former Federal or Postal employee can make up to 80% of what one’s former salary currently pays, on top of the annuity itself, allows for “the system” to be a self-paying entity, because such individuals then pay taxes and contribute “back into” the very system which is being accessed.

The fact that it is such a thoughtful, progressive system is rare – for, government bureaucracies tend not to embrace an insightful program of wider application, but this is a case in point where the system “works”.

That being said, the Federal or Postal employee who continues to try and extend one’s career in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service by “hoping” – and, do not misunderstand, for hope as an element of human focus for events yet to occur, is a good thing – that the medical condition will get better, and thus to delay initiating the complex process of 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 or CSRS Offset, does so at the peril of self-focusing immolation.

The point of getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits is just that – to be able to attend to the medical condition itself; to attain restorative sleep; to not be embroiled in the vicious cycle of having to work at a job where one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties cannot be met because of the medical condition itself, and therefore a stark reminder, on a daily and sustained basis, upon one’s self, the limiting aspects of the medical condition, and the inability to escape the constant gravitational dissection of “me, myself and I”.  That’s the rub, isn’t it?

As you try and get better, those around you – supervisors, coworkers, etc. – begin to harass, criticize and compound the problem by redirecting your shortcomings resulting from the very medical conditions from which you are trying to get better.  Federal Disability Retirement is the next step in that process – where, once attained, the stress of focusing upon one’s self is relieved by being able to actually focus upon what is important:  one’s health, and the pathway to a secure future through getting approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The divided relic

If an ancient relic of sacred origins must always travel with wherever a community, a tribe or an individual must go, can its essence remain intact despite being divided into multiple forms?  Can a divided populace split into two its sacredly-held relic, whether for theological reasons of disputatious incommensurability, or simply resulting from an old-fashioned “I don’t like them anymore” conflict that has erupted into an irreconcilable fissure?  In other words, is the sacredness of the relic contained in the essence of the thing itself, or by the bonding influence of the people who view that item of antiquity with awe and frightful respect?

Whether a sacred scroll or a Bible (which, obviously, would be difficult to divide), or a crystalline object, an ancient arrow holding magical powers or an assortment of divinations empowered by a rich history of spiritual conquests — whether such relics can retain their efficacy for a community divided, might depend upon the strength of the belief itself, and the foundational reliance upon such antiquities of thought-processes.

That is, perhaps, one of the many problems of modernity; we no longer have the capacity to believe in the power of ancient relics, divided or not; and, instead, we put our faith into the predetermination of a Darwinian paradigm, where the gene pools of those who have survived merely contribute to the greater sense of invincibility within a genetically maladjusted populace of pure materialism.  Thus do we abandon all sacred rites of passage and living – of entrance into adulthood, marriage, the sacrament of forgiveness and the commodity of grace.

The divided relic does not lose its powers because of the division into pieces greedily and hastily fractured by human conflict, but because the very act itself merely reflects a broken heart no longer tethered by faith, belief, community or commonality of belonging.  No – it is because we have accepted fractured lives as a justification for dividing sacred relics, that the very sanctity of the relic itself has been diminished and sullied.

Indeed, that is what happens in the Federal sector and the U.S. Postal Service, with people and the workplace itself.  No, there are no sacred relics to be divided in the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, but there can be – should be – a sense of commonality of purpose and an empathy undivided such that the work and missions of the entity itself can be carried forth with a purposeful intent.  The strength of that sense of cohesion, however, is often reflected when a Federal or Postal employee is beset with a medical condition, and must file a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

If the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility responds with supportive empathy (rarely seen), then that sense of an undivided and worthy relic remains like a residue of bright hope; but, more often than not, it is the opposite effect that is seen – of a divided relic reflected in the pool of harshness and indifference revealed by human depravity, by harassment, intimidation and scorn within the community of Federal and Postal workers.

Such a state of affairs when responding to a Federal or Postal worker who is in the process of going through the administrative trials of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through OPM is reflective of this state of modernity, where the divided relic can so heartlessly be accomplished without concern for the essence of one’s soul.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Understanding

The Master asks one of his two dogs, “Where is ___?”  If the second pet wags her tail, looks quizzically at the owner, then proceeds to go to the far end of the next room and locates the wandering misfit and barks to you that she has found him – do we disbelieve?  If the same question were to be asked of one’s child in reference to a sibling, and the identical result occurs where the first child goes into another room or runs up into the attic and locates the lost soul, would there be any doubt?

Same circumstances, identical behaviors, concurrent results; merely different mammals within the genus of species, and yet we disbelieve because of arrogance and pride of self-worth.  Why is it that we refuse to attribute understanding to non-human entities despite clear evidence to the contrary?  Is language defined by grammatical rules of construction retrospectively applied, and does that constitute a basis for refusing to allow admittance into the colony of intelligence “clubs” of exclusivity we have created based upon rules of comprehension we have paradoxically constructed?

The rules constituting grammatical comprehension and technical application came subsequent to language itself; for, no one believes that Man sat down eons ago and decided to set down rules of linguistic conveyance, upon which the growing population then began to follow.  No, conformity to such constricting paradigms were initiated, instituted and concretized when society recognized that there were differences in parochial intonations, and those who had nothing better to do decided with arrogance and ivory-tower nose-lifting that correct idioms of speech needed to be recognized, applied and adhered to.

And what of animals?  So long as the working paradigm consisted of our self-image as just below the angels and above the burdens of beasts, we refused their eligibility to the elite of elasticity in language and comprehension.  Yet, despite all of the convoluted attempts at avoiding acknowledgment and recognition that “to understand” is nothing more than the behavior following an utterance of speech, the pragmatism of daily life refutes our own methodology of exclusionary conduct.  For, in the end, it is merely the impact of speech upon behavior in a given society, whether that indicates a “human” world or a “dog” universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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, the question of “understanding” before “acting” often becomes a vicious circularity resulting in non-action:  The complexity of the legal tangles in Federal Disability Retirement law tends to make the Federal or Postal employee pause; failure to act in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application serves to exacerbate one’s condition, which leads to greater stress and turmoil; non-action results.

The key is to recognize that “understanding” – not even “complete understanding” – is necessary.  Rather, it is often the subsequent initiation of acting following a verbal commitment that is the only real test of understanding.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The wrong turn

What are the consequences of a wrong turn?  Recognition before venturing too far into the detoured travel; loss of some amount of time (allowing for that cumbersome freeway that doesn’t have another exit for some 25 miles); a rash attempt to correct the mistake by crossing the grassy knoll that divides the highway, only to find that the invitation of the greenery is a muck of quick sand that sinks the four tires into a pit of immobility; or, in the most positive scenario, a mere four-corner turn to get back onto the “right” track of travel.

Every decision in life possesses an inherent ingredient — some modicum of consequences; for some, disaster always seems to follow – like Pig-pen and the trail of dust and whirl of tornado-like innocence; while, for others, the Teflon-man of escaping even the scent of guilt is forever brushed off without a scratch or a theme of taint.

Then, of course, there are the horrible tales from newspaper clippings, of a wrong turn resulting in death, maiming, or other deviation from a mere innocence of mistaken scroll of the steering wheel; perhaps the GPS accuracy will no longer allow for such deviations resulting in detoured consequences, but others have contended that the technical glitches inherent in such devices still fail to recognize that the shortest and most efficient route may not always be the safest passage through life’s impending doom.

Further, what is it about the wrong turn that seems to define the state of a marriage?  In days of youth, such detours of deviancy may have evoked the laughter of wonder  – of an unforeseen adventure not worthy of even mild criticism; but as age increases the inner sanctum of fear and insecurity, so the wrong turn often stirs the nervous insecurities otherwise seething beneath the surface of apparent happiness and contentment of marriage, children, family gatherings and holiday warmth.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact the Federal or Postal employee’s ability or capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the question often becomes:  Did I make the wrong turn by taking on this Federal or Postal job, or is the wrong turn made by staying put?

Such metaphors of intent depend upon the very next move that the Federal or Postal employee will undertake.  For, if the next act is to merely remain in the same position, and allow for the harassment and adverse proposals to pile upon prior agency initiations of hostility, then the wrong turn will likely result in further mishaps of deviations of rightful routes.

For the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the next “right” move in correcting the wrong turn.  For, it is often not the initial deviation from a set course of direction that results in a move being “wrong”; rather, it is the acts that follow, attempting to correct, that leads into consequences that make matters all the worse.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The din of distant darkness

There are often foreboding signs which we conveniently ignore.  In retrospect, how often do we hear of the lament of disregard?  “I never thought…”; “I heard the sound, but –“; “There were some indications, but I just assumed…”  Yet, later, we recognize those telltale footprints, and wonder why the creaking floorboards or the muffled murmur did not raise the cautionary instincts repressed by urge of avoidance.  If we were paid a dollar for every instance where…

Like Jim Croce’s remorseful song, if time could be saved in a bottle from every occurrence of wasteful distraction spent trying to figure out things which could otherwise be discerned through careful analysis, the extent of cumulative superciliousness in trying to act offended or incensed by charges of ineptitude might be reasonably contained.  There is so much noise, these days, that a fresh uptick in the volume of an additional din is barely noticeable.  And when then sound of emitted discordance strums a beat in the distance, who but the expectant and anxious parent recognizes the unique cry of a child’s shrill scream of alarm?

And if the sound is merely likened to darkness, where light no longer creeps between the door left ajar, or the seam between the floor and the locked metal gate, then how are we to recognize the silence of strangled light left abandoned in the loneliness of a world uncaring?

The din of distant darkness is precisely that foreboding sense of what may happen, but based upon “something”, as opposed to a baseless muttering of convictions unfounded when we suddenly “lose it” and cannot extricate ourselves from the frenzy of our own lies.  Much of life is about lying – not necessarily to others (although, we do that often enough, as well), but more to ourselves in order to shield our own fragile psyche from the fears we want to avoid.  But even darkness seen in the distant horizon comes creeping towards us, whether we want it to, or not.

How we nestle in the fears of our own making, or struggle against the timeless reverberations of anxieties unstated and never confessed, is the foundation of what makes for successful living, or failed attempts to conceal the cacophony of numbing onslaughts of life.  Yes, the din of distant darkness is yet merely a warning some months, years or decades away; but for Federal and Postal employees who already have a sense of what is coming, and the inevitability of life’s misgivings, the indicators are probably already there:  a medical condition that will not go away; the intersecting impact between the medical condition and the ability to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position; and the question:  How long can I last?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to start considering the process of preparing 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 din of distant darkness should never be avoided; for, in the end, it will come upon you like a thief in the night, stealthily, and without regard, just as your agency and closest coworkers and supervisors will turn the other eye even when the oncoming rush is about to hit you in a sudden fit of uncaring actions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire