Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Weekend Survival

The segmentation of time may be artificial; the rhythms of life, are not.  The 7-day week, 30-day month (give or take a couple here and there) and the 12-month cycle constitute human constructs that impose a rigid system of divisions based upon productivity, leisure, an admixture of both (isn’t it universal that Saturdays are spent in doing chores otherwise unattended to during the week, and Sunday is that respite and escape in total destitution of depleted dreariness?) and then a reset button pushed and the beginning of the cycle all over again.

Yet, while the system itself is based upon a conceptually artificial construct, the rhythmic underpinning of nature that glides above and beneath on a daily, quiet but consistent basis remains unperturbed.

That is why Daylight Savings Time makes grouches of us all — it is another artificial construct that jolts everyone from the natural rhythms of monotonous apathy twice a year, and breaks up that flow of biodynamic symbiosis between the planetary rotations, the daily sunrise and sunset, and the body’s reaction to a natural order within the constructs of an unnatural way of living.  The only compensation we feel grateful for is that extra hour of sleep that we are “given” in the Fall — only to have it stripped mercilessly and robbed from us in the Spring.

Thank God for the weekend — those two days of respite and leisure; of restorative rest and a quietude away from the mad dash of work and productivity; and we believe that we owe to the gods our lives and sacrifice our health for those pittance of days that are given to us.  But what are those 2 days worth?

Half of one is given up to do those things that we had no time to do during the five days of labor; the other half, spent in frozen immobility in front of a screen that blasts frightful images both from news of the “real” world as well as stories that are supposedly “entertaining”.  Then, with the one day remaining, we try and compensate for the exhaustion from the previous 5+1, only to wake up the following morning to engage the rush of the work-week that suffers and harms.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition becomes a trial of survival during the week in order to make it to the weekend just to survive, it is worse because — not only is the “natural” rhythm interrupted by the medical condition itself — days, weeks and months all meld and melt into a singular whole of survival and consternation of life’s trials.

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, may be the only option remaining in order to re-order the rhythm lost in the daily struggle to reach that weekend survival where the cycle of life’s natural rhythm has been shattered by the trauma of a chronic medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Hope springs

“Eternal”, of course, is the ending and attachment that most would declare if asked to fill in the blank.  How many of us know of the origin of the statement, what it means, from whence it comes (yes, yes, a Google search is only one finger button away)?  It is often an afterthought – a “throw-away” line that one scatters about in response to someone else’s statement about “hoping to do X” or having “hope that X will happen”.

The reactionary response that is commonly stated is, “Well, of course hope springs eternal.”   The origin of the saying comes from Alexander Pope’s work, “An Essay on Man”, where he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

What was he referring to?  It could be interpreted in many ways – of a reference to a life hereafter and the reason for living, struggling and being tormented in this life, with a view towards an eternal reward; or, that so long as there is hope, things will change for the better if you just stick around long enough.

Without hope, the devastation of life’s turmoil may never allow for a person to get beyond this day; it is with hope that is kept in the human breast that the eternal promise of a better tomorrow becomes possible; for, otherwise there is just fatalism to look forward to, or as Pope stated, a state of existence where “Man never is”.

The word-pictures evoked from Pope’s work are beautifully put, and provide images that allows for multiple interpretations.  The word “springs” is a carefully chosen word, for it gives the idea both of calm (as in the tranquility of a running spring) as well as a jump forward (as in “spring forward”), and thus establishes multiple meanings when tied to the reference point of “hope”.

Hope, ultimately, is the ingredient that allows for life to live for a future yet undetermined and yet to be defined.  That is what is important for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  For, what other hope is there than Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

As the ongoing medical condition and the deteriorating aspect of the medical condition begins to squeeze out any hope left; and the impact it is having on one’s career and future starts to question the viability of any hope to be had; it is hope from X to Y – i.e., a future with a difference – that allows for hope to foster and thrive.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes that hope in continuing in one’s job is no longer a reality, it becomes important to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because hope springs eternal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: If not X, then at least Y

Many such contingent annotations are in the form of:  If not illegal, then at least unethical; or, if not unethical, then at least lacking of propriety, etc.  It is the pathway to a lesser acceptance, where the focus of one’s aspiration is lowered because of the inevitability of discovering that evidence insufficient will be uncovered.  Thus can one go on ad infinitum in various but similar forms:  If not happiness, then at least some semblance of contentment; if not a soul mate, then at least someone to share my experiences with, etc.

But what if that “replacement” standard turns out to be less than acceptable over time, through duration of toleration, and during cold nights when boredom no longer excites in playing pinochle while the kids are asleep?  Or, if the infractions and constant infringements persist with no end in sight, and no appropriate definition of a violation such that there are penalties to be ascribed and consequences to be felt?  Do we then accept an even lesser paradigm, and if so, how do we know that such diminution and diminishment of acceptance won’t again be averted and avoided?  Thus, do we assert:  If not X, then at least Y; but if Y doesn’t work out, then at least Z; and so on?  When first one submits to the acceptance of a lesser standard, the proverbial horserace has already been lost.

In negotiations, in contractual disputes, in attempting to come to terms, etc., the sign first evidenced of conceding the lesser standard is the first indicator that the slippery-slope has just begun.   There are instances, of course, where the opposite is true, as well, except that we can rarely discern beneath the surface appearances.  That is what Federal and Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, must face and accept daily – the conflict between an aspirational paradigm of hope, and the reality of daily pain and anguish.

Thus, for the Federal or Postal employee, we have:  If there is lesser pain today, perhaps I can last through the day; If I show that I am productive this week, then maybe the supervisor will just leave me alone, etc.  As if, “lasting through the day”, or just “being left alone” for a week, a day, an hour, etc., are acceptable standards for living life?  That is why abandonment of all prior paradigms must often be employed in the journey of life, career and fortitude of endurance; we tend to cling on to categories of an “ought” no longer applicable.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who can no longer endure the acceptance of the lesser standard when there is an alternative to the constant suffering and persistent harassment at the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, fortunately, there is the ongoing benefit of a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.  Even for that, the road is still difficult and arduous, for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency that determines all disability retirement applications, does not merely “hand out” the benefit.  Like everything else in life, it must be fought for.

But, then, the Federal or Postal worker who fights for a Federal Disability Retirement benefit can retrospectively declare:  “If not the constant and daily struggle, then at least an annuity to secure my future” – the “exception” to the rule, where the lesser is in fact the greater, but is not always apparently so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: Writing a life

It is lived; or so we attempt to do so.  This thing called “life”; neither an art form, and forever unaccompanied by instructions or even a cheap compass; most are abandoned at the junkyards of forgotten corners, where the trifecta of raw sewage, mistreatment of body and spirit, and the crass exposure to the detritus of human discontent coalesce to present the irony of birth preceding an inevitable death.

Heidegger taught that we engage in projects in order to avoid the ultimate outcome; for Nietsche, nihilism opened doors for optimism contrary to the preceding generations of convoluted castaways; and while Zen and Hindu mysticism explained away the agony of the body, the remaining torture of living the reality of the now somehow wasn’t enough to extinguish the suffering groans of an impervious universe devoid of feeling, empathy, regard or constancy.

If the implements to create are not provided, and cannot be afforded no matter the toil from birth to death, of what use is the life given if living it cannot be achieved?  Moreoever, how can one engage in the writing of a life, let alone the living of it?

Autobiographies are mostly forgotten narratives undertaken merely to dispose of haunting ghosts of passing groans; and biographies, only for those who become a footnote in the dustbin of society.  And thus are we forsaken, like the cross abandoned on the hilltop where agony was first embraced in an effort to expiate the sufferings of our forefathers.  And then we are asked to write a life — no, not merely to live it, but to engage in art as reflective of ugliness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are attempting to prepare an SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the arduous expenditure of describing even a slice of it can mean the difference between securing one’s future or losing a lifetime’s career of investing in the Federal sector or the U.S. Postal Service.

Whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the labor of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must by necessity describe the impact of the medical condition, its nexus to the Federal or Postal worker’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, and to “prove” it by a preponderance of the evidence.

Such a daunting task is tantamount to writing a life — perhaps, one could appease, merely a slice of one, a portion of a greater whole, and an abbreviated compendium in an abridged form.  Nevertheless, the task involves the aggregation of descriptive narrative, a coherent structure of prose encapsulating facts, evidence and a legal argumentation with a focus towards meeting a statutory criteria for eligibility; indeed, some could argue that the entire project is one demanding something well beyond the mere writing of a life; it is, moreover, to convey and communicate the most private of concerns before a public forum in a maze of bureaucratic complexities amidst an administrative nightmare in a sequence of conundrums.

Yes, living a life is hellish and unaccompanied by direction or explicit purpose; writing a life is even worse — for it entails the remembrance of things past, the present undone, and a future filled with uncertainties but for the successful execution of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Structural Problem

It is what we never want to hear, and fear most:  that statement from an “expert” who informs us that it is a “structural problem“.  Not cosmetic; not superficial; not unessential; but that word, concept and image which goes to the very heart and foundation of the damage:  the center of the universe.  When the damage occurs there, and the rotting vein of progressive deterioration touches upon that central nervous system, then it becomes “structural”, and all of the rest may come falling down in a sudden dustheap of crumpled carcasses.

So long as it involves only the peripheral concerns, we keep telling ourselves that it doesn’t matter, that the foundation is still solid and they are mere extremities of lesser concern.  We do that with pain and other irritants of life.  And with medical conditions that don’t double us over or completely debilitate us.  So long as there remains a semblance of structural integrity left, one can go on and continue without regard to the symptoms which become telltale signs of impending doom.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who has arrived at the point of finality where one can no longer just venture forward, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes the best remaining option.

We wait because it is in the very nature and essence of procrastination that the inevitability of ignorance, neglect, disregard and sidestepping can delay the confrontation with that which we fear to know, refuse to acknowledge, and take comfort in detracting from the encounter with the truth of established verifiability.  As with science, the flat earth, and the view from a geocentric universe, no one wants to be told that there is a structural problem.

Too often, the Federal and Postal employee who finally comes to a point of needing to admit that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is and has become a necessity because he or she has worked until the last straw was placed on the back of the proverbial camel.

Medical conditions announce harbingers of events to come, by symptoms calling for attention and attentiveness.  While the news from the architect that the problem is a “structural” one may not be welcome, it was always an indicator that the inevitable was on the fast-track of necessity and predictability; we just turned our heads aside in hopes of another day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Days of Partial Life

To whom do we owe our due?  What motivates, compels and propels?  Is it by way of a sense of indebtedness (a sort of negation attempting to claw back and regain a foothold), or an assertion of one’s rightful ownership of life, land and property?  Or perhaps there is a sense of a higher calling, whether by teleological justification, or a whisper of duty?

Some days, we walk within a mist of stupor, half-alive, barely conscious, and hoping to simply get through the day.  Other days, a breath of fresh air fills our lungs, and life promises a brighter future, like the winds suddenly lifting the stagnant kite higher into the heavens where promises of greater glories hold truth in the palm of an angel’s hand.  We often fail to recognize the power of our own daily will; it is free to choose, undetermined in the morning, past memories in the afternoon, and concretized by night.

There is a difference when an individual is beset with a chronic and debilitating medical condition, precisely because in such circumstances, one’s daily life is no longer free to choose like entrees on a menu for a preset course of delectable meals.  No, individuals with impacting medical conditions can only live lives of partial living, bifurcated into elementary segments:  times of pain, times of being pain-free; times of lethargy and cognitive loss of focus, and rare times of mental acuity and clarity of judgment.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer daily from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the judgment to file for Federal Disability Retirement may come when the proportionate bifurcation of the partial life reaches a critical point where the segment of pain exceeds the portion of non-pain, or put quite simply, when the quality of life deteriorates so miserably that one’s days off are merely used up in order to recuperate for further days of pain or cognitive dysfunction.

Federal Disability Retirement, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is a benefit available to all Federal and Postal employees who have a minimum number of years of Federal Service (18 months for those under FERS; 5 years for those under CSRS).

When those days of a full life become transformed into a chronic continuum of days of partial life, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire