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

 

OPM Disability Retirement Appeal: Second Opportunities

In life, how often do we get a “second opportunity”?  To correct a past mistake; to avoid the consequences of an error committed; to rekindle a damaged relationship; and other acts of revitalized and redemptive scenarios rarely allowed.

Second opportunities, and the rare third ones, allow for erasures to be made, modifications to be incorporated and additional, corrective information to be inserted.  Of the following, what would one think? “Oh, a mistake was made in the contract which goes against you, but not to worry, go ahead and make the changes and we can sign everything again as if … “ Or: “Oh, your rich aunt disinherited you after you called her that horrible name and in a drunken rage knocked her over the head with vase, but not to worry, she forgives you and has placed you back in her will.”

Those are, to be sure, instances of second opportunities, but rarely to be had and more likely to occur in fictionalized accounts of redemptive fantasies otherwise unpublished because of their unlikely occurrences.

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 “Second Opportunity” (and the “Third”) comes in the form of the Reconsideration Stage, and then an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Don’t let such an opportunity for corrective action slip through the “proverbial fingers” by making the same mistake twice.  It is, at either the Reconsideration Stage or the appeal to the MSPB, an opportunity to fill in any gaps (whether merely perceived by OPM or substantively existing, it doesn’t really matter); and to reinforce any lack of medical evidence by having the opportunity to supplement, and even modify, statements made or omissions allowed.

Some OPM Disability Retirement cases may be weak in their very essence, whether because of lack of medical support or because of other reasons undefinable; other cases may simply need further development, explanation or supplemental evidence to “shore up” the unpersuasive peripheral issues that have appeared in the case.  Both the Reconsideration Stage, as well as the appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, open opportunities to resolve one’s case in one’s favor — by being granted the ultimate end and goal with an approval of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

The road to attain that goal, however, must sometimes travel through multiple doors and second opportunities, and that is how one should see the Second (Reconsideration) and Third (an appeal to the MSPB) Stages of the process in trying to get one’s OPM Disability Retirement application approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Scoffing paradigms

Of course, such a title can have a double entendre or duality of meanings – that, in the first instance, the accent is upon the word “scoffing” with a lowering of one’s voice upon “paradigms”, and that would mean: One turns up one’s nose at the very idea of paradigms. Or, alternatively, if both words are of equally monotonous tonal undulations, then it could mean that the paradigm itself is one which scoffs at other paradigms, differing principles or contrary perspectives.

As to the first: There are those in life who declare that paradigms are unnecessary, and one needs to simply live life, take things as they come and forget about being able to comprehend “first principles” or other such nonsense. Indeed, that is the bestial side of humanity; animals and all other species live like that, and as the evolutionary perspective has won out and we are left with nothing but the biological counterview of life, so why not us as well in consonance with the rest of the universe?

The second meaning would presume the opposite: for, in order for a superiority of belief-systems beyond modernity’s feeble attempt at generalized equivalence of all such systems, there needs be certain paradigms that are objectively prioritized in significance, importance and relevance of application. In either meanings, while the emphasis upon the direction of the scoffer may differ, the central concept of “paradigms” remains throughout and consistently becomes elevated and magnified as the primary root cause.

Modernity has a dual problem (and many more, besides): On the one hand, nobody any longer believes in grand systems of philosophical import; thus, the Hegels, Kants and Heideggers of yesteryear will not become reincarnated in current or future times, unless there is a wholesale exchange of mindsets. On the other hand, we still cling to a tribal mentality – of wanting and needing to belong to a group that espouses illogical biases and discriminatory tendencies, if only to have some semblance of an identity unique from others; and so we embrace, by unconscious fiat or otherwise estranged ignorance, paradigms that we neither understand nor take the time to comprehend, but instead join in and defend by means of keeping company with other such ignoramuses.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who begin the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, what becomes quickly evident during the process is that the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Facility will suddenly become encamped and invested in one paradigm, and you in an altogether different paradigm, and then the scoffing begins.

The Federal Disability Retirement applicant (you) are no longer amongst the “for the mission of the agency” paradigm, and you end up being a member of that “other” paradigm whether you like it, choose to, or not. Thus do you participate in the vicious cycle of scoffing paradigms, in either sense of the terms, without even knowing it. Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Overload

The comparative life is an illusion of sorts; Plato’s theme throughout is established every day, as appearances hide the reality beneath, and the allegory of the Cave – where shadows constitute the seeming truth and the truth appears as hidden seeming – is merely an archaic anachronism that has been vanquished, if merely because no one gives much weight to dead philosophers and nobody has the time for reflection upon questions that cannot provide answers instantaneously, as Google and High Speed Internet have allowed us to become accustomed.

Looking about on any street corner, or walking among the populace at large, one would believe that everyone around is able to handle the daily stresses of modernity, and that overload – whether of information, activities, responsibilities, financial, ethical, family, commitments, work issues, health concerns, etc. – are all performed, accomplished, completed and fulfilled with but a yawn.  Somehow, we all know it not to be the case.

Statistically, a great number of us suffer from anxiety, depression, intolerance to any level of stresses, with physical manifestations and somatic consequences impacting; and how many among the seemingly “normal” crowd require daily intakes of pharmacological assistance by ingestion with serious side effects to boot, but like the three towers which – when viewed from a certain perspective of alignment, appears as a singular entity – presents one sense-impression and then another when movement of the perceiver alters the vantage point, we persist upon a given viewpoint despite knowledge to the contrary.

Sensory overload is a daily problem, a persistent concern and a philosophical conundrum, precisely because we have given up the opportunity for reflection, repose and reconciliation with life’s major questions.  No, philosophy was never meant for the masses – the Socratic dialectic made that clear; but the questions posed were meant to always and perennially be asked, such that each generation would attempt to make heads or tails of life’s serious concerns.

Instead, we have been told that there are no such questions to be answered; that mythology died at about the same time Socrates took his mandated hemlock, and all information is good, available and open to the public through Google, and we can all be happy with the lot of life given to us.  Yet, the overload we experience on a daily basis, somehow doesn’t quite fit that paradigm.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who feel the burden of overload – of having to “deal” with workplace harassment; of contending with the debilitating medical conditions; of deteriorating health and the impact upon one’s ability and capacity to continue in the chosen job in the Federal or Postal sector – it may be time to consider 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, if the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, you may be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

It is a long and arduous bureaucratic process that can take many stages in order to obtain, but the alternative may be of that appearance which defies the evidence of reality – like the Platonic Forms that represent the hidden truth behind the appearance of things presented – for, to remain without doing anything is to either continue to deteriorate in progressive debilitation of health, or to try and withstand the overload of life’s misgivings in a job which you can no longer do, or barely do, until the day comes when increasing pressure from the Federal agency or the Postal Service ends in a termination letter; and, that, too would be an overload beyond the ability to handle.

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