FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: Changes we resist

It is almost a tautology; two words placed together as synonyms; and, indeed, the word “change” and its neighbor, “resist” have a commonality that cannot be avoided: Both imply an alteration and a sense of life’s modification never to return back.

We resist it, precisely because we want it to remain the same; but change is inevitable, and to resist is to often engage in acts of futility against a tide which resists resistance.  Few of us welcome, let alone savor, changes in our lives; and when they first appear on the horizon of potentiality, we try and resist, to stop it, to alter the course of history’s onward march.

Perhaps we merely refuse to join in with the change; or have an inner attitude of non-acceptance; or sit gloomily and pout throughout the remainder of days simmering with resentment that we were forced to accept that which we never wanted.  It is like the divorce that shattered one’s childhood and from which we never recovered; the stepmother or stepfather who entered our lives only added salt to the wound where change was resisted but no one listened to our protestations and pleas, asking, “Why can’t it be the same as always?”

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition impacts one’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, “change” and the “resistance” to change are inevitable dualities of life’s misgivings.

Perhaps you were once at the “top of your game” and considered the best at what you do; or, perhaps you thrived on anonymity and were happy to work in a quiet, unassuming way.  Regardless, the very thought of change is something you resisted, but a medical condition forced such a change whether you like it or not.

Change itself is always difficult, but there are ways to mitigate the vulnerabilities that accompany change: Consult with an attorney before engaging battle with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  For, while change may be like the uninvited stepmother or stepfather into one’s life, the change that truly becomes a tumultuous event is the one where you step forward into the unknown without any guidance or assistance.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal and Postal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement: Damaged goods

Perhaps it is of a fine porcelain statue; or a painting that depicts perfection in a pastoral panorama presenting a private purview of picturesque purity (sorry for the alliteration that cannot be resisted); or a first edition book that is without blemish; or a host of other “goods” that one values, admires, cherishes — and is purchased with anticipation of contentment.

Upon returning home, one notices an imperfection not previously spotted: a small “crack” on the forearm of the porcelain figure; a tear in the upper right portion of the canvas, just below the line where the frame casts a shadow and becomes almost imperceptible; or a crayon marking on page 324, in the middle of the book, unnoticed unless one inspects each and every page.

The item cannot be returned, because of either distance (perhaps it was purchased on international travel in a small shop in a foreign country not known for return policies); policy (the sign clearly stated, “All sales are final and the purchaser bears all responsibility in inspecting the condition of the item prior to buying”) or some other impracticable reason.

The imperfection is so minor that no one else knows, would notice or otherwise cares to comment on such an impurity of the state of the condition, except for one small and irritating fact: You know.  It bothers you.  The fact of the damaged goods betrays something about yourself — not merely that a contrast against a paradigm of perfection has stirred an irrationality that struggles against good judgment, but moreover, that there exists an intolerance for a standard of less than the penultimate apex of an unreachable standard.

What does one do?  You can: Hide and stash away the item (but it yet remains with the knowledge that, hidden or not, the aura of imperfection exists); you can give it as a gift, or sell it to a third party (but what if the potential purchaser recognizes the imperfection and bargains for a better price, leaving you with a loss — will that constantly remind you of your lack of judgment when once you thought that your expertise in such matters was the paradigm of perfection itself?); justify to yourself over and over that, “Yes, it isn’t perfect, but boy is it a great piece regardless!” (perhaps, over time, this approach may work); or, do the most drastic of solutions: destroy the item and trash it.

Medical conditions have a way of impacting individuals in a similar manner as the discovery of imperfection in what one once thought was a paradigm of perfection: somehow, it is even worse, because of the personal manner that medical conditions impact: it touches upon one’s self, one’s self-image and the crumbling sense of self-confidence one possessed when health was taken for granted.

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, always try and keep in mind that the diminution of the “product” concerned (i.e., yourself, the Federal or Postal employee) is not discovered by the mere fact of filing for Federal Disability Retirement — rather, the fault is in the system of the Federal Government for not being able to be patient as you struggle to recover from you illness or injury.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is not a reflection on the “value” of you; it is, instead, the reality of a system that fails to recognize the difference between the relative value of “goods” as opposed to the priceless perfection of a human being and his or her contribution to society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Proof

What constitutes it, and how do we learn of its sufficiency or relevance?

Take the following scenario: A group of boys are gathered together along with Billy, the “town bully”.  A discussion of sorts ensues — who is the toughest kid in town?  Some of the boys offer that “Dave” from across town is the meanest and toughest — a black belt in Hapkido, a state wrestling champion and a middle line backer for the high school football team.  Some others counter that Dave was once beaten up by Joe back in February, and doesn’t that “prove” that Joe is the toughest?

Then Billy suddenly stands up and everyone else becomes quiet.  He starts slowly and deliberatively pounding his right fist into the open palm of his left hand, and juts his prominent chin out in an intimidating manner, and says, “Okay!  Enough of this talk!  How ‘bout me?  Which of you weaklings says that I’m not the toughest guy in town?”

There are multiple sounds of gulps and fearful drops of sweat begin to trickle down the backs of each, and one of the other kids — a skinny little weasel with thick, black-rimmed glasses, suddenly shouts, “That’s proof enough for me!”  Following was a loud and unequivocal consensus of unanimous agreement.

In such a scenario, two things occurred: One — Billy “proved” that he was the toughest kid in town, and Two — all of the other kids took the lesson to heart that the proof of a physical presence and the threat presented was “sufficient” proof, as well as relevant as all get-go.

Thus are all of the components necessary to establishing verification of a propositional truth established: the town bully’s declarative utterance, backed by the force of a metaphorical persuasion (for one would argue that no overt coerciveness was used, but merely an innocent act of pounding one’s fist into the open palm of one’s other hand, and if asked whether Billy “threatened” anyone into declaring him as the toughest kid in town, he would and could innocently declare that there is “no proof” of any such accusation established or verified), and further reinforced by the scientific consensus of his peers and fellow students.

Proof was offered, considered, and accepted in full by a persuasive methodology of a succinct and effective form.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the systematic and methodological “proof” which must be gathered and presented to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in establishing the Federal or Postal employee’s eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits must, of course, be somewhat more sophisticated than the rudimentary — but effective — amassing of proof portrayed by Billy the Town Bully.

Of course, some of the characteristics may still be relevant — of what constitutes “effective” proof; of what works as “persuasive” proof; of what is comprised of proof itself.  But the difference is that, while proof that leads to an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management should last for the lifetime of the Federal or Postal employee, “proof” for the kids who agreed that Billy was the toughest guy in town lasted only so long as the threat presented kept everyone convinced.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Problems

We all have them; some, more than others; and by either quality or quantity, we often judge as to the burdens overloaded in our lives, comparing to others by contrast the significance of the impact of each, whether large or small, tragic and grandiose or irrelevant like a speck of a fly upon a windowsill in the basement where no one visits, anyway.

Wait long enough and they will sometimes go away; wait too long, and the little bothersome inkling may turn into an insurmountable gargantuan of a magnified adversity beyond human tolerability; and in the end, we are left with either being resigned to live with them, to solve them, or to simply survive them.

Problems are inherent to human living.  A wise pastor once said, “Where there are people, there are problems.”  This statement was a recognition that human interactions, relationships and the mere bunching up of personalities that conflict and become adversarial, in a world of limited means but unlimited emotional upheaval, by necessity invites problematic encounters.

We often think that, “If only I had…” — then, what?  That all problems would simply vanish?  Hardly, and most unlikely.  For, history has shown that in every endeavor that requires effort; in every relationship no matter the matching of perfection as to personality, temperament and compatibility; in the end, whether by external influences or internal derangements, conflict will erupt and problems will abound.

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 and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the necessity may arise for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS offset.

In such a state of affairs, problems already are inherent — the medical condition itself.  The key, then, is not to compound the problem by trying to maneuver through a complex administrative process without legal expertise, but rather, to engage an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

In the end, it is the compounding of problems that can be controlled.  Problems will always be with us, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must contend with a medical condition and must file a Federal Disability Retirement application, always remember that it is the next step beyond the original problem that will often determine the future course of problems, and whether they can be limited or allowed to fester and boil over into a compounding of further problems.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Medical Retirement: The rabbits we chase

The rabbits we chase are the ones that reveal not so much about our preferences, but more about who we are and the priorities we place.  For, as one walks about in life, whether in suburban neighborhoods where rabbits abound because no one shoots them for meals, anymore, and so they can multiply without natural restrictions for lack of predators, the fact that there are other things to pursue — but instead we choose the rabbit — tells others something about you.

Of course, it is the proverbial rabbit we speak about — of work at all cost, of refusing to concede that which is quite obvious to everyone else.

Much of real rabbit hunting, of course, is done by knowledge and pure observation — of how the animal reacts; in scurrying away, what route does it take?  What avoidance tactics are engaged?  In suburbia, you can no longer shoot a rabbit within the confines of the city limits, but there is no law that prevents you from doing what the American Indians were so good at — chasing one down, swooping with a strong arm and grabbing those pointed ears, all for a good lunchtime meal.

But of the other “rabbits” we pursue — of careers at the cost of our health, of tangential distractions that ultimately provide no foundational meaning in determining the destiny of sanctified thoughts and goals.

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, chasing rabbits is a familiar refrain — not because it is being done in various acts of futility, but because the rabbit itself is not just any ordinary rabbit, and doesn’t follow the standard paradigm of “rabbit-hood”.

For, it becomes clear that the very nature of the rabbit has changed — the Agency no longer recognizes that your years of toil and loyalty should mean anything; coworkers whisper and spread gossip; the level of productivity is declining; you are using “too much” Sick Leave or LWOP; the rabbit you are chasing doesn’t quite act in the same way, and you begin to wonder, Is it even worth pursuing?

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit that is there for the Federal or Postal employee who has finally come to the realization that not every rabbit is worth pursuing, and not every rabbit leads to a satisfying meal.  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is likely the next best step in catching the rabbit of choice.  Now, for which rabbit hole to jump into …

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer for Federal Disability Retirement claims: Fact and opinion

These days, the distinction between the two has been almost completely lost.  One must qualify such a statement with “almost”, only because there may still be minority bastions and pockets of hope still holding out that the madness prevailing will someday be overcome.

Somehow, the lines bifurcating the distinction that once were so obvious became obscured, until suddenly it was no longer a matter of just blurry lines, but the lines themselves had disappeared, and no one spoke as if there was a difference to be had.  Facts were confirmed and established “somethings” in either the objective world or of tradition-laden statements that we could all agree upon; opinions were various interpretations of those commonly-accepted facts, interspersed with the subjective content that often prefaced with, “It is my opinion that…”.

We have now discarded even the prefatory admonition, now, because it has become an unnecessary addendum; since there are no longer any facts, and everyone is privileged to hold an opinion, we go ahead and speak not facts because our opinion holds out just as well, thank you very much.

Where did it all begin?  Was it because Plato made too much about the difference between reality and appearance — so much so that he was forced to manufacture his conceptual fiction of ethereal “Forms” that itself became so problematic?  Or was it with Descartes, where certainty of one’s own existence became relegated to the subjective “I”, and so it was bound to become a muddle as more and more philosophers came to realize that, like Russell’s muse about language and the destruction of the traditional correspondence theory of truth, statements made could not so easily be identified as either fact or opinion.

It becomes much more problematic when statutory, reputation, education and logical methodology are altogether discarded and made irrelevant, and so we come back full circle in questioning ourselves, the categorizations we have imposed, and how to get beyond the conundrum of modernity’s own making.

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 job or Postal position, the question concerning “fact or opinion” is an important one, because the weaving of one into the other is queried in Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

How one’s answers are formulated and presented; whether they can be verified, established, “backed up with facts” as opposed to being left as mere subjective opinions — are all bundled up and contained within the questions asked, and how you will be answering them.

Fortunately, there is still remaining an approach and methodology of presenting facts as facts, and setting aside opinions and interpretations of the facts, and in 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, it is important to recognize the difference still, and be cautious in completing SF 3112A in light of modernity’s obsessional disorientation on the difference between fact and opinion.

Just the facts, as stated by my opinion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Hope’s extinguishment

Hope is the fragile string that first becomes frayed when avenues of discourse become closed and the corner that was once merely a lexicon of intersecting walls becomes a place where no exit can be found, anymore.  Cornered animals and armies without a pathway for escape become desperate in their responses; and as survival is yet an instinct that has not evolved much beyond the stage of an amoeba swimming in its own microscopic universe, so the urge to fight still remains no matter the odds pitted against them.

The extinguishment of hope comes about when the imagination can no longer fathom a future without a hint of progress, a glimmer of some warmth, and a pathway where present circumstances can be altered. One can become steeped in the insularity of one’s problems, and when those problems become magnified through suffering from a medical condition, hope’s extinguishment is sure to follow.

Filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often that pathway out of a cornered life, where hope’s extinguishment can be averted, the glimmer of a future yet uncertain can be stabilized, and the preoccupation with tomorrow’s dismal forecast can be rejuvenated.

Is it the solution to all problems large and small?  Hardly.  But it is an employment benefit that is specifically designed to help the Federal or Postal employee who is no longer capable of performing all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job to begin preparing for a change of career or a modification of one’s future plans.  For, a person who is granted a Federal Disability Retirement can still go out into the private sector and become employed in another capacity (yet utilize the skills acquired while in Federal employment) and earn up to 80% of what one’s former Federal (or Postal) position currently pays, on top of the Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Hope’s extinguishment is often a result of failing to consider alternatives when imagination is left to the recesses of dark days and sleepless nights; for, in the end, Federal and Postal employees should always consider all benefits available, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may be the pathway to reignite hope’s extinguishment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in 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, the primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Reality versus fantasy

What is the difference between reality, fantasy, dreams, nightmares and pure hallucinatory visions not otherwise categorized?  At times, we engage in the madness of asking such questions, all the while forgetting that the very reason why we are capable of making such a query is precisely because we already know the distinctions that divide the differences.

In philosophy, there is often the pure pablum and sophistry of asking questions that, at first sight, might be taken seriously.  For example, to the question: How do we know that the reality we are presently experiencing is not merely a dream of a butterfly?  Or: Upon exiting a room, how can we be certain that the objects left behind still exist despite our inability to observe them (similar to the query, Do mountains exist on the far side of the moon?  Or, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is nearby, does it make a sound?).

What we forget when we ask such questions is the precondition to the query in the first place: namely, the fact that we can talk about fantasy presupposes an acknowledgment of a reality that is distinct from fantasy, and it is precisely our “forgetting” such a presupposition that allows for the question to even make any sense in the first place.  It is similar to playing a video game, or watching a movie that skirts outside of the boundaries of believability; the mechanism to suspend disbelief is the pathway towards allowing for unserious questions to gain some credulity.

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 the Federal or Postal job, it is often this capacity and ability on the part of ordinary human beings to suspend disbelief in the reality of one’s situation that perpetuates a refusal to take the necessary next steps — 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.

Thus can we suspend the disbelief of reality that tomorrow will be any different from today; or that the doctors will find a miracle cure; or that the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service will actually attempt to accommodate the medical condition for the Federal or Postal employee.  On the other hand, fantasies allow for the continuation of hope to fester, as the reality of working for a Federal agency or the Postal Service itself often represents a surrealism that cannot be believed.

In the end, however, the reality of one’s circumstances will “catch up” with you, and the fantasy that the Federal Agency or the Postal Service would do something to accommodate the Federal or Postal employee will ultimately turn into the nightmare that it always was, and only the replacement of a reality that is recognized will awaken you from the slumber of indifference or menacing glare.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The retirement itch

It normally doesn’t come until late in life; of that picturesque paradigm of the old man sitting in a rocking chair beside a crackling fire, a dog or cat, perhaps, on the floor just beside, reading a novel or looking through a picture album; where is Norman Rockwell, and is he still relevant?

In modernity and more recently, the picture depicted is of the old couple, or in solitary state of affairs, climbing the mountains in the Himalayas or traveling to exotic lands beyond; for, the advertising agents have figured out that if old people sit around in rocking chairs, mutual funds merely sit idly in accounts without becoming subject to trading fees and other expenses, and it is best to alter the mindset for future sources of income rather than to allow for stagnation to determine the course of a past.

Is that too cynical a view to posit?  Of course, events outside of one’s control will often determine whether or not activity in old age can be embraced, or will a more placid, sedentary lifestyle consume one’s retirement?

The “retirement itch” is one that often comes late in life, after a lifetime of toil, strain, stresses and “dealing with” problems.  Is “retirement” a concept that developed only in the last and present centuries?  Did not most people just work and work and work until one “died in one’s boots” – the proverbial preference of most people who have been productive all of their lives?

Then, of course, a medical condition can cut short and impose an early retirement upon a person – and that is what Federal Disability Retirement allows for, 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.

It is that lack of a “retirement itch” that often makes the Federal or Postal employee pause; for, he or she is simply “not ready” to file for Federal Disability Retirement.

Yet, it is not any “retirement itch” or longing to rest and relax that leads one to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  Rather, it is the recognition that there are more important things to prioritize in life besides one’s work and career – such as one’s health.

It may well be that you are too young to have any sense of a “retirement itch”; but that sensation may be lost forever unless you focus upon your health and well-being, such that you will live long enough to scratch that itch that tells you that tomorrow may yet bring a brighter hope for a future yet untold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire