Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees 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 issue to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.

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

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Under the clump of olive trees

There are certain phrases that turn one’s attention, and daydreams of exotic lands and foreign places become projected onto one’s imagination, like camels, Arabian nights and sand dunes in faraway corners.  But, then, reality imposes itself; such places probably exist a few miles hence; those distant lands are now war-torn and deemed by the State Department to be forbidden avenues for sightseers and tourists in cut-off shorts and Hawaiian Shirts (did you know that the latter are apparently “back in style” – as if they ever were?), with warnings and cautionary predictions where officialdom has already evacuated the premises.

The soft snore from a picturesque scene:  the shepherd with a crooked walking stick, the flock grazing in the near distance; a straw hat edged slightly over the forehead, an arm lazily twisted behind as a pillow against the rocky surface; under the cluster of the olive trees, where a partial shadow allows for the coolness in the heat of midday slumber.  Or, what of a child’s delight in fairytales and picture-books, of Arabian nights with camels chewing silently while tents alight with shadows from within reveal the soft mutterings of foreign tongues, yearning for the delectable offerings sizzling atop the burning fires glowing in the star-filled twilight of the vast ocean of sand dunes and shadows.

Of course, those days of yonder years are now gone forever.  There are no scenes of picturesque quietude; in modernity, every corner of the earth has already been visited; the Himalayan monk sits with earphones and scans the images of Facebook and the world he abandoned for prayer, meditation and enlightenment; and that herd of camels has now been replaced by hooded terrorists lurking to kidnap and maim.  Yet, we all retain and preserve those images of quietude and peaceful reserve; in an insane world, a virtual universe of sanity is necessary, even if non-existence must be acknowledged and admitted to.

For each of us, perhaps it constitutes a minor variation:  becoming lost in a sports league; watching movies in regularity of escaping; a hobby in the cavern of one’s garage; physical labor or forlorn love with strangers; this is a society which requires distraction.  Or, as Heidegger puts it, varying projects in order to avoid the ultimate encounter with Nothingness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition creates a working hell at work, what comprises the image of resting under a clump of olive trees?  Certainly, not the daily grind and antagonism experienced by supervisors, managers and coworkers who disallow any meaningful contribution because of the limitations imposed by the medical condition itself; and, certainly not the enduring of pain and anguish implemented by the constant fight against the illness.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a pathway, for many Federal and Postal employees, to a state where one can attend to, and focus upon, caring for one’s self.  OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit which is part of the employment package for all Federal and Postal employees, and utilization of it requires a proper formulating, preparation and filing through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to prove one’s entitlement to it.  It is a “means” to an “end”; and the means provide for a pathway outside of the daily pain and suffering which defines one’s life; the “end” is that virtual image we all strive for – to lay one’s head upon a comforting pasture under the clump of olive trees.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: The Negative Interest Rate

In periods of economic stagnation, where mass hoarding by depositors results in a slow-down of commercial activity, rising unemployment and deflationary returns on value-for purchase in all sectors, the idea that depositors must not only deposit, but further, pay regularly to keep their money with the bank, would at first glimpse appear counterintuitive.

Perhaps that was initially the brain-child of some half-crazed Economist — that one with the frizzy hair appearing on Sunday Shows who had won the Nobel Prize for Economics many decades ago because no one quite understood what he was talking about, and believed that such insanity was either too brilliant to bypass or, more likely, to fail to appear as if one understood it would be to reveal one’s own ignorance and mediocrity (remember Schopenhauer’s adage:  “Talent hits a target no one else can hit, while genius hits a target no one else can see”).  And so it goes.

The problem with unworkable theoretical constructs, however, is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences.  In reality, the concept of “negative interest rate” is one which most people have to live with, anyway.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, this is a daily occurrence — especially for those who have a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee’s ability and capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties.

For, like the concept of the negative rate of return, the Federal and Postal worker must not only go to work, but continue to pay for it with their deteriorating health.  Additionally, the increasing harassment, adverse actions and diminishing joy in working with hostile coworkers, managers and supervisors, must be borne with a smile and silent acquiescence, as if the feudal backdrops of self-flagellation must be enjoyed within the caverns of psychosis in suffering.

The negative interest rate for Federal and Postal employees is thus nothing new; it is a theoretical model for all Federal and Postal employees who suffer under the suffocating malaise of a deteriorating medical condition.  The real question is:  At what rate of negative returns does the Federal or Postal employee withdraw the deposit?  For, in pursuing this analogy, it is precisely that critical point where money-kept and money-lost reach a pinnacle of insufferable choices, when the Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition must 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.

For, when the interest charged begins to eat away at the very principal which is invested, and the rate of return negates the benefit of remaining, then it is indeed time to withdraw the deposit, and begin to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, lest the negative interest rate which once, long ago, began as a theoretical construct in the basement of a mad economist, but which now pervades the ivory towers of polite academia with echoes of reverberating laughter once resounding from the insane asylum next door, begins to infect the four corners of a civilization which has lost its way.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Happiness Goal

Whether human happiness is the goal to strive for, or as a byproduct to savor in those moments of sudden revelation, is for each individual to ascertain and abide by.  One can study the sages and philosophers and realize that there is a distinction to be made between joy and happiness, of contentment and satisfaction, and from a sense of peace as opposed to the turmoil of anxious foreboding.

Life is full of moments; but is it for those moments we live, or do such ethereal segments compel us to greater achievements?  From Aristotle’s Eudaemonism to Confucius’ focus upon maintaining the balance between family and normative behavior, or the extreme nihilism of Nietzsche and the existentialist’s embrace of the absurd, the modern approach has been to ensconce happiness as the principle of highest regard.  But life has a way of interrupting every neat packaging of human endeavor.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether of physical pain, the chronicity of progressive deterioration, or the overwhelming psychiatric conditions which impact mental acuity, cognition, with symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc., the desire for the “happiness principle” is sometimes merely to have a day without the symptoms of one’s medical condition.

Filing for Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal workers is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, can be an intermediate goal, and not an “ultimate” one.  For, in the end, if the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the loss of job satisfaction will be exponentially heightened either by the agency (through disciplinary procedures or termination of employment) or by one’s self (through frustration of purpose, increasing recognition and acknowledgment of one’s inability and incapacity, etc.).

In the end, the “happiness goal” is often defined by who controls what; and in taking the first steps toward preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, one asserts control over one’s present and future endeavors, and fights against the winds of time and mortality by controlling the undetermined destiny of a period of life yet to be deciphered in this complex world of mysteries wrapped in a chasm of conundrums.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire