OPM Disability Retirement: Answering the question

What constitutes “answering the question”, and more importantly, how does one determine when its opposite occurs — NOT answering the question?  Does the former occur if the questioner fails to follow up, and does the latter become an issue if the person asking responds with, “That doesn’t answer my question,” or some such similar declarative assertion?

Take the following hypothetical:  Person A asks Person B, “So, where do you come from?”  Person B answers, “The skies of Normandy were grey on that June day in 1944.”  Now, Person A could have various responses to such a statement, as in:  1.  “No, no, I asked where you came from.” 2. “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”  3.  “That doesn’t answer my question.”  4. Or, silence, with no follow-up.

Person B, of course, could similarly respond in variegated ways, as in:  A.  “I just told you.”  B.  “Yes” or “No” (in response to the follow-up question, “Are you telling me that you come from Normandy, France?”).  C.  Silence, or “Yes it does.”  D.  Nothing further.

It may be that Person B simply has a poetic bent, and from his perspective, the mundane query was answered in a metaphorical, literary manner.  More to the point, however:  Who determines if a question has been answered (leaving aside the further query of whether the answer itself has “sufficiently” or “fully” been responsive to the question) — the one who asks, or the one who answers?

In a normal conversation, of course, the issue rarely comes about; in an argument where one or the other side, or both, are trying to get answers and defeat the other side, the heat of the moment may determine the answer to the question; and the penultimate paradigm of the question, “Who determines whether the question has been answered?” occurs in the highest form during a deposition or cross-examination in the legal arena.

Observing what occurs during a court proceeding is an interesting experience of human behavior; of the back-and-forth between counsels and the witnesses being deposed or examined, as in:  “You didn’t answer the question.”  “Yes, I did.”  “I asked you…”.  “Asked and answered.”  “Objection, the question has already been asked and answered.”  And on and on until a singular point is pursued to an exhaustive level ad infinitum and ad nauseum.

Is the issue of what constitutes an answered question somewhat akin to the question or “original intent” — i.e., that just like an author’s original intent as to the meaning of a written document is what should rule, similarly, the person who asks the question has the sole power to determine whether or not the question asked has been answered, and moreover, adequately and sufficiently answered?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are beginning the process of 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, these questions concerning the “answering of questions” will and should come to the forefront when confronted with the questions asked on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

Inasmuch as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has promulgated the questions in a carefully-crafted manner, there are some inherent pitfalls and dangers in what constitutes an adequate response, a sufficient answer and the complete delineation that rises to the level of a satisfactory statement.

SF 3112A is replete with unanswered questions within the very substance of each question, and the answers you provide are best guided by an attorney who has had the experience of legal encounters previously, and who specializes in the Law of Federal Disability Retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement from OPM: The Statement

We often hear of various events or transactions in the public arena where a “statement” will be issued, and such a conveyance of information is often prepared, pre-written, read from a piece of paper or plastered upon a teleprompter where the delivering individual merely reads from a text that has been previously written and composed.

It is like a musician who varies not from the score before him, or the player who follows the conductor’s baton with precision of a mime; to vary is to veer, where error becomes the hazard to avoid.  That initial “statement” to the listeners, the recipients, the audience, or however and whomever you want to characterize it as — why is it so important that it is conveyed, portrayed, delineated and communicated in just a “right” manner?

Is it not similar to the importance of preparing an SF 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Isn’t the SF 3112A a foundational, “first impression” statement that needs to be prepared carefully, with meticulous formulation, like a novel’s opening sentence that must captivate and draw in the reader’s attention?

Granted, the SF 3112A is answered in response to questions required to be formulated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for the Federal or Postal employee to provide, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset; but the limitations imposed by space and the relevance of the answers given to questions queried should not detract from the importance and significance of preparing the “Statement” well, in a preconceived and well-prepared manner.

What is the sequence?  When should it be prepared?  What content must it possess?  Should direct quotes from the medical records and narrative reports be included?  How carefully should it be annotated?  Must the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A be confined to the spaces provided?

These, and many other questions besides, should be carefully considered, and to do so, the best way to be well-prepared is to consult with an attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement Application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Pension: In between preparations for vanishing

The Biblical reference is where John the Baptist declared that his role in the historical narrative would naturally diminish by relevance in order for the primary character to loom large upon a world in need of a coming Savior.  Each of us strive daily to accomplish, achieve and advance (ah, the 3 “A’s” might be the title of the next New York Times Bestseller on the mass marketing list of self-help books); that is the natural inclination from birth to death – or, at the very least, until one has expended and exhausted the reservoir of stamina each retains for the daily battle of life itself.

What we fail to recognize is that, as another book of wisdom in an age prior to the declaration of a coming earthquake that would split the earth and crack the old barrels of fermenting wine (figuratively stated) pointed out, there is a time, a season and the proper context when certain acts should be considered (paraphrasing here), and prominent among them the capacity to recognize the appropriate time to begin paring back, preparing to recede and allow for the next generation to take its successive position of assertive presence.

Do we embrace the in between preparations for vanishing, or do we fight against it because that is what we have done all throughout our lives?

It is important, for instance, to apply the principle of eventual vanishing when one becomes a parent, in order to foster the self-confidence of a son or daughter; to slowly, incrementally and seemingly naturally allow for the opinions and views of the younger ones to grow in stature, relevance and significance, such that when adulthood is reached, the lowering of the parent’s perspective becomes equal to the rising of the child’s self-image.

At that point, when the balance between childhood and esteem for one’s parents meets in the middle upon a spectrum of wide variance, parent and child can become co-equals of a sort, and “friends” as much as a parent and child can be.  In order to achieve that goal, however, it is necessary to engage in “in between” preparations for vanishing – not to totally obliterate the relevance of one’s historical accomplishments, but to incrementally diminish in magnification and presence.

Fighting against the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is often based upon the lack of recognition that in between preparations for vanishing is a natural and necessary part, at a certain stage in life, during a particular season of one’s career, and when the time necessitates.  Yes, the Federal career and the Postal work provided a sense of identity and granted a purpose, focus and compelling force during the productive career – but now, the season has changed, the context has altered and the time has ripened in another direction.

It is time to engage the in between preparations for vanishing – not to totally disappear, but to diminish, such that when a Federal Disability Retirement is attained, the next stage of one’s life can be opened for that which we term the greater adventure of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Gov. Employment: Degree versus knowledge

Does a degree hold as much worth, if everyone possesses one?  Why are the economics of supply and demand not attached to degrees conferred by so-called institutions of “higher learning”?  Is the degree conferred of value because of the opportunities granted by the elevated status, or by the knowledge gained and imparted?  Or is the disjunctive bifurcation into universes of counterparts, between diploma represented as opposed to a jewelry box of wisdom, an offer of false alternatives, when some may indeed gain knowledge as well as certification in completion of courses advanced?

If everything is nothing, and nothing constitutes the combined aggregate of everything, can a distinction with a difference be proffered?  So, if everyone has gone to college, and the conferring of a degree is disseminated to all, has nothing been gained by the accessibility to everything?  It is, of course, best represented by Cordelia in Shakespeare’s Tragedy, King Lear, where he responds to the hesitant daughter, “Nothing will come of nothing”, and entreats her to further to expound by extravagant and flowery profusion of meaningless trope; or would it have been meaningless?

The silence which ensues between the cacophony of emotions in the short scene is painful and agonizing.  The old king whose feelings have been devastated; the insincere showering of expressed flattery by his other daughters; the pauses and elongated silences between entreaty and loss of words; for, it is ultimately that wide expanse and abyss between the words fabricated and the intent revealed, which formalizes the fate of a person’s soul and destined catastrophe.

It is the identical nature of a degree versus knowledge, and there are multiple parallels and counterparts of such contending artifices of conceptual constructs enamored; of silence versus quietude; of peace which merely poses as a veil for a ceasefire.  Knowledge is what is lacking in a society that promotes glitter, padded resume and degrees dispensed with abandon and devalued wisdom.

There are exceptions, however, and the pragmatic cynic will counter with:  Would you allow an individual without a medical degree to perform surgery upon a vital organ?  The answer, of course, is an unqualified “no”.  And that is why, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, the case-law conferred and rendered by Administrative Law Judges at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board have consistently held that a treating doctor possesses the greater credibility in formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application in a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, like the issue surrounding the distinction between “degree” versus “knowledge”, the medical doctor who has never treated a particular patient, but who certifies that the Federal or Postal worker is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal employee’s positional duties, is likened to a person who wears the formalities of credentials, but lacks the individualized knowledge elevated to the heightened ascendency to wisdom, representing the doctor who has had multiple clinical encounters and can determine the capacity and capabilities of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant with confidence paralleling the man of knowledge who may lack a degree, but never fails to notice the pitfalls present on the pathway to an unlit gaze upon the heavenly stars of folly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Life’s Alterations

Spring comes and we clean out old hoardings, discard past articles once thought to be valuable and inseparable from our identity; or perhaps what pop culture has deemed a justifying course of decision-making because there is an inevitable “mid-life crisis“, or some other equally biologically-driven, primordial determinism which compels one to act in one way, as opposed to another.

Life’s alterations are often considered with no greater thought than having the local tailor shorten the seams, or tuck in the waist, like face-lifts and other procedures which attempt to beautify an otherwise insufferable soul.  But in the end, it is always the innocent ones who suffer; it is well that children possesses greater than indexes of fragile psyches; otherwise, the emergency rooms of hospitals across the country would be attending to them around the clock.  But with euphemisms and a can of fresh paint, we may still remain viable cores as stellar pillars in the community; it was a “friendly divorce”; the kids are “better off”; and other such platitudes to justify the devastation wrought.  But some alterations in the cycle of life cannot be attributed to fault; they are, indeed, brought about by fate, nature, will and the indifference of a mechanical universe.

Medical conditions tend to be in that category; they force alterations in life’s choices, without a deliberative involvement on the part of the participant.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who recognize that he or she suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the U.S. Postal Service or a Federal agency, it may be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  For, while the medical condition itself may indeed be a life-altering circumstance, it is what you do, how you react, and what affirmative steps you take, which will determine in the end whether you allow for the tumult of fate to rock and roll you without oars up the proverbial creek of life.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a way to steady the unsteadiness, to steer where once you traveled directionless, and to secure a future where once uncertainty prevailed.  While the process itself is a long and arduous bureaucratic morass, the direction once taken allows for a compass to prevail, and a path to be taken.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded and offered to all Federal and Postal employees with the minimum of 18 months of Federal Service, and should be considered if and when life’s alterations have determined that a change is necessary; and like the tailor who skillfully makes the suit or dress fit more eloquently upon a body forced into disquietude through years of untended gardening, so applying for a benefit to secure one’s future is merely to respond wisely to the unexpected vicissitudes of life’s offering.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Blank Canvas

For a painter, it is either the sight of uncontrollable delight, or a subtle sense of foreboding into depths of despondency; for the blank canvas represents two sides of a single coin:  an opportunity to do what one can, or the beginning of that which may be rejected by an unappreciative public eye.  But that is the inherent anomaly of every opportunity presented:  potential success, or possible failure.

That is why we carry around within us quips of self-appeasement, in order to lessen the weight of expected shortcomings:  “Nothing gained, nothing lost”; “It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”; the list of 100 successful people who failed at first; and other proverbial self-motivators.  Within such realms of fear and loathing for the future, however, is the truth of living:  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Until one brushes the first dab of color upon a blank canvas, one will never experience the beauty of art, and while failure may never be the end product if one never begins, so success and the potential for human fulfillment can never be realized.  Unexpected circumstances in life often provide a basis for people to just “give up” in despair.

Medical conditions tend to be a foundational basis for such surrender to life’s inequities, and Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an unexpected medical condition, know better than most how unfair life can be.  Suddenly, the gush of accolades stops; the golden boy or girl of yesteryear is considered merely with a disdainful passing glance; and coworkers shun as if beset with a disease of contagion.  But Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which is tantamount to a fresh and blank canvas:  it is an opportunity of sorts, and should be approached with the same rashness and expectation of delight as when once youth feigned ignorance of future forebodings.

Federal Disability Retirement allows for the Federal or Postal worker to have a fresh beginning, a new start, in painting a picture filled with bright colors and scenes of unanticipated opportunities.  While it may pay a base annuity of 60% of the average of one’s highest 3 consecutive years of Federal Service for the first year, then 40% every year thereafter, it is that financial bridge for future endeavors which must be considered.

It is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition now prevents them from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job; but beyond the monetary benefits, it is also like the blank canvas which allows for a fresh start in a life often filled with gloom and despair, but where the plenitude of colors may yet be chosen with a steady hand for the future.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire