OPM Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Chess

Two quick observations about the game of Chess and those who play it:  Few are actually very good at it; and, like self-image and a false sense of confidence for many in the United States, too many who play it believe themselves to be very good at it.  Stefan Zweig wrote about the game brilliantly in his novella, the “Chess Story” (or otherwise translated or sometimes referred to as “The Royal Game”), and debunked the notion that the greatest of players are by implication, necessity and prerequisite of an intellectual character, either as brilliant mathematicians, logicians, musicians, philosophers, etc.

The “brilliant” chess player, Czentovic, is a moron at best, and a blithering idiot at worst — but boy, can he play chess and beat everyone and anyone.  To some extent, the reality of Bobby Fischer confirms the skepticism of Zweig as told in the Chess Story — of the idiot savant whose distorted singularity of brilliance being limited to the ability for adeptly maneuvering within 64 squares of white and black spaces and utilizing 16 pieces each in a game that requires foresight and some amount of insight.

That is not to say that one should minimize or diminish the attributes of a Grand Master and, indeed, many such people were “brilliant” in other ways, as well.  One cannot make generalizations and say that every good chess player is a blithering idiot; but nor can one assume that, because one is good or great at the game, ergo he or she must be an intellectual, philosopher, physicist, etc.  The downfall of most is in the notion that you are good because you think you are good; for everyone else, the tempering of reality normally comes about when one’s own notions come into contact with the reality of the world.

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, initiation and submission of 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 become a necessity.

Filing an OPM Disability Retirement application is somewhat akin to playing chess — from the crucial initial “move” of the pawn, to maneuvering your way through the landmines of a complex administrative and bureaucratic process, until the final stage of a “checkmate” that results in an approval from OPM.  But the game of chess is not merely the physical aspect of it, and encompasses a wide range of psychological characteristics — of fooling one’s self into greatness; of becoming overconfident; of underestimating one’s opponent.

Similarly, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with OPM is not just the “physical aspects” of filing — it must encapsulate proper legal citations; persuasive argumentation; careful gathering of information, evidence and documents, etc.  And like the fool who believes himself to be a great chess champion, one should always remember that being the “best” at something doesn’t just involve thinking that it is so, but should include consultation with an expert to objectively determine it to be so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Was it all worth it?

It is that penultimate question – the one that has multiple cousins and unwanted siblings, illegitimate off-springs and uninvited guests, like:  What is the meaning of my life (refer to previous posts concerning Russell’s quip that such pedantic queries are often the result of indigestion)?  Did I do the right thing (such lines of interrogatories often emerge from a guilty conscience, so you might not want to ask that one)?  Did I spend enough time with my kids (almost always, “no”)?  Did I remain true to my marriage vows (sadly, according the statistical analysis, most people would have to answer in the negative)?  Have I behaved honorably throughout (it would depend upon the definition of the term, and of by-the-way, we tend to have private dictionaries defining words these days in a subjective, self-serving manner)?

“Was it all worth it” goes in so many directions, it is like the catch-all phrase or the “general aegis” over which all other questions and queries reside.  To whom?  By what measure?  In contrast to what other “it”?  And the more important one: Can we clarify and “flesh out” what the “it” refers to?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prompts a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the interrogatory itself often means that the point of “worthiness” refers to the delay and loyalty shown by the suffering Federal or Postal employee before taking the next needed steps in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Often, to the detriment of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant, such a query means that you have already pushed yourself well beyond that which is actually for your own good, and while loyalty, faithfulness, hard work and such similar attributes are laudable and “example-setting” characteristics reflecting well upon the one who asks the question, the answer may be – at least from a medical perspective – formed in the negative.

For, isn’t part of the point in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application to do so before the medical condition gets to such a severe crisis point of deterioration so that there is actually a retirement to enjoy?

Remember that the standard of proof in obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement is not to reach a state of “total disability” (which is the standard in a Social Security case); rather, it is to show that the Federal or Postal employee cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position.

Thus, when you ask the question, “Was it all worth it?” – it is indeed important to know what the “it” refers to, both in the second word of the question as well as the fifth and last.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: From Whence We Came

It is often quipped that the advantage of human psychology is in our short memories; otherwise, we would walk around with greater angst than we deserve.  The accomplishments achieved; the accolades left unstated; perhaps in menial tasks or ones of recognized significance; but in any event, a career, all told, which spans a decade or more, will always have a sense of achievement, if only for the steadfastness of commitment itself.

In this day and age, where millennials change jobs as often as infants of diapers, the career of a Federal or Postal worker which spans multiple decades is an anomaly itself.  Whether the goal was to make that 30 years, or simply because the Federal or Postal employee liked what he or she was doing, matters not.  Commitment in and of itself is an achievement.  Thus, when a Federal employee’s or a U.S. Postal worker’s career is cut short because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition necessitates the 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 regrets foretold or the dismay of a career cut short, should always be replaced with memories from whence we came.

Staying with a Federal or Postal job for so many years reveals a steadfastness of purpose; but where priorities intersect and interrupt, especially when it comes to one’s health and future security, filing for OPM Medical Retirement benefits is meant to salvage such a Federal career by allowing for an annuity to stabilize one’s future, and to consider taking that experience one has amassed into the private sector for a possible second vocation.

Memories; they are funny animals; and for humans, allows for visualization and imagination from whence we came.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Mastery of Life

It is what we all strive for; as depicted in cult followings and media outlets, it is a state of representation attained through travels to the Himalayas, or after years of struggling in a Zen monastery (and engaging in Tai chi battles with inept masked ninjas) and gaining unexplainable enlightenment (why couldn’t the same happen in the living room of one’s own home?).  The truth is, the mastery of life is merely a mundane affair.

It is where one finds a rhythm within the daily obstacles of life, when recognition of distinguishing between a real “crisis” and an irritating problem is quickly resolved; and how bumbling through problems encountered in youth is replaced by smooth sailing with unruffled feathers in meeting obligations, confronting difficulties and engaging the monotony of daily living.

In the West, just when such a state of quietude is reached, society discards it all and favors youth over the aging, incompetence over experience, and slow but steady progress over fresh “new ideas” (which never are, but the discovery of which young people think they have been the first to encounter, as if the wheel on one’s car is an invention recently revealed).  This disregard and (ultimately) disrespect is magnified when a person is beset with a medical condition — precisely because being hit with a medical condition mirrors how treatment of the aged facilitates, but only at an exponentially quickened pace.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical conditions, such that the medical condition begins to impact the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties within the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service, this phenomena becomes a daily occurrence.

For years, we accumulate and derive the experience of plenitude and glean through trial and error, attaining a state of wisdom aggregated within the confines of one’s skull, with a loci traveling from home to desk, then back home again.  When a medical condition impacts the Federal or Postal employee, one would think that a race would be on to preserve that body of knowledge, to contain it (as in futuristic movies) with aldehyde fixation in gentrified forms of cryonics in order to reserve unseen answers to unforeseen circumstances, all for the benefit of the “mission of the agency“.  But no — that is not what occurs.  Instead, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one or more of the essential elements of one’s job (but normally not all), the tired routine is of commonplace doldrums of ineptitude and incompetence:  “get the bum out”.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, and further suffers the fool resulting from that medical condition, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best avenue away from the madness of disregard.  But, then, perhaps we all have it wrong; perhaps filing for Medical Retirement through OPM shows and reveals that “mastery of life” we all seek, like the Shaolin Monk of yore who sought enlightenment elsewhere, and attained it within.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement Law: The Balance of Information

Most administrative entanglements involve some measure of balancing.  How much information to provide; determination of that which constitutes satisfaction of the request; whether, and to what extent, the information is sufficient to complete the transaction; and other similar analytical evaluations prior to submitting the compendium of data.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers struggling to complete a Federal Disability Retirement application, first through one’s agency (if still on the rolls and not separated for more than 31 days), and then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (unless one has been separated from Federal Service for more than 31 days, but not more than 1 year, as all Federal Disability Retirement applications must be submitted within 1 year of being separated from Federal Service), the key component and measure is the effectiveness of Standard Form 3112A — the Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

The act of balancing begins upon an initial review of the questions posed by SF 3112A.  While other forms require basic information concerning one’s personal data and the agency for whom the Federal or Postal employee works (e.g., SF 3107 series, including Schedules A, B & C), the SF 3112A is the linchpin of it all.  Care should be taken in answering the questions; reflection upon the character and extent of the data provided; editing and review of any final submission.  Too much, or too little.

The Goldilocks principle should always be applied, and when served in just the right amount, the true test of the balance of information has been finally met.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire