FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: That cup of tea

It is the symbol of a quieter life; of a pastoral time of past remembrances, where the slower pace accorded a tranquility now lost forever.  It is referred to in many of William Trevor’s short stories — of that time in England when people still sat around and had “that cup of tea”.  For, somehow, the notion of fine china, the curling wisps of winding steam and the aroma of warmth and comfort retain a resonance of civility, quietude and the sentiment of calmer times.

Coffee, on the other hand, betrays a greater americanism — of forging ahead, forever seeking progress and movement, a person on steroids who cannot take the time, will not, and in fact has no time for the silliness of having that cup of tea.  That is why coffee is taken on the road, in plastic or styrofoam cups; in mugs and sturdy, thick jugs; whether plain, with a bit of milk and with or without sugar.

The two represent different times; of lifestyles gone and replaced; of civility and crudity.  Starbucks and others have tried to gentrify the cup of coffee, of course, and to create different “Internet cafes” with sophisticated-sounding names for lattes, “XY-Americano” or some similar silly-sounding names; but in the end it is the bit of coffee painted with a lipstick on the pig, and it remains the shot of coffee that provides the taste.

People are like that; and we all reminisce about times past, of “good old days” and for some, we miss that cup of tea.  For the greater society, the two contrasting flavors of a drink represent a bifurcation of sorts: One, for a kind of life we long for; the other, the reality within which we find ourselves.

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, the distinction between the cup of tea and the mug of coffee is like a metaphor of one’s own circumstances: the body and mind requires that cup of tea; the reality that swirls around demands the mug of coffee.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is perhaps the antidote to the growing problem.  While it may not be every person’s cup of tea, it is something that — given the environment of the Federal Agency and the Postal Service in requiring every worker to act like a caffein-induced maniac — may medically indicate a change from the coffee-centered culture that cannot sit even for a brief moment to enjoy that distant reverberation of fine china clinking amidst the calm of a quiet morning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Last Days of Summer

When the urgency of a sales event about school supplies blinks prominently across television screens, and those couple of days in August arrives where a foretelling of colder weather breathes a freshness as a reminder; and when the haziness of plants wilting, the stickiness of summer’s heat has faded the memory of last year’s harsh winter — we suddenly realize that the last days of summer are upon us.

Days come and go like gnats that take a single bite and then fly on; and suddenly we can’t remember where time has disappeared to, and another gray hair has sprouted, another wrinkle has cut deep the lines of time and timeless lines of memories now vanishing like so many waves that lap upon the seashores of countless hours.  And like the last days of summer, we relish the good fortune of health and painless existence only so long as fate allows for another day of challenges left unfulfilled.

The last days of summer are like those unwanted encounters that life inevitably challenges us with: It reminds us that what was once promising may not always come to fruition, like the beginning days of summer that looked forward to a respite from the humdrum of everyday existence, only to be snatched away like an illness that debilitates.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where 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 last days of summer often represent as a metaphor the realization that one’s Federal or Postal career must come to an end.

Where the choice is between health or career, it is not much of an option presented: health must always be and remain the priority, and preparing and submitting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is somewhat akin to the last days of summer, where the end of something is merely the foretelling of a new season beyond.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Filing for OPM Disability Retirement: Keys to the universe

When a metaphor turns into a reality that we all begin to believe in, the fantasies of our own making have become distorted and we need to begin the process of regaining the sanity once embraced but which is now lost in the surrealism of time’s warped viewpoint.  It is by simile, analogy and metaphor that one gains a greater understanding of circumstances, fields and subjects, but it is also by such vehicles that we can misplace reality with a virtualized representation of a universe nonexistent.

Sermons abound with metaphors involving a “key” to this or that; or even of those positive thinkers and corporate motivational speakers who talk about the 10-steps to this or that, the “ultimate key to success”, and similar such drivel that makes one think and believe in the existence of a singular implement that needs to find that lost sliver of hope, insert it into the corrugated slit cut into the brass knob that stands between success or failure — and suddenly, the doors unlock, the entranceway is cleared and one can step into the future yet unanticipated by the fullness of contentment.

Do we really believe that there is such a key?  How often do we speak in terms of a metaphor, a simile and an analogy, but over time our spoken words lose the clear distinction that the simile was meant to ascertain?

We begin with: “It is as if there is a key to the universe,” or, “It’s like having the keys to the universe.” Then, gradually, the “as if” and the “like” are dropped, quietly, unnoticed, like the short-cut that assured one of arriving earlier if only the right turn into the thick fields of the wild forest is taken with confidence: “I need the keys to the universe.”

No longer the metaphor, and certainly without the distinctiveness of the simile; the keys become the reality without the padded divide of recognizing that existence cannot be forced to appear in reality; our minds have tricked ourselves into believing.  Then, we often come to realize that the metaphor which purported to “unlock” (a metaphor itself following upon another) whatever it is that we believed was previously inaccessible was nothing more than a mundane process or methodology that we could have figured out ourselves — sort of like (there we go again with a simile) the Master Burglar who spends hours trying to determine the combination to a safe that had all along been left open by a careless bank clerk.

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, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the “keys to the universe” of obtaining an OPM Disability Retirement are quite simple and straightforward: Prove that the medical condition prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job.

However, as the devil remains in the details, the simplicity of the metaphorical “key” to a successful outcome is not dissimilar (a double-negative that turns out to mean “similar”, sort of “like” a simile) to most such Keys to the universe: a systematic, methodological compiling of proof combined with legal precedents to cite in presenting a compelling tale to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, such that the “key” is effective enough to “unlock” an approval from them.  Of course, as with all metaphors, the analogy is like the simile that refuses to be like other such metaphors, or so it is often said in the vicious circularity of language’s mysteries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Authentication

There is a process and means by which it is accomplished — as in authenticating a painting or an antique piece of furniture, jewelry, etc.; of an autograph or handwritten letter (although, many will say that in the field of forensic sciences, handwritten analysis is far from reaching a vaunted level of precision or reliability); of a pet’s pedigree or even of a person’s right to have access to sensitive information, etc.

Authentication is thus a process of verification, of identifying X as being Not-Y in many instances, where exclusion by elimination of other possibilities results in the declaration of the genuineness of the person or thing declared to be so.

When applied to an object, it inspects and compares against other objects within a historical context, style, peculiar features of an artisan’s eccentricities, period-characteristics and signature features, etc.  When applied to an individual, it may take into account physical features as well (appearance; finger prints; voice matching; DNA sample, etc.), but could also encompass questions posed and answers given, and depending upon the comparison to known archives of historical background checks made against statements previously provided, deem that an “authentication” has been reached concerning the “true” identity of an individual, akin to declaring that a painting previously unverified is in fact a product of this or that “Master”, or that an antique furniture piece was the craftsmanship of some famous cabinetmaker during the Jeffersonian Renaissance period or from some pop-culture minimalist timeframe during the early Sixties, etc.

The process of “authentication”, of course, can be distinguished from whether or not an individual is living an “authentic life”, as well, and here, the meanings become somewhat muddled and divided.  One can be “authenticated” and be allowed access to sensitive banking information, be allowed to use a credit card, write a check, etc., and still live an inauthentic life (e.g., act like someone you are not, present yourself as a “family man” despite all the while committing multiple affairs; live a double or triple or even a quadruple life and deceive everyone around, etc.).

The process in reaching a conclusion as to whether a person is living an authentic or inauthentic life is somewhat different from “authenticating” a person.  For, to engage in the former analysis, it is normally done for the most part as a self-analysis (i.e., only the person who is living an inauthentic life can know for certain whether it is so or not), whereas the methodology imposed of “authenticating” a period-piece or an individual (the latter) is by applying a more objective standard of comparative review.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual issues of “authentication” and “authentic living” come to the fore, precisely because the Federal or Postal employee becomes forced into behaving in rather inauthentic ways.

Hiding the medical condition; trying desperately to work through the debilitating symptoms and maintaining an appearance of normalcy; and all the while trying to force a consistency between one’s capacity and the watchful eyes of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these are the elements that challenge the authenticity of one’s life.

Living an authentic life under normal circumstances is difficult enough; trying to authenticate one’s capacity to continue “as is” in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition makes it all the more challenging.  It may be that 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, is the only way forward in forging an authentic pathway away from an inauthentic morass that the medical condition has forced upon you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Accuracy

How important is accuracy?  The converse of such a query, of course, is:  Is inaccuracy significant?  One would immediately posit:  It all depends.

Take the following 2 hypotheticals:  An archeological dig is conducted, and it is believed that the site of the ruins is of relevant importance concerning a time-period of “recent” history — say, during the American Revolution.  Given that scenario, the “dating” of the site should be ascertainable within a year succeeding or preceding, such that if the Lead Archaeologist declares that the event in question occurred in 1778, “or possibly in 1779, maybe as early as 1777”, we know that — given the time period in question (1775 – 1783) — such a statement conveys a fairly accurate historical context.

Now, take the same hypothetical, but this time [sic] concerning some form [again, sic] of a fossil that is deemed at least 500 million years old.  If the Lead Archaeologist declares with some hint of irony, “Give or take a few million years more or less” — what would our reaction be?  Is such a “find” just as accurate as in the first hypothetical?  Can a declaration that is numerically off by a few million years (i.e., looking at it in quantifiable terms of 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 2 – 5 million years equals how many hours for those who want a graspable perspective) be called a “science” in any meaningful usage of the term?

Of course, one could argue that even within the first hypothetical, given the limited range of years that comprises the American Revolution (1775 – 1783, or a mere 8 years), to be off by a year or so is also quite an astoundingly inaccurate assessment.  But which is “more accurate” — the one that is estimated within a year, or the one that quantifies it in terms of “millions” of years?  Can one even ask the question of “more or less” accurate, when the very concept of accuracy itself denotes precision and pinpointed, undeviated marksmanship?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “accuracy” can be a crucial one.  How “accurate” does one’s Statement of Disability need to be on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  What “precisely” does the treating doctor have to include in the medical report?  How detailed (and therefore, accurately) does the nexus between the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability does it have to reflect?

In all such questions, “accuracy” is a goal to attain in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, while the Archaeologist may be “off” by a quantifiable sum of years in a site-dig and suffer little to no consequences, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must depend upon the accuracy of the law in determining benefits to secure a future yet uncertain, and such an administrative endeavor is likened more to the accuracy of the arrow that is shot towards an apple resting upon the head of a young boy, than of a declaration made that is off by a few million years, give or take, more or less.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Retirement: Thinking

What constitutes it?  What is the evidence that it was engaged in?  When a person is charged with “premeditation” in the perpetration of a crime, and therefore ascription of full responsibility is used to convict and assign a greater length of incarceration, what methodological intricacies are involved?

Take the following hypothetical:  A man walks into a candy store and grabs a Snicker’s Bar, and runs out of the store without paying for it.  He is nabbed.  At the trial of the matter, the prosecutor gives the following summation to the judge:  “Your honor, this man clearly thought about it.  He entered the store, looked about, and deliberately took the Snicker’s Bar and ran out without paying, knowing that he did not pay it — otherwise, why would be have run?  Indeed, when the police caught him, he yelled, “I was hungry!”  That statement alone shows that the man knew he had not paid for it, for it was an admission of a motive, and thus, it is a clear indication that he thought about stealing it, walked into the store and with criminal intent stole the candy bar.  Only the death penalty would be appropriate for one with such premeditative intent, as he is a danger to society!”

Now, contrast this with the following:  The Candy Store’s automatic door opens, and an animal — a neighborhood dog — saunters in, sniffs about, and no one really notices.  The dog grabs a Snicker’s Bar, gobbles it.  Passersby watch.  The store’s owner notices, laughs, shoos the dog out the door.  Why do we not think that the dog “thought” about it?  Why is “thinking” ascribed to the human being, but not to the animal?  What is it about the actions of the two species that differentiates them?  Does the mere fact that we able able to speak, formulate words and convey thoughts, whether pre-or-post action confirm that any extent of reflective processes occurred?  Is the process of “thinking” always productive — i.e., leads to actions that are fruitful, or is much of it simply an insular activity that results in no great consequence?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are “thinking” about filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key to “thinking” about it is to take the next step and act upon the thought.  People often think that thinking is a productive activity, so long as it remains active and continuous.  But thought can also negate and prevent, and too much thinking, or not enough, can often become an obstacle to the necessary next step.

In order to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the key to productive thinking is not merely to engage in it as an insular, solitary activity, but to have the consultation and advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement, lest merely thinking about it leads to an unthoughtful act that leads one to believe that the very thinking itself was thoughtless.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: Life’s mortgage

We all know well the concept behind it – of borrowing against the object itself, in order to “half-possess”, occupy and enjoy it presently against a future promise that it will be paid over an incremental period of time.  Sort of like life itself, or at least of one’s health.  Borrowed time; life’s mortgage; banking on a better tomorrow; relying upon a promise being kept based upon today’s favorable circumstances over a lengthy period of time well into a future we can never be certain about.

Yet, because the collateral is the object itself – normally, the house that is being mortgaged – the loaning institution actually doesn’t take any gamble at all, even if the value of the collateral plunges below the agreed-upon amount to be paid; one is still obligated, no matter what.

It is sort of like life’s challenge itself – of the promise of a promising life based upon an anticipated health that will last until the day when one is suddenly gone.  But life doesn’t always work that way, just as the mortgage, lien and promise of financial growth doesn’t quite always fold out as planned, like the scrolled blueprint that keeps trying to roll back into an obscured cylinder with each attempt to lay it flat.

Sickness occurs; health deteriorates; the 30-year mortgage that was promised at the onset of the contract signed doesn’t unfold as anticipated, and sometimes a default occurs – like the health that deteriorates and the career that must be ended.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit accorded to all Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, based upon the idea that recognizes that while a long-term commitment to a career is reasonably anticipated, there are instances where such a commitment may need to be modified in the event of failing health.  Unlike the bank’s position in a mortgage-relationship as lender-to-borrower, however, it is not quite all that one-sided.  There are options still open.

Thus, because Federal Disability Retirement requires only that a person be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s position being occupied, the Federal or Postal employee is allowed to go out into the private sector and work at a job somewhat dissimilar (so long as there are “essential elements” which are not identical to the former Federal or Postal position), and make up to 80% of what the former Federal or Postal job pays currently.

For, in the end, life’s mortgage is unlike the home mortgage where the lender holds all of the proverbial cards; at least for the former, the great thing is that the reliance is upon the capacity of man’s ability, and not upon the fine print hidden within the banker’s contract.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire