OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Appropriateness

How does one learn it, and if one never recognizes its opposite — inappropriateness — does that then shield one from recognition of its negative consequences?  Is it the suddenly silence of the room, the averted eyes of those around, or the pink flush of a blush that suddenly tells of the inappropriateness of what was said, or done?  But what of its antonym — do we learn only when someone else says, “Yes, yes, quite appropriate“, and if so, how did that person learn what was or wasn’t?

Is appropriateness merely a human convention, an artificial construct that allows for a mindless continuum that barely retains its relevance beyond the insularity of a self-contained characteristic?

For federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee is under FER05S, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the appropriateness of what to include in a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a question of discretion and experience.

What evidence, beyond the obvious medical evidence, can and should be filed?  What should be included in one’s Statement of Disability as required on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  How much personal information, historical facts and background data should be “appropriately” included in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Should family members, friends or coworkers provide a statement, as well, and is it “appropriate” to do so?

In the end, appropriateness is a concept that should be tailored by the context of the action, and it might be a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney before preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, as such a consultation would certainly constitute an appropriateness under the circumstances, and may well be inappropriate to fail to do so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: Hope springs

“Eternal”, of course, is the ending and attachment that most would declare if asked to fill in the blank.  How many of us know of the origin of the statement, what it means, from whence it comes (yes, yes, a Google search is only one finger button away)?  It is often an afterthought – a “throw-away” line that one scatters about in response to someone else’s statement about “hoping to do X” or having “hope that X will happen”.

The reactionary response that is commonly stated is, “Well, of course hope springs eternal.”   The origin of the saying comes from Alexander Pope’s work, “An Essay on Man”, where he wrote:

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest.
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

What was he referring to?  It could be interpreted in many ways – of a reference to a life hereafter and the reason for living, struggling and being tormented in this life, with a view towards an eternal reward; or, that so long as there is hope, things will change for the better if you just stick around long enough.

Without hope, the devastation of life’s turmoil may never allow for a person to get beyond this day; it is with hope that is kept in the human breast that the eternal promise of a better tomorrow becomes possible; for, otherwise there is just fatalism to look forward to, or as Pope stated, a state of existence where “Man never is”.

The word-pictures evoked from Pope’s work are beautifully put, and provide images that allows for multiple interpretations.  The word “springs” is a carefully chosen word, for it gives the idea both of calm (as in the tranquility of a running spring) as well as a jump forward (as in “spring forward”), and thus establishes multiple meanings when tied to the reference point of “hope”.

Hope, ultimately, is the ingredient that allows for life to live for a future yet undetermined and yet to be defined.  That is what is important for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job.  For, what other hope is there than Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

As the ongoing medical condition and the deteriorating aspect of the medical condition begins to squeeze out any hope left; and the impact it is having on one’s career and future starts to question the viability of any hope to be had; it is hope from X to Y – i.e., a future with a difference – that allows for hope to foster and thrive.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who recognizes that hope in continuing in one’s job is no longer a reality, it becomes important to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because hope springs eternal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The pecking order

Watching birds fly and cavort around a bird-feeder, one realizes that the term as applied to human conduct is not too far from the reality of the natural order of things.  There is, indeed, a “pecking order” in the world of birds and fowls aflight; it has to do with size, aggression, quickness and desire to survive. In other words, how birds behave is not too far afield from the way in which humans interact.

As children being thrown together in various institutions called “public schools”, we all recognize the concept of “the pecking order” – the sequence of priorities, of who dominates, which cliques attain a level of status and recognition, what is allowed and not, where one is invited to enter before or after others; it is the purest form of Darwinian natural selection, no matter what societal and cosmetic impediments and safeguards are put in place in order to engage in social engineering of one sort or another.

People think that this pecking order ends upon graduating from public school; that, somehow, release from high school ends this natural order of survival only for the fittest.  Yet, such pecking orders continue throughout – college; the military; the workplace; families.  They all require a pecking order of one kind or another, precisely because it is “natural” and the selection process is innately driven.

In the fowl world – both as “foul” and “fowl” – birds get to feed from the best and choicest sources based upon size, aggressiveness, and bravado displayed in standing one’s ground.  It is often the same with the human world of foul interactions, despite our claim to having become “civilized” and sophisticated, beyond reproach, somehow now asserting our independence and detachment from the genetically determined patterns of behavior.

More and more, however, it becomes clear that we are never exempted from the essence of our natures.  Aristotle may have asserted the grand stature of man with his rationality and capacity to cogitate, but the reality is that the ancient Greek civilization would soon become overpowered and dominated by the most basest of human instincts – of conquering by might and strength.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to manifest, to reveal, to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, it becomes clear that the old “pecking order” approach again will dominate.

Federal agencies and the Postal Service will assert its cold dominance and indifference to the weak of this world, and weakness is never shown with greater vulnerability than when one must admit that he or she suffers from a medical condition.  Just as the fowls begin to take advantage of shown weaknesses in the pecking order of Darwinian natural, so Federal Agencies and U.S. Postal facilities show no remorse in treating their workers who show weakness with cruelty and aggressive lack of empathy.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an aggressive step to “fight back” against the rise of the pecking order that is, unfortunately, an inevitable consequences of who we are and continue to be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement Systems: The sacristan

There was once such a job.  Now, of course, the closest we can come to it is forever hidden in the secrecy of our own private lives.  For, there is nothing sacred, anymore, and everything private has been allowed to be revealed in the public domain of electronic declaratives.  Whether of protecting holy oils, ensuring that decretals are unblemished in their interpretation; of maintaining the decorum, orderliness and cleanliness of the altar and the implements of worship; and initiating the timeliness of church bells to call upon the loyal throng to approach with the sacraments of piety.

When did such an important position become extinguished?  How did it become an anachronism and extinction of necessity, and who made such a determination?  Was it with the conflagration of the public domain upon the private – when formerly private deeds, of the sanctity of intimacy behind closed doors reserved by those who commit themselves into a tripartite unity of matrimony?  Was it when youth allowed for the destruction of dignity and defiance of decorum and all manner of discretion, of sending through electronic means photographs of acts beyond bestiality merely for prurient interests and chitter of laughter and good times?

The sacristan is unemployed; he or she is now merely a vestige of an arcane past where holiness, purity and the sacred have been sacrificed upon the altar of inconvenience and guilty consciences replaced by the King of Human Folly:  Psychology.  What do we hold sacred, anymore, and behind what closed door can we find the remains of a past forever absolved?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical conditions prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the question related to one’s own circumstances with the obsolescence of the sacristan, comes down to this:  In the course of dealing with my medical conditions, what altars of holiness have I compromised just to continue my career with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service?  For, as the desecration of the public domain has increasingly harbored the sacred into the domains of private thought, so those reserved altars of inner sanctuaries concern the essence of one’s soul and the inner-held beliefs that remained forever the last vestiges of a sacred self.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement, 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 always just a means to an end.  The means is comprised of extrication from an untenable situation; the end is to reach a plateau of life where the sacristan may be reemployed, if only within the inner sanctum of one’s own conscience.

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

 

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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Application and Process: The Foreign Menu

Certain processes and endeavors in life are tantamount to a foreign menu; one knows that, within the undecipherable and incomprehensible letters and symbols presented before one, amidst the evocative smells and provocative sounds emanating from the kitchen in the back, and behind the sounds and voices formed and learned in another land in distant places beyond the horizon of one’s familiarity, there is a dish of choice which one would, if one could identify it, choose for the occasion before us.  But the menu is in another language; the words and symbols are undecipherable; and the waiters, waitresses, cooks and managers speak not a word of one’s own; and all attempts at describing the wants and desires of the moment have failed, because food is an appetite of desire, and not one which finds its core in the rational basis of words and conceptual constructs.

Can such a scenario occur?  Can one find oneself in a restaurant unable to relate or communicate?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who find themselves unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and who must therefore engage the process of 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 similarity to the scenario described, and the familiarity of the circumstances conveyed, can be frighteningly reflective of the reality experienced.

Perhaps it should not be such a complicated process.  Considering the circumstances — of an injured or medically debilitated Federal or Postal worker who must concurrently contend with both the complexity of the bureaucratic process as well as the confounding and discomforting issues of the medical conditions themselves — one would think that the gathering of evidentiary sufficiency, the legal pitfalls to be maneuvered, the standard forms to be completed, etc., would all be simplified to fit the onerous circumstances requiring submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  But the fact is that Federal Disability Retirement is a complicated and complex administrative process with no “short cuts” to fruition.

It is a bureaucratic procedure which much be endured — much like the untenable situation of the man who walks into a restaurant thinking only of the satisfying meal to be ordered, only to find that the menu set upon the table is in a foreign language, undecipherable and incomprehensible, except to the proprietors and those who prepare the dishes of choice, in a clattering kitchen far in the background where echoes abound but confusion compounds.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire