OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: The Inside View

There is the “outside” perspective as opposed to the “inside view”, and that is the mistake people make in various sectors of life: The “outsider” believes that, from a position and perspective of detachment and therefore objectivity, he or she is able to better assess, evaluate and analyze the event, situation or conditions experienced than by those on the “inside”.

By contrast, the “insider” views the outsider with suspicion, contending that he or she has no idea about the experiences and existential difficulties faced by the insider, and that a detached, objective viewpoint which fails to take into consideration the subjective, “personal” side of things misses the essential point of the issue.

It is the tension which exists between the townspeople and the “out-of-towner”; the one who lives in a community as opposed to the renter or investor; or of the person who drives around the neighborhood admiring the green lawns, the peaceful nature and the tranquility of a community, hoping to one day purchase a home there without knowing the problems inherent — say, that the water is contaminated or that there has been a rash of burglaries on the rise in recent years.

How does one break the invisible wall between the inside view and the outside perspective?  When does the demarcation between the two disappear?  Do numbers of years living within a community determine whether an outsider becomes an insider?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application because of a medical condition which has come to a critical point where the Federal or Postal worker can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it often “feels” like one has all of a sudden become an “outsider” again — not only from one’s own agency or the Postal Service, but moreover, because of the complexity of the administrative procedures and bureaucratic morass of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — of the sense that the whole process is strange and detached.

Consulting with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is a good first step in bridging the gap that widens when first encountering that feeling, in order to get an “inside view” of what it takes to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Castles in the air

Is it the same idea as Cervantes’ Don Quixote who charges at the wind mills?  Or of Don McLean’s soulful lyrics when he wrote, “And if she asks you why you can tell her that I told you, That I’m tired of Castles in the Air.”?

Is there a difference between dreams and visions realized, and those that remain as castles in the air?  Are such unrealized castles merely the childish remnants that were left behind within the bundled laughter of grown-ups who saw the folly of youth, or are they they vestiges of frustrations discarded because, when we “grow up”, we realize that reality doesn’t quite share the optimism of youth’s unfettered vision?

Whatever the origin, wherever the spark, it is important to preserve a semblance of a dream, even if never realized.  The “dungeon” is its antonym, where all such dreams drain because the lowest point of any location is where the water flows and the desolation of a desert abounds.

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, it may well be that castles no longer exist in the air or elsewhere; that the medical condition itself has become the “reality” that one must deal with, and castles — in the air, on the ground, or somewhere far away — is a luxury one cannot afford to even consider.

And filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management may be the farthest thing from childhood dreams of what you saw yourself achieving; but in the end, it is the best option available precisely because it frees you from the workplace harassment, embarrassment and resentment where work is no longer compatible with your medical conditions; and as for those castles in the air?

They may still be there once you can focus upon and regain your health; for it is the dream even unrealized that allows for human creativity to spawn and spread, but the pain of a chronic medical condition is what makes of us all the Don Quixote who charges at harmless windmills.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Something happened

Beyond a mundane declaration of befuddlement, it is also the title of a novel by Joseph Heller — his second novel published some 13 years after the successful first one that most people remember him by:  Catch-22.

It lacks the surrealism of the first novel; the absurdity of tragic events unfolding distinguishable from the logical and sequential manner in which we see the world, turned upside down by images of madness countering the reality of the insanity around.  The genre of the absurd — depicted in such movies as “Life is Beautiful” and in works such as Catch-22 — attempts to unveil the underlying insanity beneath the veneer of a world acting as if normalcy abounds.

Other movies that attempt to portray the absurd might include Sophie’s Choice, where the main character (played by Meryl Streep) keeps going back to the comfort of her insane boyfriend because that is the more comfortable reality she knows, having survived the insanity of the Nazi death camps.

But long before the genre of the absurd came to the fore, there was the brilliant short story by Cynthia Ozick entitled, The Shawl, which has been noted for bringing out the horrors of the holocaust through a medium — the short story — that captures the essence of absurdity and the surreal in a mere few dozen pages.  The story is a small bundle that reverberates so powerfully that it overshadows any subsequent attempts at depicting life’s absurdity.

Catch-22 elevated the absurd to a consciousness that brought further self-awareness of the unreality of the real — the Vietnam War — and tried to unravel the insanity amidst a world that tried to explain the event as something logical and sane.

Something Happened —  a book about a character who engages in a rambling stream of consciousness about his childhood, job and family — is perhaps more emblematic about the life most of us live:  seemingly logical, yet interspersed with events, reminiscences and memories that are faulty at best, and far from perfect.  The title itself shows a greater awareness of our befuddlement — of not knowing “what” happened, only that it did, and the inability to control the events that impact our lives.

Medical conditions tend to be of that nature — of an event that we have no control over, and yet, we are aware of its “happening”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to realize that something happened — a medical condition; a chronic illness that simply will not go away; a traumatic event that has had residual consequences which are continuing to impact; whatever the “something”, the “happened” part still resides.

Such recognition of the “something” will often necessitate the further recognition that it is now time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to secure a future that is presently uncertain.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in getting Federal and Postal employees Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the “something” that “happened” is not one more tragedy in this tragic-comic stream of consciousness we call “life”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: And then we are gone…

The trailing ellipsis establishes a pause for reflection, and the finality of three periods for an emphasis upon the irreversible nature of the statement.  “And then” connotes that something preceded – a lifetime of activities, a century or less of human historicity involving birth, growth, work, struggles, etc. – existed before the conclusion of the life.

The “we are” slice of the sentence implies two additional variables: the universality of involvement – an event that excludes no one – and the present tense of that which is inevitable.  And what about the final word before the ellipsis?  The eternal nothingness; the inescapable conclusion to every novel, every short story, every figure of historical significance or otherwise; we all die.

We somehow try and escape or avoid that fate.  Heidegger’s observation that the whole of human activity is merely a project of distraction and avoidance – that we perform this busy-ness and that all-consuming work or hobby, not because it is inevitable, important, relevant or even interesting, but because to do nothing would be to face the reality of our own demise daily.

Perhaps that is somewhat of an overstatement.  And yet… In the end, plastic surgery, herbal teas and strenuous exercise may only prolong the terminal exit ramp for a fortnight or even a calendric cycle or two, but it is the “in-between” times that make all the difference in a person’s life.  And what of quality?  Does quantification by pure duration determine the worthiness of that “in-between” period, or is it better to have lived a short but “full” life, before the finality of nothingness comes upon one?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is making that preceding period before the universalization of finality becoming a reality “less than worthwhile”, the time may have approached, and perhaps even passed, that preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application has become not merely a necessity but a crisis of mandate.

Sometimes, in life, the choices are limited and the options presented somewhat less than the best of life’s offerings; yet, to live out that duration of what is future-oriented by enduring pain, suffering and illness in an atmosphere of hostility and adversarial contrariness for the remainder of the days yet to come, often become unbearable and unthinkable.

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, is often the only solution to a problem unsolvable. It is that moment before the part that goes, “And then…”, where the ellipsis has not yet reached the “we are” portion, and thus a crucial section of a life still to be lived.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement Benefits: Threads

They are fragile and subject to being snapped; yet, we rely upon them to hold together the fabric of so many things, both in practical terms and in more nuanced settings of conceptual constructs cloaked in figurative speech.

As in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, that invisible thread that gently tugs despite isolation, renunciation and attribution of apostasy in the chaos of cultural confusion; or of the woven cloth where thousands in aggregate intersecting patterns creates the strength of multitudes where the single entity would snap upon the breath of a dragon’s snore.  Or, in a conceptual, literary sense, of thoughts and ideas weaving throughout, intersecting and inextricably interconnected with other major themes, of supportive quality and subchapters in reinforcing the main paradigm of a narrative in work.

Threads combine to strengthen; in their singularity, they are the arteries that course through one’s body and give life to an otherwise inert functionality of inoperable means, and allows for its almost invisible presence to dominate beyond its capacity to remain quantitatively anonymous despite its qualitative force of influence.  On a spool, amassed in its collective consolidation, its unique distinctiveness can be identified by color and hue; yet, pull a line of it, perhaps in inches, feet or even a yard, and only by squinting in the full refracted light of day can you discern the difference between that and another.

Thus as we enter into the millennium of future woes do we rely more and more upon the threads that hold up the fragile and ever tenuous spirits of malevolence, like the mistaken times in our own closet when Pandora’s box was unceremoniously allowed to release those skeletons we so deftly hid in the cellars of our private lives.

The threads we have woven, that are the inseparable fabric of our inner lives and outer layers of concealing veils; and yet we take them for granted, no matter the consequences of wrapping dreams and hopes within the fragile confines of the softness wrapped in the baby carriage left teetering on the cliff’s edge.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the applicability and relevance of threads is twofold:  First, remember to always weave in a reinforcing manner, the repetitive value of the themes documented involving one’s medical conditions throughout the applicant’s Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A, to reiterate those specific elements of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional duties; and second, recognize that the figurative threads of life are those that need listening to, as symptoms of health conditions once ignored, now weaving through the very fabric of one’s daily life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Designing a different biography

Each of us has one, but we know not what it states; for, it is what is written and carried by someone else, and not from ourselves.  Yes, yes, we also have an “autobiography”, as well – a narrative of how we see ourselves, in what manner, of what form, in what scintillating and scandalous light.  But it is the collective viewpoints of all whom we have encountered that comprise, constitute and in the compendium of the aggregate, tell the story of “that person” – you.

What would you gather if you went about to all family members, friends, relations and relatives, and to a lesser extent neighbors and acquaintances, whether close or distant, and interviewed each as to the narrative they have about you; collect them into a coherent whole and arrange them into a comprehensible amalgamation for self-reflective, unpublished anonymity?

It would likely be surprising, with tidbits of disconcerting salaciousness – not necessarily involving any vice, but if honesty were to be an unequivocal mandate in the responses to each query, it is likely that one would be taken aback by the responses received, not only in content and substance of answers, but from whence the source of information came.

Would we, if given the opportunity, begin to design a different biography in response to the amassing of such a narrative?  Or, like most people, would we merely engage in defensive self-justification, cutting off relations, reacting with anger and disappointment, and like a child without remorse, regret from wisdom or any greater understanding than the idiot savant who can mimic brilliance from learned behaviors, sit glumly with self-pity and blame those who provided their honest opinion and perspective, and continue on in the same mold as before?

Designing a different biography requires, at a minimum, a capacity to still process information for the intended purpose of alteration of behavior; and like the metamorphosis depicted by Kafka, there are few who have the self-reflective capacity in order to initiate that which cannot be comprehended by an ego which refuses to change.  What chance, then, do we have for redemption?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition requires designing a different biography for a future event (becoming a Federal Disability Retirement annuitant) because of a present circumstance of altering issues (a medical condition that has arisen, worsened or become exacerbated over time, such that preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management becomes a necessity), the concept of designing a different biography may require an honest assessment and evaluation of one’s physical and mental capacity, what the requirements of one’s Federal or Postal job entails, and when the time is ripe to consider initiating the long, arduous and complex process of considering the submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the end, designing a different biography always requires a moment of self-reflection – something more complicated than editing our own unsolicited autobiography.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: The Clock

It is an interesting device.  We can try and project back to a time of its non-existence, or at least when not every household owned one.  What could it have been like?  Where the hour was guessed at by the position of the sun – or was that not even part of the thought process?  Did the sun, dawn, dusk and twilight merely present a foreboding for a different paradigm?

Certainly, minutes and seconds likely had conceptual meaninglessness, and everyone worked, played and lived for the “moment”, without great regard or concern for the next day, the following season, or a decade hence.  Ship’s captains had a greater sense of future foreboding, though not necessarily of time, but of oncoming storms or changes in the currents; farmers lived season to season, and fretted as they still do about droughts or floods that might destroy crops; but as we entered into modernity, it was the grind of the clock that set the day for the city dweller, where payment for labor earned was remitted not by the rising and setting of the sun, but by increments of hours, minutes and labor beyond the darkness of a day ended.

At what point did time entrap us into a thought-process of expectancy that destroys the joy of a living moment?

If Friday provides a needed anticipation for a weekend of rest and repose, we immediately destroy and capacity to enjoy it by looking at the clock and realizing how many hours and minutes have passed by, and further denigrate our ability to appreciate by calculating the remainder of time.  We can become obsessed with the clock – its ticking diminution by projecting the decrease; the foreboding of what is yet to come, though it is merely within our minds; and the constant checking of incremental living of a life as against the clock that rules.

Medical conditions tend to remind us of the clock; or, perhaps it is the opposite, where the clock reminds us of our mortality when we suffer from a medical condition.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application may become a necessity, the clock can serve as both a reminder as well as an obsession of foreboding thought processes.

Yes, the clock is likely ticking in a proverbial sense in terms of the Agency or the U.S. Postal Service having the patience (does such an animal exist for either?) in trying to “work with” the medical condition (a euphemism often interpreted as, “You better become fully productive soon, or else”), but in a more real sense, the Federal or Postal employee must make a decision at some point as to the prioritizing of one’s health as opposed to the positional elements of the job which is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

By law, the Federal or Postal employee who is released, separated or terminated (yes, there is a distinction between the three, but for the Federal employee of Postal worker, not enough of significance to define them here), the Federal or Postal employee can file for Federal Disability Retirement within one (1) year of such separation from service.  Certainly, in that instance, the clock begins to tick, and not just in a proverbial sense but in real legal terms.  One need not, however, wait for such an event to realize the clock’s significance; watching the clock as the medical condition continues to deteriorate, is reminder enough that time rules us each day whether or not we succumb to it, or not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement under FERS/CSRS: Perfect lives

Where are they?  Beyond Platonic Forms and heavenly orbs where the golden dust sparingly sprinkled from the wings of angels in flight, do perfect lives exist and, if so, where?  We can suspend disbelief and fantasize of celebrities and the lives of Wall Street wolves with their mansions, beautiful bodies and facial grimaces so tightened by plastic surgery as to make smiling an exertion of monumental phenomena; but, in the end, we all realize that the pinnacle of human achievement is but another endeavor of human fallacy, and never approaching the omniscience of an Aristotelian Unmoved Mover.

If we posit that perfect lives do not exist, then does that vanquish the argument for perfection even of relevance in conceptual or hypothetical argumentation?  If that, then why strive for betterment at all, if there is no standard to which one should attempt to reach?  If everything is merely relative, how can we compare a relativity devoid of standards upon a non-existent spectrum between good, better and best?

Perfection, of course, for the obsessed, can be paralyzing, precisely because a further amendment, another change, an additional revision, can always arguably make it “more perfect” than not, and therefore one can be left swimming amidst the toxicity of a never-ending eternity of perfecting the imperfections that can never achieve perfection.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing an imperfect Federal OPM Disability Retirement application, to be submitted first through one’s agency and the Human Resource Office (if still with the agency or, even if separated, not for more than 31 days), then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, be wary of becoming immobilized because you are unable to reach a standard of perfection that will “guarantee” a First Stage Success.

Life never allows for guarantees, leaving aside perfection in an imperfect world.  Administrative and bureaucratic procedures mirror life itself:  OPM’s imperfect methodology of human engagement in determining the validity of a Federal Disability Retirement application is simply another component within life’s vast array of imperfection.

The key in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is not whether the Federal Disability Retirement packet is “perfectly” compiled, but the more relevant question:  Is it an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, with the components included of a persuasive narrative, a strong legal argument, and a methodology which includes a roadmap for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to approve the Federal Disability Retirement application?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire