Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Dog-like Loyalty

It is of the old adage — of the dog which refuses to bite the hand which feeds him.  It is only the human animal which betrays the adage; but, then, that is part of the point of the saying, and the recognition of the perversity of man.

It is thus not a wonder that Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, remain unilaterally loyal to their agencies, despite sufficient evidence to the contrary and which would easily justify acting in a disloyal manner.  Years of toil and doing extra work without asking for anything in return will not result in empathetic treatment by an agency when the Federal or Postal worker requires such extraordinary treatment during a medical crisis; and when the surprised Federal employee becomes aghast at the reactionary irrationality of the agency, those of a cynical nature will often respond, “What did you expect”?

But the adverse nature of how an agency reacts when its employee files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is really the flip-side of the same coin:  the Federal or Postal worker acts like the loyal dog; the agency acts like the hand-biting dog.  It is the inherent nature of the complex make-up of the human animal which allows for such contradictory reactions.  Or, perhaps not — it may be just as simple an explanation that there are bad people in the world, and those who expect goodness from human nature will normally be sorely disappointed.

That is why when an agency provides for unexpected level of support during the process of a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application, we react with such gratitude and surprise because of the exceptional nature of such a response.

One indicator that is fairly reliable, of course, is the wagging of the tail — unless, of course, it is the tail wagging the dog; but that is another adage altogether, for another time.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Analogy of Games

Games created and imagined by societies will likely reflect societal values, beliefs, fears, and generally the character and personality of the social structure of the time.

That is why life situations are often described and elaborated upon by reference to particular games, by analogy, to elucidate the reality of a specific situation, or perhaps even the absurdity — because by describing the game, it removes the need to discuss a present reality, and instead to speak of it in terms of a third-person phenomena.

Thus, one might refer to the game of Go — and instruct the novice that, as in life, every time you “pass”, the opponent gains a move, and the more you pass, the greater gains, until victory occurs.  Or the oft-quoted game of Chess, in which one must always think in terms of 5 moves ahead, lest your opponent already has mapped out the path to checkmate before you have even considered your options.  And so we live life as we play games.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such analogies are instructive.  “Passing”, as in the game of Go, will only allow the two opponents — the agency, and the medical condition against which one is battling — to gain the upper hand both in terms of time and closing potential options.  Failing to consider future moves, as in the game of Chess, will only increasingly limit and restrict one’s future ability to act; and so one’s future is diminished by the enemy of time.

In the end, games are created merely for recreation; but life itself is more than a period of fun and games, and failure to consider the seriousness of an analogy is only to the detriment of he who fails to consider the applicability of parallel universes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Dealing with Adversity

How does one deal with adversity?  When the adversary is a faceless entity, a bureaucracy which acts as a behemoth of epic proportions, one must take care in choosing the proper battle to engage.  For, ultimately, the victory or loss of a battle is often determined by logistical considerations — of where and when it is fought.

Further, it is important to identify who the “enemy” is against whom one wages a battle.  Is it a separate entity, or is the real enemy one’s self?  When an individual is suffering from a medical condition such that one is weakened, others will often begin to smell the scent of such weakness, and begin to prey upon the deteriorated stateit is “worth the while” to fight against the agency, the system, and the entirety of the Federal Bureaucracy.

It is well and good to say, “I’m not giving up” and to fight for one’s rights, but at what cost?  At the cost of one’s health?

More often than not, it is a smart strategic move to leave the battle s of being.  That is the law of the runt; it is the rule of the world.  For Federal and Postal employees who find themselves in a position where one’s medical conditions have deteriorated to a point where he/she can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, it is important to consider whether cene, and go into the quietude of the morning sun, in order to find the space of recuperative peace, in order to come back to battle another day.

Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is just such a safety hatch; and whether you are under FERS or CSRS, it is a consideration worth noting, and taking, in order to regain one’s strength, to come back for another day — next time, from atop the vantage point of a hill, instead of looking up from the valley of death and destruction.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: The Game of Go

The game of Go involves planning, strategy, finesse, a sense of when to aggressively pursue, and a lesson of when to withdraw.  It is a game originating from China, thousands of years old, yet identical in play and rules today.  It is a game of daily living; and, indeed, even the tactile component of feeling the soft smoothness of each stone as you place them on the surface of the playing board, along with the geometric beauty of the patterns which your opponent complements as you lay your handiwork — all with the attribute of two basic colors:  black and white.

One can always make too much of an analogy between sports and life; fiction and reality; a mere game, and a process.  Games ultimately are what they are:  a play which, in the end, has no significance beyond the entertainment of the moment.  But some games help to sharpen one’s sense of daily living.

The metaphor and analogy to be applied between the game of Go and practicing law, including preparing, formulating and filing on behalf of Federal and Postal employees to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the need to understand the process; to present the evidence in a bold and unabashed manner; and to understand the “opponent” and what the opposition represents and will likely do.

Preempting what the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is likely to do in response to one’s handiwork, is an essential part of both the game of Go and of any practice of law.  That is why a legal strategy is important and relevant in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application — for, like the game of Go, unless you make the proper connections between the medical evidence, the law, one’s positional duties, and one’s statement of disability, you will be surrounded by your opponent’s tactile placement of experienced handiwork, and find that all of your efforts have come to naught.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Language, Truth, and the Agency

Wittgenstein’s conceptual identification of society’s creation of various “language games” is indicative of a relativistic approach to truth and reality.  For, Wittgenstein rejected the classical tradition of the correspondence theory of truth, where language corresponds to events in the “objective” physical realm, and in the course of such correspondence, arrives at a notion of objective truth.  Instead, the world of language is an artificial creation within the consciousness of societies, and is tantamount to board games which we play.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is often interesting and instructive to view the entire bureaucratic process as a kind of “language game” which one must master and engage in.  Indeed, encounters with how one’s own agency views the game, then how OPM views the game, can be quite shocking.

The fact that it is not a “game” per se, for the Federal or Postal employee who is depending upon the Federal Disability Retirement annuity for his or her livelihood for the short-term, does not undermine the fact that agencies and OPM act as if it is just another board game — say, for instance, chess, in the the manner in which various strategic moves and counter-moves are made to try and corner the Federal or Postal employee; or the classical game of go, in which territories are asserted and surrounded in order to “defeat” the opponent.

Language is meant to convey meaning and to communicate human value, worth, emotions and factual occurrences as reflected in the physical world; it is only us humans who create a universe of artifice in which we sequester ourselves in order to torment the weaker members of such participants.  But because language is the only game within the realm of human living, we must contend with the language games played by Federal agencies, and especially the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The MSPB and Beyond

An application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should always be prepared for the “long haul“.  Thus, it should be formulated, argued and prepared as if it will be denied at each stage, and will end up before the Merit Systems Protection Board.  

Does this take any “special” preparation?  To some extent, the answer is “yes”, inasmuch as the stages beyond the Initial Application stage before the Office of Personnel Management, then the Reconsideration Stage of the process, then a Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the MSPB, involves whether or not an “error of law” was made.  As such, because each of the preceding three stages of the administrative process would essentially involve foundations for a later stage of an administrative appeal, it is obviously important to know what “the law” is.  One can hardly argue in the later stages what “errors of law” were made if one is not familiar with what “the law” is comprised of in the first place.  By establishing certain key foundations, and inserting legal precedents and arguments throughout the process, one has a better chance at arguing that legal errors were made by the Administrative Judge. While a Federal or Postal worker should certainly expect that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application should be approved at any given level because it has been properly prepared, it is always wise to look beyond the present, and prepare for future contingencies.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Preempting OPM’s Arguments

It is important at all stages of a Federal Disability Retirement application for FERS & CSRS employees to predict, anticipate, and preempt the arguments which the Office of Personnel Management may make, will make, and can be expected to make.  Obviously, the three main areas of such concern are:  Sufficiency of medical documentation; Agency efforts for accommodation and reassignment; the impact and interconnection between one’s medical condition(s) and the positional duties of one’s job. 

However, there are multiple other areas, and it is the job of an applicant filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or his/her attorney, to anticipate the areas of OPM’s concerns, and to address them both factually and legally — the latter, by pointing out statutory authorities and case-law holdings directly or implicitly touching upon those very areas of concern.  Further, one should never be fooled if, in an initial denial of an OPM Disability Retirement application, the substance of a denial is fairly short or if it is detailed and lengthy; the content of a denial letter should not determine the extent of a response by an applicant at the Reconsideration Stage.  Instead, whether short, of “middle length”, or extremely detailed, a response should anticipate all areas of concern, and the applicant who is attempting to secure an approval for his or her Federal Disability Retirement benefits should always preempt any potential areas for a further denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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