OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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