Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Plato and Play-Doh

If a person says to another, “Have you used Play-Doh” and he answers, “Well, yes, but only as it applies to certain situations in my life.  Otherwise, I tend to rely upon Aristotle in a more pragmatic, scientific approach.”

Somewhat taken aback, the inquiring mind restates his position, saying, “No, no, I meant, have you played with Play-Doh?” Still not distinguishing between the inserted alternative of a consonant (the “D” in Play-Doh as opposed to the “t” in Plato), the responding individual states again, “Well, conceptually Plato is difficult to ‘play with’, as you state it, in that you have to first understand the conceptual paradigms he posits, then…” and the same person goes on to provide a full-fledged, half hour dissertation on the esoteric aspects of a Dead White Irrelevant Philosopher (otherwise known by the acronym, a “DWIP”).

At this point, frustrated, the inquisitive interrogator walks away, throwing his hands up in complete confusion and befuddlement.  What does one do?  How is the incommensurate encounter resolved?  Question: Does the fact that we “hold” in the base of our minds a certain spelling of a word make a difference as to intent and deliberative motive, when what we “speak” out into the objective world makes the receptor of the word, phrase or sentence interpret it as something different from that image that we behold in our minds?

How does one close the chasm between subjective thoughts and objective reality?  Do we approach it in a different way – and does the problem really remain in the subjective domain of the questioning individual insofar as he or she is unable to, incapable of, or otherwise unwilling to alter the originating course of his posited query?

In other words, shouldn’t the person have restated his conceptual query in the following manner: “Oh, I see.  You must have misunderstood.  I am talking about ‘Play-Doh’ – the clay-like substance that we all used to play with as children, and I thought I saw some when I visited your house the other day.”  To which the responder should appropriately state, “Ah, I see now.  You must excuse me. I am concurrently reading Plato’s Dialogues and I mistook your question to be referring to that.”

It is, then, the capacity to listen carefully, to recognize the response given, then to respond back appropriately and relevantly that often dissipates any compelling reason to become frustrated.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to respond to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s subsequent queries, or even in response to the Statement of Disability’s questions (SF 3112A) that need to be answered, the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must take care in bridging that gap between subjective reality and objective communication.

There are many “tricks” to the “trade”, and OPM has probably dealt with them all; but the one trick that OPM cannot ultimately ignore, is the tricky web of legal precedents and prior MSPB and Federal Circuit Court decisions that compel them to act in ways that they cannot forego.  Legal argumentation is an art form that should not be ignored, and whether you are asking about Plato or Play-Doh, remember always to include in any Federal Disability Retirement application an effective legal argument that persuasively argues the legal precedents applicable in your case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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