Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Cartesian Bifurcation

Modern philosophy is often considered to have begun with the French philosopher, Descartes; this is perhaps unfortunate, for the resulting inward navel gazing which was precipitated and the subsequent conceptual bifurcation between mind and body, for which we must contend with and pay the price, to this day.

For the longest time, of course, there was a suspicion that psychiatric conditions were somehow less viable and more difficult to prove; this is perhaps as a result of a misconception and misunderstanding of that proof which constitutes “objective” data as opposed to “subjective” interpretations of any factual analysis.

In Federal Disability Retirement cases, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board has steadfastly rejected any notions of subjective/objective differentiation, especially when it comes to psychiatric medical conditions.  Fortunately for the Federal and Postal Worker who suffers from medical conditions such that the medical disability prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the MSPB has repeatedly rejected OPM’s claim that certain medical evidence (clinical examinations and encounters with a psychiatrist, for instance) is merely “subjective”, as opposed to what they deem to be considered “objective” medical evidence.

Whether anyone at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is aware of Descartes and the French philosopher’s profound influence upon the mind/body bifurcation is a matter of factual irrelevance; the important historical point to be recognized is the trickling down impact from theoretical discourses in academia, to the pragmatic application of concepts in bureaucratic administrative functions.

Descartes lives, and the echoes of his philosophical influence resounds and reverberates down into the hallways of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in the daily reviews of Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Existence and Being

There is a distinction between existence and being; for the former is something which merely “is”, and over which one has no control over, or the capacity of which to have any input; while the latter is the composite of the essence of who we are — the coalescence of one’s past, present, and future potentiality.

Heidegger’s life work encompassed the attempt to describe the search for being, the revelatory recognition of it, and the systematic approach to unravelling the hidden fullness of being.  It is the difference between going through the motions, and living an authentic life.

That is how Federal and Postal employees often feel just before contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS — for the state of merely existing in order to trudge to work, in order to “get through the day”, only to return home, to sleep, to struggle, to regain one’s strength, energy and stamina for a reserve to be depleted for another day of work; such a process describes an existence, not a state of being.

That is also why scams and “get-rich-quick” schemes continue to successfully con so many — because most people consider themselves merely in a state of existence, waiting to be saved for a life of being, but mistake the conversion from the former to the latter as dependent and reliant upon more money, greater acquisition of wealth, and accumulation of property.  But it is good health and the ability to be pain-free, which forms the foundation for a true state of being.

Disability Retirement for the Federal or Postal Worker is a means of attaining a state of being where rehabilitation and escape from the treadmill of progressive deterioration is possible.  That bifurcation which Heidegger attempted to describe — between a state of mere existence, and the lifting of the veil upon Being — should be seriously considered.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: An Aristotelian Approach

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has been the primary foundation for the Western paradigm of proper behavior in philosophy.  Quite distinct from his obtuse Metaphysics, the ethical framework of Aristotle takes a pragmatic, almost Confucian approach to correct behavior — balancing context, temperament, timing and correct behavior in formulating a modulated encompassment of how one should act.

As with all things in life, there must be a “balance” — and a recognition that time and relative context of affairs must be taken into consideration before one should act.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, one must similarly recognize that there is an insight into the balance of life before one can proceed with any action, whether it is an administrative action before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or before one’s own agency.

A Federal Disability Retirement application must be “proven”; as such, there is a distinction to be made between that which one “experiences”, and that which one can “prove”.

In such a context, sometimes a medical retirement packet may take some time in order to fully develop and evolve.  Doctors may not be able to be approached immediately; instead, at the right time, and in the right manner, they may be willing to provide the necessary medical and professional support in order to make one’s Federal Disability Retirement case successful and productive.

The pragmatic approach which Aristotle used in his ethics is still relevant today:  at the right time, in the proper context, and taking into consideration the temperament of others.  In this way, success can be attained by possessing an insight and wisdom into the world of human affairs.  This was the approach of Aristotle; and so it was with Confucius.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Heidegger, Being, Essence and Value

Heidegger represents a culmination of sorts — of a philosopher caught in the historicity of his own time and making (with allegations of collaborating with the Nazi party), while proposing a methodology of modern philosophy which embraces the issues important to modernity — essence, value, and the meaning of one’s existence.

In this society of technological adaptation, where the separation of humanity from machines, and the chasm of isolation which expands exponentially, resulting in greater incidents of psychiatric desolation; it is important to pause and reflect upon the value of the human being.

For the Federal or Postal employee who has worked tirelessly to “advance the mission of the agency”, but who now finds him/herself with a medical condition which prevents him/her from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job — how does the agency act/react?  Does it manifest compassion, empathy, and most importantly — loyalty?

In order for the conceptual paradigm of “loyalty” to have any meaning, it must be bilateral — meaning, inclusive in both directions.  But too often, loyalty is based merely on “what has he/she done for the agency today?”  The meaning of one’s existence is too closely tied to one’s work; the value of human worth is too easily discarded when one’s work is disrupted; and the truth of one’s being is too readily revealed when a medical condition intersects and interrupts one’s ability/inability to perform one’s job.

Heidegger, in the end, was probably right; the “things” we do are mere distractions to the ultimate fate of our being; but in the meantime, we must continue to strive, to live.

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit which exists in order to continue to live.  It allows for a Federal or Postal worker to continue in another vocation, and to have that rehabilitative period to focus upon the important things in life:  of health, of value, and of family relationships.  Don’t tie yourself too closely to some faceless agency’s “mission”; the first and primary mission is the worth of the individual human being.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: A Semantic Battle?

One may wonder, in any process of the stage of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, as to whether an approval is based merely on a “semantic” battle with the Office of Personnel Management.  

Inasmuch as a submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application to the Office of Personnel Management is a “paper submission” (yes, I know, we are quickly moving towards an age of paperless technology, but you know what is meant by the term), and no actual presentation or contact will be made with the personnel at OPM (unless it goes to a Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board); as such, the query is sometimes posed as to whether it is merely a semantic battle.  

In the days of Plato and Aristotle, “lawyers” were called “sophists” or “rhetoriticians” — thus, the modern terms of “sophisticated” or “sophistry”, and “rhetoric” or “rhetorical”.  Either or both of the terms imply a negative connotation, that through semantic sleight of hand, one can be fooled into being persuaded to adopt a certain viewpoint or opinion.  

While it may be true to a certain and limited extent that obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS may involve some semantic quibbling, the underlying substantive basis in granting or denying a Federal Disability Retirement application, either under FERS or CSRS, continues to remain in “the law” — based upon statutory and regulatory criteria, upon legal opinions from cases decided by the Merit Systems Protection Board and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  

While “how X is said” may have some persuasive effect, it is ultimately still “what is said” that retains the most powerful impact.  Substance over appearance still wins the day — the identical philosophical concerns of Plato and Aristotle continues to remain true today.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Tyranny of Logic

The general concept of ‘tyranny’ is normally reserved for extreme cases of autocratic emblems of dictatorships, governmental overreaching, denial of due process, etc., and is rarely used in addressing issues arising in Federal Disability Retirement laws governing Federal and Postal workers who are attempting to access an employment benefit which is part of the Federal and Postal employment package — that of Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  In this use of the term, however, it is in conjoining two independent concepts:  that of ‘tyranny’ and that of ‘logic’.  The compounding of the terms results in a concept which is applicable in a positive sense.  Allow me to explain. 

In the course of filing for Federal or Postal disability retirement benefits, when one is denied at any level of the administrative process, one has a right to a further appeal.  Thus, if the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is denied at the First Stage of the process, then you have a right to have it ‘reconsidered’ (called the “Reconsideration Stage“, appropriately).  If it is denied a second time, you then have the right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board — and beyond.  At each stage of the process, one hopes that in the review and evaluation of the Federal Disability Retirement application, first by the Office of Personnel Management, then by an Administrative Judge, then by a Federal Appellate Judge, that a set of legal criteria is fairly and uniformly applied, such that the ‘tyranny of logic’ rules.  In this sense, ‘tyranny’ is meant to apply in a positive sense, in that a logical, fair and uniform application of the law is applied to the set of facts presented by the Federal or Postal disability retirement application.  This all assumes, of course, that somewhere along the line of the ‘food-chain’ of review, that someone has been exposed to either logic, logical argumentation, or the ‘rules of logic’.  Hope springs eternally.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire