Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Hypotheticals

Why do lawyers, above most other professions, utilize the tool of hypotheticals?  What is their evidentiary value, and in what way does it help to advance the cause of one’s case?

Say, for instance, you need an architect or an engineer (yes, yes, the humor here is that in speaking about hypotheticals, we are preparing to present one), would you be at all impressed if, after describing with precision the type of product you desire to have built, or in requesting a blueprint of a model house you are interested in, the architect or the engineer presents you with a hypothetical?

What, first of all, is a ‘hypothetical’?  It is, first and foremost, a proposition of non-existence, but with components of reality that may or may not have occurred or existed except in partial or disparate forms, delineated in an attempt to make or prove a point.  It is the tool of the attorney, just as the pencil and the blueprint are the resources of the architect, and the mathematical calculations the reliance of the engineer.  Often, it is used by means of analogical content to prove a point and to enhance the evidence gathered.

Take, for example, the lawyer who defended a bank robber.  He meets his client for the first time, and the criminal defense lawyer puts up a hand in order to stop his client from speaking, and says the following: “Now, take the following hypothetical, Mr. Dillinger: A man walks into a bank and hands a note to the teller that says, ‘Give me everything in your drawers.’  Now, that man was subsequently arrested.  No cash was ever exchanged; no weapon was ever found.  The question, then, is: What was meant by the words?  Only you know.  If, by way of a hypothetical, the man meant to obtain the contents of the teller’s drawer, it might mean 10 years in prison.  If, on the other hand, the note meant to be a lewd proposal about the teller’s anatomy beneath her undergarments, it would likely be a misdemeanor offense.  Now, Mr. Dillinger, which is it?”

Now, aside from some who would view such a presentation as somewhat unethical for “suggesting”, on the part of the lawyer, which intended “meaning” the defendant possessed at the time the note was passed, such a hypothetical is intended to denote the importance of hypotheticals within the purview of “the law”.  Hypotheticals allow for individuals to see the differences in paradigms or examples; it allows for options by way of analogy.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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, hypotheticals have quite likely become like unicorns and gnomes: no longer a figment of one’s imagination, but a reality that must be faced within a surreal universe of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that fails to possess the humanity necessary in dealing with a person with failing health.

Words of platitudes are often spoken; and, perhaps, here and there, you come across someone at your agency that actually cares.  But for the most part, such “caring” amounts to no more of a reality than mere hypotheticals; and when that realization comes about that the clash between hypotheticals and reality must be confronted, it is time to get down to the “nuts and bolts” and prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

And, as an aside, you may be asking, What was Mr. Dillinger’s response to the lawyer’s hypothetical? He punched the lawyer in the mouth, stood up and said, “Jeez, I ain’t no pervert!  Of course I wanted the money!”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Sacrifice

What does it mean to sacrifice?  Is it a concept learned, or an act embraced during a moment of trial?  If not learned, can it occur when two strangers meet, or do the circumstances, upbringing, genetic material inherited, etc., all make the difference?  And of “learning” — can it be by osmosis, classroom lectures, or purely by observing and watching others engage in the act of sacrifice?  What compels a person to sacrifice one’s own life, well-being, wealth, the shirt on one’s back, or the last dollar in one’s pocket, and does it count at all if it is done for one’s own self-aggrandizement?

Say a person sacrificed a limb in order to save another’s life, but remained anonymous except for the inquiring reporter who wrote a piece delineating the admirable qualities of that person, etc.  We would all likely read such a story with interest and read it and share it with out children, friends, family, etc., and talk about good character displayed and the fine example shown.

What if that same sacrificing person was overheard to have said, “If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have done it.”  Would that change the calculus of our thoughts?  Would we think less of the person for having second thoughts?  Or, would we suspend our disbelief and say, “Oh, he’s just saying that because living without a limb must be traumatic, but he doesn’t really mean that.”?

What if, in addition to the sacrificing individual making such a statement, it turns out that the sacrificial act was just an accident and was not deliberately intended — would that further downgrade our admiration for the person?  What are the qualities that must all come together in order for an act of sacrifice to be admired and shown as a paradigm of exemplary behavior?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, the intersecting issues between enduring the pain and difficulties of a medical condition, with the requirements of performing all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, come to the fore when reflecting upon the conceptual paradigm of “sacrifice”.

At what point does sacrifice turn into foolhardiness?  Is it when the pain and suffering can no longer be endured and others, including the Agency or the Postal Service itself, begins initiating the process of removal or placing you on a Performance Improvement Plan?

While we may never know precisely the distinction and difference between sacrifice and self-destructive behavior — what people mistakenly obscure between “bravery” and “bravado” — what should always be kept in mind is the unmistakable fact that one’s health should be a primary concern, and that “sacrifice” should be reserved for a worthy cause.

Thus, when the intersecting ideas of “sacrifice”, “work” and “health” clash as irreconcilable differences, a divorce must occur between the three at some point, and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset may be the best option left before throwing away the chance of an admirable act of sacrifice is lost to an unworthy cause at the price of one’s own health.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Long Goodbye

The relegation to the basement office; the loss of niceties with coworkers; the negation of superlatives from higher ups; the clues become overt, blatant and uninviting.  Long goodbyes are often fertile ground for the souring of relationships forged over decades, and human interactions which reveal a perversity once thought uncommon.  Does the past count for anything, anymore?

Medical conditions and their impact are meant to evoke empathetic responses; instead, they often bring out the worst in humanity.  For Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, they portend of headaches and interruption of efficiency; they are a bother.  For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the growing absences, the need to attend to one’s medical conditions — all become the priority of life and living.

From the agency’s viewpoint, it is a malignancy of logistical magnitude; another problem to be solved; and the longer the goodbye, the greater the extenuating interruption.  It is this clash of interests which calls for resolution.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an indicator to the agency that there is an end in sight, and once filed, it is merely a waiting game before finality of decisions is reached.  Often, the mere filing relieves the increasing pressure felt, like the encasement of boiling water which needs an outlet.

Medical conditions often require a long journey of sorts; it is the long goodbye which makes it all the more evident.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire