Federal Disability Retirement Law: Sound legal arguments

Arguments in general share a characteristic within the more limited field of those involving legal issues: soundness is based upon factors involving coherence, cogency, consistency and the application of the rules of propositional logic.  The latter — of propositional logic — can get lost in general arguments when they become wrapped in multiple compound statements, shouted with ardor and passion, and conveyed with a sense of unequivocal belief as to one’s “rightness” and doubtless self-righteousness.

Propositional logic within the field of legal argumentation, however, takes on a more limited and restrictive nature, for it normally is contained by the text of legal opinions and cases that have a value of precedence.  The “soundness” or its antonym — of an “unsound legal argument” — largely depends upon how much the legal practitioner will “stretch” the foundational apparatus involved: the analogical arguments used in citing legal precedents.

Future legal opinions — those evolving from the very attempts by lawyers to stretch those precedents into areas heretofore disallowed — are based upon the persuasive propositional logic argued at the appellate level, and even in the various stages of an OPM Disability Retirement case.  On an informal level, of course, one will want to cite legal precedents to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at the first two stages of the process — at the Initial Stage of the OPM Disability Retirement process, as well as the Second, “Reconsideration” Stage.

At both levels, sound legal argumentation should be employed — by “sound”, meaning that the basic and well-known legal precedents should be cited involving what constitutes meeting the burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement application; what meets the legal requirements of an “accommodation”; the importance of medical evidence and the criteria that must be applied in assessing and evaluating the content and substance of the medical evidence presented; as well as the foundational basis of “sound” legal cases which delineate, in a persuasive manner, the compendium of evidentiary documentation which comprises one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At the “Third Level” of the process, of course — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (or more familiarly known as the “MSPB”) — one must take extra care in presenting sound legal arguments, because there, an Administrative Law Judge will be attuned to the “stretching” and “extension-attempting” arguments that citation of legal precedents may pose, and the “soundness” of one’s knowledge of “the law” is often a prerequisite in even trying to make one’s case before such an Administrative Law Judge.

For, in the end, sound legal arguments are not too dissimilar from arguments sound or unsound in general; they just require an extra component of legal training allowed that involves the proper and effective use and application of arguments by analogy based upon case-law precedents.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing 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, the sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The noisy neighborhood

Whether used as a noun or a verb, the second grammatical appendage can have multiple meanings: as a stick of lumber; as an activity placing information, warning, directional declarative or similar linguistic affirmations; and the combination of the two words can be read only within a greater contextual enlightenment depending upon what meaning is meant to be conveyed or how the inflection and accent is emphasized.

As a mere stick of lumber, it is a rather boring concept, even when attached to the first word, “sign”, precisely because the focus is upon the “post”, and so the emphasis goes directly to the sturdy piece of wood and not to the interests of the information posted.  If, on the other hand, one means to connote a different linguistic avenue – of different and varying posting of signs, then our interest is tweaked because we are immediately drawn into the various and wider universe of warnings, directions, admonishments and disseminated information useful to everyday living.

Sign posts are meant to guide, warn, betray or inform; and between the spectrum of the duality of linguistic translations, there is a natural reflection to life’s everyday humdrum itself.  For, like the analogy between information posted or merely a stick of lumber, living life is likened to a wide spectrum of activities mirroring boredom and repetitive monotony, and those instances where sudden tumult and excitement makes for an interesting day.

Being healthy can be viewed as a form of boredom; it is like the person focusing upon the stick of lumber, even if there are signs posting some warnings.  And, correlatively, when sickness and debilitating medical conditions occur, the viewpoint and perspective alters dramatically, such that the monotony of the piece of wood is now replaced with the blare of the warning, admonishment and legal declaratives, and life becomes a tumult, not merely a lapping wave but a tsunami of devastating impact.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the positional duties of the Federal or Postal employee’s job, the alteration of the perspective – whether seen as a “eureka” moment, a modified weltanschauung, or some reflective recognition of changed circumstances – the point is to shift the focus from the stick of lumber to the sign post itself: the job, the harassment, the constant antagonism and acrimony in the workplace – these are all the stick of lumber; one’s own medical condition, dealing with the doctors, the deterioration of one’s physical, emotional and mental capacity – these are the “signs”.

What we focus upon will determine the course of one’s future; and preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is the combination of both words as a compound concept: of recognizing the sign posts, and dealing with it accordingly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The Abridged Joyce

The extraction and extinguishment is done by unnamed others, sometimes in teams of unknown quantities, and certainly of dubious qualification of insight.  In a similar vein, writers have always complained of the artistic ineptitude of editors, and editors of the quaint verbosity detracting from the plot, narrative and captivating flow missed by writers in pursuit of “Art”; but is there ever a “middle ground” when it comes to the integrity of the soul?  But how can you cut away the content of the work, when the process itself is part and parcel of the substantive construct of the whole itself?

It would be like removing the heart itself, or perhaps even the human brainstem from the spinal cord, thereby violating the vertebral contiguity and effectively separating thought from movement, material from the spiritual, and soul from the activity which defines life itself.  Can Joyce, Tolstoy or even Scott Fitzgerald be abridged?  One can imagine the journalistic brevity of Hemingway, where incisiveness of narrative is reflected in the economy of words, but even to that, isn’t the stronger argument that the great Papa’s works are already so edited to the core that any further amputation would render the body functionally illiterate?

Yet, we accept the Reader’s Digest version of works for want of time saved and the capacity to declare a reading conquered; and others would quip, but surely it is better than just reading the Cliff Notes, isn’t it?  Not sure about that; as such cottage industries serve a different purpose — of understanding the content and context of a thing, as opposed to the enjoyment of the work itself.

But if quantity of linguistic captivation is so interwoven with the rhythmic balance of the entirety and aggregate of the whole, can an abridged Joyce be justified, ever?  Or have we accepted that, as life itself can be cut short without demeaning the relevant historicity of its linear heritage, so reading the partiality of an excised edition is just as good, somewhat as acceptable, and ultimately a pragmatic decision in terms of time saved and effort expended?

As Art reflects Life, so for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose careers and lives are interrupted by a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in the chosen field and career, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management allows for the abridged Joyce of a hyphenated accentuation.  For, in the end, the quip that Life mirrors Art is a limited proverb.

The Federal or Postal employee never asked for the interruption of the medical condition, but there it is — a bump in the pathway of life itself, with very little “art” to show for it.  But the narrative of one’s Federal or Postal career must be written in the Statement of Disability with care and collection of medical evidence to back it up, and the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is nothing but an artful way of deceitful cunning by a bureaucracy which attempts to subvert and deny at every turn, and the life of such a linguistic animal must be prepared well, formulated cogently, and submitted with confidence of purpose to maneuver into the maze of bureaucratic obfuscation.

The abridged Joyce will always be offered in this world of abbreviated concerns; filing for Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, on the other hand, is the only option remaining for many Federal and Postal workers injured or ill during the Federal tenure of one’s life, and should be accomplished with the care of the expanded version, and not an edited parcel to be cut and sliced like so many narratives in the trashbin of society.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The script of life

Seeking out the pathways of precognition by consulting with the ancient oracles, was merely that same attempt.  Prediction and foreknowledge were the precursors of script writing; as the former failed to provide an advantageous statistical weighting, so the shift to a more pragmatic approach reflects the recognition that the gods provided no greater insight than mere chance, and so we’d better get on with life and attempt to control fate, destiny and the travesties of life’s lottery by writing the narrative ourselves.

Thus do economic systems of varying control mechanisms arise, where socialism and fascism, state-run artifices constructed to ensure prevention of extremes, thereby comforting us from the worst nightmares and fears born of childhood insecurities.

Virtual reality is safer than real reality; staring into a smartphone and chasing figments of imaginative characters and ghosts that exude cuteness in violent but funny ways, are all preferable to facing the harshness of daily living.  We may not know when we will capture the prize, but the script has been written so that it becomes settled law as to whether.  Reality shows may sometimes surprise, but the unexpected itself is easily anticipated; that is part of the deal, and there is not much art in it after all.

Shakespeare’s quote comes from his play, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII:  “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

Such was the surrender to fate, now replaced by inane self-help books which purportedly boosts one’s self-confidence, makes one look like a Reality T.V. personality, and allegedly creates wealthy patrons of us all.  All throughout, we seek merely to obtain a copy of the script of life so that we can practice our parts, and not have to think about what must be done.  We seek predictability when the world offers chance; beg for mercy, when all there appears is savagery; and fall prey to the oracles of modernity, when even the ancients failed to deliver.

In the sphere of Federal and Postal employees, of course, it is the medical condition itself which was never asked to be included in that script of life.  It is one of those “curve-balls” which happens to the other guy, and never to us; or so we always played our part to live by.  But when it occurs, and life presents the unpredictable in a chaotic universe of harsh reality, we are asked to simply “deal with it”, and so we must.

For the Federal or Postal employee whose medical condition begins to impact and prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Postal or Federal positional duties, the script which must be ad-libbed is the part where decisions concerning the future must be engaged.  Should I file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?  When should the process be started?  Is it ever too late?  Is the Federal Disability Retirement application filed with my agency, or with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management?  Should I consult with an attorney?

These questions, and many more, even the ancient oracles would not have been able to answer.  The undeniable fact is, that the script of life rarely is written to reflect the reality of life’s harshness; it simply “is”, and must be acted upon according to what is given, even when consulting with the high priest or priestess of the ancient oracles provides only silence and an impervious unresponsiveness.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Dickens, Salinger & Capote

It is always dangerous to offer an overview of complexity; simplicity of explanation often teeters upon the precipice of superficiality, and when it comes to the psychology of people, we normally get it wrong.  Yet, we can try.

For Dickens, the childhood experiences of destitution and humble beginnings allowed for a magnification of love for humanity borne of cruelty in childhood.  In Salinger, we see the pent-up destruction of a young man whose anguish was molded through sights, sounds and experiences devastated by war.  And of Capote, we glean the lasting scars of rejection, first with minor cuts and burns by the divorce of his parents, then deeper in being bounced about by relatives, only to stab him with disappointment when his childhood friend, Harper Lee, received the accolades and universal love he sought so passionately, needed beyond all others, but never felt but for the loss of that which he could not embrace.

The life experiences each encountered reflected, in the end, upon the exhibition of an inner soul:  Dickens continued to provide the public with readings of characters forever loved, and embraced the sea of admiration which was the source of his limitless imaginations, borne of a world which tried to contain him with a system of caste and class.

Salinger retreated more and more into the insular world of his own safe web of privacy and secrecy, having concluded that the world was not to be trusted, that phoniness lurked in every man’s soul, and the horrors witnessed at the hands of war and concentration camps were evidence enough to deny others anything remaining.

And for Capote — we may sum it up in the cruel but crisp truism upon his death, by fellow author Gore Vidal, who quipped that it was a “good career move”.  Acting ever the fool with drunkenness and debauchery, the public destruction of a talent so extraordinary was a painful sight to witness.

Can we learn anything from these paragons of talent?  Or, are such characters merely of our own creations, snickering at the fact that, even where seemingly boundless talent exists and opportunities reflect limitless choices, self-destruction nevertheless becomes the teleology of choice.  At a minimum, they reveal to us the complexity of human essence, and that what people react to on the outside barely scratches the surface of what remains within.

And this is the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are harassed and intimidated in the workplace, when a medical condition results in the necessity to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, the coworkers, managers and supervisors who treat the Federal or Postal worker as nothing more than a nuisance through loss of productivity, fails to address the core value of the individual suffering at the hands of consequences not chosen through self-destructive behavior, but merely because of fate of circumstances.

The key for the Federal and Postal worker both, is to choose a path which refuses to submit to self-immolation resulting from the negative experiences at the hands of others; rather, to embrace the love of others as Dickens did, and not retreat into the insular retardation of life as Salinger proposed, or the reverberating echoes made by the empty bottle of alcohol, drowning in later life as Capote consumed, shuddering with the laughter of others and snickering for want of fools in his diminishing stature, ever losing the love which he sought so selfishly.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire