Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “As if”

Why are OPM’s denials of a Federal Disability Retirement application written “as if” it is an “all of nothing” proposition?  Conversely, why does an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application (with the exception of the single sentence which identifies the medical conditions upon which the approval is based) reflect a regurgitation of a template used on countless occasions dating back decades?

Wouldn’t a more “honest” approach be for both the denial and an approval to have a touch of: “Well, okay, evidence X does clearly show that you likely couldn’t do essential element Y” and “Yes, all and all, despite having a good performance review in the past year, your absences aggregated to establish evidence that you weren’t able to maintain a satisfactory attendance, and therefore, even if it is a ‘close call’, we have decided that you have met the preponderance of the evidence criteria and grant you your disability retirement request” — or, “Therefore, even though it was a close call, we believe you have NOT met the preponderance of the evidence standard, and therefore deny your application for Federal Disability Retirement.”

In other words, why is the “as if” standard applied as a one-way street, where every Denial invokes a disparaging and often scoffing-tone as to every bit of evidence presented, and seems to selectively diminish even the most compelling of evidence submitted?  Is it because of the very human need for self-justification, or are there other, more nefarious reasons girding the foundation of every denial?

Certainly, when a “no” is presented, one is taught to make it worse than it actually is in order to justify the negation; sort of like when you really do feel deathly ill, but by all appearances, you don’t sound it, and may not even look it, so when you call in sick or you tell your mom you can’t make it to school, you put it on “as if” you are on the verge of mortality’s early calling.

But don’t be fooled.  OPM’s denials are presented “as if” you never stood a chance; “as if” there was never any basis for even making an effort to file; and “as if” you have wasted your time even bothering to file — is meant to discourage, if not dissuade, any further effort of fighting onward.  But that is not the reality of a Federal Disability Retirement case, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — for, the reason why you have multiple stages in which to fight on is precisely the reason why you must: “As if” you have a chance, and not “as if” you never did.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Of fortunes unattained

Here, of the story untold:

“He woke up and went into the bathroom, and there found an old man staring at him.  There was no voice that called; no utterance of a salutation so early in the morning.  The corrugated skin of this stranger was pulled back, revealing deep cuts in the rivulets of age where time had taken its toll.  His hair was unkempt; thinning and grey, with speckles of white reaching deep within the roots of timeless agony.

Where had time robbed this pathetic creature, where a lifetime was given as a gift in order to make his fortune, to find his love and to gather his friendships?

It seemed only yesterday that the toddler reached for his parents’ loving arms, and they who looked upon him with kindly affection and whispering, ‘There, there, you have a whole life ahead of you to dream your dreams and reach your goals’, and then the fading summers where life seemed but a dream where oceans divided and manhood arose from the depths of a sea that swallowed me whole.  And when the stranger in the bathroom finally spoke, it had the voice of one who stared back from a mirror that reflected the insanity of myself, old and lost, voicing a soliloquy of loneliness where once my children laughed within a wilderness of a future yet unseen.”

And so it is with many of us; time seems to creep ever so slowly during troubled waters of despair; and then, one morning, we wake up and decades have passed us by.  Did we do all that we wanted to do?  Did we find that love we yearned for?  Did we make that fortune we promised ourselves we would attain, remembering the poverty of our youth and the promises whispered in huddled caves beneath the conscience of our lonely hearts?

Of fortunes unattained, we can always justify by telling another tale: Life is too short to search only for abandoned treasures and, besides, what truly is a ‘fortune’?  Is love of lesser worth than gold in reserve, and does not friendship value greater than a penny saved?  And when compared with one’s health, is fortune amassed of any value if the former is sacrificed for the latter?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an important step towards reaching those goals yet reconsidered.

Of fortunes unattained — perhaps so; but when one’s health is at stake, all else must become secondary, and for the Federal or Postal worker who can no longer continue in a career which is only exacerbating the deterioration of one’s health, those thoughts of fortunes unattained must by necessity be temporarily set aside and replaced by the wisdom of a more valued existence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The mindful debate

The concept itself can take on various meanings: of a “thoughtful” discourse or disagreement between two or more individuals; of a debate that takes into account factors leading to a courteous and conversational engagement; or of even a third meaning — that of an insular soliloquy, where the only voices participating in the debate are those of one’s own: voices that are never heard by the public ear, nor recognized by anyone else but the lonely voice within.

That is often the most dangerous of debates; for, in the end, who is the judge of such a debate, as to who wins or loses the argument?  Was there ever a chance for a third voice — an “objective” party outside of the confines of one’s own mind — to bring in another perspective, a different thought or a distinct voice of reason?

No — the mindful debate that includes only the purveyor of a one-sided perspective is predestined to conclude with a narrow viewpoint, and moreover, one that cannot be properly judged as right or wrong precisely because it was predetermined at the outset to a perspective unwilling to listen to differences. How often and how many walk about silently while never engaging others, forever having the mindful debate within?

It is too often the voices that consider the validity of such a debate to be singular, lonely and irrational, if only because rationality needs the input of voices other than one’s own.  Such mindful debates can turn to the solitary agony of troubled waters resulting from a myopic and wrongheaded view that things are worse than they seem, and it is the “seeming” that leads one astray.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the singular voice that occurs in the loneliness of one’s mind is too often a one-sided debate until and unless you seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Don’t let misinformation misguide you; do not allow for wrong paths to take you down error’s lane just because you have engaged in the solitary conclusions of a mindful debate.  Instead, before preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and start including others in the mindful debate such that the mindfulness of the debate becomes also a thoughtful one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The language divide

Why is it that language is often so far removed from the living of life?  Was Wittgenstein correct – that it is a distinct world, separate and apart, that really has nothing to do with the “reality” of an “objective” universe?  Was Russell’s cutting quips about the bald King of France a way to point out that the primitive outlook of the traditional correspondence theory of language – that words, concepts, etc. are meant to parallel the objective world “out there” – doesn’t quite fit the proverbial bill, and that we are left with a linguistic universe insularly created and forever divided from the noumenal world that Kant had identified?

Take the following short puzzle that was recently heard: “There are eleven birds sitting on the telephone wire.  A young boy takes a gun and shoots one, and kills it. How many are left on the telephone wire?” Now, the answer to that minor conundrum should be quite elementary, but depends upon how we approach it.

From a mathematical viewpoint, one simply takes the numbers – a purely “theoretical” approach, divorced from the reality of the objective world in which we live, and subtract the 1 dead bird shot by the young lad, from the original number of birds identified on the telephone wire, and come up with the correct answer: 10 are left, because 1 was shot and killed, and therefore the mathematical equation: 11 – 1 = 10.  But it turns out that the correct answer is: “None”.  Why?  Because once the boy fired the gun and killed the 1, all of the others flew away.  Now, one can scratch one’s head and say with self-effacement, “Of course!  That only makes sense!”  Or, one can pause and say, “Now, why wasn’t that as obvious as the answer now seems, after it is pointed out to me?”

Now, contrast that with “real life”:  A hunter goes with his loyal dog and flushes out 3 pheasants from the forest; he takes aim and kills 2; 1 gets away.  He is later asked, “How many did you get?”  He answers, “Two.”  He is asked:  “Any left behind?”  The hunter looks at the questioner quizzically, with some puzzlement.  Why?  Because the question doesn’t quite make any sense – why would you ask such a question?

The fact is that there is a language divide – in real life, asking “how many are left” is not a relevant question, because the reality of living one’s life has already revealed the reality of the living.  It is only when we turn reality into an insularity ensconced within a theoretical construct does it become a thinking universe divorced from the objective world around us.

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 one’s Federal or Postal job, the issue of the language divide is a reality that the Federal or Postal worker must live with each and every day of your life.  That is because you live with a medical condition – the deteriorating effects, the daily symptoms, the chronic pain, numbness, gait imbalance, dizziness, vertigo, cognitive dysfunctions, etc.  The “world of language” doesn’t quite “understand” the reality of the medical condition, and is often inadequate to describe or decipher the sensations experienced.

That being said, in order to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, the language divide must nevertheless be bridged; for, an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must by necessity enter the world of language – of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A), the medical reports, and legal argumentation with persuasive force; and it is the language divide itself which must become the vehicle for an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so that when the single bird is shot, there aren’t any left to speak about on the telephone wire that connects language to the reality of one’s life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: As life passes by

It seems to come and go imperceptibly; we barely notice; then, one day, we wake up and life has passed by; the past is now an elongated prism through which we judge the remainder of our lives; the present is but the despair we feel because of wasted time allowed to blur beyond into a vestige of forgotten winds; and the future remains as the uncertainty we quivered about before we grew up.

As life passes by, we try and justify; for, language is the means by which we can validate ourselves.  Now, more than ever, it is the gymnast in linguistic contortions that seems to get the most attention, gain the greatest advantage and squeeze out the momentous timelessness.  Look at Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media forums; objectively, it is merely a blank screen where the one-dimensional universe of words and grammatical outbursts are annotated; yet, that is how the self-esteem of the greater society determines worth, relevance and significance.

All the while, however, there are real people with genuine problems, feelings quashed, personalities unnoticed and greatness tethered, that sit in corners of the world awaiting for recognition of singular episodes of kindness and accomplishments.  We can focus too much on ourselves; attend to updating Facebook too often; engage the limited characters of Twitter and worry unceasingly around circles of our own self-importance, and all the while, as life passes by, we remain ensconced in the limited subjectivity of the universe within our own minds.

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 Federal or Postal job, the danger is that you can continue struggling as life passes by, and not attend to your medical conditions in the very “doing” of daily activities as life passes by, worrying about tomorrow and the next day as life “passes by”, and wasting the time left as the elongated past disappears into the lost memories, like those graveyards that litter the countryside forgotten and overgrown with ivy and sagebrush that obscures the memories of the dead and dying.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but for the Federal or Postal employee who must get beyond the impact of the medical condition upon the ability and capacity to extend one’s Federal career, it is nevertheless an important component in now allowing important moments – like properly attending to one’s health – as life passes by.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation OPM Disability Retirement: Perspective versus reality

One may counter that the contrast is no different than that which we encounter daily, especially in this universe of millennials and post-millennial era – of opinion versus fact, or truth versus falsehood (and now the new one, of “news” versus “fake news” or “facts” versus “alternative facts”).  But “perspective” versus “reality” has some subtle nuances that need to be explicated.  For one thing, one’s perspective may be identical to the reality one possesses a perspective upon; or, more likely, it is merely an interpretation that may differ from someone else’s.

One could, of course, argue that all of reality is merely a perspective, and this would comport with the Kantian view that our phenomenological experiences can never depict the “noumenal” universe (Kant’s verbiage) that is outside of the categorical impositions of our human make-up, and that therefore the human perspective is something that cannot be avoided, anymore than a dog’s perspective can be assumed or challenged, or a bat’s perspective (refer to Thomas Nagel on that) would be understood or comprehended by a human’s perspective.

In other words, we can never completely disown the perspective imposed by the innate structures of our own “kind”, and thus it may be an error to ever represent a contrast between “perspective” and “reality” (thus the misnomer of the title above, “Perspective versus reality”), but should always encompass and embrace a commensurate connection of “Perspective of reality” (a consonance of the two) or “Perspective and reality” (a conjoining compatibility of both).

Yet, we know that certain people interpret things differently from what we believe constitutes an accurate portrayal of “reality”.  However, so long as we stay within certain confines of accepted normative interpretations, we rarely contest or openly disagree with alternative depictions, unless it is to obtain a consensus that somehow disproves the validity of the other’s portrayal (i.e., “Yes, but John, Joe and May agree with me”, as if quantification of perspectives somehow diminishes the accuracy of another’s; as opposed to saying, “Well, Copernicus thought otherwise while the rest of the world continued to maintain a geocentric perspective of the universe” – unless, of course, you are ignoring the “rest of the world” to include China, Japan, etc.),

Yet, there are factors that have to be considered when discussing the distinction between “perspective” and “reality”, and one of them often involves medical conditions – an element of reality that often skewers perspective.  That is why, for a Federal or Postal employee who is considering filing 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, the importance of relying upon accurate information, good and sound legal advice, and a straight and narrow path towards a successful outcome with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (no matter the length of time it may take these days), is important.

For, medical conditions will often alter the perspective of an individual as to the reality of one’s situation, and so it is an “outside” source (the medical condition itself) which needs a counterbalancing force (otherwise referred to as an “objective” advocate, i.e., a lawyer) in order to present an effective, objective, persuasive representative in order to “re-present” the perspective of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant.  Thus, in short, it is a perspective versus reality issue, and thus not entirely a misnomer as previously stated.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS: “The End”

Those two words are often appended upon the last word, the final thought, the grammatical period marking the denouement of a narrative; sometimes, an ellipsis leaving the reader to ponder a missing word, concept or continuation of an event.

Why it is not stamped in bold print at the end of a biography or a non-fiction narrative; or even a short story, an essay or a philosophical treatise; perhaps, as a factual account presupposes a reflection of correspondence between truth and reality, it is only in the literary world of make-believe that we must apprise the audience of the terminal nature of virtual reality — that, like Pavlov’s dogs in responsive salivation for experimental purposes, we become conditioned to a realization that a blank page following the grammatical finality of a period is simply insufficient to constitute an obstructive wall separating fantasy from reality.

Or, does convention merely mark the climax of the unreal, where the breathless pursuit of becoming lost in an imagined universe leaves us panting for more, only to be pulled ruthlessly back from the lost quietus of our penchant for more?

But that reality gave us a final warning, an appended duality of words in order to forewarn of the terminus of trials, travails and tempestuous tantrums of tactile tandems; then, like the eyes which scout a few pages hence, where we nervously flip forward in disbelief as we approach the thinning culmination of paper remaining, we would know when to cease trying, how much more effort to expend, and the time of fruition left as an afterthought, like windowed houses empty in a neighborhood abandoned by loss of industrial flight and more importantly, of hope left remote in the hearts of soulless men.

Reality never gives us that warning, of course; and so we are forced to trudge onward in spite of that lack.

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 position, the approach of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often one encompassing an attitude that, like the novel’s culmination, the act of filing is somehow tantamount to “the end”.  It is not.

Instead, it is merely a pause, an extension, a comma and a prosaic interlude, and nothing more.  The narrative of the human soul does not so cleanly enter the blank pages of demise; rather, life goes on, and like the thoughts which pursue the sentence marked by a period of finality, the beauty of it all remains with us like the residue of golden dust left sprinkled upon the twilight of life, trailing behind by an angel’s wings fluttering noiselessly upon the dawn of a hopeful tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire