Federal Disability Retirement: The Legal Language Game

Wittgenstein’s contribution to Western Philosophy was an extension of a line of English linguistic/analytical approach to unraveling substantive issues of confounding puzzlement.  Leave it to the British to resolve all problems through the correct usage of language — or, in his case, of Austrian-British conversion.

Within every context of societal constructs, there are unique conventions of linguistic acceptance.  Thus, the “language game” when engaging a Rapper will necessarily be different from that of having a polite dinner conversation with the Pope, and discussion with a computer geek will take on a different tone and content than speaking to a 2-year old.

Similarly, there is a specific language game when entering the legal arena — often characterized by aggression, subtle threats, compelling force and the Roman Centurion admixture with troubadourian  characteristics ready to paper-massacre the opponent.  Words like “liability”, “sue”, “court order”, “subpoena”, “deposition”, “money damages” — they comprise the extensive corpus of the language game of lawyersAdministrative law is a sub-facet of that legal route, but involves a bureaucratic maneuver which involves just as a great a level of complexity and specialized knowledge.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an administrative legal process which asserts the right to, and compels the attainment of, a Federal benefit from OPM for Federal and Postal employees under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  It is not simply “given away”, and must be secured through proof of a level rising to a preponderance of the evidence.  There are legal precedents to follow, statutory and regulatory components which must be adhered to, and laws both stated and implied which encapsulate the whole of the language game of OPM Disability Retirement.

As a subset of the greater language game of “The Law”, it is a winding route of mazes within precipitous promontories involving a complexity of conundrums — not quite as esoteric as the language game of mathematics or physics, but somewhat akin to computer geekery and macro-economics.  Add to that the sword of yore utilized by a Roman Centurion ready to attack, transformed into the mighty pen (or, in modern linguistic update, the laptop computer).

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset: Beyond the Disequilibrium of Life

Finding a balanced life after a disabling injury or medical condition with OPM Disability Retirement benefits

One can describe, in positive terms, the negative aspects of a thing, as in, “X is y,” etc. Or, as in the case often represented by Maimonides’ Negative Theology, one can elucidate by negation of perceived phenomena, leaving the subtraction of present realities to the imagination of the void.

Some may contend that the latter methodology of descriptive narrative adds nothing to knowledge; for, it is a negation of that which we know, and as King Lear reminded Cordelia, “Nothing will come of nothing:  speak again.”  But there is something beyond the nothingness of negation, is there not?  To negate is to expose the loss of something, the extracting and revealing of that which once was, became detached, and left as a void to be filled.

Thus can life present a semblance of equilibrium, where balance of family, work, community and value of living provides a coherence of a teleology of sorts; and when such coordination of essence in the core of one’s being gets out of whack (the term being of a very technical nature, used in esoteric philosophical discourse, as in, “He whacked away at the pages of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”), there is a foreboding sense of loss and dispiritedness (again, the negation of a positive attribute).

Medical conditions tend to exonerate the negative theology of life.  Often, it is a subtraction beyond the chronic pain and debilitating nature of the medical condition itself.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often how, and to what extent, a persuasive description of one’s medical condition can purport to effectively represent the chronic and severe nature of one’s medical condition.

Some would contend that such an endeavor is nigh impossible to do; for, as the negation of equilibrium is the disequilibrium of life, so the mere subtraction of what we do and could do, does not necessarily present an accurate picture of one’s life.  And that is what is required, is it not?  Words have meaning; descriptive negations presume a context of knowledge already existent.

For the Federal and Postal employee who must present a compelling Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the conundrum of attempting to adequately describe one’s medical condition, its impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and the further pervasive effect upon one’s personal life, is a conundrum of epic proportions.

To engage in negative theology in the descriptive delineation on SF 3112A is to presume a context which is not yet there; and to describe the disequilibrium brought upon the Federal or Postal employee resulting from a medical condition, is to encounter the wall that separates between words, meanings, and the true experiences of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

The Effective Use of Language in the Federal Disability Retirement Application

As a paper presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Disability Retirement must by necessity be based upon the effective use of language. Language — that all-encompassing compendium of vocabulary, grammar, word-choice, topical selection, verbs, descriptive ascriptions, use of nouns and action verbs, etc. — is the vehicle of requirement, all within the constraints of providing validating evidentiary proof in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application; and it must be delineated within the purview of factual validation and guided by truth within the context of a methodological approach of persuasive force.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a test of one’s use of language — a vehicle of communication provided in written form, to be reviewed, analyzed and evaluated for persuasive impact and convincing force, by an unknown entity, represented by a person who is merely a stranger with a title allegedly having technical expertise and validating credentials within a greater bureaucracy of a complex administrative process.

Put in this way, it can be a daunting, hair-raising process; and, indeed, the mere superficial perusal of the Standard Forms (SF 3107 series for FERS employees; SF 2801 series for CSRS and CSRS Offset employees; SF 3112 series for all employees, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset) provides a glimpse into the complexity of the process.  For the initial stage of the process, the onus is entirely upon the Federal or Postal applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement.

Then, if it gets denied at the First Stage by the Administrative Specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is a double-duty whammy (no, the latter is not a legal term or even a term of art), in that the Federal or Postal worker whose Federal Disability Retirement application is denied, must contend with attempting to comprehend the basis of the denial as propounded by OPM — again, understanding, evaluating and analyzing language, and the necessity of replying with the complexity of using that language.

Thereafter, one must then, in essence, “start all over”, and reengage, and apply the vehicle of effective language again, but this time not only in reworking the persuasive vehicle to provide additional evidence to meet the requisite legal criteria, but at the same time to answer the concerns the arguments as stated in OPM’s denial — which is customarily the use of worn and dated templates used by Federal Disability Specialists over and over again in all OPM Disability Retirement application denials.

To take liberties and paraphrase Wittgenstein, this is a language game of epic proportions, and the masters who play the game must know and apply the rules, and understand the various strategies which result in the successful and effective force of play in preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire