Federal Disability Retirement: The Runt of the Litter

It is interesting watching the behavior and interaction between the runt of a litter and the rest of the “healthy” puppies.  The runt is cast aside; the others, for no apparent reason other than because he is a runt, will focus upon the weakling and mercilessly attack him and take advantage of the vulnerabilities and weak spots.  For the runt’s part, it is a test of endurance and survival, and perhaps it is the very isolation and aggressiveness from others which tests the prospects for survival.

We humans like to think of ourselves as (to paraphrase Shakespeare), far above such animalistic behavior, and closer to the angels of heaven in our demeanor and virtues.  But in engaging the process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is clear that we are not far from the “runt-behavior” and the target of Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.

Loyalty and camaraderie prevails on the surface so long as everyone is healthy; once a medical condition is revealed, the behavior of the aggressors manifests to the forefront.  Agencies comprise a collective and organic whole in their behavior and treatment of employees who exhibit a medical condition requiring the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Once the medical condition becomes apparent, and begins to impact one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, the test of survival begins.  Empathy, a somewhat human quality, rarely prevails; and laws and rights must be invoked.

Think about it this way:  Do angels need laws to regulate their behavior?  Yet, human beings must have laws, and a vast abundance of them in order to ensure the protection of disabled individuals.  FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement is fortunately a compensatory system which provides some protection for Federal and Postal employees; and it is a system based upon laws — ones which are necessary to protect the runts of the world.

Far from being angels, we are closer than we think to the pack of dogs who wait patiently to see who the next runt is, and which one can be attacked.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Beyond the Bruner Presumption

The methodology of making extended legal arguments beyond the explicitly stated statute or case-law is a natural event, accepted and expected by Judges and opposing counsel.  However, there are unspoken but circumscribed limits to such arguments, and when an individual attempts to go beyond the parameters of rational argumentation, the entire argument loses its underlying credibility.  

Thus, in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, one may argue for the application of the Bruner Presumption once a proposal to removal a Federal or Postal employee for his or her medical inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job has been  initiated.  Such an argument would certainly be a logically viable one.  

Further, there is certainly legal authority and precedent for use of Social Security Disability approvals, and Veteran’s Administration ratings, as persuasive arguments in a Federal Disability Retirement case.  But how far can an argument — often “by analogy”, which has a long tradition of acceptance in the legal arena — be taken?  For instance, can an email discussion between supervisors within an agency discussing and admitting a proposed removal of an employee based upon his or her medical inability to perform the job be used?  Probably, but sparingly.  Can the Bruner Presumption be applied in such a hypothetical?  Probably not, but the principles underlying the case of Bruner v. OPM can certainly be argued as “further evidence” of the agency’s inability to accommodate the Federal or Postal applicant.  

These all constitute the boundaries of legal argumentation, which can be pushed to their limits, but with care and the tool of logical force.  But one must, of course, always be careful — because, to use a tool based upon logic implies that the user has been trained in logic and logical argumentation, which in and of itself is a discipline sorely lacking in many people, including many attorneys.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire