Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: “But…”

What is it about a certain voice inflection that forewarns us of that conjunction?  A long explanation is given; a reason for “why” a person is about to do something is adroitly conveyed; a detailed and rational discourse is provided; and yet something tells us that the inevitable “but” is about to be inserted, making of the independent clause just spoken merely a precursor for the real reason that the lengthy discourse was given in the first place.

It is also a metaphor for life itself, isn’t it? “Things were just great, and it was the happiest of times, but then…”.  It is like the metaphorical dark cloud that dampens the spirit, or the sudden gust of wind that topples the tower when one was just about to reach the apex; the “but” in our lives comes at the most inopportune of times.

Then, there is the causal intervention “but” in law, as in, “But for X, Y would have not been liable because X becomes the primary intervening cause that subverted Y and all other causal determinants.” But for this job, my life would be perfect; but for this minor incident in my otherwise stellar career, I would have been unstoppable; but for X, Y and Z, I would have reached olympian heights; and on and on.  Isn’t that what Bing Crosby said of Frank Sinatra (for those who are young enough to even remember such icons of yesteryears, that “But for Sinatra, I would have been the most popular singer of my time”)?

Medical conditions tend to insert that conjunctive into a life, don’t they?  For Federal and Postal employees who consider the “but” of a life to be that medical condition that has come to a critical juncture — not merely of a grammatical appendage, but of a true intervening cause that disrupts — because it prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of his or her Federal or Postal career, it may be time to begin to prepare, formulate and file 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 “buts” of life are merely conjunctives that forecast the darker clouds that rain upon an otherwise stellar experience; to alter the “but” and instead turn it into a mere “and” is what preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application can do, and thereby avert the “but” word that makes the remainder of the paragraph simply an extension of an otherwise joyful phenomena called “life”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Legal Representation: Owing and debt

Why must advancement always entail greater complexity?  Or, is that merely the concurrent and natural evolution of linguistic modes of communication?  Do words ascribed and the antiquated, outdated philosophical concept of language as a “correspondence” between the objective world and the language games one plays (yes, an admixture of Bertrand Russell’s criticism and Wittgenstein’s deconstructionism combined) naturally result in the bungled world of complications as a mere afterthought to sophistication and the rise of a civilization?

The simplicity of a stone-age civilization, where pursuance of food and the bare necessities to survive – is that what can be termed a “simple” life, and therefore a primitive, less advanced (or none at all) civilization?  Does the capacity to invent, discover and apply technology by definition establish that a collective group of people has “advanced”, and is the advancement a reflection of greater complexity, or is complexity the hallmark of such advancement?  Can you have an “advanced” society and yet maintain a level of simplicity such that the pinnacle of such advancement is better defined by the simplicity of living standards?

And where does sophistication, culture and refinement of the arts fit in?  Does the fact that exchange of monetary currency, the involvement of extending credit and the concomitant issues of owing and debt necessarily arise in a complex society?  When did the concept of “owing” and the concurrent idea of a “debt” owed come into the daily consciousness of an individual, a society, a civilization?  And, was it first tied to the idea of money, then to an analogy about “favors”, obligations, return of bartered goods – or was the very idea of owing or being obligated to, and having a debt to be repaid, separate and apart from the exchange of currency?  We owe a “debt of gratitude”, and a sense of “owing” that which we borrowed, or the debt we are in, and there is the “debt ceiling” and bills yet to be paid, as well as a “debt of loyalty” – do these all arise from the origin of bartering and money-lending?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal employee’s capacity and ability to continue in the career of one’s choice, there is often a sense of “owing” the Federal Agency or the Postal service “something” – one’s time, one’s gratitude, one’s commitment, etc.; and that the “debt” has to somehow be repaid by killing one’s self to the enslavement of work.

It is a false idea one clings to.  The “owing” one must first be concerned with is the debt to one’s self, first – of health, future orientation and obligations to a family one has brought into this world.  Don’t confuse concepts; and be aware of metaphors that have evolved from civilization’s greater complexity where advancement does not always mean greater complexity of confounding confusions.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

PM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Those goals

What constitutes a worthwhile goal?  Is it determined by the outcome – i.e., a retrospective, outcome-based proposal, as opposed to the gambling one where one must enter into the dangerous waters not knowing what the future provides?  Are we so safely ensconced in life’s predictability such that we will not longer accept as a goal that which cannot be ascertained unless and until there is some guarantee?

Do people immediately criticize and diminish the stated goal by categorizing it as either “realistic” or “unrealistic”?  Is there a distinction with a difference between “dreams” and “goals”, where the former is unbounded and unfettered by the reality of expectations, whereas the latter must be confined to that which can be reasonably ascertained as achievable?

What of the child who “dreams” of becoming a major league baseball player – do we cite the statistical odds against it, even at the tender age of 5?  What if the child works diligently and shows some promise – daily exercises, practices at every aspect of the game, and joins this league or that and shows “promise” and “potential” – at what point do we advise him (or her) to give up and “become realistic”?

Are some dreams okay to retain and have despite any semblance of “reality” intervening to make them come true – like secretly wanting to be a novelist (even though not a single page, let alone one sentence, has been put on paper) or a pro basketball player (even if you are 5’ 3”, and certainly no Muggsy Bogues), just because it makes one “feel good” or allow for self-confidence by carrying a secretive self-image that one is not what one truly appears to be?

At what point do dreams become goals, and goals merely dreams?  Is it when you actually take a “concrete” step towards making a dream become a reality, that then you have a goal, because the latter is “achievable” while the former is not?  Or is it like that old Chinese proverb that Kennedy liked to recite (or was becoming a writer for John F. Kennedy merely a “dream” and that is why Ted Sorensen, his ghost writer, is the one who did all the writing that the former President merely dreamed about?), that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?

Or, perhaps like the Federal or Postal worker who suffers 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 position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the goal is to become healthy again – or is it merely a dream?

Dream or goal, for the Federal or Postal worker trying to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be reviewed and determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, like the potential baseball star or the best power forward in the business of pro basketball, the first step is the most important – of realizing dreams into goals, and goals into realistic dreams, whichever may be the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The heckler

We see them from afar, as lone voices suddenly erupting with disruptive force, often barely audible, sometimes unintelligible, but rarely unnoticed.  In some corners of the world, their acts can become dangerous; inciting violence, being put upon by the surrounding crowd; their license to interrupt has been somewhat muted by the responsive threat of retaliation, voiced in more recent days.  Most of us sit back and wonder who “those” people are — such fury and passion to deliberately interject without invitation or welcome, and with the full knowledge that the subsequent events will lead to being either escorted out in less than gentle ways, or set upon in more violent fashion.

Are there causes which still exist, worth fighting for, anymore?  Is it just boiled-over frustration against a political firestorm of ineptitude and economic vicissitudes which leaves the ordinary person powerless and voiceless?  Or, is that interruptor a paid badger from another camp, merely acting as an apparently passionate interlocutor, but nothing more in reality than an employed spoiler to reveal the disarray of discontent allegedly felt by the greater populace?

It is a tradition of American politics, certainly, to have the presence of at least one heckler rise from the quietude of the sheep’s fold; and like the wolf covered by the lamb’s clothing, with barely an eye peeping through to gauge the exact timing for the sudden uproar, the impertinence of a question posed, a harassing shout and a barrage of epithets and garbled sentences drowned out by a sea of groans from around; does it all really matter?

There have always been hecklers of time and badgers of dishonor; and like the crowd which follows blindly in sequence of movements, such temporary interruption of a planned event is but merely a nuisance of life tolerated.  How we treat the heckler is but a reflection of life itself. For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have a similar interruption of “the event” of life, such as a medical condition which cuts short the Federal or Postal career, and where a responsive interlude must follow — 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, is often the only choice left, and the best alternative to pursue.

Suddenly, it becomes the “quiet one” who must turn and heckle; for the Federal Disability Retirement applicant is often that part of the crowd which never made waves and rarely complained, but merely went about his or her business and accomplished quietly the “mission” of the agency or the daily repetition of work at the Postal Service.  Then, suddenly, the Federal or Postal worker was “singled out” as the “troublemaker” — all because of a medical condition which the Federal or Postal worker never asked for, never wanted, and rarely complained about.  But like the heckler who knows of the oncoming consequences, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is surely a cause worth fighting for — despite the rude exit which is certain to follow.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Attorney: Playgrounds and the Collective Institution of Fair Play

We learn it early on; the unstated rules, the lines which may not be crossed, and to be weary of those whose reputation precedes them for the blatant disregard of both.  How they are learned; what they are; whether explicitly stated or impliedly conveyed; few, if any, have a memory where the Head Mistress of the Universe of Playgrounds sat us all down and said, “Now young ladies and gentlemen, here are the 10 rules of fair play.”  Regardless, we all somehow came to recognized and apply them.

Wittgenstein provides some valuable insight into the way we learn the language games involved in game-playing; much of it is through sheer doing, an ad hoc manner of practical reasoning and applied rationality.  And then, of course, we become adults (yes, at least most of us do; some, left behind on the playgrounds of life, remain as infantile cherubim, clueless and naive to the cynical ways of the world); and it always seems as if the same ones who violated the rules of the playground are the ones who flaunt the normative constraints of the greater universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are formulating a strategy for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one falls under the general aegis of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often must be confronted as to the Supervisor, Manager, or even a fellow coworker who is pining for a confrontation and direct disregard of the collective institutional enforcement of what everyone else knows as “fair play”.

This, despite the fact that there are multiple Federal laws governing treatment of individuals with known medical disabilities.  But the Federal “system” of retaining workers with medical conditions and disabilities, and the perfunctory requirement of accommodations and the search to provide adequate accommodations, undermines any compelling force to restrain the playground bully.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits, filed either through one’s own agency if one is still on the rolls of the agency; or if separated, but less than 31 days since the official date of separation, in either case must be filed through the Human Resource Department of one’s own agency, or through H.R. Shared Services for Postal Workers (located in Greensboro, North Carolina); or, if separated for more than 31 days, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

In the end, things rarely change much, if at all.  Those collective institutional enforcement mechanisms learned on the playground — tattling to the playground monitor or to one’s teacher; talking to one’s parents, etc. — end up with a snicker and a sneer.

Yes, society has become well aware of bullies and mean people, but they have been around longer than the oldest profession in the world, and the collective institution of fair play and the playgrounds upon which they played out, will continue to witness backstabbing and surreptitious violations, transferred universally to the places where adults play, and where the most vulnerable in need of the greatest protection, still must do things the old fashioned way:  reliance on sheer luck, or to seek the best legal advice possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire