Lawyer for Federal Disability Retirement claims: Fact and opinion

These days, the distinction between the two has been almost completely lost.  One must qualify such a statement with “almost”, only because there may still be minority bastions and pockets of hope still holding out that the madness prevailing will someday be overcome.

Somehow, the lines bifurcating the distinction that once were so obvious became obscured, until suddenly it was no longer a matter of just blurry lines, but the lines themselves had disappeared, and no one spoke as if there was a difference to be had.  Facts were confirmed and established “somethings” in either the objective world or of tradition-laden statements that we could all agree upon; opinions were various interpretations of those commonly-accepted facts, interspersed with the subjective content that often prefaced with, “It is my opinion that…”.

We have now discarded even the prefatory admonition, now, because it has become an unnecessary addendum; since there are no longer any facts, and everyone is privileged to hold an opinion, we go ahead and speak not facts because our opinion holds out just as well, thank you very much.

Where did it all begin?  Was it because Plato made too much about the difference between reality and appearance — so much so that he was forced to manufacture his conceptual fiction of ethereal “Forms” that itself became so problematic?  Or was it with Descartes, where certainty of one’s own existence became relegated to the subjective “I”, and so it was bound to become a muddle as more and more philosophers came to realize that, like Russell’s muse about language and the destruction of the traditional correspondence theory of truth, statements made could not so easily be identified as either fact or opinion.

It becomes much more problematic when statutory, reputation, education and logical methodology are altogether discarded and made irrelevant, and so we come back full circle in questioning ourselves, the categorizations we have imposed, and how to get beyond the conundrum of modernity’s own making.

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 one’s Federal job or Postal position, the question concerning “fact or opinion” is an important one, because the weaving of one into the other is queried in Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.

How one’s answers are formulated and presented; whether they can be verified, established, “backed up with facts” as opposed to being left as mere subjective opinions — are all bundled up and contained within the questions asked, and how you will be answering them.

Fortunately, there is still remaining an approach and methodology of presenting facts as facts, and setting aside opinions and interpretations of the facts, and in 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, it is important to recognize the difference still, and be cautious in completing SF 3112A in light of modernity’s obsessional disorientation on the difference between fact and opinion.

Just the facts, as stated by my opinion.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Legal Representation on FERS/CSRS Disability Claims: What isn’t known

There is often that final question during a consultation — of “any other advice” that can be given, or whether something else was forgotten, or the generalization of “Anything else I should know?”  That is where the particulars of a case must be known, and the wide chasm that exists between “being a client” and merely receiving an initial overview of a person’s case.  For, what isn’t known is often the element that can harm or injure, and the question asked but left unanswered is the one that no one thought about but should have.

Lawyers like to enter an arena of legal battles well-prepared; all questions asked, normally already are presumptively answered, and no lawyer worthy of his opponent asks a question that he or she already doesn’t know the answer to, or at least has a fairly good idea about.  In a Federal Disability Retirement case, where there are multiple stages of an Administrative Process to tackle and prepare for, the First Key to success is to not submit that which will be harmful to one’s case.

As an attorney who represents Federal and Postal workers in preparing, formulating and filing 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 primary issue is obviously upon the medical report and records to be submitted; followed by the legal arguments to be presented and established, normally through an extensive Legal memorandum, which provides a kind of “road map” for the assigned OPM Specialist to review and (hopefully) become persuaded as to the validity, incontrovertible legal basis, and the substantive qualification of the Federal or Postal employee in meeting all of the legal criteria in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

For the Federal or Postal employee who attempts this complex Administrative Process without legal representation, the obstacles, pitfalls and potential hazards are many, and it is often what isn’t known that defeats a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sure, there are cases where the presented facts, medical conditions and evidence constitute an undeniable, “slam-dunk” case, but those are few and far between, and we can all recognize such cases and a competent attorney would normally advise such individuals to go ahead and complete the Standard Forms, attach some relevant medical documentation and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits with OPM.

Then, of course, there are cases on the far side of the spectrum that constitute a “weak” or otherwise invalid case, and those, too, are easily recognizable.  Most cases, however, fall in the middle, within the spectrum where one must affirmatively and by a preponderance of the evidence “prove” one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  And for all such cases that fall in that “middle” area of the wide spectrum, what isn’t known is the lynchpin that must be identified and prepared for further assessment and formulation, whether by addressing it in a medical document or reinforcing it by legal argumentation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Life puzzles

Depending upon the accent or inflection, the phrase can take on differing meanings.  If stated in a monosyllabic intonation, it can be a quiet declaration that the entirety of life is comprised of multiple puzzles in an inert, non-participatory manner.  The other way of “saying it”, is to pause between the two words in dramatic form, or even put a question mark at the end of the phrase, making the second word into an active verb and the noun of “Life” into a projectile that deliberately confounds and obfuscates.

In either form, we all recognize the truth underlying the sentiment: from birth to the continuum of living daily the challenges and encounters, it is always a constant struggle to try and maintain a semblance of rationality in a universe that continually creates flux and mayhem.  That was the philosophical strain that was always taught between the contrasting foundations of Parmenides and Heraclitus; of the wholeness and unity of Being as opposed to the constant flux and change that the world imposes.

Life puzzles us in so many ways, and the life puzzles that confront us daily confound and confuse.  See the subtle difference between the two ways of using the phrase?  In the first, it is in an “active” form, invoked as a verb (transitive or intransitive), whereas in the second, it is used as a noun.  We can get caught up in the grammatical form and usage of words, and in the process, get lost in the theoretical issues surrounding words, concepts and thought-constructs surrounding so many endless and peripheral issues; but the point of recognizing such subtle differences in the language we use is precisely to avoid and deconstruct the confusions we create within the language we use and misuse.

In either form of usage, it is important to state clearly how and for what purpose we are engaging in a formulation of words, thoughts, concepts and narrations.  We all carry narratives within ourselves that we must be ready, willing and able to use in order to describe, explain and delineate.  Those subtle differences that words create must always be untangled.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are 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 being able to distinguish between subtle forms of language usage cannot be over-emphasized.  For, Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is in and of itself a life puzzle that puzzles even the clearest of puzzling lifetimes; it is, moreover, a legal conundrum and a language puzzle that must be carefully reviewed, discerned, untangled and responded to by first recognizing that life does indeed involve puzzles, and such life puzzles must be approached in a non-puzzling way.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


OPM Disability Retirement: Different gradations of form and tint

The former often refers to architectural structures; the latter, to the exterior or interior paint, color and hue; and, together, they present to the observing eye the sensible objects that we experience through sight, smell and at least as to the former, tactile encounters.

Words are funny things; we not only create and apply them, but concurrently establish rules for utility and usage such that restrictions apply, expansiveness beyond certain boundaries become prohibited, and modifications for allowances in the placement of a particular sentence are constrained.  Can concepts concerning different gradations of form and tint be applied to human lives?  Yes, but we allow for such deviancy by imputing analogy, metaphor or simile, and the distinction is created through the parallel thought processes which are invoked by such literary devices.

Narratives have that sense of gradations, both of form and of tint, but in somewhat of a different sense.  “Form” in that context goes to the structure of sentences and how the story is molded for presentation to the listener, while the “tint” is more likened to the “feel” and aura manifested by the speaker, whether first person, third person; is the narrator omniscient or limited in knowledge and scope?

Structures are inanimate obstructions presented by three dimensional appearances manifesting color and hue; human beings, by contrast, are complex structures who present more than mere unmoving or unmovable obstructions, but instead embody form otherwise characterized as essence, tint often revealed as complicated personalities, and a psyche shrouded in mystery.

Thus, for Federal and Postal employees considering filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, that narrative written in response to the questions on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, should always consider what gradations of form and tint should be presented.

How much of the complexity of a human being should be infused, beyond the “inanimate” manifestation of cold medical facts and circumstances likened to the different gradations of form and tint?  Or, should there be a flood of emotionalism that reveals the “feel” and impact of a medical condition?

Human narratives are indeed complex, and can never be pigeonholed into predetermined categorizations without some aspect of a person’s subjective experience.  Ultimately, however, no narrative can be completely “cold”, like the inanimate structure based purely upon architectural integrity of form and tint, but must by necessity encompass the complexity of the human psyche.

Take care, however, that the narrative presentation does not border upon the maudlin, but instead presents a balanced admixture of facts, circumstances, legal precedents, symptoms of medical pain or psychiatric deterioration, with a clear pathway on a bridge to the positional elements of a Federal or Postal position.  For, in the end, it is an “effective” Federal Disability Retirement application that should be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and one which reflects well the different gradations of form and tint.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Medical Retirement from Government Employment: The Daily Diatribe

This is an angry time.  Contrary to the appearance of sophistication and quiet aplomb conveyed by shoulders shrugged and ignorance attributable, the festering anger which forms a quaking (or quacking?) undercurrent, like shifting undersea tectonics just before a major earthquake which then results in a tsunami, the fact is that the fragile threads of common courtesy and conventional manners have disappeared over time, in increments of eroded concerns, likened to the moth which remained hidden in the darkness of a closeted space, eating away quietly at the fine costumes of societal consternation.

Conversations and rational discourse are replaced by daily diatribes of sputtering infamy; yes, Hitchens was a contrarian, but we miss his voice precisely because he could do it without us knowing it, and in addition with that fading British accent that always put a stamp of civility upon the acerbic wit.

Whether anger and certain medical conditions have any connection, will likely never be established as a causal certainty.  But for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, escape from the cauldron of daily diatribes can only contribute to better health and greater psychological stability.

Calmness of discourse, quietude of mind; there is no longer a place of repose or respite from the vicissitudes of this complex societal aggregate defined by the fast pace of technological whims.  We all have to find our corner of rectitude from this constant clanging of harshness; how we go about discovering that unique slice of life, attuned to our needs and satisfying our desires, is the question of a lifetime.  For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal Service worker who needs to consider first the state of his or her medical condition, and connect the deterioration and progressive decline to the daily diatribe of the workplace, there is no rational basis for delay or procrastination.

In life, priority is established by sequencing one’s life:  Health, family, career, etc.  Somewhere, the daily diatribe fits like the proverbial square peg in a round hole (or, as the contrarian Hitchens might have said, Is it a round peg in a square hole?); but whether the greater macro-society engages in the daily diatribe of life, it is the “little people” of minor consequence who must pay the price, and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it might be a good time to look for that shining light on a hill, and move on to the next phase of living this life of escapism and constant seeking.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The last hurrah

We dream of those moments; the final word in a debate which devastates the opponent; the retort which wows the audience; the closing statement that persuades beyond a reasonable doubt; the performance of a lifetime which defines the value of life itself.  The final breath taken, the last hurrah heard, and the concluding catapult left not as a dangling participle, but as a substantive grammatical perfection, leaves the participants and viewers in silent awe in the wake of the closing curtains descending as the roar of the crowd becomes muffled because of the thunderstruck performance left with little doubt or residue for an encore.

Sometimes, however, it is better to let the silence interrupt, the pause intersect, and the non-retort prevail.

Discretion is a characteristic personality trait which rarely prevails, and less so in moments of reactive anger and tumultuous needs of flaring emotions.  For, the time elapsing between a declaration made and the thoughtless contortions of an emotional response, will often be of a split millisecond, and certainly not enough consideration for the synapses to fire within the fermented (or is it demented?) mind of the turmoil encased within.

The samurai who touches the hilt of his sword must consider the consequences; for, once unsheathed, the metal blade previously encased within the master artisan’s work must be used, lest cowardice be charged and reputation be tarnished.  In life, work, and daily living, we have multiple instances and encounters where the opportunity to speak, or not, are confronted and engaged; rarely do we reflect upon the least-favored alternative: silence.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the repetitive refrain is often to let everyone know, and to express one’s opinion loudly and without thoughtful editing, like the book publisher who self-publishes because no one else has seen the value of the Greatest American Novel left as an unknown and unsought manuscript, hidden in the dusty caverns of a mind secluded but for diatribes on the Internet.

The sagely advice of this lawyer: Unless there is a compelling reason to tell — don’t.  For, in the end, declared asides of fictional characters and the hubris of a Shakespearean soliloquy often result in death, destruction and dementia (and not necessarily in that order), and the last hurrah is often like the drowning sailor whose final surviving words echo soundlessly in the lapping waves of a vast ocean of Nature’s impervious imperialism, lost forever in the terminal breath of a gasping desperation.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire


Early Medical Retirement from Federal Government: Berkeley’s House

He was an Irishman, and if one were to “rank” philosophers, he would likely be considered a “second tier” thinker — not quite at the level of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes or Heidegger — but certainly contributed to the Western Philosophical tradition of engendering even greater questions than solving any problems or settling any queries.

A little tidbit which is not commonly known: Bishop Berkeley came to the United States and purchased a plantation at Middletown, intending upon living there, until his expectation of funding failed to be forthcoming.  That is probably what he is least known for; the Latin phrase for which he gains the greatest notoriety, is esse est percipi — to be, is to be perceived.

An absurd and uncharitable interpretation of this foundational phrase, would be to attribute to Berkeley the idea that things in the objective world exist only to the extent that we perceive them; the moment such perceptual pervasiveness disappears, then, existence becomes extinguished.

A more rational view of his postulate, however, is to attribute Berkeley to the tradition of British linguistic philosophers, and to consider the following “implied” but silent intentions:  “The definition of what it means to exist, can only have meaning if, and only if, there is a perceiver for which the object is there to be perceived, and as such, existence as a concept of any meaningful import must by necessity have a perceiver”.

Without this kinder, gentler version of interpretive connotations, all manner of ridicule and scoffing have been thrown at the good Bishop — in the form of:  “So, when I leave a room, does it vanish?  And when I return, does it suddenly reappear?”  And in the days of Star Trek:  “Beam me up, Scottie, or in philosophical circles, Bishop Berkeley”.

It is, in the end, the absurdity of linguistic interpretation which ultimately relegated Berkeley to the “second tier” of philosophical thought; and from that unintended consequences resulting from an attempt to resolve a complex issue of metaphysical discourse, we can learn and discern much:  complexity sometimes cannot be circumvented with simplicity of declarative assertion; often, there is a reason why such a conundrum of linguistic inelasticity exists.

Thus, for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Service worker who is intending upon preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the key point here is that, yes, your case may be quite complex, but the route to making it comprehensible to the administrative specialist at OPM, is not to try and simplify the core essence of the case, but to state the complex in simple language.

That is often the greatest difficulty with a Federal or Postal applicant in preparing one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A — the narrative in response to the various questions will often meander and fail to achieve a coherency because everything from Dickens’ childhood details (which, as you may recall, Salinger scoffed at in his famous work, The Catcher in the Rye) to peripheral issues involved EEO complaints and workplace harassment concerns are thrown in for good or seemingly better measure, when in fact a simplified version based upon good habits of editing would produce a more effective statement of compelling narration.

For, in the end, postulating a Federal Disability Retirement application is not a matter of compiling a voluminous or complex treatise for persuasive discourse; it is to tell a coherent story of one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal job or Postal position, and we need not defer to Berkeley’s House — whether as a historical tidbit or as the confounded thought processes extracted from his complex works — in order to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire