FERS Disability Retirement: Ignoring the details

What is a lawyer’s response to the allegation: “You are playing with words and using technicalities to win!”

Some might, of course, become defensive and deny such allegations, countering to the accuser that the substance of the law allows for such word-games and the laws themselves allow for such technicalities; or, as the more appropriate, honest and forthright answer might be (yes, yes, for those with such humor against lawyers, such a string of descriptive adjectives may appear to create an oxymoron), “Well, yes, law is the word-craftsman’s tool with which we play, and technicalities are those very details which allow us to prevail.”

It is, in the end, words which win out in any legal forum, and it is the delivery of those words that persuade, debunk, analyze and cross-examine the truth or falsity of claims made, defenses proffered and allegations refuted.

And this is no different in the forum of play known as “Federal Disability Retirement Law”.  For, always remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether prepared for a Federal or Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a paper-presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and as such, is based upon words, words, words — and details contained within and amidst those words.

By ignoring the “details”, one does so with much peril; for, in the end, the old adage that declared the “devil to be in the details” was merely a recognition that details matter, and it is those very details which win or lose a case, and that is no different when presenting an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Closet of skeletons

It is a metaphor that is familiar; of secrets, or near-secrets; of those cluttered past incidents and events that need to be kept in the hallway closet, perhaps even locked for safety and security, whether of embarrassment, regret or shame.

Yet, modernity has less of them.  With the disappearance of shame, of openness of societal mores and normative values disappearing, almost vanishing, there is then no need for the closet to exist, and skeletons are fewer and far between because we have redefined what is shameful, what should be regretted, and that which is deemed unworthy of public display.

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”  That quip is attributed to Mark Twain, of course; the grand humorist of American society, and the author of books that have touched the conscience of an unsettled people.  How does a species stop blushing?  By rearranging that which triggers such a characteristic – the words that touch, the concept that shames, the sentence that embarrasses and the paragraph that pushes.

There are, of course, positive consequences, as well; for, the openness of society and the suppression and obliteration of normative standards have allowed for silent crimes that were once unspoken to be openly displayed and cauterized.  Perhaps, sometimes, “talking about it” opens things up, allows for the public airing of that which was hidden because polite society did not want to deal with it; but since it existed, anyway, we might as well open the closet of skeletons as a society and let everyone see whatever it is that we were ashamed of.

Sometimes, or more often than not, those monsters within are greater than the reality of the objective world.

Medical conditions often relate to such a concept.  We tend to hide them, be ashamed of them, and make of them larger than what necessity dictates – except for old men and women standing in the line at the post office who openly discuss the details of their last operation and procedures, of course.

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, remember that 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 like the closet of skeletons; once they are out in the open, the agency and the Postal Service will have to deal with it, just like the Federal or Postal worker who had to “deal with it” – the medical condition – for all of these many years, fearful of the shame of revelation and the reaction of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The image we hold

What picture do we carry?  No, not in one’s pocket or wallet, but in the eye of one’s mind.  Is it one that has been frozen in time; an imprint from a bygone era, a specific day in one’s past where childhood memories once floated upon a cloud of dreams and wishes?  Or, is it of more recent vintage – wrapped in layers of cynicism and denied opportunities, huddled in a corner where bitterness, wrongs and outrages of blames and byproducts of what others have “done” have emasculated and left that image we hold with disdain and dank disgust?

Where we are in life, at what stage we find ourselves; often, how we act and engage the world depends upon the image we hold of ourselves.  It is, after all, the one person whom we have no idea about.

Oh, yes, we try and fool ourselves by claiming to know ourselves better than any other, and we do this because we are the only ones who have access to that “inner” soul that speaks soliloquys and bitter asides when we believe no one else is listening.  But that is merely a subjective understanding of a subject that lives in the world of pure subjectivity; it is not, after all, an “objective” perspective and assessment of who we are.  For that, we must turn a dispassionate eye in reverse-form upon the image we hold of ourselves.

In the end, are we anything more than the aggregate of a language we have learned, and the very usage of the language we have acquired, the sense-impressions we have encountered and the image we hold – is it any more or less than what others have of ourselves?

That is why, 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, it is important to have a greater sense of who we are when we write that “Statement of Disability” on SF 3112A.  For, SF 3112A requests certain and specific information about one’s self, the nexus between one’s medical condition and the impact upon one’s positional capabilities and essential elements of one’s job.

But the narrative we write should have a certain sense of objectivity about it, precisely because it is going to be some “other” person who will be reading it, assessing it and evaluating the sincerity and persuasive impact of the delineated discourse.

From that perspective, the image we hold of ourselves can be an impediment, precisely because it may not be an objective viewpoint, but one wrapped in the perspective of pain, turmoil, anger and despair, which is understandable, taking the medical condition into account.  Perhaps, an advocate who has a more “objective” perspective – like a lawyer who is well versed in Federal Disability Retirement law — might be of some assistance in the process.  Just a thought.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Disability Retirement: Judgment

How does it develop?  Does youth necessarily, by definition, undermine the existence of it, and if so, why does such a “rule” become obviated by the old fool who rests his arms (and other elements of the anatomy) upon the shoulders of one who could be one’s grandchild, only not by birth?

Is life not linear, but circular, and thus do we all revert back to childish ways when old age and decrepit bodies reveal the sanctity of our fragile mortality?  When Darwinism prevailed upon the civilization of discontent, did we not recognize that ultimate reductionism to pure materialism would trickle down into a singular desire to discover the fountain of youth?

It is involved in both the process as well as the conclusion; to have good judgment is to necessarily engage in a careful weighing of all information, consider opinions and analyze relevant data, dividing significance from irrelevancies.  To make a judgment, or arrive at one, does not necessarily involve the former; one can have good judgment, yet make a bad one; but, then, retrospective evaluations would define the latter in light of the former, and vice versa.  How can quality of judgment mature without direct and consequential experience?

If a young driver, on the first day after obtaining a license, comes upon a primary roadway accessible from a side road, where cars are traveling at the maximum speed limit in both directions, including trucks and commuters rushing to meet deadlines and timelines; where, the new driver must traverse across one lane in order to make a left turn – what experience does he have to judge distance, timing, suppression of fear and capacity for quickness of movement?

Or, in either love or war, what is the foundation in which to act, or recognize the difference between hormonal ravages and meeting the lifeline of a soul mate destined for longevity; and in the trenches of the latter, to fire at the moving target that may not be a threat, but a child needing to rush to the facilities in the far-off village where rumors of enemies lurk?

What constitutes the finality of conclusions as to who possesses “good” judgment, as opposed to “bad”?  Wisdom, experience, analytical capacity and evaluative abilities – which came first, the chicken or the egg?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to make a judgment on one’s career, future, and decisions about timing, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is an area where judgment becomes crucial.  There are many legal pitfalls and obstacles throughout the administrative process, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a behemoth of an agency that can try one’s patience and defeat one’s purposive goals.

Lack of judgment is no crime, and not even a sin; but where such lack leads one to blindly enter into the arena of land mines, failing to consider legal representation is tantamount to the young driver who, in frustration of waiting at the busy intersection, closes his eyes and puts his foot on the gas pedal, hoping for a foolish act to defy the gods of fate, when all that was needed was for judgment to seek the advice and counsel of one wiser from years and experience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Terms

Language is a malleable vehicle.  There have been times in the history of language, when the staid and stodginess period of loss of vibrancy became the rule, followed by epochs of radical vicissitudes, upheavals and counter-conventional revolutions in the medium of language games.  Whether this encapsulated slice of linguistic alteration, upending traditional forms of communication because of electronic media and the hype of language abbreviated by Twitter, Texting and Tablet Titillations, will last the short life of technological innovation and obsolescence, is yet to be determined.

For example, the time of Shakespeare’s linguistic explosion of experimentation and expansive usage became in retrospect a richness of entering into connotative language meanings from which we benefit to this day.  But steadiness, continuity and conditions of stability are also important in order to take the proverbial breather to accept, embrace and assimilate (a term widely used for contextual purposes in modernity applied to immigration reform, as well) the linguistic revolutions that become incommensurate with meaning, communication and conveyance of terms.

Terms are important, both in common usage and in technical application.  In the arena of Federal Disability Retirement Law, different words are splayed about, sometimes without regard to proper application, especially when the “law” often requires a greater attention to precision of meaning.  Some simple and common crossovers of linguistic confusion involve:  “medical retirement” and “disability retirement” – do they mean the same thing?

If reference to either term involves the submission for an early retirement to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, then the answer is “yes”, they do mean the same thing.  Federal Disability  Retirement is identical to “Federal medical retirement” if by such words the query is referring to filing for an early retirement based upon the Federal or Postal worker’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, and therefore the intention is to access an early annuity because of one’s early retirement based upon the medical condition, and submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Some other terms often confused or conflated:  “On-the-job injury” or “pre-existing condition”; these terms are often used in the language-arena of Worker’s Compensation issues, and rarely have any import – or applicability, at all – in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the applicant is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it matters not whether or not one has been disabled “on the job” or away at a skiing accident; instead, what is important is the impact of the injury or disease upon one’s ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position.  As for a “pre-existing” condition – that, too, is more likely appropriately defined in an OWCP context, and rarely in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application.

In any event, “terms” are meant to be used within a context-appropriate content of filings, and in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it is important to clarify and conform to the applicable statutory mandates in defining and using the terms which are most appropriate and effective.

For, in the end, the explosion of language during the era of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Age reverberates with critical linguistic richness to this day; yet, if we were to have a conversation with a bloke from that era, the terms employed would not only confuse us, but confound us with a profound sense of despairing lack of cogency despite our self-aggrandizing declarations of superiority and advancement in the modern parlance of greater self-esteem.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire