OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Challenges

Throughout life, they are always there — some, we take up; others, we ignore; and still others, we consider and perhaps avoid, and sometimes leave with the regret that not having taken the challenge may have left an empty void within our souls, but we will never know.  Some challenges we create; others, they just come along without even asking; and still others, it just appears that circumstances coalesce beyond our control and they just appear out of nowhere, neither asked for nor necessarily desired.

Health challenges are an inevitability.  Yes, there is the rare one who lives to be a 103, never was sick in a day of his or her life, and suddenly dies while doing an activity which was enjoyed throughout one’s life; or of those women in Siberia or some other exotically barren land who made and ate their own yoghurt or remained throughout on some other healthy diet because the environment left them no other choice, and somehow avoided the ravages of illness, fast-food restaurants, greasy cheeseburgers, French fries that were marinated and cooked in engine oil, traumatic injury or other deteriorating health conditions that could not be attributed to anything but a lifetime of a particular lifestyle choice.

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 or Postal job, the challenges are many: Continuation of a career or not?  Enduring of harassment for taking too much SL or LWOP, or surviving the PIP?  Possible termination to be faced in the near future?

And the ultimate challenge: Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset — now that is a challenge for the ages, given the complex nature of the administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: ‘For’ and ‘to’

Do we ever pick up on the subtleties of language’s intentionality, anymore?  Is there a difference with a distinction between the use of the prepositions ‘for’ as opposed to ‘to’?  And, even if intentionally and with deliberative meaning, one inserts one as opposed to the other, would the person for whom it is intended, or to whom it is addressed, catch the difference, or would he or she merely respond as if there was never any difference at all?

Say the person began with one preposition but stopped mid-sentence and corrected it, inserting the ‘other’; would the correction be noticed at all, and even if it was, would that make a difference?  Say, for instance, a person says to another, “I would like to show my appreciation to you,” as opposed to saying, “I would like to show my appreciation for you.”  Is there a difference?  Is there a subtle intentionality hidden – where the “to” is just slightly less personal than the “for”?

What if the person speaking does not believe in any differences between the two propositions – would that make a difference?  Or, conversely, what if the person speaking does know the difference, or believes he does, between the two, but the person being addressed does not; does that make a difference?  Is there, objectively, a difference between the two, and can it be identified, delineated, understood and explained?

When we say, for example, that X is giving a gift to Y – is that different from saying that X is giving a gift for Y?  Or that Sally has shown great empathy to Mary, as opposed to showing great empathy for Mary – can the subtle difference of intentionality be derived?

Language is a difficult tool to master, to begin with, and grammar was once the medium by which correctness of communication could be embraced.  Much of grammar has now been discarded, abandoned and forsaken, and with the detritus of residue left behind, the subtlety of language – both in its usage as well as in its reception – has been lost.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, almost all of the encounters with the Federal agency responsible for review and determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application – i.e., the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – will be wrought through impersonal “paper” transactions – submission of the Standard Forms (e.g., SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability) and medical narrative reports and treatment records, as well as any Legal Memorandum prepared to argue your case – will be through an impersonal communication via language known, language learned and language imparted.

Knowing the subtleties of language, and the correct approach, the context and content driven by legal precedents and argumentation are all an important part of the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  It may not have to get into the minutiae of the differentiation of prepositions like ‘for’ and ‘to’, but there is enough complexity in the language of such a strange frontier as Federal Disability Retirement Law so as to justify hiring an attorney who specializes in such administrative legal conundrums, whether to obtain a successful outcome or for attainment of one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Law’s efficacy

When is “the law” effective?  Especially when speaking about an administrative procedure such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – what role does “the law” play in its procedural and substantive aspects?

Multiple distinctions are made on a daily basis with respect to the law’s efficacy; whether something is “legal” or not does not always mean that it is enforceable, for the costs associated may be prohibitively expensive.  To have a “legal right” does not always mean that one should necessarily assert it, for there may be practical considerations that come into play before moving forward with applying that which is rightfully existent.

Further, the mere fact that the law may be “on the books” may not necessarily mean that a society will always raise it up from the dead and apply it; for, as customs and normative constraints alter, modify and become transformed by evolution of thought, it may well be that dogs best left sleeping are the ones who are never bothered.

In Administrative Law – which Federal Disability Retirement issues are a part of – there is always the question as to what role, significant, relevant or somewhat in between, “the law” plays, as many steps throughout the procedure and process must deal with non-lawyers who have no clue as to the existence, force or applicability of legal matters.

Thus, should the “Bruner Presumption” be argued at the initial stage of a Federal Disability Retirement application even though the administrative specialist who is reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application may have no clue about its impact, doesn’t much care and will likely not give much thought to its contextual relevance?

Does Bracey v. OPM matter when discussing the finer points of issues pertaining to accommodations and reassignment, or is that merely some esoteric legal argument that should be reserved for the Third Stage of the process, if and when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied twice (both at the Initial Stage of the process, as well as at the Second, Reconsideration Stage) and is appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and comes before an Administrative Judge?

Should Simpkins versus OPM always be argued for Veterans with Service-connected ratings, no matter what the ratings are comprised of?

The law’s efficacy is ultimately determined not necessarily by the quantitative bombardment of effective methodological argumentation, but by the qualitative selectiveness of who to argue to, when to argue and for what purpose.  In the end, law’s efficacy is a strategic component that may determine the successful or otherwise outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be considered thoughtfully and with great preparation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Plato and Play-Doh

If a person says to another, “Have you used Play-Doh” and he answers, “Well, yes, but only as it applies to certain situations in my life.  Otherwise, I tend to rely upon Aristotle in a more pragmatic, scientific approach.”

Somewhat taken aback, the inquiring mind restates his position, saying, “No, no, I meant, have you played with Play-Doh?” Still not distinguishing between the inserted alternative of a consonant (the “D” in Play-Doh as opposed to the “t” in Plato), the responding individual states again, “Well, conceptually Plato is difficult to ‘play with’, as you state it, in that you have to first understand the conceptual paradigms he posits, then…” and the same person goes on to provide a full-fledged, half hour dissertation on the esoteric aspects of a Dead White Irrelevant Philosopher (otherwise known by the acronym, a “DWIP”).

At this point, frustrated, the inquisitive interrogator walks away, throwing his hands up in complete confusion and befuddlement.  What does one do?  How is the incommensurate encounter resolved?  Question: Does the fact that we “hold” in the base of our minds a certain spelling of a word make a difference as to intent and deliberative motive, when what we “speak” out into the objective world makes the receptor of the word, phrase or sentence interpret it as something different from that image that we behold in our minds?

How does one close the chasm between subjective thoughts and objective reality?  Do we approach it in a different way – and does the problem really remain in the subjective domain of the questioning individual insofar as he or she is unable to, incapable of, or otherwise unwilling to alter the originating course of his posited query?

In other words, shouldn’t the person have restated his conceptual query in the following manner: “Oh, I see.  You must have misunderstood.  I am talking about ‘Play-Doh’ – the clay-like substance that we all used to play with as children, and I thought I saw some when I visited your house the other day.”  To which the responder should appropriately state, “Ah, I see now.  You must excuse me. I am concurrently reading Plato’s Dialogues and I mistook your question to be referring to that.”

It is, then, the capacity to listen carefully, to recognize the response given, then to respond back appropriately and relevantly that often dissipates any compelling reason to become frustrated.

Similarly, for Federal and Postal employees who are attempting to respond to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s subsequent queries, or even in response to the Statement of Disability’s questions (SF 3112A) that need to be answered, the Federal or Postal employee who is attempting to formulate an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must take care in bridging that gap between subjective reality and objective communication.

There are many “tricks” to the “trade”, and OPM has probably dealt with them all; but the one trick that OPM cannot ultimately ignore, is the tricky web of legal precedents and prior MSPB and Federal Circuit Court decisions that compel them to act in ways that they cannot forego.  Legal argumentation is an art form that should not be ignored, and whether you are asking about Plato or Play-Doh, remember always to include in any Federal Disability Retirement application an effective legal argument that persuasively argues the legal precedents applicable in your case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Tantum ergo

It is the incipit of the last two verses of a Medieval Latin hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas is best known for his inclusive osmosis by fiat of stretched logic to accommodate and force commensurability the texts of the ancients (i.e., Aristotle) within the essential boundaries of Christian theology.  His methodology in accomplishing this feat was to posit the weakest of straw man arguments, then to systematically appear to knock them down, and then to declare a forceful conclusion as if the ergo naturally and rationally followed.  That the conclusion is followed by verses subsequent, reflects how life works as well.

Sometimes, we mistake the “Hence” or the “Therefore,” and believe (wrongly) that nothing should follow.  But such conjunctive adverbs are often confused as if they denote answers to mathematical calculations.  Life rarely works in that manner, and it is entirely right that the tantum ergo should follow with additional discourses upon the beatific vision of the hymnal’s content.  Indeed, that is how we often and mistakenly live our lives – to accept with resignation that the declarative utterance, “Therefore, so great,” results in a quietude and silence of subsequent ceremony.  We wait upon it, and when it comes, we submit and concede.  Or, as in cases more common, it never comes, and thus do we surrender.

That is how Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are on the verge of preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, approach the impending suspicion of doom or failure; the Tantum ergo is declared by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, and the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker accepts it as gospel truth, when in fact one should always recognize a countervailing principle of life:  a lie is a lie, is an untruth, is a lie, is a mis-statement of the law, is still a lie.

This author will not go so far as to say that Human Resource offices throughout the Federal Agencies systematically engage in disseminating falsehoods; perhaps, many merely relate the misinterpretations gained through osmosis of gossip; but, in any event, whether from a Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the groundless surrender based upon a seemingly unassailable declaration that, “Therefore, so great” – whether referring to itself; whether in misstating the legal consequences of failed accommodations and the impact upon filing a Federal Disability Retirement application; of failing to inform the Federal or Postal employee of the rights of filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the Federal and Postal employee should always be cautious of taking as face value a declaration by the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service that single utterance of self worth:  “Therefore, so great.”

Especially when it is referring to itself; always, when ascribing motives unstated; and forever, when trying to undermine the Federal or Postal employee.  And as to the multiple verses which follow upon the Tantum ergo?  Mistake not:  there is always life after Federal Disability Retirement; and let not one be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal & Postal Employees: Clarity of purpose

It is always a burden when the passageway beyond is a mist of obscurity.  It helps to possess it, even in partial shades of inane generalizations; but lack of it, especially in youth, is neither a crime nor a blot of misdeeds upon one’s reputation so early in a life or career.  We have known them, whether as a “type” or an individual; that rarity of endangered species where the target-point of life is an unwavering straight line directly from birth to death (or at least for the moment when a career goal is sought).

Clarity of purpose is something one “ought” to have, but rarely manifested in the lives of ordinary people.  We talk of a nation’s “manifest destiny”, or of the importance of having some “foundation” in life; of faith, purpose and a desire or motivation to – what?  That is often the problem; not so much that we have no purpose in life, but that clarity of that essence is too often subverted by events unasked for and circumstances untold.

In W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge, where Larry merely wants to “loaf” after his traumatic wartime experiences –  does lack of clarity of purpose as defined by conventional society evince a mere deviation of acceptable behavior, or constitute a complete violation and breach of man’s destined existence harkening from the residues of Puritanism and religiosity in general? (Note the comedic definition of Puritanism from H.L. Mencken:  “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”).

Modernity no longer believes in destiny, fate, or purposeful existence; and thus do we lack great figures, anymore – as Churchill who consistently defied death in war because of an inherent belief that he was destined for greater things, and thus the gods would not dare to undermine that predetermined fate of life.  Instead, the insidiousness of Darwinian belief – a foundation where reductionism to pure materialism and life lived by sensation, pleasure and tactile responsiveness:  these are the purposeful endeavors for us all.  It is, however, still a requirement that, in order to reach a destination of accomplishment, we “clarify” the “purpose” for which we engage to act.

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 position, the need to define, refine and clarify such a purposive action is a crucial component in the successful formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Wandering and meandering with merely a general sense of what needs to be done, like Larry Darrell’s search for meaning in Maugham’s masterpiece, will likely result in a denial by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  There are legal statutes to consult; case-law that should be cited; and a streamlining of medical evidence in order to pinpoint, with circumscribed accuracy, the argument and methodology for approval of an OPM Disability Retirement application.

In sum, there needs to be a tactical and strategic clarity of purposive action throughout, in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Application: The effective legal argument

What makes for an effective legal argument?  It is a question often asked, and pondered by many.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue is often preceded by another question:  What makes for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application?  Must legal arguments be made at the outset, or will the mere gathering of relevant medical documentation itself suffice, without the burdensome addition of legal argumentation?

Is the introduction of law and reference to legal citation necessary, and does such necessity enhance efficacy and chances of success at every stage, or just in the later stages – i.e., before an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, or before a panel of Judges in a Petition for Full Review (often referred to as a “PFR”), as well as before a panel of 3 Judges at the highest level of the process, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit?

Certainly, the process itself does not “mandate” a legal requirement for argumentation of law; yet, inherent in the system itself – or, because there are multiple legal opinions, precedents and statutory foundations which form the core of every Federal Disability Retirement application – it is a “good thing” to include legal precedents and foundational arguments in preparing and formulating one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Is it necessary?  Is it “absolutely” necessary?  Just as the insertion of more adjectives and adverbs do not enhance clarity of answers, so the question itself must be judged by the relative importance of omitting that which may not be required, but which may be helpful in increasing the statistical correlation to a successful outcome.

Law cannot ultimately be avoided, either in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application or other venues of justice and conflicts, anymore than one can drive down to the corner mart without having some nascent knowledge of the legal workings intermingled and intersecting with modern society.  For, in this complex society of compounding difficulties and systems of comingled conundrums, that which is not known or otherwise ignored, can indeed harm us.  Not being aware of the speed limit in traversing the short distance to the store can result in being stopped.  Not being aware of laws governing carrying or transporting of weapons can have even greater and dire consequences.

And, as all forms required to be filed in every Federal Disability Retirement application was and remains based upon statutes, regulations and precedent-setting opinions rendered by the Federal Courts or the Merit Systems Protection Board, so it is important in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to have some elementary awareness of the relevant laws impacting upon the criteria governing Federal Disability Retirements.

Few things in life exist in a vacuum, and preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is no different.  In any arena of law, laws matter.  That may sound somewhat like a trite opinion, and an irrelevant repetition of a self-evident truth, but it is meant to merely be a reminder, that as in all other areas of life and living, in the venue of legal matters, providing an effective legal argument is an essential factor in winning a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire