CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Deliberative Intent

Thomas Nagel is best known for continuing to remind us of the problem of consciousness in a world which attempts to reduce all acceptable explanations into a language game of reductive materialism.

In his famous essay, he went a step further — by arguing for the position that, yes, there are peculiar and unique characteristics of a conscious species, but more than that, the greater profundity is, How is it like to be X, as X?  Thus the insightful essay, What is it like to a bat, as a bat?  For, it is the last linguistic appendage which makes all the difference — as an X.  Without it, we would be left merely with our imaginations as to what it would be like to be X; with the dependent grammatical appendage, we are forced to consider that there is a unique “something”, whether it be consciousness, spirit, mind, or some other non-physical existence, which uniquely makes X to be something other than the composite of physical characteristics.

How does this relate to Federal Disability Retirement for Federal and Postal Workers under FERS or CSRS? Probably nothing, other than that, on a Saturday morning, after having started Nagel’s recent work, Mind & Cosmos, it becomes an interesting proposition as to how much deliberative intent — i.e., the use of that “other” part of humanity, such as consciousness, awareness, etc. — is utilized, as opposed to a mere mechanistic approach to things.

Human beings are inherently lazy.  Templates exist in order to ease one’s work.  OPM often violates the very essence of its duties by merely regurgitating language which is worn and used.  But for the Federal or Postal Worker who must contend with the cold, non-deliberative physical universe, each battle with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must be fought by thinking, pondering, applying legal principles which are effective and persuasive.

Only with deliberative intent can one contest and contend against a universe which is uncaring, unfeeling, and impassive to the condition of human suffering.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Standard Forms Do Not Mean “Standard Responses”

The problem with “Standard Forms” is that they often appear to solicit “standard responses”, and in a Federal Disability Retirement case under the Federal Employees Retirement Systems (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), nothing could be further from the truth.  Indeed, it is often because a Federal or Postal employee/applicant who confronts and begins to fill out SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the very “blocked” appearance of the form, and the constricting questions themselves, makes it appear as if a “standard response” is required.  Don’t be fooled.

By way of example, take a “special animal” — that of a Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Controller who must take a disqualifying medication, loses his or her medical certification from the Flight Surgeon, and thinks that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a “slam dunk”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Or, a Customs & Border Patrol Agent who goes out on stress leave, or suffers from chronic back pain.  Are there “standard responses” in filling out an Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  There are certain standard “elements” which should be considered in responding to the questions, but don’t be constricted by an appearance of “standard responses” to a “standard form”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Clarity over Question

While a compromise position on certain issues in Federal Disability Retirement for FERS & CSRS may be the best that one may hope for, obviously, clarity over question is the better course to have.  Thus, for instance, in a removal action, where a Federal or Postal employee is being removed for his or her “excessive absences,” it is best to have the proposed removal and the decision of removal to reference one or more medical conditions, or at least some acknowledgment by the Agency, that would explicate — implicitly or otherwise — that the underlying basis for the “excessive absences” were as a result of the medical condition.  There are cases which clearly state that where excessive absences are referenced by medical conditions, the Bruner Presumption would apply in a Federal Disability Retirement case. 

Now, in those cases where the removal action merely removes a Federal or Postal employee for “excessive absences”, there are other methods which may win over an Administrative Judge to apply the Bruner Presumption.  Such “other methods” may include emails or correspondence, at or near the time of the removal action, which appears to put the Agency on notice about specific medical conditions, including attachments of doctor’s reports, medical notations, etc.  Such concurrent documentation can convince an Administrative Judge that, indeed, the question as to whether the “excessive absences” were as a result of a medical condition, and whether the Agency was aware of such an underlying basis, is clarified by documents which provide a proper context within the reasonable time-frame of the issuance of the proposal to remove and the decision to remove.  It is always better, of course, to have clarity over a question, but sometimes the question can be clarified with additional and concurrent documentation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire