Lawyer Representation for Federal Disability Claims: “Too busy to…”

It is the accent and the inflection upon a syllable that sometimes makes all the difference.  Take the following examples:

“I am too busy to…”

“I am too busy, too.”

The extra consonant in the last word makes all the difference; for, in the former statement, if it is stated in response to a call for help, it dismisses the request by informing the other person that one is simply unable to offer any assistance.  In the latter response, the subtlety of the answer should not be overlooked.  For, it is a statement of one’s own conglomeration of activities; it is not a refusal or even a rejection of a request; rather, it merely describes the current state of parallel universes that may or may not still allow for lending a hand.  Thus:

“Hey, Jim, can you lend me a hand?”

“I am too busy to.”

(Outright rejection)

Or:

“Hey, Jim, can you lend me a hand?”

“I am too busy, too.” Nevertheless, Jim walks over and lends his assistance.

Can a single consonant make such a difference?  Without the written word, can the mere inflection, intonation and syllabic accent of a lingering “o” allow for the subtlety of differences otherwise unseen except with the written word?  Would it make a difference, if it was stated in a southern drawl, a foreign accent or in “broken English”?

When one pauses and considers the consequences of language and its effects upon discourse, it makes one pause and shudder, that even in this age of Twitter and abbreviated language compositions and the irrelevance of grammar upon our daily lives, that distinctions can still cause a difference.

Are such modulated intonations significant?  Perhaps they are rarely, if ever, “life changing” events, but nevertheless can effectuate confusion or miscommunication such that disagreements may arise.

Language is the tool of communication and the effective conveyance of thoughts and conceptual paradigms.  This is important to remember for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and 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.

For, in the end, it is the written word that is the sword of a triumphant Federal Disability Retirement application, or the injury that defeats the same, and whether the extra consonant may make the difference depends upon the effectiveness of the rest of the application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: The Initial Stage

There are multiple stages in a Federal Disability Retirement process.  The term “process” is used here, because it is too often the case that Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who engage this administrative procedure, fail to realize that there are multiple potential stages to the entire endeavor.  That is a mistake that can come back to haunt.  One should prepare the initial stage “as if” – as if the Second, Reconsideration Stage of the process may need to be anticipated, and further, invoking the rights accorded through an appeal with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

Why?

Because that is how the Administrative Specialists at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management review each stage – and especially the initial stage of the process – by reviewing the weight of the evidence, conformity to the existing laws concerning Federal Disability Retirement, and considering whether or not an initial denial will involve much resistance at the Reconsideration and subsequent stages of the Administrative Process.

Every Federal Disability Retirement application put together by the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker  and submitted through one’s own Human Resource Department of one’s Federal Agency or the H.R. Shared Services facility in Greensboro, North Carolina (where all Postal Federal Disability Retirement applications are submitted and processed), whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is considered “valid” and a “slam dunk” – precisely because the person preparing the Federal Disability Retirement application is the same person who daily experiences the medical condition itself.

How can OPM deny my claim?  I cannot do essential elements X, Y and Z, and the doctors who treat me clearly see that I am in constant pain, or that I am unable to do certain things, etc.

But the Federal or Postal employee preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application must understand that there is a difference between “having a medical condition” and proving to a separate agency – the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (an entity who will never know you, meet with you or otherwise recognize your existence except in relation to a case number assigned to every Federal Disability Retirement application submitted to Boyers, Pennsylvania) – that such a medical condition no longer allows you to perform all of the essential elements of your official position.

Preparing one’s case for the Initial Stage of the process is important in establishing the foundation for the entire process itself.  It is not merely a matter of “filling out forms”; it is a matter of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one’s medical condition has a clear and unequivocal nexus to the capacity and ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Verbosity

The word itself has an effective resonance — similar in tone and texture to “grandiloquence”, which implies a flourish of rhetorical verbosity; and if one were to combine the two, as in the sentence, “He spoke with verbose grandiloquence,” one need not say anything more about the subject, but the statement says it all.

Verbosity does not necessarily carry a negative connotation, for excessive use of words does not logically entail ineffectiveness.  For instance, if one is attempting to kill time for a greater purpose (e.g., a lecture to the entire police department personnel while one’s co-conspirators are robbing a bank), being verbose (and while at the same time, being grandiloquent) may have a positive benefit.

On the other hand, being either verbose or grandiloquent which results in providing too much peripheral information, or information which may ultimate harm the essence of one’s foundational purpose, may in fact lead to unintended negative consequences.

Thus, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must of course engage in the narrative prose — through medical reports and records; through crafting and submitting one’s Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  In the course of the narrative statement of one’s disability, it is often the case that Federal and Postal Workers will tend to be “verbose”. But purposeful verbosity is the key.

Choose the words carefully.  And make sure that, if along the way, you are also being grandiloquent, try not to be bombastic at the same time.  Imagine that sentence:  “He spoke with a bombastic, verbose grandiloquence.” That says everything.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGil, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirements: The predetermined, “Let’s discuss it”

You can often tell from the eyes and the mannerism whether the opening prelude is meaningful, or predetermined to merely manipulate to an intended end.  The opening interlude which allows for the conduit of engagement:  “Let’s discuss it”; does it next encapsulate an ear which listens, or pauses which allow for conveyance of communication – or merely a diatribe of invective meant to dissuade and demean?

It is a rare character, indeed, that states and means in a coalescence of sincerity; instead, the danger signs should be evident at the outset:  The end has already been predetermined; your words are merely allowed to provide a setting of appearance, or to give you the rope in order to coil it and hang yourself.

Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing (or does that metaphor even apply, today?); there is rarely a cast of shadows without the darkness elongated, and it is indeed a rarity to find sincerity in an insincere world.  Discussion requires a prefatory contingency of openness to logical argumentation (or even emotional appeal), persuasion, dissuasive comportments, and a sense of listening.

Is there a fine line between that, and a preset paradigm of an already-established course?  Take the following hypothetical:  Some figure of authority – the “boss”, or a manager, supervisor, etc. – grants a forum for a “discussion” of the “issue” (whatever they may be), but during such an exchange it becomes readily apparent that the counterpart shows no signs of actual interest – the fidgeting, the proverbial “looking at the watch”, the furtive eyes, the yawn; all together, showing a complete disinterestedness in the process.

But something during the discussion sparks, and an unintended consequence (to paraphrase the well-worn American Lore from Adam Smith and the economic entrails of systematic chaos) suddenly rears its beautiful head; eyes sparkle; the head and chin tilt slightly back, and intelligence (which heretofore was merely a dark abyss of eternal vacuity) gleams in the eyes of the “boss”; “Now, that is an interesting proposal…” comes the refrain.

In such a scenario, was the fact that predetermination of outcome altered during the course of the foray, changed the entire episode into one which embraced a sincerity of motives?  Or, is it merely that the counterpart changed his or her mind, and “openness” to such an exchange was a farcical prelude to an otherwise meaningless exchange?  Does the mere fact of allowing for a discussion – an opportunity to voice one’s concerns or to “vent” through a diatribe of invectives – establish a sincerity of allowances, even if the original intent was otherwise left unstated?

Which brings us to the point of this exchange – for, in a 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, the thing that many Federal and Postal employees fail to realize, is that there is contained within the bureaucratic system of the administrative process, a procedure which essential does constitute a “Let’s discuss it” trigger.

For, that is precisely why there are multiple stages of the administrative process – of the “Initial Stage” in filing a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement application; then, if rejected and denied at the First Stage, a second “opportunity” of a “Let’s discuss it”, represented by a “Reconsideration Stage”, where additional medical documentation and legal argumentation can be empowered; and, then again, a “Third Stage”, where the Federal or Postal employee may disagree with OPM’s determination, and file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  Additionally, there is even a Fourth Stage – of a Petition to a panel of MSPB Judges for a legal review of the process.

Such an Administrative Procedure reveals and establishes an aversion to what most people experience, in that there is a process of listening, appealing and persuading in a Federal Disability Retirement application – something which is rarely found in the world at large, where the refrain, “Let’s discuss it”, is normally anything more than a prelude to a predetermined course of action.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Life as a frown

Is most of life a frown, with a few smiles which make it all worthwhile?  Or is it perceived as its opposite – of predominantly smiles, with some frowns interspersed throughout?  Is that like the test-question for psychological health, of whether the glass is seen as half empty, or half filled?  Does the answer to the question depend upon the mood of the moment, the ethereal pattern of the day, or the fabric of that which is woven into our DNA by a matrix of unassailable conventions?  There is, to be sure, a weight of paradigms and an interwoven context which cumulatively aggregates into a “personality” of who one is; but can a Rorschach test unravel the depths of a psyche, or does it determine the course of one’s future actions because of the embedded nature of an anguished soul?

One wonders, ultimately, whether language is the conduit of the perception we possess, and that is why the Hindu guru or the Zen monk admonishes to seek silence, and to quell the obstacle of words and voices.  For, does an animal engage in unspeakable atrocities?  Of self-harm or self-immolation, or worse, of mass executions?  Is it not because of the conveyance of language, in communicating thoughts created and linguistic strings of previously-unimagined evils, that we reach the pinnacle of banality (to borrow a phrase from the Philosopher, Hannah Arendt)?  Would a man of such mediocrity as Eichmann have concocted the horrors of mass extermination, but for felicities directed by a conspiracy of greater evils?

Life as a frown; it is to approach the world with a certain perspective.  Life as a smile; it is to reproach the universe for being too downtrodden.  Is there a difference, or merely a play upon words where the distinction is lost once we wipe away the blur from our morning eyes and begin to engage in the work of the day?

Leisure is needed for the miscreant to employ the folly of a wasted day.  Time was that we all had to survive by physical toil, and worry involved how to eat in order to survive.  That is what consumes all of the rest of the Animal Kingdom; to survive, one must eat; to eat, one must toil; and the rest and residue leaves one too exhausted to consider, but for the technology of leisure where thoughts may invade and pervade, in order to create malevolent constructs of linguistic artifices.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers 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 one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the “approach of life” is an easy matter to conceive of:  the medical condition itself has made the determination for you.  Life becomes a frown, with nary a smile to intercede, when the work of each day is beset with anguish, pain and sorrow.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, actually has a constructive goal and purpose:  To alter the course of a future yet undetermined, and make life as a basket of smiles, to the extent possible in this universe of frowns.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Process of Decision-Making

As has been previously stated in repetitive fashion, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand and acknowledge the duality of the process — for it is a process, as opposed to a singular event, both as an administrative legal issue, as well as for the individual Federal or Postal employee in a personal sense.

To clarify:  As an administrative issue, it is a process which involves multiples stages of argumentation (potentially).  Yes, it would be nice if every case was decided with an approval at the First/Initial Stage of the administrative process; however, there is a purpose and a reason why there are multiple stages.  It is precisely because it was anticipated that there would be denials and appeals to such denials, that an administrative procedure for multiple stages of review and further submissions of evidence and arguments was constructed and implemented.  It is not an entitlement pursuant to a fixed date, a fixed age, or a triggering event.  Rather, it is an administrative process which must be proven, applied for, and affirmatively shown that one is eligible.

From the personal perspective of the Federal or Postal employee, the decision of “when” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is also a process, as opposed to a singular event.  There are, of course, cases where a traumatic injury or life-changing accident occurred, and such an event is the triggering moment for filing.  But for most Federal or Postal employees, the medical condition suffered is a progressively deteriorating process, and it is often difficult to determine a “date certain” where one can point to on a calendar and state, this is the day and hour when I cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of my job.

This is why there is an inherent complexity to a process, as opposed to a singular event of certitude — for, it is always the unknown and the uncertain which gives rise to the anxieties of life, and a process is indeed a period of the unknown, and a chasm of uncertainty.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Deprogramming a Preconditioned Approach

The preconditioned attitude of the general public is that, if X has a medical condition, then such medical condition, by the very nature of the condition itself, will either entitle one to benefits, or not.  Such an approach is what one is conditioned to expect — that by the very nature of the medical condition itself, means that it will either lead to, or not lead to, a specified result.  This viewpoint and approach is based upon a definitional standard, where the very essence of what it means to suffer from X already predetermines whether one is eligible and entitled to benefit Y.

Social Security assumes such an approach.  To some extent, so does OWCP, because the Department of Labor is willing to pay a certain amount of compensation based upon a predetermined calculus of a percentage rating, for loss of limb, loss of use, loss of functional capacity, etc.

This is why Federal and Postal employees who first contemplate preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, will attempt to tie the fact of having a medical condition with the question, “Does this qualify me for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?”  But that is the wrong paradigm to use in asking the question.  For, eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM is not based upon a definitional ascription of a medical condition; rather, it is that “third element” — the connection between X and Y, X representing the medical condition and Y standing for the positional duties which the Federal or Postal employee must engage.

In many respects, Federal Disability Retirement answers the philosophical question which David Hume asked:  Is there a necessary connection between cause and effect?  For Federal Disability Retirement purposes, the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire