Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Hypotheticals

Why do lawyers, above most other professions, utilize the tool of hypotheticals?  What is their evidentiary value, and in what way does it help to advance the cause of one’s case?

Say, for instance, you need an architect or an engineer (yes, yes, the humor here is that in speaking about hypotheticals, we are preparing to present one), would you be at all impressed if, after describing with precision the type of product you desire to have built, or in requesting a blueprint of a model house you are interested in, the architect or the engineer presents you with a hypothetical?

What, first of all, is a ‘hypothetical’?  It is, first and foremost, a proposition of non-existence, but with components of reality that may or may not have occurred or existed except in partial or disparate forms, delineated in an attempt to make or prove a point.  It is the tool of the attorney, just as the pencil and the blueprint are the resources of the architect, and the mathematical calculations the reliance of the engineer.  Often, it is used by means of analogical content to prove a point and to enhance the evidence gathered.

Take, for example, the lawyer who defended a bank robber.  He meets his client for the first time, and the criminal defense lawyer puts up a hand in order to stop his client from speaking, and says the following: “Now, take the following hypothetical, Mr. Dillinger: A man walks into a bank and hands a note to the teller that says, ‘Give me everything in your drawers.’  Now, that man was subsequently arrested.  No cash was ever exchanged; no weapon was ever found.  The question, then, is: What was meant by the words?  Only you know.  If, by way of a hypothetical, the man meant to obtain the contents of the teller’s drawer, it might mean 10 years in prison.  If, on the other hand, the note meant to be a lewd proposal about the teller’s anatomy beneath her undergarments, it would likely be a misdemeanor offense.  Now, Mr. Dillinger, which is it?”

Now, aside from some who would view such a presentation as somewhat unethical for “suggesting”, on the part of the lawyer, which intended “meaning” the defendant possessed at the time the note was passed, such a hypothetical is intended to denote the importance of hypotheticals within the purview of “the law”.  Hypotheticals allow for individuals to see the differences in paradigms or examples; it allows for options by way of analogy.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where 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, hypotheticals have quite likely become like unicorns and gnomes: no longer a figment of one’s imagination, but a reality that must be faced within a surreal universe of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that fails to possess the humanity necessary in dealing with a person with failing health.

Words of platitudes are often spoken; and, perhaps, here and there, you come across someone at your agency that actually cares.  But for the most part, such “caring” amounts to no more of a reality than mere hypotheticals; and when that realization comes about that the clash between hypotheticals and reality must be confronted, it is time to get down to the “nuts and bolts” and prepare, formulate and file 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.

And, as an aside, you may be asking, What was Mr. Dillinger’s response to the lawyer’s hypothetical? He punched the lawyer in the mouth, stood up and said, “Jeez, I ain’t no pervert!  Of course I wanted the money!”

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The never-ending series

Once upon a time, the three seasons of the sporting world seemed fairly defined into three neatly-trifurcated periods; of Summer to Fall for Baseball; Fall to Winter for football; Winter to Spring for basketball; and so the seasons followed the general consensus of a happy delineation for the enthusiast, the couch-potato and the sounds of rhythmic lull, where the major sports aligned in sequence upon the seasons of change like nature’s bugle that toots the horn with nary a break between.

Then, greed set in.  Advertising dollars could be extended just a few more days, perhaps even weeks, and maybe even into further months.  An extra “wild card” to be added; an “inter-league” period in the middle of the season; let’s also change it from the “best of five” to the “best of seven” — or, maybe for the future, the best of nine?  What difference did it make that seasons overlapped — with widescreen television sets and simultaneous multiple-screens streaming, one could watch regular-season games and season-ending series combined without missing a heartbeat or a blink that forgot the fumble of the century; we can “have it all”.

Then came the problem of “soccer” — that hated foreign-born immigrant that kept insisting upon pushing into the American conscience, mostly through the public schools that boldly continued to inculcate our kids with an incomprehensible game that wouldn’t let a person do that which instinctively we are all born to do — of touching the ball with one’s hands.  What kind of a sport doesn’t allow you to hold the ball and run with it?

Basketball requires ball handling, with letting go of it to move forward, except by milliseconds of palm-to-ball dribbling; football requires large hands that, until one grows older, results in that wobbly spiral that is laughed at and scorned; and baseball follows the snugness of the glove, the perfect pitch by the positioning of fingers upon the stitching that propels the beanball into a fastball or the sudden drop just as the batter swings to miss, and the thrill of the umpire shouting, “strike!”  To not even be able to touch the ball?  What kind of a sport is that?  And where does it fit in to the never-ending series?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, the never-ending series may include three “major league” games — the Initial Stage of the application for Federal Disability Retirement; the second, Reconsideration Stage of the process, if denied at the first level; and the third stage — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

There is, if necessary, a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Full Review before the MSPB; but like soccer and the never-ending series of the first three sports, the key is to make sure that proper preparation is completed for each of the stages of the process, before anticipating the outcome of any of the others; and like soccer and a Petition for Full Review, the best bet is to prepare well for any and all of the 3 stages of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Those rare, insightful moments

Must it always reach the level of an epiphany, or may it be as a passing point of fluctuating comprehension?

Every now and then, it is like the proverbial entrance into a clearing amidst the darkness of a looming forest; of a light that shines into a chasm heretofore undiscovered; and in that flash of understanding, it is important to grasp it, to tackle the concept, to concretize and declare, lest it slip silently away like the silken tail of a snake slithering into the tall grass.  Or of a dream in the midst of a fitful sleep that reveals what the subconscious desires to tell but just so in a gentle twist, lest the naked truth in the full light of day may be too blunt for the sensibilities of an unvarnished purity wanting but for the fiction of a nightmare too horrifying to encounter in real life.

Is the fool in Shakespeare any less witless than the King who divides his empire among vampires who drain the life of a vibrant ego?  Do the words of the court jester that cuts like a knife through the clouded judgment lost in the garments of wealth and power, transcend the loss of comprehension by those who would see the Emperor’s clothes despite the insight of a child who sees the nakedness of truth?  Do we attribute to animals the identical accolades despite their lack of coherent utterances, when they emit sounds of alarm, engage reflexes of caution and take flight ahead of perceivable approaches to dangers hidden beyond?

Most of life is repetitive boredom, sprinkled with the dust of angels golden and shining as they fly above us in the invisible universe of heavenly orbs, and we rarely notice them but for the slight touch of their comforting robes as the wings disturb the calm air or a mischievous poke on that parting of hairs or the baldness unseen but from a singular perspective from atop; and it is in those rare, insightful moments that life becomes worth living because we clearly, unequivocally and with unmitigated resolve understand, comprehend and care.

Then, the world and its artificial constructs rush right back in to fill the void of monotony, and we carry on with the projects of life that detract and distract, forgetting again the beauty of that which we saw for a brief slice of time.  Thus, the numerous stories of those who briefly crossed the demarcation into the netherworld of death and beyond, but were brought back to “life” by medical specialists who wanted to do “good”, when even that perspective is, at best, questionable.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are contemplating 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, it is often the medical condition itself that compels one to have a moment of epiphany.  Perhaps that rare, insightful moment comes about when the pain becomes unbearable, or when the cognitive faculties become askew and mental clarity sees beyond into the netherworld of the future and its gloomy horizon.

Whatever the circumstances that monotony of chronic medical conditions forces, the realization that the Federal or Postal employee must by necessity prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is one which cannot be avoided, any more than the angel who playfully shaves one side of our face in the twilight of dawn and leaves us wondering about those rare, insightful moments of life’s mysteries.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Federal Disability Retirement: The Happy Warrior

The linguistic implications are multiple and rich in historical nuances, derived not merely from the combination of words but because of images from the past and residual connotations not always agreed upon but nevertheless trailing like appendages holding on for dear life to a departing conveyor of thoughts, ideas and characters.

It evokes caricatures of contrasting conditions of smiling in the face of adversity; of taking on opponents on the proverbial field of battle despite unwinnable odds, yet with an optimism unable to be undermined; and evocative shadows of withdrawn faces, like the peek behind the kabuki painted cosmetics and the space between the flesh and the Noh mask, that moment when doubt is surely to surface and a moment of realization comes about.  Behind closed doors, does “The Happy Warrior” truly smile, or is there hesitation resurfacing, but not for public consumption?

We honor and value that smiling face in the contest of adversities not our own, and disdain and discard upon the garbage heap of history those who disappoint and destroy our carefully crafted image of the warrior who reveals the felt pain and the loss of control of fear and doubt.  Perhaps it is because we ourselves can only maintain one-half of the equation, and the perfect balance between the “happy” side of yin-yang combination, in contrast to the “warrior” component, leaves us empty and without courage.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must daily put on the impassive Noh mask in order to counter the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service in contending with adversity because of a medical condition, the recognition that in Noh theatre it is expected that as shadows change and perspectives alter, the expression of the Noh mask adapts and reveals character and substance beyond the original intent, may be of some comfort.

The legend of the happy warrior is just that — a residue of days past when history with its feeble memory forgot the tears shed when the transference of the reality of blood and guts to the paper description of battle and fury became lost in the mediocrity of words and wordsmiths.  Life is sometimes too real for even reality to bear.

For the Federal or Postal employee who suffers from a medical condition, whether psychiatric, physical, or a combination of both, the daily requirement of showing “happiness” despite pain and deteriorating health, and to maintain that armor of a “warrior”, can and does come to a point of irrefutable untenability.

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 never a surrender to one side or the other of the unfair equation beset by a societal image of who we are, what we are supposed to be, or where we are meant to go.  Instead, the simple formula for the first half of the combination is:  Take care of one’s health first, and let the rest and residue scatter to cubbyholes in faraway places.

And once that has been taken care of, the second half:  Prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, precisely because one’s health is paramount in this progressively uncaring universe, and attaining a level of restorative health can only become a reality when once the armor which protected begins to show the chinks of time and deterioration, and where the component of “happy” can no longer stand alongside the “warrior” within, and it is time to move on to another day, a greater battle, and a more winnable war.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: VERAs

With spring comes the rumors of love, furtive dalliances, clandestine consummation and intrepid interludes; as well as the potential for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority for Federal and Postal employees.  What the latter (known under the acronym of VERA) has to do with the multiple listings of the former (rumors of love, furtive dalliances, etc.) is anyone’s guess; perhaps there is no connection at all or, more likely, the cognitive comparisons we make have to do with offers of change, adventure, and a need to evaluate the impact of all of the above upon the security of one’s future.

The devil, as in all things, is in the details.  Whether a VERA is accepted or not should be based upon the incentivized offer; and it is often the short term gain (a large enough sum of cash “up front” in order to make it attractive), like the adrenaline-flowing excitement propelled by a romantic interlude, which compels the Federal and Postal worker to accept the VERA.

Be not fooled; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Worker is proposing a VERA not out of the kindness of their abundant hearts; rather, it is to streamline, strip and effectively make skeletal the overburdened bureaucracy of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.  But the question, as applicable to all VERAs (as well as to romantic dalliances) is, Is it good for your future?

If the Federal or Postal worker must accept a VERA, the underlying reason and rationale is often because he or she can no longer continue in the job anyway; and, to make the point ever more poignant, that foundational reason for an inability to continue often involves a medical condition.  That being the case, it would be wise to evaluate and compare the short-term gain potentially attained through a VERA, as opposed to a long-term security of purposes accessed through filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Both a VERA and a Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Both are ways to discontinue the present set of circumstances the Federal and Postal employee finds him/herself in.  The VERA, however, is a plan of self-indulgent action proposed for the benefit of the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Federal Disability Retirement is a course of determination based upon the best-interests of one’s health and well-being.  And, like clandestine romances engaged in behind the locked doors of distant roadside motels, the VERA may merely be a response to a mid-life crisis leading to an emptiness in one’s soul once the excitement has passed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire