Legal Representation for OPM Disability Retirement Claims: ‘To’ and ‘For’

What would be the difference if, in the title of Willa Cather’s novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop”, she had instead chosen to use the word “to” in replacement of “for”?  Would empires have fallen, world wars have been averted or earthquakes and other natural disasters have been delayed?

Likely, not; but would the countless minds that have encountered the novel, enjoyed its beautiful prose and admired its humanity and warmth in the telling of a tale of a time long past and a period now gone — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a difference with a distinction: “Death Comes for the Archbishop” as opposed to “Death Comes to the Archbishop”?

Some might dismissively declare, “In any event, the Archbishop died, didn’t he?”  The subtlety of distinction — should it even be brought up?  Would that the title was of the latter instead of the former — would anyone have even noticed?  Is there a grammatical point of difference; is one “more” correct than the other?

Certainly, the “sense” that is employed exists — where, the “to” has a much more objective and distant, impersonal “feel” to it, whereas the “for” personalizes it, gives it warmth, almost as if “death” is a person as opposed to an event, and the “for” makes it a personal possessive as opposed to the “to” that connotes an arms-length relationship between the object and subject.

Are the prepositions interchangeable?  If a person is stricken with grief over a tragedy and a close friend arrives to provide comfort and says, “I came for you”, it would be a statement that would be considered heart-warming.  If, under the same circumstances, the person instead declared, “I came to you” — would we, again, mark the difference or even notice?  It is, certainly, a statement of objective fact — the person objectively traveled and arrived at destination Point B from origination Point A.

Again, the subtle distinction — the “for” connotes a greater personal warmth as opposed to a simple statement of fact.  It is, in the end, the subtle differences that sometimes makes the entirety of a distinction that makes the difference.

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, the distinction between “to” and “for” is often the difference between living a life worthwhile and one that remains cold and impervious.

Human beings are often careless in their personal relationships; and the test of such caring or uncaring attitudes will often surface when a person is going through a trial or tragedy, and preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the complex and impersonal administrative process of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, will often test the workplace relationships because of the self-interested motives that exist with agencies and the Postal Service.

Some coworkers, supervisors and others will distance themselves immediately, and they will remain in the category of the “to” people; while other coworkers, managers, supervisors, etc., will surprisingly be there “for” you.  Willa Cather chose the preposition “for” over the “to” because she was an excellent author, and it is the excellence of a human being that is revealed in the subtle differences we often overlook.

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

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Fundamentalist

It often evokes a negative connotation, of a rigidness and adherence to principles which refuses to concede allowances for exceptions lest the singularity of excusable violation permeate and tarnish the very paradigm of inflexibility; and in a religious context, it represents a historical movement of a “going back” or rediscovery of basic principles of faith.

But being considered a fundamentalist in a secular sense does not necessarily result in a negative implication; strict concurrence with a standard of excellence and an unwavering fealty to ensuring that basic principles are followed, can be a positive thing. Of course, that is not how the term is usually applied, and so we shy away from such labels of convenient certitude.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who is considering 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 important to be a “kind of” fundamentalist — of an adherence to certain foundational principles in approaching the formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application. For, in the end, pursuance of excellence can be a “kind of” fundamentalism, and insistence upon doing something “the right way” is an element of that most basic of approaches and paradigm of beliefs.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM should be viewed as a systematic, methodological endeavor which always encapsulates three basic principles (thus, as in theological circles, the trinity of fundamentalism):  Medical reports and records manifesting an impacting medical condition; a Statement of Disability as reflected on SF 3112A; Legal argumentation of a persuasive and logically powerful delineation.

These are the three foundations which comprise an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  And if your neighbor shouts at you for being a fundamentalist in adhering to the basic principles of disability retirement faith, point out the beam in his eye, and merely wash out the mote in yours.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Cackle around Us

Often, the noise emanating and pervading is nothing more than the raucous shrieks and glass-shattering sounds like the cackle of birds; neither intelligible nor pleasant to the ear, it fails to inform, engender pleasure, nor spur substantive advancement for the intellect or one’s emotional well-being.

People talk; talk is limitless; and the louder one talks (or so the theory goes) and endures past all others, the last voice establishes the truth of the matter.  The problem in modernity is not so much the boisterousness and overpowering continuum of noise; rather, it is the inability to recognize the lesser argument, the weaker factual basis, and the mesmerizing conduit of enjoying the sound of one’s own voice.

There is, indeed, much information “out there”; the question is not one of volume, but rather of quality in the vast overload of content dissemination. When one seeks  information, how does veracity get established?  When one chooses representation, what criteria is applied?  And when one receives answers to queries put forth, where does the confirmation begin to concretize?  The world is replete with information; what parcel of it is useful; how much of it is relevant; and to what use or pragmatic application can it be devised?  In the practical world of living, the cackle of information must be sifted through in order to survive any given ordeal.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management must by necessity encapsulate the issue of relevant, pertinent and substantive information.

Gathering the proper medical document; formulating an effective Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A; presenting updated and relevant legal argumentation in order to persuade OPM into approving one’s Federal Disability Retirement application; these are the criteria in the pragmatic application for sifting through the cacophony of information clutter, and it matters not whether the cackle avoided represents that originating from crows or vultures; the point is to keep from being the meal of prey, and instead to prepare one’s meal of information in the quietude of thoughtful reflection, away from the disturbances of those who seek merely to hear the sound of their own voice, as opposed to the satisfying sonata of substantive and helpful information that will actually help the Federal or Postal employee secure one’s future in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: A Day Does Not a Life Make, Nor a Decade

The tragedy of extinguishment is the failure to recognize future potentiality.  We often gauge the value of a lifetime based upon the quality of any given day.  Yet, what happens in an arbitrary period of a life, whether viewed randomly on a day, or even assessed and evaluated over a decade, will rarely reflect the comparative worth of a lifetime as analyzed on a linear continuum.

Youth is a wasted period of emergence; middle-age is often a reflection upon that wasteland of remorse; and old age brings physical and cognitive infirmities which engage in fruitless efforts of counting the remaining days.  And so does a circularity of the absurd prevail upon us.

Medical conditions merely exacerbate and are an unwelcome source of further despair.  When a medical condition impacts upon one’s “quality” of life, whether upon the ability to perform one’s positional duties

as in the Federal sector, or debilitates and prevents the physical capacity, such a condition magnifies in exponential despair the devaluing of the human condition.

For Federal and Postal employees who find that a medical condition prevents him or her from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a way of countering the valuation of a lifetime of contributions based upon a given day of despair.

Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service, whether intentionally or unwittingly, will make disparaging judgments upon the worth of an individual once a medical condition begins to prevent one from performing all of the essential elements of one’s job.  But such valuations are based upon pure ignorance of witless magnitude.

For every Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker, judgment on any given day does not a life make, and indeed, nor does even a decade declare the true value and worth of a person.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire