Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Implications

Merely putting a ‘thus’ or ‘therefore’ does not create the necessary nexus between the facts proffered, the evidence presented and the conclusion declared; implications by definition require some work on the part of the audience, as the bridge not explicitly apparent must by necessity mandate mental connections to be drawn from otherwise disparate fields of facts.

How far can the law be stretched?  For so-called “originalists”, it is allegedly only the plain meaning of the text itself that can be gleaned, without any further “interpretation” beyond what is “originally intended”.  But lawyers go beyond the central meaning of legal opinions all the time; it is the job of a good attorney to stretch the application beyond what is originally meant or intended; and it is up to the next judge before whom such argumentation is tested to place limits and boundaries when the proposed stretch has gone a bridge too far.

How far, for example, can the “Bruner Argument” be made in a Federal Disability Retirement case?  Can the fact of a separation based upon “excessive absences” be used to demand of OPM that the Bruner Presumption should be applied, especially when parallel facts clearly establish that during the same time period of taking exhaustive Sick Leave and excessive LWOP, the Federal or Postal employee had multiple doctor’s appointments and was medically advised not to go to work?  Of course, arguments can always be made — but the real point is, Can one make an effective and persuasive argument?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, those conclusions by implication need to be carefully crafted.  For, while you may see the bridges connecting the two or more land masses that are otherwise separated by the rivers and tributaries, it is up to the applicant in an OPM Disability Retirement case to make explicit and obvious those implications that may otherwise be lost in the administrative morass of complexities inherent in every Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: On a tenuous ridge

How do you know whether to proceed; whether it is safe to proceed; whether the roads or pathways are safe enough? What constitutes success? Is it known before it is anticipated, or is it just a self-delusional sense of confidence that sometimes deceives and at others, proves us wrong?

To be on a tenuous ridge combines the two negative aspects of objectivity and subjectivity: Of a physical place that is sharp and often dangerous (the “objective” world) and the mental determination that encompasses a sense of weakness and lack of confidence (the “subjective” perception of a situation); and the combination of the two provides a compounding of a conceptual negation that places one is a precarious state of being.

To be on a tenuous ridge can be a metaphor for proceeding in life, in whatever endeavor or misadventure, without the benefit of experience, hindsight, wisdom or knowledge.  That is the sense and feeling that the Federal or Postal employee possesses when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability and capacity to continue in one’s chosen Federal or Postal career — to be walking on a tenuous ridge.

For Federal employees or U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the approach that must be taken should be to get off of the proverbial ridge of tenuousness, and instead to walk upon firm ground with a sense of confidence entering into a future.

Although the future may remain somewhat uncertain during the complex process of maneuvering through a Federal Disability Retirement application, nevertheless, the knowledge that one’s case is the best one that has been put together, goes a long way in avoiding the pitfalls of a tenuous ridge.  Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application; for, there is another adage similar to “being on a tenuous ridge” that you also might want to avoid — of “jumping from the frying pan into the fire”.

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

 

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: Benefitting from doubt

What does it mean to “give” one the “benefit of doubt”?  Is it something that is granted automatically, or must one “earn it” through labor, circumstances or sheer luck?  What are the elements that lead to it, and why are some people accorded such grace while others are treated with impunity of disregard?

Take the following hypothetical:  You are at a party with friends and acquaintances; you sit with a number of people, and among them are a very close friend and confidante, as well as a mixture of those whom you somewhat dislike and otherwise consider an “undesirable” of sorts.  Well, let’s be honest – you despise especially this one person, and hope daily that that individual will die a horrible death in a slow, agony-filled manner.  You may even daydream of torture and mayhem, and how your laughter at such pleas for mercy fills your inner soul with delight so devious that it even frightens you to consider your own meanness and ferocity of unsympathetic attitude towards this one subhuman miscreant.

During a lively conversation – we shall call the “friend” X, and the one whom you wish the horrible and slow torture ending in death, Y – the former (X) says something that refers to you in an obscure and somewhat polysemic context.  You pause and consider; then dismiss it; for, as a friend, you give the benefit of the doubt that the utterance was said innocently and without any underlying meaning of harm or tincture of criticism.  Then, later, Y says something as well –  perhaps a reference to you, your group of people or your team effort in a project – and with obvious sarcasm, says, “Yeah, right”.

Now, had X said the same thing, it might have been taken as a joke; but when Y says it, you burn with inner turmoil and it is just a miracle upon a hair’s breath that you don’t throw the contents of your drink across the circular gathering, right at the individual’s face.  For Y, you failed to give the “benefit of the doubt”.  Why?  Is it because such granting of unconditional grace must necessarily be encircled by a context of relational warmth, and lack of it provides grounds for withdrawing or withholding any such unilateral mandate?  Is the spectrum of doubt’s convergence and emergence correlated to the level and extent of trust and friendship already established, or can it also occur in the vacuum of dealing with strangers?  As to the latter – dealing with strangers – we often coin as an act of the foolish or resulting from innocence and inexperience, don’t we?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers considering the option of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through one’s Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, then on to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue of giving various individuals the “benefit of the doubt” will come up in numerous contexts and encounters – from discussing one’s medical issues with a Supervisor or Manager, to informing the Human Resource Department of one’s Federal agency that one intends upon filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; and such encounters, by necessity, will often involve that nagging feeling as to whether to grant (or not) the benefit of the doubt.

In the end, “doubt” is more likened to an intuition – like the hair reflexively standing on the nape of one’s neck as a warning against impending danger – and has more to do with our Darwinian background than any societal conventions we deem applicable, and when dealing with Federal agencies, it is often prudent to not grant that ultimate grace of unilateral conformity – and, instead, to withhold giving the benefit of the doubt in almost all circumstances.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Government Employment: Perspective

It is a different species from either judgment or understanding; for, of the former, it is often the basis and foundation to make one; as to the latter, it is the result from the procedural content in order to attain it.  Perspective is an admixture of multiple components:  experience adds to a balance of it; proper facts relate to the accuracy for it; consideration of judgments others proffer enriches it; and the capacity to connect all of the information gathered and provide previously unimagined ties within a historicity of intersection, relevance and significance of balance empowers it.

To possess it is to fail to react merely to a given situation while others around disintegrate in self-pity.  To apply it, is to become uplifted as a paradigm for others to follow, and to integrate the fusion between past, present and projection into future courses of action.  For, in the end, to have a proper “perspective” is nothing more than to realize the “now” in light of past experience and apply it to future predictability.  But what if the human constitution does not always allow for identical natures inherent to all?  Why do some lack it, while others are deemed to be forever secure in wisdom and reliance?  Solomon is reputed to have possessed it; the women who approached him, lacked it; and the audience surrounding had no clue of it.

In law, generally, it is the tactician who can strategize by means of understanding the applicability of precedents relevant to a given case, and if it goes before a Hearing or a Trial, to incite the emotional empathy of jurors and the sense of justice uncommonly deviated from the Judge’s aplomb of impervious fortitude that wins the day.  In Federal Disability Retirement law, perspective is often needed in order to make the right kind of judgments throughout the administrative process of preparing, formulating and 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.

Having the “wrong” perspective – first, about filing at all, and second, about the administrative process and procedural hurdles itself – can result with inaction leading to detrimental consequences.  Possessing and applying the “right” perspective encompasses a wide range of issues:  whether to file; when to file; how to file; what evidentiary annotations of facts, argumentation and laws should be included in order to implement the most effective pathway to an approval of the Federal Disability Retirement application.

Perspective:  it is something that legal counsel and experience of advice can provide within a framework of a time in one’s life when it is sorely lacking.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Recognizing the best of times

Often, we mistake short-term travails with the chronic despair experienced by some.  In the midst of an experiential trauma, compounded by a lack of capacity to consider the limited perspective we find ourselves in, the enmeshment of the “now” without any insight for a better tomorrow, a future to behold nor a distance aglow with the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, inflames the inner Darwinian categories of instinctive responsiveness to merely survive.

In retrospect, one’s judgment on any particular day or time, or even of an event remembered, may be altered.  We may even point to that slice of life and state with aplomb, “It was actually the best of times.”  How often do we hear that when one harkens back to the starving days, when struggling was a daily commotion and worrying was but a common routine?

By contrast, such reverential references are rarely attributed to those periods where longevity of suffering cannot be measured, where the chronic nature of the pain cannot be determined, and where no promises can be made that tomorrow will be any better off, no matter what extent of effort is exerted, than the next day, or the day before, or the day after, or the time prior.  In such circumstances, change itself may be a necessary component in the search for a light of hope.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who daily struggle with fulfilling the positional requirements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option available.

The concept itself – the “best of times” – is a relative one; we compare it to other memories where distance of time has not faded too radically a moment of the negative:  no (or lesser) pain; controlled depression; inability to remain sedentary for long; unable to bend, lift or reach repetitively; unable to engage in the physical requirements of the job; inability to have the requisite focus, concentration or work for any sustained period of time without the high distractibility of pain; these, and many more, constitute the foundational loss which may qualify the Federal or Postal employee to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Perhaps, getting an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will not necessarily mean that the best of times still lay before one; but surely, whatever the future beholds, the chronic nature of one’s medical condition, the unbearable burden of the daily toil just to make it to work, cannot by any manner of the definition, even imply that the “best of times” resides in the present circumstances of choice.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a choice of sorts; it is to recognize that there is, indeed, life after Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service, and further, that recognizing the best of times involves movement forward and beyond, where the present circumstances of negative returns will likely never allow for a regeneration of that which keeps us stuck in the quicksand of daily toil.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire