Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Analogy of Games

Games created and imagined by societies will likely reflect societal values, beliefs, fears, and generally the character and personality of the social structure of the time.

That is why life situations are often described and elaborated upon by reference to particular games, by analogy, to elucidate the reality of a specific situation, or perhaps even the absurdity — because by describing the game, it removes the need to discuss a present reality, and instead to speak of it in terms of a third-person phenomena.

Thus, one might refer to the game of Go — and instruct the novice that, as in life, every time you “pass”, the opponent gains a move, and the more you pass, the greater gains, until victory occurs.  Or the oft-quoted game of Chess, in which one must always think in terms of 5 moves ahead, lest your opponent already has mapped out the path to checkmate before you have even considered your options.  And so we live life as we play games.

For the Federal or Postal Worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such analogies are instructive.  “Passing”, as in the game of Go, will only allow the two opponents — the agency, and the medical condition against which one is battling — to gain the upper hand both in terms of time and closing potential options.  Failing to consider future moves, as in the game of Chess, will only increasingly limit and restrict one’s future ability to act; and so one’s future is diminished by the enemy of time.

In the end, games are created merely for recreation; but life itself is more than a period of fun and games, and failure to consider the seriousness of an analogy is only to the detriment of he who fails to consider the applicability of parallel universes.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Problem of Coordination

The world of language is a peculiar universe of artifice; while comparisons to other primates may provide indicators for the origin and foundational beginnings for the evolution of language in order to better understand where we came from and how we came to be where we presently are — it is the complexity of the present which confounds and amazes.

The conceptual constructs of language lends itself to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misuse; as precision is no longer a standard of usage, so malleability of language now lends itself to clever tricks in order to avoid commitments, breach contracts, and take advantage of unsophisticated opponents.  Thus, the classic statement:  “It all depends upon what the meaning of ‘is’ is”.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the compilation and coalescence of differing language games (to borrow a Wittgensteinian phrase) must be presented:  Language of the lay person (the Federal or Postal worker who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits); language of the medical profession (doctors’ reports, technical diagnostic test results, office notes, etc. must be submitted); and legal jargon (legal citations and arguments should also be garnered for support).

Once gathered, the various components of the tripartite language games must somehow be made to complement each other.  This is indeed a difficult task, as each language game constitutes a self-contained artifice of complex meanings.  But coordination of the three spheres of linguistic artifice is key to a successful outcome.  To do this, one must take on the role of being a technician, a conjurer, and a pseudo-artist all at once — in other words, to juggle the three balls such that one may understand that what “is” is indeed that which is and is not.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Language, Truth, and the Agency

Wittgenstein’s conceptual identification of society’s creation of various “language games” is indicative of a relativistic approach to truth and reality.  For, Wittgenstein rejected the classical tradition of the correspondence theory of truth, where language corresponds to events in the “objective” physical realm, and in the course of such correspondence, arrives at a notion of objective truth.  Instead, the world of language is an artificial creation within the consciousness of societies, and is tantamount to board games which we play.

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 often interesting and instructive to view the entire bureaucratic process as a kind of “language game” which one must master and engage in.  Indeed, encounters with how one’s own agency views the game, then how OPM views the game, can be quite shocking.

The fact that it is not a “game” per se, for the Federal or Postal employee who is depending upon the Federal Disability Retirement annuity for his or her livelihood for the short-term, does not undermine the fact that agencies and OPM act as if it is just another board game — say, for instance, chess, in the the manner in which various strategic moves and counter-moves are made to try and corner the Federal or Postal employee; or the classical game of go, in which territories are asserted and surrounded in order to “defeat” the opponent.

Language is meant to convey meaning and to communicate human value, worth, emotions and factual occurrences as reflected in the physical world; it is only us humans who create a universe of artifice in which we sequester ourselves in order to torment the weaker members of such participants.  But because language is the only game within the realm of human living, we must contend with the language games played by Federal agencies, and especially the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire