Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Law’s efficacy

When is “the law” effective?  Especially when speaking about an administrative procedure such as filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – what role does “the law” play in its procedural and substantive aspects?

Multiple distinctions are made on a daily basis with respect to the law’s efficacy; whether something is “legal” or not does not always mean that it is enforceable, for the costs associated may be prohibitively expensive.  To have a “legal right” does not always mean that one should necessarily assert it, for there may be practical considerations that come into play before moving forward with applying that which is rightfully existent.

Further, the mere fact that the law may be “on the books” may not necessarily mean that a society will always raise it up from the dead and apply it; for, as customs and normative constraints alter, modify and become transformed by evolution of thought, it may well be that dogs best left sleeping are the ones who are never bothered.

In Administrative Law – which Federal Disability Retirement issues are a part of – there is always the question as to what role, significant, relevant or somewhat in between, “the law” plays, as many steps throughout the procedure and process must deal with non-lawyers who have no clue as to the existence, force or applicability of legal matters.

Thus, should the “Bruner Presumption” be argued at the initial stage of a Federal Disability Retirement application even though the administrative specialist who is reviewing the Federal Disability Retirement application may have no clue about its impact, doesn’t much care and will likely not give much thought to its contextual relevance?

Does Bracey v. OPM matter when discussing the finer points of issues pertaining to accommodations and reassignment, or is that merely some esoteric legal argument that should be reserved for the Third Stage of the process, if and when a Federal Disability Retirement application is denied twice (both at the Initial Stage of the process, as well as at the Second, Reconsideration Stage) and is appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and comes before an Administrative Judge?

Should Simpkins versus OPM always be argued for Veterans with Service-connected ratings, no matter what the ratings are comprised of?

The law’s efficacy is ultimately determined not necessarily by the quantitative bombardment of effective methodological argumentation, but by the qualitative selectiveness of who to argue to, when to argue and for what purpose.  In the end, law’s efficacy is a strategic component that may determine the successful or otherwise outcome of a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be considered thoughtfully and with great preparation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

PM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Those goals

What constitutes a worthwhile goal?  Is it determined by the outcome – i.e., a retrospective, outcome-based proposal, as opposed to the gambling one where one must enter into the dangerous waters not knowing what the future provides?  Are we so safely ensconced in life’s predictability such that we will not longer accept as a goal that which cannot be ascertained unless and until there is some guarantee?

Do people immediately criticize and diminish the stated goal by categorizing it as either “realistic” or “unrealistic”?  Is there a distinction with a difference between “dreams” and “goals”, where the former is unbounded and unfettered by the reality of expectations, whereas the latter must be confined to that which can be reasonably ascertained as achievable?

What of the child who “dreams” of becoming a major league baseball player – do we cite the statistical odds against it, even at the tender age of 5?  What if the child works diligently and shows some promise – daily exercises, practices at every aspect of the game, and joins this league or that and shows “promise” and “potential” – at what point do we advise him (or her) to give up and “become realistic”?

Are some dreams okay to retain and have despite any semblance of “reality” intervening to make them come true – like secretly wanting to be a novelist (even though not a single page, let alone one sentence, has been put on paper) or a pro basketball player (even if you are 5’ 3”, and certainly no Muggsy Bogues), just because it makes one “feel good” or allow for self-confidence by carrying a secretive self-image that one is not what one truly appears to be?

At what point do dreams become goals, and goals merely dreams?  Is it when you actually take a “concrete” step towards making a dream become a reality, that then you have a goal, because the latter is “achievable” while the former is not?  Or is it like that old Chinese proverb that Kennedy liked to recite (or was becoming a writer for John F. Kennedy merely a “dream” and that is why Ted Sorensen, his ghost writer, is the one who did all the writing that the former President merely dreamed about?), that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?

Or, perhaps like the Federal or Postal worker who suffers 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 position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service, the goal is to become healthy again – or is it merely a dream?

Dream or goal, for the Federal or Postal worker trying to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be reviewed and determined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, like the potential baseball star or the best power forward in the business of pro basketball, the first step is the most important – of realizing dreams into goals, and goals into realistic dreams, whichever may be the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Outward appearance, inward thoughts

It is, of course, the core of Western thought, originating from Socratic arguments against placing one’s faith in the “appearance” of things as opposed to the Platonic Forms that represent true Being; and through Aristotelian arguments of a “substratum” that underlies the outward appearance, to the certitude of Cogito, ergo sum; then, the inner reliance where subjectivity and objectivity coalesce and the distinctions became undoable by Wittgenstein’s standards of banishing all Philosophical problems to mere linguistic confusion, and the belittling scoffs of Russell’s mischievous analysis; these, and many more in the history of contemplative reflection that has haunted the aggregate of outward appearance versus inward thoughts.

All of which brings us to the core of so many medical conditions – where so much cannot be seen and we often have to “exaggerate” just to get people to believe us.  Take “pain”, as an example – one can be in excruciating pain, and yet remain unemotional about it.  Even if an MRI result shows that there is a physical basis for which the pain is experienced, nevertheless, pain by definition is a subjective component, and cannot publicly be quantified.

That is why conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain syndrome, Failed Back Syndrome, not to even mention Major Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, etc. – how does one persuade others of the “real-ness” of the condition?  Broken bones, malignant tumors, catastrophic injuries; these, inward thoughts (believability) are consistent with outward appearance.

There is, in the end, a distinction with a difference that must be acknowledged, between “having a medical condition” and “proving a medical condition” – especially when it comes to preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  There are, moreover, certain factors that “favor” the Federal Disability Retirement applicant – such as the standard of proof (Preponderance of the Evidence, as opposed to higher legal standards out there); the weight and validity of a treating doctor’s opinion; and certain clinical evidence that moves the chess pieces beyond mere subjective opinion, thereby bridging the gap between outward appearance and inward thoughts.

Preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application requires more than just gathering a pile of medical documents and submitting it. In the end, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must PROVE one’s case, in order to get beyond mere outward appearance and inward thoughts.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Reality and poetry

A woman sits on a park bench surrounded by the concrete giants of looming buildings and antiseptic structures overhanging and overshadowing all but the remnants of nature’s detritus, with the cooing pigeons that bob their heads back and forth as they meander about in the contrast between reality and poetry.

And she has a book in her hands.  It is a book of poetry.  Who the author is; what the verses metaphorically narrate; how the images impact the quiet reader; these are not so important as the oxymoron of life’s misgivings:  A city; the overwhelming coercion of modernity’s dominance and encroachment into nature’s receding and dying reserve; and what we hang on to is a book of poetry that reminds us that beauty is now relegated to printed pages of verses that attempt to remind of beauty now forever lost.

No, let us not romanticize the allegory of a past life never existent, such as Rousseau’s “state of nature” where man in a skimpy loincloth walks about communing with nature’s resolve; instead, the reality that man has lost any connection to his surroundings, and is now lost forever in the virtual world of smartphones, computers, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Texting.

The tactile experiences of our individual encounters with the objective world is now merely the touch of a screen, and feel of glass, metal and plastic, and the pigeons we feed with such joy and excitement from park-benches manufactured with recycled materials so that we can “feel good” about the environment that we have abandoned.  And so we are left with the reality of our lives, and the poetry that we always try and bring into it, if not merely to remind us that there is more to it all than work, weekends and fleeting thoughts of wayward moments.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an additional reality – of a medical condition that impacts his or her life in significant ways – the third component is not a mere irrelevancy that complicates, but often becomes the focal point of joining both reality and poetry.  Medical conditions have the disturbing element of reminding us of priorities in life.  Reality, as we often experience it, is to merely live, make a living, survive and continue in the repetitive monotony of somehow reaching the proverbial “end” – retirement, nursing home, sickness and death.

Poetry is what allows for the suffering of reality to be manageable and somehow tolerable; it is not just a verse in a book or a line that rhymes, but the enjoyment of moments with loved ones and those times when everything else becomes “worthwhile” because of it.  But then, there is the complication of a medical condition – that which jolts us into wakefulness of a reality that makes it painful and unacceptable.  What is the road forth?

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition now makes even work at the Federal agency or Postal facility intolerable, preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is at least a path to be considered.  It is a long, arduous and difficult road that must wind its way through the U.S. Office or Personnel Management, but the choices are limited, and surely, you never want to abandon the poetry of life, and be left with only the reality of the medical condition?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The defeating question

It is the question itself which is often “telling”; it informs us of where the line of answering and posited queries is likely to take us.  It is like the map that guides in a certain direction, the compass that informs one of the vantage point of one’s existence or the gravitational pull which pulls in order to remain cohesive with other heavenly bodies; the question itself may not even need an answer.

The latter, of course, is referred to as a “rhetorical” one – that which needs no answer, is asked without necessarily seeking a response, and the one that, standing alone in the silence of an unsolicited reflection, cuts deep into the queried subject in order to provoke a contemplative reaction.  But of the “defeating” question – is it ever asked or, if it is, what is its purposive intent and deliberative content?

It is the one that is avoided, and left unasked because the facts, circumstances and surrounding context will almost always already be known to the inquiring mind.  What is the purpose for which it is asked?

No, not to defeat, but rather, to admit to the already-obvious answer that is readily known, by virtue suspected and thus absented and avoided.  Plagues reported, germs suspected and sneezing people avoided, the defeating question is the one that you already know the answer to, but by the mere fact of not vocally articulating it, is intended to remain unspoken and thus carefully avoided.

It is like the neighborhood bully that requires running after school at full speed over fences and back alleys; and like the dog barking in the early morning requiring one or of the other of the spouses to get up and let out, each hoping that the other will think kindly of the fake snoring and each avoiding the direct obligation and love for the animal itself; the defeating question, once asked, is in danger of being answered and therefore brought “out in the open” for no one to ignore, anymore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may require the Federal or Postal employee to prepare, formulate and file 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, the question unasked and avoided, and the one feared as the “defeating question” is quite simply: Do I need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?

Already answered.  The only difference is, what is meant by “defeating”, is often within the purview of the inquiring mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement under FERS & CSRS: Why we endure

Why, indeed?  We have all come to a point where we have just had it, and want to “chuck it all” in – into what, we often only have an obscure sense, or none at all, but it is the feeling of having reached a pinnacle of despair and those proverbial depths of despondency.  There is, fortunately or unfortunately, no hidden corner or secret room to which we can scurry away to, never to be seen again, remain unnoticed and left without the troubles of the day.

Why do we endure? Because others depend upon us; because to do otherwise would disappoint those we care for; by duty and obligations which compel our actions and form our thoughts; to avoid a sense of guilt; because life isn’t all those doldrums we sometimes complain of, but can sometimes have a spark of sunshine that makes it worthwhile; and for a host of multiple other reasons that we may not think of at this moment, but know to exist because we have continued to endure in the face of challenges and tumults of life that, for some, would constitute that breaking point, but for those still “in the race” and fighting “in the thick” of things (whatever those pithy and inane sayings of trite trollops really mean), we just continue to trudge along.

For some, perhaps the question of “why” never comes up – and like dullards who are happy to remain in the sullenness of life’s garbage pits, ignorant bliss is the best state to be in, while those who constantly complain about the minor irritants of life’s misgivings never stop to smell the roses along the way (there, we have managed to state the penultimate triteness of linguistic pithiness).

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who ask the same question in the face of medical conditions experienced and suffered, it takes on a new meaning when workplace harassment begins to intensify, especially because the benefit of filing for Federal Disability Retirement is there precisely in those circumstances such that the “why” is answered when a Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job.  It is precisely so that the Federal or Postal employee would not have to endure the pain, suffering or the cognitive decline in direct connection and nexus to the essential elements of a Federal or Postal employee’s official position in the Federal or Postal sector, that OPM Disability Retirement benefits are offered and able to be secured.

While filing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset is a long and arduous bureaucratic process, nevertheless, filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is that avenue and course of action that answers the very question we sometimes must ponder and posit: Why we endure?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Meaning of life

Most of us are too busy to pause for air, reflect upon theoretical, hypothetical or philosophical issues that have little to do with day-to-day living or earning wages in order to maintain a certain standard of living.  Every now and then, however, when the tumults of life’s encounters reaches a pinnacle of unsolvable problems such that the stressors exceed the barometric pressure allowable for the human psyche to withstand, there is a compelled stoppage, a mandated cessation and a forced condemnation to rest.

It is, in short, called a “medical condition”.

It is when we become debilitated, destroyed, distraught and disillusioned that we begin to ask such universal, exhaustive and unnatural (by this term is meant with a rhetorical question:  What other animal in nature asks such questions, and thus do we posit them as “unnatural”) to the core queries that, as Bertrand Russell once wittily quipped, is likely the result of indigestion.

What do we mean when we ask such questions; of looking up at the ceiling with furrowed eyebrows and inquiring, “What is the meaning of all of this?”  It is, of course, the focal point of “this” that one must then turn to, for such a word is obscure, undefined and like a blank space to be filled, can be interpreted in an eternity of ways depending upon the context of the query.

Is the “this” referring to the pain, suffering and debilitating medical condition being experienced?  Is it about the “unfairness” of it all and the fact that others seem to be roaming this earth carefree, careless and thoughtless as to one’s pain, whether physical, emotional or cognitive?  Or does the “this” reference the connection of all of that striving, the hours and commitment to work – of a loyalty to a Federal Agency or the Postal Service who cares not about your medical condition, may not have even noticed your absence (at least for the time being until someone finally notices the pile of work backing up on the desk of that…what was her name?) and likely thinks of individuals as mere cogs in a wheel, replaceable and fungible.

In the end, Russell was probably right; such questions about the “meaning of life” are beyond the comprehension of any level of rationality, belief or coherency that has any real impact upon our lives to make a true difference.  What really matters, in the end, is not that “philosophical” query about the meaning of life, but about human contact, relationships, and securing a future for ourselves and our families.

To that end, preparing, formulating and filing 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 is an important next step for the Federal or Postal employee who can no longer continue in the career position of his or her choice.  For, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application actually does answer the question, “What is the meaning of ______”; it may not be the grand concept of “life” itself that completes that blank, but it sure beats walking away with nothing by obtaining an annuity to secure one’s future so that other things in life may be enjoyed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire