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

 

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The mindful debate

The concept itself can take on various meanings: of a “thoughtful” discourse or disagreement between two or more individuals; of a debate that takes into account factors leading to a courteous and conversational engagement; or of even a third meaning — that of an insular soliloquy, where the only voices participating in the debate are those of one’s own: voices that are never heard by the public ear, nor recognized by anyone else but the lonely voice within.

That is often the most dangerous of debates; for, in the end, who is the judge of such a debate, as to who wins or loses the argument?  Was there ever a chance for a third voice — an “objective” party outside of the confines of one’s own mind — to bring in another perspective, a different thought or a distinct voice of reason?

No — the mindful debate that includes only the purveyor of a one-sided perspective is predestined to conclude with a narrow viewpoint, and moreover, one that cannot be properly judged as right or wrong precisely because it was predetermined at the outset to a perspective unwilling to listen to differences. How often and how many walk about silently while never engaging others, forever having the mindful debate within?

It is too often the voices that consider the validity of such a debate to be singular, lonely and irrational, if only because rationality needs the input of voices other than one’s own.  Such mindful debates can turn to the solitary agony of troubled waters resulting from a myopic and wrongheaded view that things are worse than they seem, and it is the “seeming” that leads one astray.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the singular voice that occurs in the loneliness of one’s mind is too often a one-sided debate until and unless you seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.

Don’t let misinformation misguide you; do not allow for wrong paths to take you down error’s lane just because you have engaged in the solitary conclusions of a mindful debate.  Instead, before preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law and start including others in the mindful debate such that the mindfulness of the debate becomes also a thoughtful one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: A break from the quotidian

Is there ever a release from the commonplace?  We take it so for granted – those mundane occurrences of daily living – until the greater pain of life’s misgivings overwhelm and supersede.  The quotidian is a fancy term for the everyday; that routine which we engage in from the moment our eyes open, the sleepiness is cast aside, and the feet are sheathed into slippers or socks, or perhaps not at all; and all that was just described, as well, constitutes the quotidian.

How can we speak of that which occurs daily, is of the commonplace, and provides no fodder for interest or spark of fiery eyes?  Have you ever had a conversation that recurs almost daily, as in the general small-talk with the clerk behind the counter brewing the coffee, or the next-door neighbor who relishes the horsepower of a lawnmower just purchased – and wonder how the stifled yawn might unravel the boredom of life’s privacy?  Where are the gods who once ruled the earth, the mammoths of being who roamed the terraces of epic battles now lost in mythologies severed from the culture of vacuous minds?

Yet, it is by the quotidian that sanity is maintained, where interest is imposed and character is developed.  We often wish for that which we do not possess, yet, upon the embracing of that which we desire, we realize the ineptitude of life’s misgivings and hope for change where alteration of purpose is the last thing we require.  Like Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence, the reenactment of life’s quotidian muse will, with boredom and repetitive insanity, compel us all across eternity of time and limitless space, to relive that which causes us to become overwhelmed with somnolence of misbehavior.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is clearly bored, until a word is spoken, a thought conveyed, and a spark of life is seen in those dull eyes which dispossessed life’s gifts just a moment before, and suddenly becomes a burning fury ignited by an unknown flintlock exploding with colorful trepidation?  Perhaps you cannot even fathom what compelled it, but it is there, deep in the recesses of the window to the soul of a being, and suddenly, there is life where once but a moment before, death’s promise had overwhelmed and overtaken.

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 positional duties, a break from the quotidian is often the search for that mundane part of life which seems forever lost.  For, when a medical condition begins to overpower, it is precisely the quotidian that is sought.  Others may not understand that, and many will never comprehend it.

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, is often the first step in that journey where the quotidian is indeed the epic goal to attain, and when the greater historical deed would be traded for a mere good night’s sleep and a moment of quietude away from the anguish of one’s own medical condition.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The pendulum swing

Time used to “march on”, and the pendulum swing was a metaphor which everyone understood.  No more.  The digital age of technological superiority has made such inane profundities left stacked upon the history of obsolescence.  But for cherished grandfather clocks in hallways of mansions forgotten, or in the mysteries of worn novels where the tick-tock represented the anticipation of the sudden death scream; the slow, mechanical device which moves to and fro, left to right, right to left, and into the eternal progression of marked time, is but an irritant for the noise it makes.

Have we outlasted the utility of mechanical complexity?  Does the software program in which we see nothing but an algorithm of undecipherable content ever transcend the fascination we glean from springs, weights and mechanisms of human innovation?

The time piece too heavy to carry about, yet never replaced the pocket watch transferred with generational delight, and reflected the craftsman’s care in perfecting the soul of a person’s worth.  Somehow, the digital face of a blinking light flashing when the electrical surge fails to protect, is not the same as the quiet peace of an undisturbed house when the pendulum ceases to swing because the owner forgot to adjust the weights.  And history now forgets, too, doesn’t it?

Are we at the far side of the extreme, never to swing back, because there is no pendulum to remind us?  Can the death of the clockmaker mean the end of reason and compromise, because there is no metaphor to realize, anymore?  We tend to believe that such metaphors follow upon a literary device of recognizing something more than the mere fodder of mechanical devices; but what if the opposite were true – that the cadence of history required the invention of the pendulum itself, and the stoppage of such back-and-forth, to-and-fro means that only the extremes of disproportionate swings will remain frozen as the epicenter of man’s egregious faults?

We assume much; and when we presume to follow history’s dialectical progression without considering the actions within our own willpower, Nietzsche’s eternal return to the bosom of our follies will surely unravel and reveal itself in the face of our reflected foolishness.  And so, as the proverbial pendulum has stopped, stuck in the timeless middle of muddled quietude, so the failure to make any progress in our own personal lives will be another lost metaphor in the eternal dustbin of forgotten concerns.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who want to break the cycle of being stuck perennially in the quicksand of mediocrity, it may be the ripened time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.  For, as time fails to move without the movement of objects surrounding, so the human frailty of non-movement and inertia is a broken mechanism deep in the recesses of the human heart.

Taking the next step – any step – in filing for Federal Employee Disability Retirement benefits with OPM, is at least a slight movement, a reverberation, of that time harkening for the pendulum to swing back to its proper place of origin.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Medical Retirement: Avoiding emotional identification

We all do it, to one extent or another; doctors who deal with terminal children or relegated to the emergency floors; patients who must see the foreboding grief in the eyes of family members who have been told; psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who listen “objectively” to the turmoil and trauma of other lives; the capacity for human compartmentalism is nearly inexhaustible.

Does the horse who listens to the cab driver in the brilliant short story, “Misery” (or often subtitled as, “Grief” or “To whom shall I tell my grief?”), by Anton Chekhov, have a choice in the matter?  Well, you say, the horse cannot understand the linguistic intricacies of the story told!  And, yet, we designate dogs and other animals as therapeutic breeds capable of soothing the wounded and scarred psyche of our neighbors…  The flip side of such a capacity, of course, leads to human cruelty beyond mere animalistic behavior, where the caverns of barbarism know no bounds.

The murderous son can torture in the name of the State by day, and sit with his mother at the dinner table and weep with genuine sorrow over the arthritic pain felt by infirmity and old age; and the boy who remembers the love of his mother may singe the wings of insects with pyrotechnic delight as mere gaggles of laughter unhinged by a warped conscience.  But, you say, insects and the lower order of animals don’t have “feelings” in the same way we do!  What does that statement truly mean, but merely to justify an act which — if otherwise directed at a fellow human being — would border on the criminal?

Bifurcation of lives lived is an important survival component for the health of the human psyche.  To identify with a suffering soul on an intellectual level allows for comprehension and understanding; to do so on a par at an emotional level merely subsumes one into the other, and negates the capacity to provide wisdom or advice.  That is why, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application by a FERS, CSRS or CSRS employee, whether in a Postal capacity or as a non-Postal, Federal employee, it is important to recognize that if a Federal or Postal employee prepares the Statement of Disability on SF 3112A without representation, the subject and object of such preparation are one and the same, and therefore collectively engages in an activity of emotional identification which is difficult to avoid.  For, the person of whom the Statement of Disability is written, is the same person who is the author of the narrative on SF 3112A.

Is there a danger to be avoided?  Isn’t there an advantage in conveying the feelings by the same person who experiences the trauma and medical condition?  If objectivity is defined, in part, at least, as a reasoned perspective from multiple sides of an issue or fact, then the greater distance ensconced between the subject discussed and the narrator empowered, will allow for the attainment of that position of elevated perception.

Certainly, that is how the administrative specialist at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will be reviewing your case — by avoiding emotional identification, and trying to sort through the pain, suffering and legal implications of the Federal Disability Retirement application, hopefully prepared and formulated in as objective a manner as humanly possible.

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