What if you are involved in the highest levels of competitive marksmanship – say, target shooting by a rifle, or crossbow, or bow and arrow, or even by a pistol. You shot throughout the morning, and hit the bulls eye every time; your opponents try to keep up with you, but at each level of competition, there is a slight deviation here, a centimeter there, and systematically, the competition is “eliminated”, and you are left standing at the podium of the “winner”.
As the trophy is brought out, the Chief Judge who is about to present the awards and ceremonial crown, pauses, reflects for a moment, and declares: “Sorry, but it turns out that you were shooting at the wrong target each time.” They then present the accolades to the “runner up”, who was shooting on the same range, aiming at each turn at the target set up in his or her respective lane of sightings, and seemed to follow the protocol as set up by the competition and the committee of judges.
You go and question the judgment of the judges, and especially address the Chief Judge, protesting: “What do you mean? I shot at the target that was set up.” “But you shot at the wrong target. Your target was the one in the lane next to you. You shot in Lane A; you were supposed to be in Lane B”. And you argue: “But that is irrelevant. Lane A is the same as Lane B, and there is no difference between the two.” And the Chief Judge says: “Look at your designated Card Assignment: It states without question, ‘Assigned to Lane A’. Yet, you shot all targets in Lane B”. You persist in arguing: “But what difference does it make? It is the same target whether I am in Lane A or Lane B?” And the kicker from the Chief Judge: “In life, you can’t just do what you want; you have to obey the rules.”
Who is right? Would it matter which lane one is assigned to, and whether obedience to the protocol and adherence to the “letter of the law” is followed, when the substantive point of the whole process – hitting the target – is clearly accomplished beyond the competence of all others? We often encounter that anomaly in life – of the seeming conflict between the technicality of the issue (the “minutiae” otherwise unnoticed by the rest of the population) and the general adherence based upon common knowledge and boredom of repetitive protocol. It may well be a trite redundancy, but when a “technicality” is involved, then a technician is the one to call.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of the “wrong target” and the “technical violation” of the rules is appropriate to recognize and consider: For, in Federal Disability Retirement Law, as in many other facets of legal wrangling, making sure that the larger compass of hitting the “right” target, as well as keeping within the proper lane of technical legal issues, are both equally important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
The “wrong target” is the agency; the “right target” is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The “technicalities” encompass the statutes, laws, regulations and legal opinions as rendered by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit Courts on issues pertaining to Federal Disability Laws litigated as precedents. And, who is the proper “technician” to call? An attorney who is experienced in fighting the cause for Federal and Postal employees, to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire