OPM FERS/CSRS Disability Retirement: Substantive versus Linguistic Redefinition

Once the acceptance of dissociative dichotomy between language and the objective world became entrenched, the path of ease with which to tinker with language in order to adeptly fit language to reality (i.e., redefine words, concepts and meanings) became a simple next step in the process.

There are, of course, limitations.  A rock thrown and shattering a bottle is difficult to avoid, no matter how much linguistic gymnastics may be engaged.  For reality-based situations which must encounter the language game, one cannot come closer to the correspondence necessary than when one encounters a medical condition.

For the Federal and Postal Worker who must confront the reality of a medical condition, such that the medical condition impacts one’s life, livelihood and future financial security, the reality of the importance of “getting it right” is never more certain.

Often, the question is asked on a purely linguistic level: Will medical condition-X qualify me?  That is the wrong question.

For, Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the question must be asked in an alternative manner, because the entire process of proving one’s case is unlike Social Security Disability and other forums.

In those “other” criteria, the identification of the medical condition itself — i.e., the linguistic identification of the issue — will often be enough to determine qualification criteria.  But for Federal Disability Retirement purposes, it is the direct encounter and confrontation between language and reality which must be faced and embraced: Not “what” identified medical condition, but rather, “how” the medical condition impacts, in the real world, the essential elements of one’s job and how one can adequately perform them.

Thus, Federal Disability Retirement cannot avoid the correspondence between language and reality; it is that very question touching upon the nexus between language (the identified medical condition) and reality (how that medical condition impacts the physical or cognitive ability of the worker to engage in the world) which must be answered.  Thus, no matter what linguistic deconstructionists declare: language does require a correspondence with reality, and truth does still matter despite the hard-fought and persistent attempts to otherwise make irrelevant that which we all accept in the everyday world.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: The Theory of Correspondence

20th Century Philosophy has witnessed the steady progression of deconstruction; of centuries of attempting to answer age-old questions which challenged the mind, only to be declared that it was, all throughout, the question which was the problem, and the imprecise manner of communication through language difficulties and conceptual confusions that created the unfathomable difficulties, and that therefore there are no substantive problems in philosophy to solve.

Bertrand Russell, the entire tradition of English Empiricism, and long comes Wittgenstein; and any theory of correspondence between language and the “objective” world was cast aside as being impractical, unendurable, and in the end, untrue — though, as truth itself became an empty concept, it remained a puzzle as to how such a declarative end could be proposed.

But it was ultimately the devaluing of correspondence which became most troubling; for, now, as there was and is no connection between language and reality, so an individual can do and say one thing, and be and remain another. Perhaps that is why Facebook, Twitter and electronic media are so popular; we have become who we merely declare we are.

That is often the insidious nature of a medical condition; when once it becomes known, we want to ignore it, conceal it, and think it away; but somehow the physical reality of one’s life cannot be erased so easily as words on paper, or through the use of a ‘delete’ button.

Medical conditions really do impact us; and if the Federal or Postal employee finds him/herself beset with a medical condition such that it prevents one from performing the essential elements of one’s job, then the reality of a career’s end and a change of vocation is one which is beyond mere words. But words and completing forms are what must be performed in formulating, preparing and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS.

So, in the end, the integrity of correspondence occurs, despite what modern philosophy says — there is still, and will always be, a connection between language and reality, and that is clear and unavoidable for the Federal and Postal employee who must attempt to maneuver one’s way through the bureaucracy and administrative procedures of a Federal Disability Retirement case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Beyond the Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the medical condition in a Federal Disability Retirement case, either under FERS or CSRS, is merely the beginning point in preparing a case. As the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C., is fond of repetitively pointing out, “The mere existence of a medical condition is not a basis for approval under Federal Disability Retirement laws.” While there may be some exceptions for certain severe medical conditions, the statement itself contains a truism which needs to be kept in mind throughout the process.  

Ultimately, in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement case, one must approach the entire process (a process, by the way, which is taking longer and longer to complete, as the backlog at the Office of Personnel Management is increasingly extending the wait-time) with a view towards bridging the two critical elements in any successful filing:  (A) the medical condition and (B) its impact upon one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  It is that “connective tissue” between the two which must be the focus, and that is why the symptoms which manifest themselves from the origin (the diagnosis) is what must be discussed.  For, ultimately, while the diagnosis of a medical condition provides the basis for which a medical specialist may begin treatment on a patient, it is the symptoms/symptomatologies which provide the answer to the question in all Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS:  In what way does one’s medical condition prevent a Federal or Postal Employee from performing the essential elements of one’s job?  That is the critical question which must be answered, in order to have a chance at having one’s Federal Disability Retirement application approved by the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Symptoms & Diagnoses

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is not that a formal diagnosis is unimportant; rather, it is that the diagnosis itself is merely a starting point and does not reveal the story which must be told in order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

From a medical viewpoint, for treatment purposes and from the perspective of the treating doctor, identifying the source of the pain, entertaining the various treatment options, considering which treatment modalities will be most effective, etc., all play into identifying the proper source of the symptoms.  Thus, from a treatment perspective, identifying the medical condition by ascribing the proper diagnosis is of paramount importance.  A doctor often cannot begin the proper course of treatment unless and until formal identification is established. To that extent, it is also the beginning point for the treating doctor, in that once a source of pain or origin of symptoms is diagnosed, then various treatment modalities can be considered.  

For purposes of becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is also merely a starting point.  As the Office of Personnel Management often likes to point out, “The mere existence of a medical condition does not mean that a person is disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.”  While quoting OPM as the source of legal authority is normally unwise, nevertheless one must grant that this particular statement is true within its limited context, and must be kept in mind when preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for US Government Employees: Numbers

Numbers, statistics and percentages rarely tell a complete story, especially in relation to a person’s medical condition.  In Federal Disability Retirement applications under FERS or CSRS, numbers must be utilized carefully and, more importantly, effectively.  Moreover, numbers can be used to diminish or otherwise minimize the seriousness of a medical condition.

For example, if the loss of a forefinger of a right-hand dominant individual would constitute a 5% disability of the “whole person”, does that tell the full story of the impact of such a medical condition upon one’s ability to perform a job which requires daily manual dexterity & use of the right hand?  Or if the loss of vision in one eye were deemed to be a 10% disability, how would one quantify such a medical condition for a computer graphics engineer?

Scheduled awards for Worker’s Comp requires such quantification; and the Veterans Administration ascribes service-connected disability ratings, but unless one descriptively defines the relevance of such numbers to the impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, such numbers lose their importance and relevance.

In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize that the language used, and not the numbers ascribed, determines the relevance and ultimate success.  Numbers must be descriptively quantified; numbers in and of themselves never tell a story, except perhaps to the mathematician, which the workers at the Office of Personnel Management are not.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire