Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Implicit Questions

In many questions, there are multiple sub-questions.  Take, for example, the question:  Why are you so tired?  You may respond first by answering the unasked but implicit question by declaring:  “But I am not tired”.  That is not what the question asked.  Such an answer is a response to the implied question within the question, of:  “Are you tired?”  To the question actually asked, the proper response might be:  I stayed up late last night reading.  The presumptive sub-question unstated and silent but implicit in the major question posited in duality of a contingent combination, is precisely what is often termed as “lawyerly”, and thus somehow deceitful, tricky and attempting to subvert by having the responder accept a non-explicit presumption of facts.

The classic example, of course, is the cross-examination query stated variously as:  “When did you stop beating your wife?”  Before an objection is launched, the unwary witness might respond, “I didn’t” – meaning (from the witness’ perspective) that he never beat his wife in the first place, when in fact such a response evokes a different meaning – that the individual never stopped beating his wife, and continues to do so up until the present.  There is, in such a duality of question/sub-question combination, the presumptive prefatory inquiry, stated as:  “Have you ever beaten your wife?”

It is, in many ways, the capacity and ability to dissect and recognize the need to bifurcate or even trifurcate linguistic bundles that require thought, reflection and insightful methodologies in order to help define existence as successful or otherwise challenging.   Life is a tough road to forge; language opens the world by allowing for avenues and pathways of communication, but it also compels constructing obstacles that deflect and defeat the reality of Being surrounding us.

In the linear historicity of language and the explosion of thought, conceptual paradigms and communication inventories, the commingling of questions, the looseness of language and the careless ways in which thoughts are provoked, may lend itself to confusion, puzzlement and an inability to solve problems.  That is, of course, the strength of argument impounded by the British Empiricists, and while their collective denial of any substantive issues inherent in philosophical problems is itself suspect, their contribution in attempting to identify peripheral, “non-substantive” issues arising from the imprecise usage of language, in contradistinction to central and essential conundrums, helps us all.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing to formulate a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, a word to the wise:  SF 3112A contains multiple implicit questions, and bifurcation – nay, trifurcation – is an important element to consider and resolve.  Be cognizant of the implicit question – lest you answer the major question without considering the prefatory query.  Standard Forms are replete with compound questions, and the unwary will inevitably fall into the trap of answering the question posed on the surface, and in so doing, admit to facts presumptively “hidden” in sub-questions unasked.

Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application requires the effort of untangling such compounding and confounding queries; it is up to the unwary Federal or Postal employee to bifurcate and trifurcate such attempts, and to dissect, with precision of purpose, the questions unasked, and answer those which are both prefatory and sequential.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Social Justice

Concurrent litigation entanglements occur often enough; if one has the capacity and ability to compartmentalize life, such multi-adversarial offensives can be effectively coordinated.  At the same time, however, it is important to recognize the folly of spreading oneself too thin; history confirms the defeats suffered at the principle of too much, too soon, as in Germany’s incursion on the Eastern Front while taking on North Africa and the entrance of the United States into a reluctant war.

Strategies of logistical considerations, as well as pragmatic considerations of finances, must always be a factor; thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who face a future with an ongoing medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, consideration should be given to concurrent filings.

If an injury or medical condition is “work-related“, there is nothing wrong with filing for OWCP/DOL benefits, while at the same time filing for OPM Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  If both are approved, the Federal or Postal employee has the option of choosing to activate one, and allowing the other to be approved but remain passive.

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits, for those Federal and Postal employees under FERS, is a mandatory requirement during the process of filing for OPM Disability Retirement, anyway, so obviously the concurrent nature of filing is a necessary given.

When considering more far-reaching litigation entanglements, however, such as filing an EEOC Complaint potentially leading to a trial in the Federal Courts, pause should be given, if only because of the statistical disadvantage and high cost of such litigation.  A 2009 WSJ Article found that EEO discrimination lawsuits fared worst in statistical analysis in wins-to-losses ratio, and more recent studies do not provide greater encouragement.

While the recent focus upon the Pao v. Kleiner Perkins case would seem to highlight such statistical disadvantage, at the same time, one must recognize that the particular court case was a gender discrimination case filed and tried in state court, not in Federal Court, and each case reflects the complexity of the uniqueness of a particular set of facts.

The point here, however, is that while statistical analysis certainly can be skewed based upon a multiplicity of complex factors, for Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, a pragmatic assessment should be made which asks, at a minimum, the following:  Do I want to be involved in a protracted litigation with my supervisors, agency and coworkers?  What is the purpose of my filing for Federal Disability Retirement?  Is the cost-to-benefit analysis sufficient in justifying litigation?  What is my definition of “Social Justice”?

For Federal and Postal employees, filing for, and obtaining, Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a practical exit from one compartmentalized stage of life; there is awaiting the next stage, of which Shakespeare reminds us all.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Disability Retirement Attorney: The Social Security factor

For Federal and Postal employees under FERS, who now comprise the majority of the workforce in the Federal government, the issue of when to file for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) while concurrently filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a recurring question.

On SF 3112A, at the very bottom of the standard form, there are two boxes to check with respect to whether (A) Social Security disability benefits have been applied for, and (B) whether the receipt has been attached and included with one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

Since most FERS Disability Retirement applicants are still on the agency’s rolls as either active employees, on Sick Leave, Annual Leave or Leave without Pay, the filing for Social Security disability benefits becomes an anomaly, a puzzle and a conundrum, precisely because of the following: Ultimately, the reason why Social Security disability benefits must be applied for, is to see whether or not a coordinating “offset” between FERS Disability Retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits will be appropriately imposed (a 100% offset in the first year of concurrent receipt of benefits where the annuity rate for the FERS Disability Retirement annuitant is set at 60% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service; then, every year thereafter, a 60% offset during each year of concurrent receipt of Federal Disability Retirement benefits at the Federal Disability Retirement annuity rate of 40% of the average of one’s highest-3 consecutive years of service); but presumably such an analysis leading to an offset would occur if an approval by the Social Security Administration is based upon information concerning the severity and extent of the medical condition and disability, and not because a denial of Social Security disability benefits is based upon one’s status of employment.

But here is the “rub”:  Human Resource Offices often will demand and insist that Social Security disability benefits must be filed for, before the Federal Disability Retirement application can be forwarded to OPM.  Nothing could be further from the truth; but then, as gods, dictators and other power-wielding fiefdoms comprise the vast expanse of authoritative sources in the universe, it is often a good idea to go with the flow, file (with minimal effort expended), obtain a receipt which shows that one has filed, and be asked at a later date to duplicate the effort, if needed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire