OPM Retirement for Mental or Physical Incapacity: Challenges

Throughout life, they are always there — some, we take up; others, we ignore; and still others, we consider and perhaps avoid, and sometimes leave with the regret that not having taken the challenge may have left an empty void within our souls, but we will never know.  Some challenges we create; others, they just come along without even asking; and still others, it just appears that circumstances coalesce beyond our control and they just appear out of nowhere, neither asked for nor necessarily desired.

Health challenges are an inevitability.  Yes, there is the rare one who lives to be a 103, never was sick in a day of his or her life, and suddenly dies while doing an activity which was enjoyed throughout one’s life; or of those women in Siberia or some other exotically barren land who made and ate their own yoghurt or remained throughout on some other healthy diet because the environment left them no other choice, and somehow avoided the ravages of illness, fast-food restaurants, greasy cheeseburgers, French fries that were marinated and cooked in engine oil, traumatic injury or other deteriorating health conditions that could not be attributed to anything but a lifetime of a particular lifestyle choice.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that 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, the challenges are many: Continuation of a career or not?  Enduring of harassment for taking too much SL or LWOP, or surviving the PIP?  Possible termination to be faced in the near future?

And the ultimate challenge: Preparing, formulating and filing an effective 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 — now that is a challenge for the ages, given the complex nature of the administrative process called “Federal Disability Retirement”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: The arbitrary life

Some would counter that it is a mere tautology; for, life itself is arbitrary, and the very definition of arbitrariness consumes the conceptual construct of living.  Thus does the subject subsume the predicate, and vice versa; or, in this case, the adjective and the noun.  But of course it all depends upon how we define both the adjective and the noun.

Do we mean by “arbitrary” that things just happen without a cause, and that there is no “Grand Designer” that intervenes as in the old Greek plays where the expectation of a deus ex machina would always appear to make everything “right”; or merely that we didn’t know, were unaware, and simply the alteration of life’s sequence of anticipated events appeared suddenly and unexpectedly?  And of “life”, do we mean in general, or a specific incident, carved out with special significance, from all of the other sequential and incremental compendium of events that aggregate the entirety of one’s consciousness of that which constitutes the “history” of a living being?

Those who believe in an omnipotent being, of course, cannot concurrently hold that life itself is an arbitrary phenomena, unless by that one means merely that one cannot have the same omniscient perspective as the Grand Designer of Fate.  If arbitrariness is meant to encompass randomness, and that the universe is a mere series of unanticipated events, then the question becomes:  Is it the lack of anticipation, or the randomness of events that constitutes the bulk of arbitrariness?

For, the human capacity to anticipate events unfolding is fairly unlimited.  Yes, it takes time, study, research, effort of cognitive insight, etc., in order to engage a process of anticipatory predictability, but that is a price one has to pay in order to subvert the anxiety of the unexpected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an arbitrary trauma of life — another way of describing an unexpected medical condition (for, who in his right mind “expects” a medical condition, unless one is a statistician or a pessimist of the highest order?) — it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Yes, this too will possess some components of the arbitrary life — as in whether the Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved or not; but such arbitrariness can be somewhat controlled by seeking and following the advice of an attorney who specializes in such matters.

For, in the end, part of the solution in tackling the arbitrary life is to anticipate the random events that are unexpected, by controlling those peripheral and tangential issues that increase the odds of predictability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: ‘For’ and ‘to’

Do we ever pick up on the subtleties of language’s intentionality, anymore?  Is there a difference with a distinction between the use of the prepositions ‘for’ as opposed to ‘to’?  And, even if intentionally and with deliberative meaning, one inserts one as opposed to the other, would the person for whom it is intended, or to whom it is addressed, catch the difference, or would he or she merely respond as if there was never any difference at all?

Say the person began with one preposition but stopped mid-sentence and corrected it, inserting the ‘other’; would the correction be noticed at all, and even if it was, would that make a difference?  Say, for instance, a person says to another, “I would like to show my appreciation to you,” as opposed to saying, “I would like to show my appreciation for you.”  Is there a difference?  Is there a subtle intentionality hidden – where the “to” is just slightly less personal than the “for”?

What if the person speaking does not believe in any differences between the two propositions – would that make a difference?  Or, conversely, what if the person speaking does know the difference, or believes he does, between the two, but the person being addressed does not; does that make a difference?  Is there, objectively, a difference between the two, and can it be identified, delineated, understood and explained?

When we say, for example, that X is giving a gift to Y – is that different from saying that X is giving a gift for Y?  Or that Sally has shown great empathy to Mary, as opposed to showing great empathy for Mary – can the subtle difference of intentionality be derived?

Language is a difficult tool to master, to begin with, and grammar was once the medium by which correctness of communication could be embraced.  Much of grammar has now been discarded, abandoned and forsaken, and with the detritus of residue left behind, the subtlety of language – both in its usage as well as in its reception – has been lost.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing 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, almost all of the encounters with the Federal agency responsible for review and determination on a Federal Disability Retirement application – i.e., the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – will be wrought through impersonal “paper” transactions – submission of the Standard Forms (e.g., SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability) and medical narrative reports and treatment records, as well as any Legal Memorandum prepared to argue your case – will be through an impersonal communication via language known, language learned and language imparted.

Knowing the subtleties of language, and the correct approach, the context and content driven by legal precedents and argumentation are all an important part of the process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.  It may not have to get into the minutiae of the differentiation of prepositions like ‘for’ and ‘to’, but there is enough complexity in the language of such a strange frontier as Federal Disability Retirement Law so as to justify hiring an attorney who specializes in such administrative legal conundrums, whether to obtain a successful outcome or for attainment of one.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

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

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Evidence of Sincerity

We question it; contest it; challenge when necessary by bringing up counter-evidence that seems to undermine it; and we all act with outrage and become highly offended when our own underlying intent is questioned, as if everyone else in the world is suspiciously lacking of it with the exception of one’s self.

“Sincerity” is a funny animal, and evidence of it is like the bond between the wrong committed and the arena of court applied: preponderance of the evidence?  Clear and Convincing?  Or, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?

The choice depends upon the gullibility of the beholder and the relationship between the teller and the believer; then, for some, a breach and violation of a single instance forever condemns without recourse of forgiveness.

What is the evidence of sincerity?  Is it merely words upon words, or must actions follow, and constancy and consistency of behavior?

Take the following hypothetical: Person X says that he will meet you for lunch at Time-T, at location Y, and so at Time-T, at location Y, you go and wait.  And wait.  Person X never show up.  A few days later, you see Person X and you remind him that there had been a luncheon agreement, and why didn’t you show up?

Example A: The person apologizes profusely and reveals that he/she became gravely ill and was taken to the hospital at that very moment, on that day, during the time of the luncheon date.  Example B: The person says: “Oh, I found something better to do,” and essentially casts you aside.  Example C: The person (who has a wide and well-known reputation for being “flighty”), explains: “Oh-my-gosh!  I completely forgot!  I really meant to be there but I just completely forgot about it!”

Obviously, most of us would respond to each with: Forgive persons A and C; be angry at B.  Why do we react like this?

Again, the obvious answer is: We presume sincerity on the part of A and C (though, as to C, we give some leeway for a reputation preceding the doing, and if we were unaware of that reputation, we might want to proceed by putting the person on a “probationary” status of wariness and suspicion for the next time); as to B, the person has explicitly reversed any semblance of sincerity, and has told us to essentially go fly a kite.

Now, change the hypotheticals slightly: As to A: We later discover that he was seen precisely at Time-X to have been out and about with another person, and was never in the hospital.  In other words, he lied.  And as to C: Whether “flighty” or not, the person never honors a commitment, and consistently makes promises but each time breaks them.  In other words, whether sincere at the time or not, that person can never be relied upon.

And as to the problematic B: We later learn that at that very Time-T, he was actually in the hospital caring for his dying spouse, but did not want to burden you with the long and tragic narrative of his personal trials, and furthermore, his reputation prior to the promise broken is so far out of character that it had left you scratching your head with befuddlement in the first place.

Who, out of these examples, ends up being the “sincere” person, and what is the evidence that changed your mind?

Evidence of sincerity is often a touchy subject, where reputation, reality and roles of engagement coalesce to provide the “full” picture.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that a Federal Disability Retirement application must be prepared for submission to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the evidence of sincerity is often important in assessing friends, coworkers and trusted individuals in the dissemination of sensitive medical information.

Appearance cannot always be trusted; reputation, perhaps; but in the end, the evidence of sincerity is often merely a gut instinct that tells you who to trust and why.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation Federal Disability Retirement: Quiet

Is “quiet” the same as silence?  Or, of lack of noise?  Is it a state of mind-body consonance, where the body can remain calm and unmoving, yet the mind remains racing with thoughts, and in that state of being, do we fool ourselves to think that the outer world will not impact the inner mind?  Or, in reverse order?

Quiet is that which we strive for, in a world where din is the normalcy of life.  Can medical conditions that betray that which we strive for be understood by those who do not experience it?

Consider Tinnitus – that condition where there is a constant “sound”, whether of ringing, hissing or clanging that disrupts any consistency of a person’s striving for quiet, and this, despite everyone else in the “objective” world being quite oblivious to the “hearing” of such sounds.  Or, of the person who is deaf or progressively losing one’s acoustic acuity – can the rest of the world understand such a state of reality?

We assume, as we operate throughout the world on a daily basis, that because others appear to act in similar ways, that their inner beings and states of minds are similarly situated.  To “think alike” is to remain comfortable; and to attain “quiet” is not just to avoid the constant rush of living, but to reach a plateau where life is consistent, predictable and somewhat boring.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience the disquietude of a medical condition, where a combination of multiple factors come to the fore: Of a medical condition that prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties; of “noises” from one’s agency, supervisors and managers of deficiencies in performance, attendance or quota goals; of being placed upon a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP); of receiving a “warning” memorandum concerning one’s use of leave, whether Sick, Annual or LWOP; of harassment even when one has invoked FMLA rights; or of the step just prior to the last one – a proposed termination, then a termination; it may be time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

“Quiet” is not just a state of how things are in one’s home; one can lose that goal of quiet by bringing home the stresses of work’s harassment and adversarial environment, and it doesn’t have to be an actual medical condition such as Tinnitus or progressive deafness – although those may also be a qualifying basis upon which to file a Federal Disability Retirement application – but multiple other medical conditions, as well, that result in the disquiet of robbing one’s quiet.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Federal Government Employment: The Mercenary

Why is it that money taints with toxicity of motive?  If a person does something with no compensatory demand, does that fact alone make it less suspect?  Does the professional soldier who gets paid by one’s own country show a level of patriotism unblemished, but the one who hires out for monetary rewards by another, belie a code of honor?  What gives the scent of blemish, the hint of a soul’s impoverishment, and the sullied character of an inner decay?

Are we merely taught to remain in silent awe at the poor woman in the story of the miserly penny, and frown if a child begins laughing and saying, “What a fool to give up the last penny!”  Are saints born, or are they taught and disciplined, when the innate signs of cynicism may yet win out over the empathy of a fool’s errand?  What good is “goodness” in an evil world?  Do we remember Bonhoeffer, or was his courage forgotten amidst the thousands of graves both marked and without remembrance, in a world where community no longer exists and friends are counted by Facebook likes and never by the warmth of human comity?

Somehow, money taints, and the toxicity of the transfer sticks like mud to the boots of a killer, leaving tracks and traces in the bogs of lives tarnished.  Yet, it is the exchange by which dreams are made, the goal for which daily toil is endured, and the chances taken in bribes received in order to attain a measure of financial security and the declarative success of an age where hypocrisy dares to utter its laughable voice of despair.

Is it because we believe that mercenaries fail to believe in that which is being fought for, and instead confuse the means for an end we misguidedly believe should be the end in and of itself?  Does engaging an individual for purposes of honor, country, faith and other tropes of a nation’s visage of vacuous promises make it any more substantive if the abandonment of a country of its own vital principles reaches a point where such terms no longer apply?

There are those who romanticize the independence of the mercenary, despite the Geneva Convention restrictions which grant lesser protections in the event of capture; and, yet, history is replete with their use and presence, from Ancient Egypt during the rein of Pharaoh Ramesses II  to the French Foreign Legion and the British Gurkha regiments, and beyond to modern warfare.  But romanticization and reality often conflict and collide, and the remaining entrails of toxicity remain with the scent of avoidance.

In more quiet arenas of modern life, the term itself is often applicable not to fields of the battleground, but to individuals who “go after” others for rewards and reasons of similar taint and toxicity.  In the employment arena, there are mercenaries aplenty, and they are predators that devour with equal ferocity.

For the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset who suffers from a medical condition, such that 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, and therefore must prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the duality of dangers must be faced.

First, the allegation that the Federal or Postal employee is merely being a “mercenary” by “taking advantage” of a generous system of medical retirements, and Second, to beware of the mercenaries of the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service who aggressively go after the Federal or Postal employee weakened and unable to defend him or herself during the process of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, precisely because of the medical condition itself.

In both instances, it is the mercenary instinct itself which dominates, and no amount of honor or faith in country can withstand the onslaught of the vicious outliers of such gossiping geese.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire