Federal Disability Retirement Law: Sound legal arguments

Arguments in general share a characteristic within the more limited field of those involving legal issues: soundness is based upon factors involving coherence, cogency, consistency and the application of the rules of propositional logic.  The latter — of propositional logic — can get lost in general arguments when they become wrapped in multiple compound statements, shouted with ardor and passion, and conveyed with a sense of unequivocal belief as to one’s “rightness” and doubtless self-righteousness.

Propositional logic within the field of legal argumentation, however, takes on a more limited and restrictive nature, for it normally is contained by the text of legal opinions and cases that have a value of precedence.  The “soundness” or its antonym — of an “unsound legal argument” — largely depends upon how much the legal practitioner will “stretch” the foundational apparatus involved: the analogical arguments used in citing legal precedents.

Future legal opinions — those evolving from the very attempts by lawyers to stretch those precedents into areas heretofore disallowed — are based upon the persuasive propositional logic argued at the appellate level, and even in the various stages of an OPM Disability Retirement case.  On an informal level, of course, one will want to cite legal precedents to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at the first two stages of the process — at the Initial Stage of the OPM Disability Retirement process, as well as the Second, “Reconsideration” Stage.

At both levels, sound legal argumentation should be employed — by “sound”, meaning that the basic and well-known legal precedents should be cited involving what constitutes meeting the burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement application; what meets the legal requirements of an “accommodation”; the importance of medical evidence and the criteria that must be applied in assessing and evaluating the content and substance of the medical evidence presented; as well as the foundational basis of “sound” legal cases which delineate, in a persuasive manner, the compendium of evidentiary documentation which comprises one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At the “Third Level” of the process, of course — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (or more familiarly known as the “MSPB”) — one must take extra care in presenting sound legal arguments, because there, an Administrative Law Judge will be attuned to the “stretching” and “extension-attempting” arguments that citation of legal precedents may pose, and the “soundness” of one’s knowledge of “the law” is often a prerequisite in even trying to make one’s case before such an Administrative Law Judge.

For, in the end, sound legal arguments are not too dissimilar from arguments sound or unsound in general; they just require an extra component of legal training allowed that involves the proper and effective use and application of arguments by analogy based upon case-law precedents.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The imperfect image

There is, to begin with, the “perfect image” — that which we hope to project; those which appear on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook postings; and further, the public domain of our selectively chosen, carefully manufactured and manicured condescensions of carved lives.

The imperfect image is that which haunts us; it is the opposite of what we wants others to know about us; the very antithesis of what society allows for and deepens within the fears of our psyche where nightmares begin to boil over, anxiety begins to percolate, and stress-induced heartbeats rise to the level where dangerous palpitations lead to sudden onset of a terminal feeling.

The latter feeds upon the former.  It is precisely because the former exists that the latter becomes the illegitimate child of a figment of an unreality, and yet gnaws and destroys despite everyone’s recognition of its impossibility.  It begins perhaps with the age-old theological arguments — of the query, How can man have a concept of perfection unless there is such an entity that exists?

The classical counter-argument has often been: Well, we are able to imagine 3-eyed monsters with green-colored tentacles, are we not, even though they do not exist?  And the counter to the counter-argument was: Yes, but that is merely a matter of the imagination amalgamating all of the separate components — of 3 different eyes; of the color green; of tentacles like an octopus’ appendages; then, by creativity of the mind, to put them together.

Thus does one imagine perfection because there is such a Being as a perfect Being; and from that, Man views himself, sees the inadequacies and determines his or her own sin— unless, of course, you are on Facebook or Instagram, in which case you are the Being of Perfection itself…at least to all others who view you on such mediums of communication.

It is from that held-concept of perfection that when the early rash of imperfections begin to spread, we think in error that life is no longer worthwhile, and the despair of a false belief begins to pervade the inner psyche of our private lives.

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 employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the sense of despair and hopelessness often begins with the manner in which you are suddenly treated by others — by coworkers, supervisors and managers — where your imperfections are suddenly highlighted.

You are no longer as “productive”; your attendance becomes “unacceptable”; you begin to make too many “mistakes”; you are deemed less than “perfect”.  The reality is that there is no such thing as perfection — only a concept forever unrealized but put forth falsely into the arena of public consumption.

The imperfect image that we hold onto — of a deteriorating body or stress-filled mind that begins to show wear and tear over the years — that is merely the reality of who we are: Imperfect beings, frail and fraught with error and (used in the old-fashioned way) filled with sin.

For the Federal employee and Postal worker who comes to the realization that imperfection is a reality not to be ashamed of, preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is not merely an admission of such imperfection, but rather, a facing of a reality that we all must embrace — of the imperfect image surrounded by false notions of a perfection never to be realized.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Possibilities to pursue

In one sense, it is nonsensical to ask the question:  “Is it possible to…?”  For, is there any limitation to the concept of the possible?  Isn’t it possible that there are Martians on Mars, but in a parallel universe unseen and concealed from the human eye?  Isn’t it possible that the room you leave disintegrates molecularly, then reconstitutes itself the moment you reenter?  Isn’t it possible that it will rain tomorrow, despite the national weather service predicting otherwise (this latter example is actually not too absurd, as it is a regular occurrence experienced by most)?

Does it alter the significance and qualitative relevance of the query if, instead, we exchange the word with “probable”?   Does probability by numerical quantification of possibility negate the extremes and unfettered boundaries of the possible?  Does a statistical analysis make a difference – say, if a “scientist” asserts that the chances of Martians existing on Mars in a parallel universe unseen is 1-in-1 Billion (as opposed to 1-in-999 million – i.e., are such statements and declarations really accurate at all?) – to the extent that it somehow replaces with credibility the conceptual construct of the possible?

It is all very doubtful, and beyond some cynicism of puzzlement and suspicion that such statistical assertions constitute a perfection of any reasonable methodological approach, the reality is that for the person who is struck by lightening while golfing on a sunny day, that 1-in-a-trillion chance is negated by the 100% probability that he or she was, in fact, in reality, struck by lightening, no matter what the statistical analysis declares.

In the end, probability analysis places some semblance of constraints upon the fenceless conceptual paradigm of possibilities, but it is the latter which compels man to attempt feats beyond the probable, and it is the former which places a reality check upon the limitless creativity of fools, madmen and eccentric geniuses throughout history.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering the possibility of pursuing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal Worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often constraining is the probability consensus of “success” – and, yes, that is a consideration that the reality of a bureaucracy and administrative process should face and take into consideration.

In the end, the possibility of a successful filing can be enhanced by the probability factors that are required by law:  A methodological approach; a supportive doctor who is willing to provide a narrative connecting the dots between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties; a systematic legal argumentation that provides a “road-map” for the Administrative Specialist at OPM; and an understanding that the possibilities to pursue can be qualitatively quantified by the probability of supportive documentation.  Go figure.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The problem of inductive reasoning

The difficulties inherent in deriving universal truths from particular observations have been annotated throughout the history of logical analysis, from Hume to Popper, and continue to haunt attempts at scientific certitude.  That probabilities can be imputed, as opposed to arriving at undeniable conclusions, allows for that “wiggle room” which is the hallmark of modern science.

Today, where the intersection and commingling of science, politics and entertainment requires less than rigorous experimental verification, and where drug companies argue for fast-tracking of medications with limited-to-little trials, even of “controlled” ones — inductive reasoning, though unverifiable and certainly wrought with inherent self-compromise, nevertheless compels people to act.

The classic example of having seen only white swans, leading to the general conclusion that there exist only white swans in the entirety of the universe of such species, is merely a convoluted tautology in a world of untrained and unsophisticated populace.

Rigor in argumentation has been decimated; simple Aristotelian logic is no longer taught (leaving aside Bertrand Russell’s 3-volume compendium of advancement in symbolic logic through his work, Principia Mathematica); and instead, we are left with the inane comments and diatribes on Facebook and other chatter which camouflages for intellectual discussions (where are the Buckleys and the Hitchens of the world when we needed them?  Or is it that aristocratic New England accents and British elocutions merely sound of a higher order?), where cyber-bullying has pushed aside the quite reasonings of timid voices.

Of course, deductive reasoning, as well, can be criticized, and has been by insightful corners of cautionary esotericism; for, the question always begins, From whence did the universal statement in such deductive analysis derive?  Were they not, also, from singular arguments based on the particulars of observations?

But more to the point:  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing one’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A, it is important to recognized the problem of inductive inference, and not to engage beyond the factual basis of the medical reports relied upon and conclusions derived.

Be careful not to make vast generalizations and presume conclusions not referenced in the medical documentation attached; for, in preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is always important to stick to the relevant particulars of one’s case, and not get sidetracked into making unverifiable conclusions beyond the confining realms of logical validity.

Otherwise, you might be called upon to defend against Hume’s systematic dismantling of the soundness of inductive reasoning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Attorney: Playgrounds and the Collective Institution of Fair Play

We learn it early on; the unstated rules, the lines which may not be crossed, and to be weary of those whose reputation precedes them for the blatant disregard of both.  How they are learned; what they are; whether explicitly stated or impliedly conveyed; few, if any, have a memory where the Head Mistress of the Universe of Playgrounds sat us all down and said, “Now young ladies and gentlemen, here are the 10 rules of fair play.”  Regardless, we all somehow came to recognized and apply them.

Wittgenstein provides some valuable insight into the way we learn the language games involved in game-playing; much of it is through sheer doing, an ad hoc manner of practical reasoning and applied rationality.  And then, of course, we become adults (yes, at least most of us do; some, left behind on the playgrounds of life, remain as infantile cherubim, clueless and naive to the cynical ways of the world); and it always seems as if the same ones who violated the rules of the playground are the ones who flaunt the normative constraints of the greater universe.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are formulating a strategy for filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether one falls under the general aegis of FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often must be confronted as to the Supervisor, Manager, or even a fellow coworker who is pining for a confrontation and direct disregard of the collective institutional enforcement of what everyone else knows as “fair play”.

This, despite the fact that there are multiple Federal laws governing treatment of individuals with known medical disabilities.  But the Federal “system” of retaining workers with medical conditions and disabilities, and the perfunctory requirement of accommodations and the search to provide adequate accommodations, undermines any compelling force to restrain the playground bully.

OPM Disability Retirement benefits, filed either through one’s own agency if one is still on the rolls of the agency; or if separated, but less than 31 days since the official date of separation, in either case must be filed through the Human Resource Department of one’s own agency, or through H.R. Shared Services for Postal Workers (located in Greensboro, North Carolina); or, if separated for more than 31 days, then directly to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Boyers, PA.

In the end, things rarely change much, if at all.  Those collective institutional enforcement mechanisms learned on the playground — tattling to the playground monitor or to one’s teacher; talking to one’s parents, etc. — end up with a snicker and a sneer.

Yes, society has become well aware of bullies and mean people, but they have been around longer than the oldest profession in the world, and the collective institution of fair play and the playgrounds upon which they played out, will continue to witness backstabbing and surreptitious violations, transferred universally to the places where adults play, and where the most vulnerable in need of the greatest protection, still must do things the old fashioned way:  reliance on sheer luck, or to seek the best legal advice possible.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire